Recently I have been reading/contributing to a discussion on a favorite forum of mine at Live in the Philippines.
The story so far is that a forum member is looking into ways to be self-employed in the Philippines.
One of the paths he is looking at seriously is to set himself up as an IT consultant.
Here’s some advice I sent his way just this morning on that idea … thought that it deserved a wider audience.
Something that might be added here which I have been thinking about/experiencing as a foreigner, with some technical skills in the Philippines.
Attempting to just hang out a shingle as an “IT Consultant” is likely an exercise in futility. The Philippines is full of “IT Consultants” and some are actually quite good. Others, not so much, but they almost all will be happy to join you in a ‘race to the bottom’ when it comes to pricing. You are likely to be licked before you start.
But being a foreigner has a certain “cachet” value right from the “git go” in the Philippines. Look closely at ways to differentiate yourself from garden variety “IT Consultants” and do not be caught in the trap of being a “jack of all trades”. Find one or two areas where you excel and market yourself that way.
Even though I am frequently on record of being against the model of trying to earn money from the Philippines, opportunities do abound here. They pop up all the time.
An example … recently I met a distant relative (Filipino) who is an independent IT consultant. One of his specialties is a narrow vertical market of sales and support of a niche-specific software program for golf courses. There are a LOT of golf courses in the Philippines, and golf is a game for people who are not poor, so his potential for earning a living is decent.
We got to talking and I brought up something I know a LOT about, tracking vehicles with GPS, and very specifically, tracking golf carts on the golf course. There is a huge profit potential here for golf course operator’s bottom line here.
Yet it seemed from out conversation that the surface of this opportunity had hardly even been scratched. Interesting.
Now I didn’t make any pitch to partner with this fellow, and he didn’t make me any offers … I don’t want a job, remember?
But he listened, fascinated, to my stories of past successes, and any one who has ever been a salesman (and you have to be a salesman if you want to start your own business … accept that fact, and if you hate sales, you have to learn to be good at it anyway) knows that getting prospects to sit and listen to something new is the key to success.
So think this through in your own plan. What will you specialize in? What is your USP … Unique Selling Proposition. It will pay dividends, I guarantee. Godspeed.
Let me add something else here, as sort of the PhilFAQS bonus answer.
If you are interested in some sort of self employment, IT consultant or something completely different, you would be wall advised to get busy, here and now, and set yourself up a blog on the subject you are thinking about.
Better yet, set up several (they are free … wordpress.com, blogger.com, etc.) on several different subjects you are considering.
Now here me out on this blog recommendation. I am NOT advocating this as a money making idea in and of itself. People tend to become acquainted with me via my blog, or from seeing me on other blogs and forums, they know I make money while living in the Philippines and they instantly add up two plus two and come up with five.
Making money off a blog is a very “iffy” thing, and in order to do it right you need to apply the same amount of time and energy as you would to any other full-time business. This blog makes some money, but I can assure you the amount I make here is way less than most of you might think.
Its income also is incidental. I started this blog with zero expectations of making money. And if my income sources were to vanish today, I probably would keep right on blogging.
There are some people who make good money from blogs, but it’s a specialized, difficult business. I don’t recommend it at all.
But starting a blog to promote and evaluate a consultancy or other self-employment effort?
Gangbuster idea. There is very little else you could do, in my opinion, that will give you a higher rate of return on your investment than to start (and work at … it won’t happen by itself) a blog in your chosen specialty.
Take my illustration above as an example. Suppose for a minute that I did want to consult on GPS’ed golf carts, or sell and service GPS tracking equipment for golf carts, or some other endeavor in that general area.
I would suggest that first you take a look at our old friend Google, doing a search with words your prospective blog readers and later, paying clients, might use to find information online.
I searched on the phrase “GPS golf carts in the Philippines”. Google happily returned what it feels are the top ten sites on that subject.
At least 6 of the top ten are classified for sale listings for golf carts. Little or no information about actually using GPS to track golf carts for a business ROI (Return On Investment). To me, this means that niche is wide open for information Put up a blog and in a few months of work you could:
- Meet plenty of people interested in this subject
- Likely get solicited by sellers of golf cart tracking equipment
- Possibly be contacted by fellow consultants wanting to partner
- Perhaps even get inquires from golf course operators wanting to know more
- If nothing else you will learn, again at zero cost, what it takes to put up a blog/website and what does or does not work in finding qualified traffic to come to that site and get to know you and who you are.
- Legitimize yourself especially to potential clients. You have no idea how many doors my little, simple business card that notes I am the publisher of www.philfaqs.com has opened for me. Paid something like P100 for 100 cards, the best P100 investment I have ever made to date. Instant ‘expert’ status.
It would cost a fortune in advertising to learn what you can learn in just a few months of running a blog, and you can make more contacts than you could make in spending your nights hanging out in bars or hobnobbing with fellow expats who are not likely to ever become your clients or business partners anyway.
The potential ROI is way, way more than whatever trivial income you might make from a blog itself.
A tremendous learning tool and a great way to gain exposure and let people know what your skill set is all about.
And if no one comes? Well, perhaps you are in the wrong niche. Disappointing? Sure. But think of this, you found out that the niche wasn’t a good potential moneymaker for a cost of zero dollars and zero cents.
In terms of business expense it really hard to get that sort of real knowledge at any price.
Let me know if you have any desire in learning more about using a blog for market testing, publicity and niche evaluation .. I won’t try to sell you anything 😉 I also write often on this general subject on my Retired Pay blog.