Ten years of what, you ask? Well, ten years ago this April, I started my first business. I’d gone through a government self-employment program and was excited to be opening a little computer cafe. A little over a year later, I closed it. Was the whole thing a waste of time? Definitely not!
When I opened the cafe, my thought was that people could come and use the computers to teach themselves programs with the many self-teaching cd’s I supplied. It would be much cheaper than taking a computer course and I would be nearby to help when needed. But I didn’t really know my market.
My target market were middle aged and older people who I knew from my research wanted to become more computer savvy. But I found out that they didn’t want to learn from a cd. They wanted a teacher beside them and step-by-step encouragement. Sure, it was nice to walk in and practice anytime you wanted to, but other than a few university students, most of my customers wanted classes.
I don’t for a moment regret opening that little cafe. I learned building codes for the space I rented. I learned health department rules when food is involved and what licenses I needed. I found out about the insurance I needed for the computers, not only for theft, but because I was responsible if a client accessed an improper site. I leased computers, got them networked, had signage and advertising done. A masters business course couldn’t have shown me any more than I found out that year.
Most importantly, I found out more about myself. I didn’t like sitting there, waiting for customers to come in. I didn’t like being open long hours every day. And I missed training people.
So at the end of that year, I closed up shop, found homes for the computers, and started training. Sometimes at my home, sometimes at a client’s, and sometimes a workshop in a community center.
Today, I’m still training, giving workshops, creating information products, blogging, and marketing online. Am I successful? If success is measured in dollars, I’ve got a ways to go. If it’s measured in job satisfaction, yes I am!