This is Part 2 of yesterdays post Earning RM5,000 pm in KL, without a job. A Street Boy Talks
This is a story about Steven, a 24 year old guy, how he earns money and his lifestyle.
In this second post, Steven tells about his studies, his previous jobs, his current lifestyle – how he works and how he plays, and how he earns more than RM5,000 per month in his trade, without a boss.
Steven said that as he does not come from a rich family, he had to learn about real life, fast.
Steven said that he attended a private college in KL to study business administration. He studied up to the diploma level and did not continue to pursue it at degree level. "In college, I didn’t learn anything practical for doing business" he said.
"I always wanted to do business. But I look at my lecturers, they are earning very little – and they have got bachelors and masters degrees", Steven observes.
His first "real jobs" were helping his parents to do "odd jobs" at their stalls since he was 6 years old.
He learnt early that, in business, you must know what your customers want, how much they are willing to pay for it and where to source for the products at a cheaper price than your competitors.
"In college, I had to learn so many theories that were simply useless for my business". Steven complained, "I couldn’t ask the lecturer how to apply all these in real life, because he himself doesn’t know…if he did know, he wouldn’t be working for people".
Steven however feels that higher formal education is essential today for people who want to get a job working in a company earning a steady monthly income. "Its ok, if you just want to get a job and ‘makan gaji’ – without a degree these days, it is very difficult to get a decent job" he said.
He came to KL when he was 18 years old. He shared a small rented room in SS2 PJ with a friend each paying RM150 per month. "I didn’t have a car then, I only had an old ‘kap chai’; that was our mode of transport" Steven recalled.
When he first came to KL, he started working part time at a stationery shop while he was studying. "In my second year here, I started giving private tuition" Steven said.
After obtaining his diploma, he got a job working for a telemarketing company full time, selling "holiday, hotel and dining packages". Steven said that "although there was a basic salary and commission each month, I could only earn about RM1,800 per month. I had to call 100s of people per week".
He claimed that he couldn’t earn more money at the telemarketing company because he "didn’t have control over the products" – he had to sell whatever "package" his company was promoting. He couldn’t sell what the customers wanted.
"I have always tried to think of other ways to earn more money." Steven said.
He also got involved in a multi-leval marketing company selling "vitamins, shampoo and other household stuff" on a part time basis. He found that it was very difficult for him to earn very much in multi-level marketing, as competition is very stiff and the products offered are quite generic and relatively expensive. "It is very difficult to convince someone to buy a bottle of vitamins for RM90, when similar generic brands are sold at about RM25 in the pharmacies." he said.
Steven quit the multi-level marketing business after a year. "I know of people who have made it big in the multi-level marketing business, but that business is not for me…I want to have control over the price and demand of the products I sell" he explained.
He admitted, however, that the multi-level marketing company exposed him to many new ideas on entrepreneurship, "I learnt a lot from doing multi-level marketing. I was introduced to books and cassette tapes that motivated me to succeed. I learnt how to approach people, how to be professional, manage my time, how to network, etc".
Steven explained that he got into his current direct sales business by accident, "one day while eating at a ‘Bangsar mamak’, there was this guy who came to my table trying to sell me a chess set for RM30. I talked to him for a while and he then introduced me to his team leader".
After discussing with the team leader, he realised that he faced a problem should he decide to join that company – it does not give its sales representatives a basic salary. The arrangement was purely on a commission basis. "I was thinking, how was I going to pay my basic monthly expenses, if I quit my job ?" he said. Then, he came upon an idea, "I resigned from my telemarketing job and took a job with a cyber café doing night shift, my basic salary was less, but I knew I could earn more with the direct sales company in the morning".
The following month he started his new adventure – cyber café personnel at night and direct salesman in the morning. The first two months was tough, he said "I had to work from 7pm in the evening to 2am in the morning at the cyber café, then at 8am I have report to work at the direct sales company and work until 5pm".
But his plan worked – he earned more. "In my second month, doing two jobs I earned a total of RM3,000" he said proudly. In the third month, he was confident of earning a steady income from only his direct sales job, so he quit his cyber café job. "I worked for the direct sales company full time for about eight months, every month earning from RM2,000 to RM3,000 depending on the products, price and timing", he explains.
With his new found ‘success’, he bought himself his first car – a Proton Iswara.
"I know it is not a big deal lah, but for someone my age at that time, it is. I bought it with my own money" he said proudly.
"These days, if you’ve got no car, you can’t get any ‘chicks’" he said, while grinning.
However, he wasn’t satisfied with his current job earning a max of RM3,000 per month. "I know, RM3,000 is a lot for most diploma holders my age, at that time. Most of my ex college mates were either still studying, unemployed, or were earning much less than I was, but I still was not happy", he said.
To look for alternatives of earning more money, he contacted his ex-supervisor of the stationery shop he used to work for part time when he was still studying. "My ex- supervisor suggested that I sell stationery products to small companies and also do retail sales to customers on my own" he said.
With this idea, he contacted various stationery suppliers for quotes and met with them to discuss business possibilities. "Once, I got the ‘jalan’ I knew I could sell these stuff to small companies along the LRT routes".
He quit his job at the direct sales company and became his own boss – getting supplies directly from suppliers and selling it directly to small companies along the LRT route. "I just park my car near the Kelana Jaya LRT station, and take the LRT. I service the small offices in the buildings near the LRT stations. I made friends with the secretaries and receptionists…when they need small and odd stationery supplies, they will call me and I will go to their offices. It is a very convenient arrangement for them, although the price can sometimes be a little bit higher." he explains
"Sometimes, the bosses ask me to go into their rooms and privately ask if I can supply to them ‘blue movies’, they are willing to pay up to RM50 per DVD - they are too embarrassed to buy it themselves at the ‘pasar malam’ or DVD shop. I don’t want to get involved in this kind of business, so I politely decline", he said.
During lunch hour he walks the food stalls selling pens, calculators etc to office workers. He also gets new ‘contacts’ this way. "These are things people need. You don’t have to explain to them why they need it" he explains.
He admits that whilst the work itself isn't very difficult, not everyone can be successful at this trade. "This work is not hard. But not everyone can do well in this kind of work. You must be very 'thick skinned' and have the guts. You must not care what stangers will say when you approach them. You must also be very street wise" he said.
He said in a good month he can earn up to RM7,000. In an average month he earns about RM5,000. "The worst month so far was when I earned only RM3,500" he admits.
"I meet a lot of people in this line of work, some people ask me to join their company as sales rep, some ask me to join their insurance agency…each month I get two to five job offers, but I politely decline. I will never work for anyone again", he said.
He said he loves his current business and lifestyle, "I am my own boss, if I want to work, I work. If I don’t feel like working that day, I stay at home and watch Astro or go ‘kacau’ my friends working" he said with a mischievous laugh.
"I start work at 10am and finish at 4pm. I don’t work weekends." He said with a smile.
He goes clubbing at least twice a week and "have bottles" in 3 clubs in KL. "I am still young…only 24 years old, I work hard and enjoy lah", he said.
He doesn’t have a steady girlfriend but has many temporary "lovers". "A steady girlfriend takes up a lot of time, anyway, I’m still young. I prefer ‘no strings attached’ type relationships. I can meet ‘chicks’ anywhere…in clubs mostly. Just buy a bottle and you are set to make friends with the ‘chicks’.
Although he has experienced some financial ‘success’ compared to his peers, he is embarrassed to tell girls he meets in clubs what he does for a living. "You tell ‘chicks’ you sell office supplies door to door, they will look down on you lah." He said. He usually tells the girls he meets at clubs that he is the marketing manager for a foreign company. "Aiyah…just throw some money and they will believe whatever you tell them lah’, he said with a laugh.
He is currently working on expending his business with a friend. He also intends to buy his own condo and a new Satria. "I have so many things on my mind now, but I hope things work out well with my new business partner, it is possible that I can earn more than RM10,000 per month. At the mean time, I want to buy my own condo and change my car lah" he said.
I asked him if I could publish his phone number so he could get more business. "Not yet lah, I’m just a small fry now. Maybe next time, when I have my own office" he declined humbly.
By the way, I asked him how much profit he made from the gel pens he sold my friend and I - at RM10 per packet of 5 pens. "Small profit only…my cost is less than RM5 per pack", he said, laughing. What a pleasant bastard ! Anyway, he paid for two rounds of coffee and cakes, so I laughed too.
As usual, please post your comments about this story, so others can learn from you, and you can learn from others.