Yaneek Page | From resumes to riches
ADVISORY COLUMN: BUSINESSWISE
QUESTION: I’m trying to decide what my next move will be and I need your help. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at university but I still had to choose a major so I pretty randomly chose psychology. Now I am here stuck in a punishing dead-end job, that has nothing to do with my major let me add, and I desperately want out. You have no idea what I am going through Yaneek. Most days I want to give up. Now because of my own experience I realise there may be a real market for resume writing. Lots of young people I know want to change jobs or even find a job and resume writing could be very lucrative. What do you think? Should I consider starting a resume writing business and if so, how rich is this idea potentially. Seriously? Help please! – Monique
BUSINESSWISE: How rich the idea may be will depend on the business model you would create and whether the market responds as you anticipate.
The starting point is to expand your perspective from your own experience to understanding what the common needs are for a feasible target market, and then crafting solutions it is willing to pay for. The emphasis here is on the target market being well defined, well understood and, most importantly, viable.
While just under three million people live in Jamaica the workforce is comprised of approximately 1.3 million. The current unemployment rate is just under 9 per cent while youth unemployment is just under 25 per cent. The highest rate of unemployment is still among young women.
You can find more economic and labour force data on the website of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. Data will be critical in your decision-making so please start doing your research.
The fact the people may want or even need something doesn’t mean they can afford it or are willing to spend on it, and this is at the heart of target market viability.
One would not expect unemployed people to have significant spending power for non-essentials, especially young people who make up the largest cohort of unemployed. Therefore, unemployed youth, who are inexperienced and strapped for cash, may not perceive value in hiring a resume writing expert, especially when they have the time and capabilities to do research and create their own.
However, people who are currently employed and want to change jobs may be experienced enough to appreciate the advantage of professionally done resumes, may be too busy to do themselves, and may have the ability.
I’ve tried to condense the other key considerations for you into some bullet points, so please take note:
◆ Don’t make the mistake of going after the larger target market – instead go after who sees your value, will demand your service and can afford to pay;
◆ What I’ve put forward is anecdotal, you will need to do your own extensive research – perhaps in the form of focus groups or surveys to test your ideas and validate the target market;
◆ Bear in mind that resume writing is relatively labour intensive, specialized and low value. It is also not easy to standardize, automate and scale, if your aim is to produce large numbers of resumes that are also highly effective in securing interviews;
◆ It may take almost the same time and effort to produce a resume as a it does to produce a business plan but the difference in what you can charge for a business plan would be several times what you can charge for a resume. Therefore if you need to acquire new skills to kick start your idea it is better to focus on what you are great at with the max return on investment;
◆ There are several competitors in the market today. My limited internet research lead me to at least 25 providers, some of them established talent management entities, so be prepared to differentiate and compete;
◆ Financial projections such as estimated income and cashflows must be completed with credible assumptions and let this serve as your guide to how lucrative it may be;
◆ Factor the lifetime value of each customer in your deliberations. The most attractive business models tend to be those with high customer lifetime value.
If you recognise that resume writing alone is not lucrative you could consider expanding your revenue model to a suite of diverse streams such as resume writing workshops, personal branding services, job search mentoring, interview coaching and so on.
Again, research, financial projections and even a lean pilot program may be the way to go in order to establish proof of concept before deepening your investment and risk-taking or else your quest for riches could result in expensive entrepreneurial and financial lessons.
Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer, and creator/executive producer of The Innovators TV series.