Monday, June 18, 2007

Consumer Researcher

  • Start-up cost: RM2,500-RM5,000
  • Potential earnings: RM25,000-RM59,000
  • Typical fees: RM25 per hour
  • Advertising: Business periodicals, trade journals, Yellow Pages, networking, referrals, business organizations
  • Qualifications: Business background, experience in consumer research, proven track record, excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Equipment needed: Office furniture, computer, suite software, laser printer, modem, fax, cellular phone
  • Staff required: Probably
  • Handicapped opportunity: No
  • Hidden costs: Preparation of materials, utility bills
  • Lowdown: Your experience in communicating with consumers will allow you to provide essential information to your corporate clients. How is their product viewed in the marketplace? How do people feel about it? What would they like to buy to go with it? How were they treated as they bought it? Would the average consumer be interested in trying a certain type of new sports equipment or baby chair? What is the most appealing approach right now in window treatments? Thousands of questions like these are the grist for your mill, and you’ll arrive at answers via phone, mail, or in-person surveys. You will need to market your own services to show that you can find the answers to the questions that affect your clients’ businesses. Each successful project should lead to further work. Estimating costs, and price, accurately will be challenging. Managing the workflow will also require considerable skill. You’ll be moving from the big picture to the details and back again constantly.
  • Start-Up: Keeping in communication, tracking data, and reporting information clearly are all essential. Your office needs to support these functions (for a start-up cost of about RM2,500). You could earn around RM25,000 after the first year.
  • Bottom-Line Advice: Writing an effective questionnaire, or interview script, is no easy task. Clarity, simplicity, and effectiveness are all vital. Gathering and interpreting the data is much more challenging than just talking to people about a topic. You’ll be helping your clients decide what knowledge about their customers is important. Then you’ll present the results of your research in a clear, concise form. Business will build slowly as organizations become more confident in your skills.

Corporate Trainer

  • Start-up cost: RM5,000-RM11,000
  • Potential earnings: RM35,000-RM100,000
  • Typical fees: RM500-RM2,000 per day
  • Advertising: Networking with local personnel managers, speaking before professional organizations and local groups, compiling a detailed portfolio in a specific area like sales or team management, communication skills, facility with group dynamics
  • Equipment needed: Office furniture, computer, printer, fax, suite and presentation software, business card, letterhead, and envelopes
  • Staff required: No
  • Handicapped opportunity: Possibly
  • Hidden costs: Living expenses for first six months to build client base
  • Lowdown: Although there has been over the last decade an increase in the percentage of employees who receive formal training, fewer large companies keep a training staff on the payroll. The process of hiring and firing means big losses for companies trying to keep up with changing techniques, technologies, and procedures. Successful training will build a solid reputation, and can be a foothold to other money-making opportunities, such as books, tapes, manuals, and seminars.
  • Start-Up: The Malaysian Society for Training and the Malaysian Institute of Management can be useful resources for developing your own program. You must spend the time and money (about RM1,000+), to create a specific presentation that will fill an existing niche in the industry, and earn you about RM5,000. You can charge more as you grow more established
  • Bottom-Line Advice: Top trainers make excellent money, but be prepared to take the time to sell yourself and your seminars. Remember that companies are often looking for short-term benefits instead of the long-term value of a good training program. However, once your reputation is established, there is excellent opportunity for repeat business.