The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 59
The business

I told Rupert about how I had lost my job. It wasn’t the end of the world, because I still lived with my parents. In fact, Rupert was rather happy that I had lost my job, because, as he pointed out, I was in the perfect situation for us to start our own business.

Rupert and I chatted about what kind of business we could start. We didn’t actually have a clue about starting a business, and so we searched the Internet for advice until we stumbled upon a business training course by a man named ‘Hannes Dreyer’. Hannes was a very ‘out of the box’ type of business man. His ideas were nothing like what you might expect, and I enjoyed reading what he had to say. He wrote about building automated systems that make money, and fun ways to make money, and ways to make money without taking large risks. It was exactly what we were looking for and so we attended his training course.

The first thing we had to do after that was to choose a business idea, and test it out. I only had one, the idea to combine a security business with a guarantee. Hannes said that one should give oneself a month to try an idea. ‘If it doesn’t work,’ he said, ‘then it’s too risky’, and so we set our first target; We had to make a profit by the 1st of June. ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ I kept telling myself. I knew that I was smart, and if anyone could do this, I could. We were going to go with a low risk approach, which meant that we decided exactly how much we were willing to lose, before spending a single cent. But how does one guarantee the safety of a house without having millions?

It didn’t take long to realize that we were going to need an insurance company to help with the guarantees. We would start a basic security business, set up security cameras and do our own patrols to start, and we’d have to find an insurance company that was willing to listen to our business plan. We put aside a mere R4,000, which was about $500, and got to work.

Our business was simply called ‘Guaranteed Security’. The name said it all. We did a simple, but professional looking design for our company logo, and had business cards printed out. We had stickers made to put on my car, to make it look like a security vehicle. We set up a simple, but professional looking website. We contacted a few insurance companies to find out how much they were charging for household insurance and life cover. We then drew up a bunch of charts, estimating how much the business could make under various conditions, and how much we would charge under various conditions. We designed a short questionnaire for people to fill in, stating how much interest they would have in ‘Guaranteed Security’. We printed out a hundred copies and dropped them in a hundred post boxes on our island. The next day we walked around to all those houses to collect the responses. We got 70 responses, of which 20% said that they would be willing to change to our security company if we could get them the deal that we offered. We thought that was pretty good.

The next two days Rupert took off work and we spent both days contacting and meeting with insurance companies. Of the 12 insurance companies that we contacted, only 3 showed any interest, and none accepted our offer. Rupert didn’t seem phased. ‘Do you know how many times Edison’s light bulb experiments failed?’ he asked me.

‘I’m not sure if it was hundreds or thousands, but I know it was a lot,’ I replied.

‘No, they never failed. He discovered hundreds of ways not to make a light bulb.’

 

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