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There goes the neighbourhood

February 18, 2012

My consulting firm is more of a macro business. Revival is currently underway and may be pending. No matter.

It is my primary and professional identity. If you’re new here, the income I made from this incorporated company paid all my bills for approximately seven years. You may have even heard of some of my better known clients: such as Adobe, IBM, and Intel.

My corporate web site is long overdue for an overhaul, yet Google is kind to it.  As such, it stays as is. Searchers in need of Ottawa editing services are offered my name every time and I like that.

This kind of editing business is ideal for my current lifestyle choices and desire to live completely car free. It’s virtual, flexible, and home based. The clients are trickling in. Satisfied clients lead to referrals.

In due time, with adequate care and feeding, this business will grow back, perhaps to its former state of glory. Writing business almost always came in through my professional network, and from people who had first hand exposure to my work.

I keep an active profile on LinkedIn, organize a popular meetup, tweet my personal brand, and make a point of face-to-face connecting with my local contacts as my resources such as time and money so permit.

In a break from tradition, an up-and-coming poet trickled in with a handwritten manuscript yesterday morning. She reached me by phone. She doesn’t own a computer. Much intrigued, I’m meeting her for coffee on Monday.

The microbusinesses have been more of an experiment. Consulting pays well but it’s bursty. I’m 44 now. With two kids, I am not sure it makes sense to keep all of my eggs in one basket. A steady stable full-time job with a pension seems less and less likely with the passing of time. I am starting to suspect it’s a mythical entity: a luxury/legacy of days long gone by. Regardless, I don’t idle well.

While I try and stay out of product offerings, to date I’ve sold two hand knit items through local consignment shops and I’ve got yarn on my needles waiting by my side.

I arrived at the micro business ideas after carefully reviewing my skill set. I don’t expect a huge income from any of them; I do expect that each would be compatible with weekends/evenings only work.

Decluttering and space calming

The decluttering business has a web site, a blog, a Twitter account, business cards (premium ones from Vistaprint), a gmail account, a meetup group, and a Facebook page. I’ve tethered it to my consulting company and I am insured to provide this type of service. I’ve got ads up on Kijiji and UsedOttawa. (They are free.)

I’m listed in the neighbourhood business directory (also free) and in an Ottawa service directory for seniors (also free). I’ve turned on Facebook ad campaigns with net results of each “Like” costing me approximately $1.

I also put up posters, and I’ve started attending local meet ups to broaden my face-to-face reach. I visited my first client this week. I found her through her Kijiji ad. She is my age and that surprised me. I’ll see repeat business there.

I am trying to target people who are downsizing or trying to do more with the space that they currently have. I am trying to reach three clients to validate my business model. A prospect has appeared through the meetup, and another through the Facebook fan page. I’ve yet to connect in person with either one.

Fortune telling

I took some courses in Tarot card reading in my twenties.  I’ve been collecting cards since I took a university art appreciation course. The decks are beautiful and rich with powerful symbolism and imagery. I have been known to entertain friends and family at social gatherings.

That thing on my chest that just looks like a mole? My family doctor once proclaimed it a third nipple… the proverbial witch’s teat. It runs in my family. No doubt, TMI.

Much more valuable is the application of skills I picked up in my twenty years in the high tech sector, ten of which I’ve spent in various management roles. Add to that, my newfound fascination with Babylon 5 and the Psy Corps.

My fortune telling service has a Twitter account, business cards (free ones from Vistaprint), a gmail account, and a Facebook page.  She tweets back a fortune to every new follower. I’ve got ads up on Kijiji and UsedOttawa.I think the Facebook Marketplace is also a good bet.  I’ve just turned on the Facebook ad campaign. I put up posters and they are popular.

No one has called yet, but people are taking note of the service and how to reach me. I am offering one on one readings, but I suspect the best use of time here is in providing event entertainment, for example, in telling fortunes for fun at a bridal shower.

The neighbourhood shops often invite psychics in for the day to drum up outside interest and increase visitors. I’m considering approaching them, but not quite ready yet.

Sewing and alterations

The big surprise has been the results of my sewing posters and ads. I am offering everyday mending services. I enjoy sewing for others and always have. The phone has been ringing and emails are more than just trickling in.

I’ve had some really interesting conversations with people as we determine whether or not I can help. A bridal party is en route over the next few days for hemming and minor alterations to a set of bridesmaids’ dresses. It seems that there’s demand. I should probably order some business cards.

I am reminded of a female friend of mine who teaches evening quilting classes. In her day job, she’s a Director at a local high tech firm.

Math tutoring in my home

I earned a degree in mathematics from fairly prestigious institution, mostly in my late teens. I wrote my last exam at 21. (Please don’t do the math.) It’s been my little secret for some time.

I’m patient and pretty good at explaining complex concepts in simple terms. Truth be told, I did a brief run as a technical trainer early in my professional career, and I liked it. I also tutored French in high school. Shhhhh!

The math tutoring posters went up last. I’ve added ads on Kijiji and UsedOttawa as well as the free Facebook Marketplace. I believe there is demand, but I am not yet in contact with any clients or prospects.


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  1. This is sounds -so- good. I’m thrilled you are doing this. In a way we are too, although not as varied as yours. I hope your efforts bring you happiness and financial success (however you measure that).

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