Trevor McKendrick had no experience in coding or computer science. In fact, his background was in accounting. But when he discovered that a family member was making a substantial amount of money by selling iOS apps in Apple’s App Store, he decided to try it himself.
His first hurdle was obvious: He needed to come up with a unique idea for an app — not an easy task when around 1 000 new apps are launched in the App Store every single day. McKendrick dealt with this particular hurdle in the most inspired way possible — he circumvented it entirely. He would not try to create a new app, but would instead opt for creating a better one.
McKendrick started trawling the App Store for a very particular kind of app: One that was simultaneously popular and godawful.
In other words, he was looking for an app that users were willing to put up with despite obvious flaws, simply because there was nothing better on offer.
He found it in a Spanish-language Bible app. Spanish Bible readers, it turned out, were a surprisingly under-serviced segment of the App Store user base. If you wanted to crush candies, fling birds or post selfies, your options were vast. Try to read the Bible in Spanish on your phone, however, and you were in trouble. There were several apps to choose from, but none of them were good.
The perfect app
McKendrick had struck upon un-mined gold. Not only had he discovered a market in need of a good app, but the app they were clamouring for wasn’t even all that hard to create.
Consider, for a moment, the complexity of an app such as Uber. It needs to be able to find your location, allow you to choose between different ride options, send that information to a driver, tell you how long it will be until your ride arrives, process your payment, etc. This is not a cheap or easy app to make.
Now contrast that with a Bible app, which is essentially just (a whole bunch of) words linked to a table of contents. There’s not a lot of functionality involved. The app really just turns your phone or tablet into an e-reader.
Moreover, really old books such as the Bible do not need to be licenced. They are in the public domain, which means that you can go ahead and use that content for free.
Minimum viable product
Easy as a Bible app was to make, McKendrick didn’t possess the coding skills necessary to create it, so he commissioned a developer to do it for him. As mentioned, this wasn’t a terribly complex app to build, so producing it was relatively cheap.
“It cost me $500 to get a developer to create it for me,” says McKendrick. “Generally speaking, there are two ways to go about it when bringing in a developer. The first is to bring in someone who is very experienced and very knowledgeable. By doing this you really only need to pitch the idea. They’ll put the whole thing together for you. This way is easy and very hands-off, but it’s also expensive.
“The other option is to get someone to just do the basic coding for you. You’ll still need to do a lot of the testing and planning, which will save you money, but cost you time.”
The developer did most of the work for McKendrick, though he did help out here and there, but overall, creating the app was cheap because it was a very simple piece of software.
“I didn’t think of it as a minimum viable product at the time, but that’s really what it was,” says McKendrick. “With just R5 000 I was able to take a gamble and see if the app would take off.”
It took off. He sold the app for R10, and made R10 500 in his first month. By the end of the first year, the app had made R730 000 in revenue. By the second year it was making R1 000 000.
Speaking to Alex Blumberg in an episode of Blumberg’s podcast, StartUp, he said: “It doesn’t feel like real money because so little work is involved. Dude, I spend maybe an hour a month on this thing.”
McKendrick eventually decided that a ‘freemium’ model made more sense, whereby users get a basic service for free, but have to pay for add-on services.
“That seemed to be the way apps were going, and I thought it made sense,” says McKendrick. “The App Store was making the transition towards free apps, so I wanted to make that transition myself.”
McKendrick commissioned a developer to rebuild the app from the ground up. A big new feature was the ability to purchase an audio version of the Bible, as well as other related e-books.
This meant licensing the rights to the content, and in the case of a Spanish audio version of the Bible, having it recorded and edited.
“I found an audio studio in Peru, and it took them four months to record it. We had two translations, and the voice on both versions was the same guy. This one guy read the Bible out loud twice. They would apparently work in three-hour chunks,” says McKendrick.
As the app grew in popularity, revenue ballooned from R50 000 a month to R120 000. However, production costs and royalty fees now had to be paid, so overall profits grew by a fairly small amount. Still, McKendrick had created an app that was selling well and offering a very steady stream of (fairly) passive income.
Selling the app
Eventually, a buyer started sniffing around. “This guy just sent me an email and told me that his company was interested in buying the app. He introduced himself and provided some social proof that he was serious by telling me to look him up on LinkedIn.
Selling the app wasn’t something that McKendrick was actively trying to accomplish. In fact, he wasn’t sure at all if he wanted to sell. But he was being offered a great price: Five times revenue — a total of $500 000.
“The price was about eight times the profit I was making, which meant that it would take me about a decade to make that kind of money off the app. Moreover, I was losing interest in the business. I wanted to do something new,” says McKendrick.
So he cashed out and left the Bible selling business. He had made a tidy sum of money, but he had also found his passion. He now plans to help others do what he did — to build a successful app without any coding knowledge. McKendrick did it. Anyone else can, too.
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A 7-Step Guide To Starting Your Own Trade Business
With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.
Skilled tradesmen are always in demand. Whether you are a plumber, electrician, cabinetmaker, refrigeration expert, tiler or builder, there is a ton of work out there. For many, the best way to make the most of the opportunity is to open your own business.
Where do you start? The first step is to register your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Look for a catchy name that is easy to spell and memorable – you do not want customers to struggle. The CIPC will tell you which names are taken. It is also a good idea to do a trademark search before deciding on a name. Register with SARS and make sure that all your tax affairs are in order.
It is a very good idea to get a good accountant right at the early stages of the game. They can also help you set up the legislative requirements for running a business. The National Small Business Chamber is a non-profit organisation that offers a range of services to its members that aim to help them grow faster, save money and receive the support they need.
With that sorted, it is time to get on with the more exciting operational stuff.
1. Finding customers
You want to find customers in order to grow your business beyond the ones you already have. These days, that means a website and some smart online marketing.
This can be as simple as setting up a Facebook page and any one of several other social media sites (like Instagram and LinkedIn). These services are at no-cost to you and allow you to quickly build up a following of loyal customers. You can share ‘jobs well done’, so prospective customers can see what you are capable of, while your contact details are easily accessible. In due course, consider some paid averts on relevant social media platforms and perhaps a website of your own. It is a good way to get potential customers on board.
At the same time, list your services in community newspapers, noticeboards and newsletters so everyone in the area can easily see that you are available and what it is you do. Also, keep your eye on social media community groups – and ask family, friends and existing clients to refer and/or recommend your services when an opportunity arises.
Finally, there are many government initiatives and non-profit organisations whose aim is to help small businesses succeed – with a particular emphasis on black-owned businesses. This help could range from facilitating access to finance, all the way to mentorship. Spend some time finding out what help is on offer. The SME Movement site also has this kind of information.
2. Stay focused
For those just starting out, there might be a temptation to take any job that crosses your path. Rather stick to your area of expertise to build a reputation based on proven skills. If you are an electrician with a little plumbing experience, for example, tackling a piping job could cause more trouble than it is worth. Every trade is different and you are an expert for a reason.
Leave the other work for experts in those fields – but build up relationships with them so that you can refer work to each other.
3. Ride on your qualifications and references
You have spent a lot of time getting certified. Let your customers know about your qualifications and experience by putting it on your Facebook page, your invoices, e-mails and other communications. The same goes for references; these are valuable and provide evidence of your ability to get the job done. Ask for a reference when the job is complete and then on to social media it goes. The good news with social media, by the way, is that these references do not ever go away.
4. Stay on top of the paperwork
The good old days of doing business on a handshake may be behind us. Providing quotes, contracts, invoices and records of payments electronically makes paperwork a whole lot easier by creating a digital archive where physical copies aren’t needed, but it serves the same purpose, when it is formally recorded, it is far easier to see what has been agreed to, done and paid for. Do not skimp here, even the best customer service provider relationships can go awry if verbal agreements are all you have to go on.
5. Register with your trade association (and invest in CPD)
Being a member of a trade association (like Master Builders, the Institute of Plumbing or other professional bodies) lends credibility to what you are doing. It also provides access to new customers should larger contractors need to sub-contract. Your trade association also formalises training and continuous professional development (CPD).
6. Get business insurance
All too often, this crucial coverage is ignored by those starting out on their own. You want to protect tools and equipment on the one hand and you also want broadform public liability to safeguard yourself, your employees and your business against third party claims should something go wrong on the job. It provides cover in connection with your normal business activities and also your liability if any employees are injured in the course of work.
Putting the right insurance in place can mean the difference between staying in business for the long term or folding the minute the tools grow legs and disappear.
7. Deliver good service
Do not forget that every job is a potential reference and, at the very least, is your entry into that client’s network of friends or business associates. Concentrate on giving good service and actively request feedback so you can remedy any shortfalls. A take-it-or-leave it attitude may be relaxing, but it will prevent your business from growing to what it potentially can be.
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)
The Ultimate 101 List Of Business Ideas To Start Your Own Business In South Africa
Want to boost your income on a part-time basis? Looking for a new business to start and grow into an empire? You’ve come to the right place. This list of business ideas will help children, adults, men, women and even people in rural areas think about ways to become an entrepreneur.
Are you looking for that one idea to spark a business that will make you money? We have one hundred and one just for you!
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad looking to pursue your passion part-time, a nine-to-five employee seeking a side gig, a creative who’s keen on innovative and flexible moneymaking methods or a student at any level in your education, looking to start your entrepreneurial journey early…we’ve got the best ideas for you to choose from to kick-start your very own business, today.
This comprehensive slide show below is just what you’ve been waiting for to take your first step into financial independence. Read on to find your perfect fit and discover more about how to get started.
What You Need To Know When Starting A Tech Business
For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications.
Protecting and managing your intellectual capital starts with finding, identifying and classifying your most important human and intellectual assets. Once you know what you are looking for, you can then determine whether you have the rights you need over those assets. If you don’t, you can then go about securing those rights and then select the best methods of protecting them.
Intellectual capital, intellectual assets and intellectual property
In the industrial and manufacturing industries, the conventional forms of capital needed to start and grow a business were real estate, factories, plant and equipment. But in today’s knowledge economy, these physical assets have largely been replaced by ideas, knowledge and creativity as the new drivers of value.
This new type of information and knowledge-based capital is known as intellectual capital. Your intellectual capital is basically all the knowledge, skills, capabilities and work product that you and your team have to offer, together with the relationships, reputation and brand equity that your business is able to attract and maintain in the marketplace.
Intellectual capital is made up of the following:
- Your ideas, insights, knowledge and creativity (intellectual assets)
- The talent, skills and capabilities of your team (human capital)
- Your contractual relationships and connections with investors, customers and other stakeholders (relationship assets)
- Your unique brand and the reputation and goodwill you have built around it (brand assets)
In the same way as we as individuals have a whole lot of information and knowledge, some useful, some useless and trivial; your business’s intellectual capital can also be categorised according to its uniqueness, usefulness or value.
Where your intellectual capital displays these additional qualities, it may qualify for statutory legal protection. These special assets, commonly referred to as intellectual property, are bestowed with rights and protections which give the owner a period of time (limited) to commercialise or exploit them without any undue or unfair interference from others. The trade-off is that after that period of time expires, the asset becomes part of the public domain for anyone and everyone to use.
Discovering what intellectual capital you have and need
For the tech entrepreneur, the majority of your intellectual capital will reside in your software, code, databases, websites or mobile applications. Copyright law without the need to register rights or comply with any further formalities automatically protects most of these assets. However, it is still necessary to identify and categorise those assets because the ownership rights and the ways to protect them may differ between the different types of asset.
At the same time, there may also be a wealth of other intellectual assets tucked away in your filing cabinets and hard drives, waiting to be discovered. These may include valuable trade secrets, know-how, methodologies, customer learning, and market research.
Once you have linked the value drivers and competitive advantages in your business with the assets that produce them, list those assets and classify them according to the structure that they take. Are they people-based or embedded in technology or documentation. Do any of them qualify for statutory protection?
The outcome should be an inventory of all your intellectual capital, classified according to the different levels of protection available as well as their importance to your business. You probably don’t have the time, energy or budget to protect everything, so taking the time to do this exercise will ensure that you separate the wheat from the chaff which will save you in the long run.
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