Maybe you're thinking about earning an additional income, or perhaps expanding your existing legal or psychologists practice. But is NOW the right time.
When I first started my Mediation Practice the economy had taken a serious knock. Jobs were scarce and job security was a luxury. I was working 10-hour days, 5 and a half days a week chasing somebody else's dream. Things haven't changed much in the economy.
What did change was my approach. And more and more South Africans are changing their approaches. A common misconception, not just in SA but across the world, is that we should start up a new business ONLY when the following happens:
I HAVE PLENTY OF MONEY
Maybe at age 40 or 45 I'll have enough saved up. Perhaps a family member passes away. I get that bonus for all the late nights I've put in at the office.
THE MARKET BOOMS AGAIN, HOPEFULLY IN MY LIFETIME
The Rand strengthens, unemployment drops, the housing market picks up. Either way, there seems to be more money going around - and some of that money will be spent by Clients buying my services.
I HAVE TIME ON MY HANDS
Some day I'll get to read the morning paper and go over my investments, rather than sit in traffic.
But these are misleading, and the people who run successful businesses and Mediation Practices are not super-humans. They're regular people like you and I. The reality of successful Small and Medium Enterprises are that their owners understand the following:
1. START WITH THE MARKET
The single biggest reason why new businesses fail are because we make the mistake of thinking "what am I best at? what can I sell?"
The real question here is What do the people around me need? What is a REAL need that people are struggling to afford, that I can provide at an affordable price?
2. START OFF SMALL
In our course on Mediation as a Business (module 10 of the full course) we take a look at the concept of MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It would be great to start off with an impressive 10th floor Sandton office, a personal assistant and having only rich celebrities as our Clients.
But it doesn't work like that and never has. It started with a desk, a laptop and the singular will to build something - usually something small - that provides what the market needs.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR CLIENTS, UNDERSTAND THE MARKET
When we shift our approach to putting Potential Clients first, something incredible happens: we start understanding their needs. I know what my Clients need: affordable, REAL legal solutions. And the Market is simply a collection of people.
My economics professors explained it like this: when the price of butter goes up, people buy more margarine. And herein lies the beauty: Mediation is a substitute for expensive legal battles, but unlike margarine it is not an inferior alternative.
The typical Divorce Mediation works out like this: each Client spends around R3,500-R5,000 (or R6,000-R10,000 in total). We meet between 2 and 4 hours. I spend between 5 and 8 hours of my time in total on the case. We reach a settlement that both of them are happy with, and we do this while creating a workable future for the kids.
Here's my challenge: show me a better solution at a lower price. The Market has never been more ready than it is now. Are you ready for the Market?
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