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Do I compete or ask if I can work for them?

(15 Posts)
Hoopsadazy Thu 21-Feb-13 16:37:40

Am a SAHM for now but have finally come up with something I think I can do and that I feel confident enough about promoting. Researching local competitors there seems to be one person who (at least from their website) that seems to be offering a similar service successfully.

Difference, at the moment I can't actually work too many hours while DS is only in nursery for his 15 funded hours. So, I also have Easter and summer hols to deal with.

Do I set up a website anyway and do enough promotion to get as much work as I can handle on a small scale?

Or, would it be worth contacting the other person and ask if they have any overflow work they can pass my way? That way, I don't waste my precious little time on the promotion/sales side but I appreciate I won't earn as much as I'd expect them to take a cut.

In the past, I have always got as far as the hurdle of actually launching a business cos I am a wuss, basically. So not sure if I am just finding a way to not go it alone or whether it is sensible to learn from someone else. Of course, once DS is at school and I want to ramp up time spent and go it alone, the other business may be miffed with me competing?

Thoughts and experiences most welcome please o-great-Mner-enterpreneurs!

amistillsexy Thu 21-Feb-13 16:45:19

I think you've been scared off by the other company being competition. It would be easier for you to ask for their 'overflow', rather than set out on your own (and perhaps fail in the process?) least if you don't get any work through the other company, it won't be a fult of yours, right?

Don't let fear stand in your way. You've got the idea, and the skills, so just go for it.

I hope you're not offended by what I've said...I only feel so strongly because I felt exactly the same as you this morning when I found out that someone I thought was on a different track is actually onto the same track as me, and possibly catching up! My immediate thought was 'I wonder if they've any vacancies' grin

Hoopsadazy Thu 21-Feb-13 17:20:54

I think you may be right. My main concern though is if I do get some customers that I will provide a terrible service due to not having time/be available when they want and putting extra stress on the family life.

However, you are right as well that I am just being a scaredy cat.

Perhaps setting up on my own and then seeing how it goes. If no luck, I can contact others to see if can get some work off them.

There is an ad from someone on Gumtree who is trying to do same (ish) for similar hours as I can do and was wondering whether to contact and set up together. However, imagine that is a business structure nightmare (for someone who doesn't have much time). Was also thinking of pimping her out as her ad on Gumtree was not good, showed lack of confidence, etc. so I might be able to promote her as complimentary skills.

amistillsexy Thu 21-Feb-13 18:58:50

You will have 15 hours a week to devote to your clients (other work for the business, paperwork, etc, can be done in the evenings). They aren't to know that you are a SAHM- they don't know the reasons if you are unavailable, and if you give the impression you are snowed under with work, that's what they'll think when you are never available on a Thursday, or whatever.

I would shy away from asking a random stranger to go into really is like being married to someone, and on occassion can test the patience of a saint (voice of experience!). In addition, if she sounds a bit crap, and you ally yourself to her, you will also be seen as a bit crap by clients you send her to.

If your idea is good, and you market it in the right way, it should be possible to get enough work to keep you going. I would keep any work you get to yourself-there's nothing as satisfying as a diary that's booked up for the next few months!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 21-Feb-13 19:56:20

A few thoughts based on my experiences since started freelancing a couple of years ago:

1) Your competitor may or may not be successful. It is easy to appear succcessful online. If they are successful they might not be interested in sharing their success/secrets, if they aren't successful they (I think) are unlikely to want tell you, however genuine you appear about doing over flow work.

2) As a stranger (to them) they may not take you seriously until you have experience of working freelance yourself.

3) Working as a self-employed person for somebody else can mean you end up with the worst of both worlds. You won't have the freedom of a self-employed person (as they'll be a boss like figure) but neither will you have the security of being employed.

4) As a poster up thread said working with somebody is like a marriage, you need a click. That might not be there.

This is all very negative, I do admire the fact you are able to think around it and come up with different scenarios. That mindset is helpful in business.

I would really recommend giving it a go yourself. There is generally enough work for more than one person. And your competitior may well be a bit different to you, helping you to establish your USP.

I would see what you can do on your own, you never know where it will take you......

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 21-Feb-13 20:05:53

Should just add about hours.

I do find it a bit feast or famine in terms of volume. However, it is the one of the only "jobs" where you can control the hours and book the whole of the schools holidays off etc.

You just need to accept that it might mean loosing a client etc. However, lots of urgent things can wait if the client likes and trusts you. Or you can do stuff of an evening to keep it ticking over in the hols.

You won't know if it can be done unless you try it.

Theresalwaysone Fri 22-Feb-13 03:14:42

If you have conviction in your idea and can already pick point holes in your competitor then the only logical way forward is alone! I say this because I have also had confidence issues (I think we all do occasionally?) and the single biggest factor in deciding to not to work with my competitor was the realisation that I would never
again be able to work in that field without creating either an enemy, conflict of interest or both! This is obviously not a hard and fast rule, especially if your industry and potential customer network isn't particularly small but in the early days I think it really helps to look forward to where you'd like to take the business equally or even more than where you are at present! Like they say it's better to regret what you did do, rather than didn't and if you had the idea to provide a business service under your own company you should stick to that! Looking forward to 3 years from now would you rather be running your own business or working to progress somebody else's?

Hoopsadazy Fri 22-Feb-13 08:44:32

Yes, do have conviction and I think I could 'lie' my way around the hours. Spoke to a friend last night and came up with a list of things I need to get done, which gives me a good few weeks or so to do some more research and planning. I think it is certainly viable to do alone. That way I can keep control of my hours. I did a little bit of work along similar lines last year - v v poorly paid but a bit of a favour to someone. I really enjoyed it and it was not too tricky as stuff that comes naturally. I am getting more support from DH too as he thinks this is a better idea than others I have come up with. THat makes a diffference!

Theresalwaysone Fri 22-Feb-13 09:45:46

All the best! I want to know what you do now ;-)

TantieTowie Fri 22-Feb-13 14:14:56

Also important is the idea that they've proved there's a market - and no one company is going to fulfil all the demand if it's a good idea. After all, (to take a random example) the second mobile phone company didn't think no, we won't bother because there's already someone else doing mobile phones. And now there's lots of companies all making lots of money.

Hoopsadazy Fri 22-Feb-13 14:57:00

Nothing too interesting. However, I might have an idea that I can develop with any cash earned on the boring-using-my-current-skills freelance work

WilsonFrickett Fri 22-Feb-13 17:21:51

My main concern though is if I do get some customers that I will provide a terrible service due to not having time

Get the customers first, then worry about the time. Although do not go into working for yourself if you think it's always going to be brilliant for your work/life balance, I've worked 40 billable hours this week and I'm only 'supposed' to do school hours. Did a lot of late nights, but equally I took all of Wednesday off to go and do something for a friend. Success won't naturally fall into the time you allocate for it.

But to answer your OP, I too would take someone else doing what you want to do as 'a good thing' - it means there's a market for your work. But avoid the gumtree person like the plague, why would you want to set up with someone who can't put an advert together?

iwoncia Thu 28-Mar-13 19:49:01

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

AnimatedDad Mon 08-Apr-13 06:58:11

Can't you do both? I've got local people doing the same work as me. Sometimes I do their overflow. But this year I had a big project on and had to farm out to them. We all respect each other as professionals.

I guess if you're tendering for the same jobs, it's a but more combative, but that's ok if you all have your strengths

badguider Mon 08-Apr-13 12:16:44

I work fulltime but for risk managment I never offer any one client more than an absolute maximum of 3 days a week.
They don't know what i'm doing with the other two days (actually working, but I could be doing childcare or anything else).

You DON'T have to account for hours not available. Just make sure you're clear that you're offering a max of 15hrs a week. Are you charging for a 'thing' (product or service) or per hour/day?

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