Switching from Corporate job to freelance career and finally a registered company

The journey for these 4 years was not easy. After leaving a corporate job as Developer Analyst I was not sure what I would do. But I always wanted to start a company of my own. After doing a corporate job for more than 5 years it was cup of tea to earn the bread & butter. But landing into freelance community with full of competition with no preparation what so ever was my first taste of entrepreneurship – where the saying goes “Jump of the cliff and then build your plane”. It was more a like a you are trying to attempt suicide wishing you fail at it.

So I jumped and the free-fall happened for almost 6 months where I was still thinking what to do. Then my first attempt to make the plane was to start a free basic computer coaching to under-privilege children. And it took me an year to realise that charity starts only after once you have established yourself in your area of expertise. So my first attempt to make that plane for survival failed as I ran out of finances to run this small coaching centre. I decided to postpone my dream to start a school and empowering under-privilege until I have empowered myself.

During these 18 months I was still doing some coding building some web applications and small softwares but nothing did hit the market and all those seeds that I sowed was not watered well and hence they did not reap. During that time when I was not sure what I would do, I made some bold cum stupid steps to hire couple of teachers to teach basic computers but as that plan did not go well we had to switch to plan B which is to finally run a software company. The challenge was not easy here too.

I worked as Java developer for 5 years and these new cubs where just passed out of college and had no experience in java nor there were many java projects in freelance community. Freelance communities were full of PHP, HTML and CSS projects which were quite easy to learn and by these new cubs. So I made few websites in core PHP but again it was a challenge to get big projects in core PHP because the amount of time you spend in building these websites and getting clients who are willing to pay for your effort were quite few. They want a website in CMS and I had no time left to build a CMS myself as I already ran out of my saving and time. I was working very hard to earn few bucks to ensure that I can at-least pay salary to these new cubs.

There came a time when I had to take some money from my retired mom to pay salary to these new cubs. Finally I decided If I did not earn good money to take care of my expenses and salary of these new cubs, I will be no good to live up to my dream and will call quite to join back the corporate job. As some client of mine had asked for CMS for their website so I downloaded all open source PHP CMS that were in market from Joomla to Drupal to WordPress to Magento.

Out of all these WordPress was pretty easy to learn. We built many sites for free just to learn it well. Below is one of our first few sites that we built. There were many more such sites that we did, they ranked pretty good on google and these shop owners were getting good leads for free. It was a great boast to our confidence that we are on good track and we have learned something via which we can benefit business owners.

jailroad co in prakashfurniture

We then decided to make a furniture portal to target all furniture shops in our area and register them on it as a paid user. We did build this custom portal in WordPress and then came the time to market it. I had no marketing or sales experience and I was visiting form one shop to another to sell the paid listing. I was competing against the big giants like justdial and google as they already listed those shops for free. I had no convincing factor as why a shop should register a paid listing on our portal. So it failed and no one paid us for listing their businesses on our portal. We did this activity on a smaller furniture market that is on Jail Road New Delhi where our office is located right now.

Then we decided to do this same activity on of the Asia most largest furniture market – Kirti Nagar. We build this listing site. Below screen shot below of this site.

kirtinagar website home page
Kirti Nagar Home Page
kirtinagar in woodman
Kirti Nagar Listing Individual Page
kirtinagar-in-directory
Kirti Nagar Directory Page

We marketed this site and again we failed to get any paid listing. We made its USP as the only furniture hub dedicated only for the reputed and selective showrooms in the market.  I was devastated that we had lost 6 months again and we had not earned a single penny. I was feeling hopeless, earning Rs 10,000 / month was tough task where I used to spend this amount of money without second thought when I was in corporate job.

There were many more such failures which I will discussing in new few blogs that I had in two years of my experiments with my self and seeing what is my worth. I was shattered seeing that I could not even earn Rs 10,000 a month. It took us months to build these sites and portals which did not yield us any returns. Finally we thought to add google ads to get some revenue out of it so that we can at-least pay for its hosting.

But in these 6 months we have learned a CMS which my clients wanted on their website. The eager to provide this benefit to my clients got injected in my veins. We started offering basic website as people wanted to spend less and get most out of it. Our new cubs were now have grown big and have learnt how to build these websites. From there the story of building affordable WordPress websites started.

I made a freelance profile to offer wordpress website design and development service to client across the globe. We got our first order and we worked tirelessly to make sure our first client is 200% happy. We received a great feedback and then there was series of orders that we got. We use to build as many as 20 websites a month by working day and night. We were three employees in this startup. And we started providing value and in turn started earning some bucks.

It started with just $100 ~ 60 GBP (as of 2012) basic website design service that we offered on a freelance website and today we have build sites that worth $25,000 ~ 20,000 GBP (as of 2016) and more. From complex memberships based site to job portals we have build varied businesses and helped lot of startups to go online.

Now I feel its time to give back to the society what I learned in those 9-10 years of my professional career. From a java developer to a php developer to marketer to salesman to designer, it is not easy as I was building my own road but I want to make it easy for someone who want to get on it, learn it quick and start earning some good amount. Journey on a bumpy road is often slow, but when the road is well constructed you can speed up as quick as you can to get ahead of anyone.

We are still on a growing phase and challenge to further grow is never ending. We are still a pretty small startup of 5 team members. I will share you all my experiences, failures, success and learnings in next few blogs.

3 Things for a Success Mantra : Hard work, Determination and Dedication

Brief background

You will always reap the rewards of hard work, determination and dedication. If I can do this, so can you. My first taste of programming was in 9th Standard, when we were taught C / C++ – I just loved it! Myself and my friends used to get the permission of our class teacher to skip school assembly and prayers so we could sit every morning for 20-30 minutes in the computer lab and play with ‘for’ and ‘if’ loops. My passion grew further When I passed my qualifying engineering exam and was admitted for my BE; I fell in love with Java and multithreading and built some really cool projects, and I won a Software Impact award for one project.

Soon after completing my Bachelors of Engineering degree in Computer Science in 2007, I joined a software and consulting company called Accenture, where I was further trained in web application development and J2EE technologies. I was placed in the Java team as an Associate Web Developer. Here, my passion for programming grew in leaps and bounds. I was a hard worker and in my very first year I was given the opportunity to lead a team of 7 in automating the Assembly Testing process; it went well and I was named employee of the year (Achievers Award 2008). It was a great feeling.

I worked in Accenture Chennai for 30 months as a Web Developer, but then home began calling and I joined Aon Hewitt Gurgaon in my hometown of New Delhi. It was here that I learned to work as one-man army. I was assigned to an internal web application development project, which initially comprised of 2-3 developers, although I was later solely responsible for the entire project. I won a couple of ‘X-tra Miler’ awards at Aon Hewitt, too.

During my last 12 months of employment I was assigned a research and development task for a new tool and CMS – Liferay. I taught myself about this project independently, with no training whatsoever, and later worked with and mentored expert vendors, with whom I was on a par, even providing them with a few tips and tricks to get it working and aligned to company guidelines! J

After working for 5 years as a Web Developer for Accenture and Aon Hewitt. I left my job with Aon Hewitt when they failed to agree to my requested pay hike. I decided that I would never work for someone else again, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do.

What were some of the challenges you faced when starting up your software company?

Getting clients was a major challenge; I had to travel to shops, showrooms and events to build a professional network, promote the company’s services and win work. In spite of this, the work we secured was not enough to sustain the company; moreover, we were restricted to a local area, but we wanted to reach a global market.

Why did you join PPH, and when?

For more than 18 months after leaving my job, while we were working on our products, I earned next to nothing. My savings were rapidly driving up and things were looking bleak, until one day, while browsing the Internet, I came across PPH. In the past I had set up profiles on several freelancing websites where a strong profile is required to win work. In comparison to these sites the PPH ‘hourlies’ were unique and I thought the site was amazing. I loved the idea of not always having to find the work, you could simply create an hourlie to sell your expertise and skills and clients would come to you. However, it still wasn’t easy to stand out among the 20,000 hourlies listed.

I created a pretty unique hourlie, website development for $100, and then waited. I didn’t hear anything for couple of weeks. With only $30 left in my bank account, I had a decision to make. Should I ‘Feature’ my hourlie? In my bid to attract clients, I decided to go for it. I featured the hourlie once, and received a request, for which I worked tirelessly to ensure that my first client was 200% happy with my work. My hard work paid off I received 150 words of fantastic feedback.

After that, there was no stopping me. From that moment until now I have been inundated with requests to develop websites. I have sold more websites than any other hourlie on PPH. I am ranked 32nd out of 600,000 freelancers and my $100 10-page website is a trend setting hourlie, which many freelancers copied, and still do now. They are making a good return using my original sales copy, something that I feel very proud of.

Fast forward to today, and we are now 4 employees and a registered company – Credofy Solutions Pvt Ltd – here in India, serving clients across the globe.

How have you managed to win a steady flow of work on PPH?

I use three top tips, which I have listed for you below: over delivery and quick replies; honesty and commitment; high quality and complementary services; and, under commit and over deliver

How does PPH affect your business?

PPH does so much for our business; it really is invaluable. Beyond finding customers, it also provides us access to other quality freelancers to whom we can outsource work when we are overloaded. In this way it helps us to make good connections and grow our network.

How difficult is it for you to manage your workload?

Now, with 4 of us working for the company, it is not too difficult. Our success and high volume work load does provide us some unique insight into potential features, and we think it would be great if PPH considered adding a feature to book hourlies, an alternative to instant purchasing, or at perhaps give the seller more control over confirming that the completion requirements have been met. Although all sellers mention their requirements in their hourlies, these are not always fulfilled immediately on purchase, which delays work and adds to the communication and administrative workload. Clients often change or add to their requirements as the work is in progress, and to sustain our rankings and ratings we sellers are under pressure to meet these requests, which are sometimes unfair. It would be great if PPH should need to work on something that would protect their top sellers from exploitation by opportunistic buyers. Raising a dispute is often penalized, and in the past I have incurred significant monetary and time losses by refunding clients rather than risk negative feedback that would affect my ratings.

What are your top 3 tips for managing/working on PPH?

  1. Over-delivery and quick communication: We always make sure that we over-deliver, even if the client adds to or changes their requirements We never raise the fixed fees that we have agreed, and we always deliver the work. This builds trust, and so we either win more work from same client, or they recommend us to their circle. We do set a limit for this over delivery; the maximum we over deliver by is 50%. We reply almost instantly to all of our clients who respect workmanship and are professional. This again helps to build trust. We always make sure to answer all client questions in detail, and never leave a question unanswered. Again, this builds trust, and so our clients come back to us again and again. After working with more than 150 clients, I have noticed that an instant reply to an enquiry means that the chances converting the enquiry into a sale is three times more than a reply sent after 24 hours or more has passed.
  1. Honesty and commitment: We are completely transparent; we never hide anything from our clients. If we cannot fulfill their requirements, we will refer them to other freelancers. As a result, our clients trust us, rely on us and keep coming back for referrals and more work. We are 110% committed to the work that we undertake and will deliver it before time, unless there is a delay from the client side. We always follow up with a client if we do not hear from them.
  1. Quality and complementary service: We never compromise on the quality of the work that we deliver. Instead, we go beyond the scope of the original request to make sure that what we deliver is of the highest standard, without focusing on payment. In return we are always rewarded with great client feedback, which in turn gets us more business.  Alongside our hourlies we offer freebies and complementary services, which attract new customers and help us to beat the competition.
  1. An extra tip – Under commit and deliver more: I read somewhere and always try to follow. We never over commit just to win a job. Rather, we under commit and over deliver; this again builds trust and secures either repeat work or referrals from all of our clients.

In short, I was a trend setter; I created an initial hourlie for developing a 10-page responsive website for $100, which now has been revised to offer more services, including a fully secured and fast loading website for $199 with pretty cool and competitive add on like on page SEO, keyword research, paypal integration etc; which is now the hourlie that has given us most business and repeat clients.

I would also like to take this opportunity to put forward a proposal to become affiliated and associated with PPH, to promote their brand and have a chance to give back. Here is my proposal:

We would like to promote PPH in all 196 countries in person. We would like to suggest that PPH select their top sellers to travel across the globe and set up development camps where services will be sold, and products will be designed and developed instantly sitting next to the client, very cost effectively. I would love to be a part of that team, to sell my website development services and search engine optimization service at a very cost effective price. We have designed and developed websites in 24 hours, and would love to be a part of that journey. With PPH acting as a backbone to offer financial security, create a buzz with their global outreach and secure bookings for various services in advance (perhaps even collaborate or partner with Evanto for finances and source some pre-made templates and plug-ins to quicken the design and development process – if not we can arrange that in our service fees), and us, the freelancers, turning the end users’ dreams into reality, quickly and cost effectively.

We could even share the expenses from the earnings, or invest to make event a success. This has the potential to be a fantastic collaborative venture to promote all involved, a win-win for us all.