Monthly Archive: April 2007

Where Do I Go From Here?

One of the services I have in mind is to make housecalls for computer problems and support. I learned that it’s bad to go out of your geographic comfort zone to go on-site, unless it’s well worthwhile. While living in Quincy and working in Easton, I did work for a client in Fall River, all of which I have labeled on one of the maps below to give a visual of what that means. While living in Stoughton and working in Easton, I did work for a client in Quincy, which had pretty much ended by the time I moved to Middleboro. The earliest work I did for the Quincy client involved driving to a temporary office in Framingham.

I’ve been agonizing, probably too much, as it will change, and it will be dependent on how much work I get, who I get for help, and where they are located, over what my coverage area should be. Originally I thought I would have help in West Bridgewater and Hanson. I figured a large radius from my location, and a smaller one from those. West Bridgewater will be available on the side, off-hours, if needed. Hanson will only be available for now if I need an extra body with me and provide transport. I also have possible on the side help in Abington, which is not labeled but is the town immediately north of Whitman.

If I tighten it too much, it limits the target market and potential work. If I go too far out, it gives too much potential for worthless work. Suppose the minimum fee is an hour. If I drive half an hour each way and spend 20 minutes on a problem, I’ve generated an hour of revenue for 80 minutes. I could be happier, but hey. The customer has paid an hour for, from their perspective, 20 minutes. How can they possibly be thrilled about that? Worse for me, if I spend an hour, it’s two for one. It gets better after that, so a lot depends on what the average visit runs, and whether people will actually pay that.

It’s a conundrum. Obviously I can hold myself willing to travel anywhere… for a price merely to show up. Or for jobs inherently large enough to justify the travel.

I have to start somewhere. My theory of business as a constant beta applies here, in that if the coverage area isn’t working, it can change later. So what did I come up with? Here’s the map. The green towns are considered core territory; especially close. Yellow is the next tier. Blue is the final tier. Plymouth barely made it. Brockton barely missed. Click the map to open a larger version you can see better, in which the names are visible.

What I ended up doing was using Google Earth to determine the distance in minutes and miles to the town center of each prospective town. The results were sometimes surprising. I then applied dollar figured per mile and per minute, ordering them by the result. Every town that fell within a half hour of dollar value at the rate I used was included, and the others were not. The downfall is that the town center and the far points in the town can be worlds apart. Thus my concern about including Plymouth. At the same time, you can see how the locations of highways influenced the shape of the map. Highways are why Mansfield is there, but Hanson, two towns away, to my surprise is not. Below is a map that compares what’s above with what I expected or perhaps wanted to include, and what I expected or wanted to exclude. Again with the click for larger, though the need is less because this one lacks names.

The towns in gray; Brockton, Whitman, Hanson, and Pembroke, are towns I had thought I would include. Pembroke is the one I was shakiest about.

The towns that are a grayed shade of their original blue or yellow are ones I thought might be excluded; Freetown, Norton, Mansfield, Kingston, Plymouth and Wareham. Wareham might seem a little odd, but Middleboro is huge and I am in the tope third of the town. Wareham is only an adjoining town because it briefly touches Middleboro at its most northern and western point. Yet Google Earth liked it better than Rochester.

I think I’m going to run with this coverage area, shown on the map and listed below in order of score:

West Bridgewater
East Bridgewater

I’ll make exceptions for certain people (employees of current and past clients who will be a big focus of my word of mouth campaign) or larger jobs, but otherwise I think I’m going to have to concentrate on whatever I can get that doesn’t depend on being there. Which is a whole other story; figuring out what will sell for long distance help and marketing it.

April 23 Carnival of the Capitalists

Welcome to this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists. It’s supposed to be about excellent quality, highly relevant posts. If I really kept only the very best, there would be under ten entries included. Perhaps Steven Silvers was onto something last week. Oh well; I’m a softy I guess.

Here’s one at Dispatches From Blogblivion musing about the sometimes conflicting pricing pressures of inflation, costs, competition and market expectations. wonders should you burn the ships? That is, leave yourself no escape so you’ll try harder.

Green Rising thinks Coca-Cola’s new direction in charitable activity – which is really marketing activity in a somewhat communistic sounding form – marks a big improvement for Coke and the targets.

Sophispundit talks about diminishing returns and economic pressure.

Apparently League Tables are a big yet problematic thing in investment banking, as The Epicurean Dealmaker attempts to explain.

Ideas in Progress on illegal aliens, robot mowers, automation and productivity.

Anti-corporate forces using amateur video? Steven Silvers notes the latest platforms make it easy and inevitable.

The BFU Journal compares the startup approaches of entrepreneurs and MBAs.

Econbrowser examines a study of the macroeconomic effects of tax changes.

Wally Bock makes the case for firing, despite the lawsuit-happy climate.

Find the hidden talent you already have in your organization. Blog Business World says it’s well worth it.

Perhaps you should Break the Shackles and profit from China’s massive railroad expansion.

This one borders on Personal Financial Advice, which is off-topic, but starting a business with pocket change is an interesting concept.

Businesspundit has tongue in cheek advice for how to sound smarter than you are. He asks:

Do we care less about what people do and more about what people say? We want to reward people for performance, but do we sometimes build corporate cultures that encourage BS more than anything else?

Speaking of productivity and specialization, along the lines of another post above (and the one following this), Political Calculations talks about the division and diversification of labour, comparing it in part to portfolio diversification.

Greg Swann of BloodhoundBlog would have arguably my favorite submission of the week even without having mentioned the James P. Hogan classic Voyage From Yesteryear. He takes on the topic of, the age of abundance, and anti-consumer conspiracy by anti-capitalist “business” people.

Finally, Small Business Buzz compares men and women as entrepreneurs. I was thinking of ordering business cards from GreatFX, sponsor of Small Business Buzz, which is an excellent example of blogging as a promotional tie-in to a business, since I know them through CotC. It looks like I can’t readily get what I want, ironic because it’s simple, without going local. Perhaps next time…

That’s it for this week’s edition. Next week’s host will be The Integrative Stream.

Migrated Content

I used to write tech stuff at XTremeBlog. While that blog may stay up for years to come, it’s likely not to be updated, and it is more likely to go away at some point. To preserve it and beef up what’s here, I’m going to replicate my posts, at least where relevant, or modified to make them more relevant, over to this blog. I’ll date them accordingly.

In addition, I will be migrating posts by other authors from whom I have received permission.

Some of the content may not completely fit with what I otherwise expect to present here, but you don’t have to read what’s not of interest or would make your head spin.

I may also migrate or adapt content from my other blogs, past and present, to get appropriate stuff all in one place.