Somebody has to say it. Being a professional in Sri Lanka is hard work. Most of the time you have to deal with people who don’t know what they are doing.
Without ranting on let me lay down a few cases and try to offer some advice (even though it might not be my job to do so).
Its hard. If you are not 100% sure you are going to make it, don’t do it, because once you are in there is no going back.
Keep your day job, start on the side if possible.
No one is going to lend you money at first but when things are picking up investment will come. It depends what you want. I chose to be independent for now.
Don’t borrow money from friends and family if you want to keep them that way. Ask them for referrals but don’t take their business.
Don’t say yes to everything. Pick your battles. Say no when you have to.
Don’t take a project if you can’t deliver or you don’t know what the requirement or scope is.
Take an advance, bill in stages, collect on deliverables. If payments stops, work stops. Move on.
Stick to your core skills, don’t get distracted by what others are doing.
Hire the best team possible.
Let me explain. Sometime ago I was around some kids and picked up a good business lesson.
There were some new kids trying to make friends in a crowd. The kids that said hi and found similar traits connected well and hung out for a log time. Kids that formed bonds via sharing treats like cookies didn’t last long.
When you go to a Sampath Bank ATM and ask for 10,000LKR they give you 5 x 2000LKR notes.
When you go to a Commercial Bank ATM and ask for 10,000LKR they give you 4 x 2000LKR, 1 x 1000LKR and 2 x 500LKR notes.
Commercial gives you sensible defaults whereas at Sampath if you want change you have to ask for something like 11,500LKR.
I finally setup a company for myself. Yay for me! Don’t believe the hype just yet. Then again there isn’t much hype about it right now. I’ve been trying to drum up some interest over the holidays but it was harder than I thought.
I might be a bit late to the website-company party but I’m packing a whole lot of punch behind it. I have a pretty good team around me that lets me do this.
We are starting with Sri Lankan small business websites so we can give a more localized and personal service. We believe we have something unique to offer. Ya I’ll be using ‘we’ a lot but its mostly just me.
A few people asked me. Why do websites? Isn’t everyone else doing it? Well ya but that’s something I know I can do well and its a simple enough business to start when you know a bunch of good designers, and they do all the work for you.
My general instinct is to stick to something unique and untouchable but in this case I’ve seen many cases where we can do a better job.
We don’t have a killer solution (not yet at least), to be honest we can only handle a handful of clients at a time. But I think our clients like that we are small and spend some 1 on 1 time with them and get things right.
I’ve been building websites off and on since 1996, it was Mosaic times back then and we were exited about getting HTML tables!
Its a whole new ball game now. We are come very far in Internet time. So bring it on! We are here to play.