The Self Service Industry
Outsourcing. A fancy term for getting someone else to perform a task to save you time, money, or brainpower if you don’t have the required skills, which for me, is basically could be one of many, many things. For example, I outsourced my clothes choices to a little Filipino lady who makes all my decisions for me, as clearly there came a point in my life where I was unable to dress myself appropriately. And people weren’t polite about it either: “oh…you’re wearing that?” they’d say, pointing accusingly at the objectionable object, which was either me or my clothes. One of those was certainly causing ire and indignation. Apparently, and this is a learning point for everyone, just because you have run out of clean clothes, the correct attire for a funeral is not a tutu. This little Filipino lady also doubles as my girlfriend.
Finding Your Service
Years ago you relied upon adverts in the local paper or Yellow Pages where you had no reviews to go on, so it was basically pot luck of whether you’d get a Michaelangelo or another one of the turtles. I’ve used two services recently and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, using Air-Tasker and then scouring Gumtree for someone that seemed authentic. Which is harder than it seems.
The AirTasker role was adding some covers onto some foam mattresses, to which I was lucky enough to already have some quality fabric donated from a friend. It wasn’t a difficult job, but it would have been a difficult job for me! <And God said unto the Welshman, ‘know your strengths!’ And the Welshman replied ‘if I prick my finger just once more with that damn needle . . .’> A quick post on AirTasker and I was being inundated with lovely people offering their services and near my suburb too – winner!
Next up was sorting out the air-conditioning in my car. Now unlike the mattresses where I understand the basics, I have absolutely no idea on this front. There is air. It is cooled. It is in my car. Much more than that, and I’ve got nothing. This time gumtree came to the rescue, and I found an experienced, lovely chap in Western Melbourne that had all his own kit, loved a chat, and sorted out the issues with some additional advice given too on its best performance. Two vastly different platforms, same lovely result. A rarity! The gumtree effort though did involve a little more sifting and some phone calls – if someone is offering $50 call out fee in addition to above average cost, extra for gas, minimum charge of $100 etc these, to me at least, are warning signs that I was going to get ridden like a pit pony at a carnival.
Brave New World
In an ideal world though no money would be transacted at all – it would all be based on credit, a different form of monetisation but using purely exchanged services. That way, everyone has a value and a service they can offer. Now there are stories of towns adopting their own currency rather than the national one, and an entirely different community based scheme in India called Auroville, and again without money. However, the alternative to this, and one I think deserves merit, is performing a service simply because you can, with no expectation of monetisation or credit. Holy shitballs, did those socks stay on or what?
Occasionally, my girlfriend gives up a few hrs of her week to her parents’ friends to church since they are unable to drive themselves. She also volunteers once a week to help kids on-line with their homework. Again, there is nothing to be gained from this other than the feeling of helping someone else. Another friend volunteers her nursing services to indigenous communities, and other parts of her time to the elderly. In return, my friend receives nothing other than the satisfaction of helping someone else.
Now, I think this is where the worlds of entrepreneurship and volunteering collide. When talking of business ideas with friends, which is almost a daily occurrence, depending on the friend, when I suggest doing it for free, they are a little bewildered. We’re indoctrinated in society to learn from a young age "if you’re good at something, never do it for free" yet we hold doors open, mentor and coach friends, help family with chores all the time and expect nothing. Unless you’re a kid needing pocket money, then you don’t move a muscle unless you’re paid or about to get a bloody hiding if you fail to comply.
Doing Things FOR FREE
So here is an idea for your next business venture - do it for free. This also gives rise to another question: would you perform the task if you weren’t getting paid for it? If yes, then clearly your passion outweighs the cost. If not, then perhaps you’ll lose interest along the way – this has certainly happened to me before. But there are other benefits to doing this too:
Now you’ll have to excuse me, it’s time this old man took the rubbish out. Whilst this is most certainly not my girlfriends task or even my task but rather something that just needs doing, if I don’t do it, I get in trouble. But at least I’ll look good whilst doing it.
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