With unemployment in South Africa at monstrous levels entrepreneurship is on the rise. Many entrepreneurs identify opportunities which have a low capital cost of entry, have easy to learn technical skills, don't require certification, and don't need an office or warehouse factory.
One of the oportunity spaces which match these criteria are in technical services to households. In general terms this would be providing "home handyman" services which would include, at a basic level, solar trouble shooting, home security installations, basic electrical and plumbing work, painting and general repairs.
I recently had an issue with my electric gate. After a web search I called up a company and had them come round to check out the problem. But as the process unfolded I became increasingly nervous (unnecessarily it turned out) about their capability.
- While they had a company website, they used a funny Gmail account.
- They insisted on communicating via Whatsapp messaging.
- Their technical team wasn't able to phone me as they had no airtime.
- Their car was an old skorokoro.
- They insisted on sending MS Word documentation via Whatsapp.
- Their quotation was badly laid, was grammatically terrible with abysmal punctuation.
- The same issues were in their invoice (I ended up editing it and laying it out properly for them).
- Their warranty was really bad which had to be renegotiated.
- After sending their invoice, I received hourly requests to pay (they moved from being a contractor to a debt collector — but perhaps this is the nature of doing business in South Africa).
In the end they did a good job. They were fast and professional and did good work. But they needed to up their game a bit. This is not difficult to do:
- If you have a webiste, have an email address (not a Gmail).
- Whatsapp is great for quick information such as "be there at 10:00am", but it is not the right medium for documents. Send these via email.
- Make sure your team has the right tools. Including being able to communicate with the customer (airtime!).
- If you can afford it, don't look like you've picked up a technical team from outside a hardware store.
- Use a template for your quotes and invoices. These come with MS Word. Use AI to get your invoice and quotes reading professionally. But also be careful when using this tool.
- Project confidence in your work by providing a proper warranty.
- Give your client some space to pay.
These are all simple things. But will go a long way in projecting that your company IS THE COMPANY.