Nearly four months ago now, I got a new tenant in at the back of our house. When he first came to our door he was in a mess. He was down on his luck and in a space of five or so years he blew all his life’s savings and even his pension fund. He is still paying for his college degree and he’s got a pile of debts to take care of. I was sceptical at first to take this guy in because I could never be too sure that he was going to be able to come up with the rent. You see, he’s now a freelance writer. It was his dream all along and the college degree was going to help him to kick start his new writing career.
While I was negotiating with him about the terms and conditions for staying on my premises, my husband poked his head around the corner. He had just come in for his lunch break. He took one look at this guy and said to him; you can have the room. He acted so quickly, after we had been talking for days. I wasn’t sure if he was just in a plain good mood or whether he was having one of his soft moments and was acting with his heart. I was slightly disappointed because here was another case of the man being the head of the house and being the one making the final decision.
Much later that night, my husband explained that he had a gut feeling about this guy. He had a good vibe that this guy was going to turn out to be a model boarder and wouldn’t be giving us any hassles. Interestingly, because he was a self-funded writer, he would be working mostly from home. The first month came and went in a flash and, guess what, he was late with his rent. He didn’t default on his rent deliberately. It was bad planning and a lack of discipline that got him in a bind. But hey guys, it wasn’t even serious.
What happened was that he paid half his rent on the due date and the other half not even four days later. Straight into my account. He was quite embarrassed and had a string of excuses to do with finance charges being high and him being old school and not being able to administer internet transfers and so forth. I think he was trying to charm me and soften me up a bit because he then explained why he had so many parcels in his hands. He didn’t go on a shopping spree. He’d just come back from visiting his family.
They had invited him over to spend time with them because it was his birthday. And so these were his gifts that he was bringing home with him. My trademark saying whenever I’m in agreement with something, whether it’s in business or just a social thing is; ok, cool so I said to him, ok cool, but now we must take you out for your birthday. The guy was so shocked. He could not believe his ears. Still embarrassed, he explained that he was broke and didn’t know how he was going to pay for the evening’s festivities.
We said to him not to worry, we’d take care of it this time around. Next time it would be his turn. We said this even in thinking that it might be years before he could treat us back. But this was our excuse to get out of the house. We were resting and recuperating from a hectic month and were preparing ourselves for a bit of a business lull. Going out helped take our mind off of things. But the next day we came to regret it partially. It was an expensive trip. So me and my husband sat down together, had our meeting and juggled our finances for the month.
It dawned on me that we really didn’t need to spend a bean on entertainment. Why not get others to pay for their birthday dos. So I didn’t wait for my husband to answer that question and went straight to social media and started writing up my ads. We were catering for birthday parties and other such special events. We were careful to locate our marketing campaign outside of town because we had to target folks who could afford it and wouldn’t mind others taking care of their functions for them. The first few gigs that we did were pretty challenging.
It was a new experience calling on outsourcers to take care of things like music and party decorations. Also there was the issue of what to charge for these events. We had to weigh up our costs very carefully. Remember that long before any clients come up with the goods we paid for things we actually didn’t need to upfront. And so you learn from experience. In our case it was foolishness. We were in a hurry to get started with our new business venture and didn’t do all our research good and proper like. But where it did turn out alright for us was how our enthusiasm rubbed off on our clients.
It’s like door to door salesmanship. The salesman has to put on a pretty good show of conviction to get the client to buy his goods. Convincing our clients to have a good time wasn’t difficult because this was an old passion of ours. My husband has a pretty good voice so his MC duties were put to good use in getting shy folks to click their heels together and start dancing. I’ve always been a great table to table entertainer and so to work I set in going from table to table checking that folks of all ages were having a lovely time.
At the end of the day, always find a good excuse to celebrate life. And then get someone else to pay for it.