If you were to keep a regular eye on a busy intersection where casual workers congregate in the hopes of finding employment, you would no doubt learn lessons that are profound and applicable to all entrepreneurs who rely on attracting business. One such busy corner is on a regular run route of mine, and I have spent a number of months observing the dynamics with interest. Essentially the types of individuals looking for a job can be defined into two categories. Firstly those who arrive really early. They are dressed neatly, and have a sense of purpose. The air of expectation is high. They stand close to the road where they can be seen, and there they wait. Most days these people will be picked up by a contractor looking for casual labour for a full day’s work. The wage is standard, as are the hours and average conditions. Very often a specific contractor will come back time and again looking for a particular worker. Sometimes the worker will end up with a full time job. That’s the success story.
The second category of worker is very different. Only arriving at the intersection after eight or nine am, this person often looks more like a loiterer than a worker. They will sit against a wall, and congregate together looking like they have no real purpose nor intention for being there. This labourer works fewer days than not, although the rewards are greater for work actually done. The worker will be paid for a full day, although most often the required job takes only a couple of hours or half a day. The type of work is frequently of a lighter nature and the type of client providing the ’employment’ is one looking for labour for an odd job, and therefore comes back infrequently. The chances of repeat business are slim.
Which category do you fall into? Hopefully the first category of entrepreneur.
The lessons to be learnt are simple. The strategy of the first category of labourer is clear. Step 1: Understand the market before doing anything. Watch and learn from those who are already successful, and repeat what they do. Step 2: Identify the kind of client you want to attract. Clients that will give you repeat business, that you can rely on, and clients that have a regular pattern are those you really want. Step 3: Become predictable. Be present at the same corner at the same time every day. Be seen. Even the best client who comes to look for you will not wait for long if you are elsewhere. Dress for the job that you want, and have a sense of purpose. Step 4: Deliver work that is of a high standard and build a relationship with your client. Give value.
Any line of work needs to be viewed as a long term prospect for any real returns to materialize, and requires hard work. There are NO shortcuts, and the ‘fast buck’ is unsustainable. A strategy is imperative. You will always find work by default, and might be paid well for an easy job from time to time. But regular viable work requires a design. A design that centers around repeat business, a loyal clientele, and service excellence. Oh, and did I mention hard work…
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