Businesswise | Advice that pays: How one reader is earning from home
A few weeks ago while waiting in a government office a pleasant middle-age lady approached me with warm eyes and the broadest smile.
"Hi Yaneek! I don't really want to bother you because I know you must be bombarded every day with people asking for advice, but I really have to tell you thank you. Your advice is helping to pay my mortgage."
I was caught totally off guard. It was the most heart-warming news I had heard all week. I was so overwhelmed that I received her with a big hug, even before she offered any details. She then introduced herself and explained that she was motivated by my article 'Earning Big From Your Extra Space', which was published on June 14, 2015.
In the article, I shared how some Jamaicans were earning substantial income from renting extra space in their homes.
She said what struck her most was the revelation that some ingenious people were even renting their couch to foreigners in need of inexpensive space.
"That's when I said to myself: No man! I have far more space than a couch, so I must can do that," she said.
She said the decision to transform her incomplete family home, located in Mona, into an income earner was an easy one as she was under intense pressure to meet her mortgage obligations and other bills, and was losing weight and sleep over the constant late notices from the mortgage company. Being self-employed and a mother of two teenagers, who would soon be ready for college, she felt a deep sense of urgency to put her most valuable asset to work for her.
Putting advice into action
So, exactly how did my reader put the insights and advice into action? The first thing she did was estimate how much space she could afford to give up and what the likely monthly income would be.
She decided that short-term rental to foreigners would not work for her because she desperately needed consistent monthly income and was not "technologically inclined" to be able to take full advantage of Airbnb, the online portal I had identified in my article that connects travellers to accommodation in Jamaica, among many other countries.
She chose instead to exploit her proximity to Jamaica's largest universities and cater to students.
Her decision was brilliant. Not only is this income more reliable, but students would be far less discerning and demanding than visitors. This also allayed her lingering fears and security concerns about inviting scores of strangers into her home.
Next, her family had to make some significant sacrifices to create a two bedroom flat within their home. This was most challenging. The children gave up their bedrooms, and the living room was converted into a kitchenette and dining area, which was all enclosed to create a separate living space for rental. The remaining living room in the home was transformed into a large bedroom which is now shared by the teenagers.
She insists that the smaller space, though less luxurious, is functional and meets their needs rather than their wants.
My reader also gushed with excitement and pride as she shared how she scoured the classifieds to unearth bargain prices on used furniture and appliances to furnish the flat. She saved money on building materials by buying shop worn/slightly scratched fixtures at low budget hardware stores.
An upfront investment of just under $350,000 will result in her earning an additional annual income of almost $750,000. Enough to cover a significant portion of her mortgage.
What I find particularly refreshing, is how quickly and decisively she acted. She read the article in mid-June and by mid-August she had completed the flat, listed the property with the universities and booked classified advertisements in the newspaper. By the end of August she became a landlord to two college students and used the deposits and first month's rental to pay down her credit cards, on which most of the remodelling expenses were charged.
While trading in extra room and some home comforts for fiscal space may not be for everyone, it can transform the fortunes and futures of many families, solving critical housing needs in the process. I hope my readers will continue to be inspired, take action and share their success stories and lessons learned.
Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer, and executive producer of The Innovators TV series.