19 July 2018 - 12:34 pm What I’ve Learned from Starting a Passive Income Business
I’ve always had quite an entrepreneurial mindset and before starting University I planned several small businesses here and there. None really had any direction and my business knowledge was far from vast so they ultimately came to very little. But then I set myself an aim during my first year of studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Sheffield. If I could find the time I would set up a small business with the specific aim of making money passively to help me with general student living.
So after a lot of research, scrapped ideas and becoming a bit impatient I decided to finally put all my new knowledge to good use and mix a couple of hobbies of mine. I finally started something. I love cooking, especially outdoors over an open flame. I also enjoy web development and thought it was about time I took the plunge and made myself a website. The end result was my business – King of the Coals.
King of the Coals is a purely informational website where I write articles about cooking outdoors and barbecuing. Here’s an example about which woods are the best to cook with. The site makes money (almost exclusively) from affiliate links. I don’t sell any products, I have no need to keep stock and if I wanted to I could never touch it again and I would expect it to make me a noticeable amount of money each month for the foreseeable future.
Whilst having a passive income is certainly a very nice situation to be in it didn’t come easy. Most of the summer of 2017 was spent using up any free time I had to create the site and fill it with over 140,000 words of content and counting. But as I knew a lot about the content, the writing was the least of my worries. What really challenged me was everything else that I hadn’t expected. I had to learn how to host a website and integrate it with WordPress. I taught myself Photoshop, Illustrator, Google Analytics and several keyword finding software packages. I had to familiarise myself with the basics and then the nitty gritty details of SEO, link building and social media marketing. I learnt the importance of solid branding, keeping track of any financials, and even got experience negotiating with companies around the world. I could even say I’m nearly an expert on internet copyright laws due to another website stealing content only a couple of months into the life of my site.
But I think the most important lesson I’ve learned from all of this is the importance of just starting.
All of these new skills and experiences that I have learnt in the last year or so would never have happened if I had continued to make excuses and had never taken that first step.
The future plans are to keep growing the site to the point where I can hire full time staff and if I choose to, make it my full time job and maybe even turn it into a career. Not bad for a few months work over summer.
In addition to that, all of the skills I’ve learned are massively transferrable and I’ve already used the skills learnt on King of the Coals to help other people with similar projects which you can browse below.
CryptosDecoded – A website for beginners looking to learn about cryptocurrencies.
AltRiders – A website that helps people learn about different forms of alternative personal transportation.
11 June 2018 - 3:22 pm Got the skills to make your campus smarter?
1:47 pm My year as an Enterprise Intern
As my year as an Enterprise Intern comes to an end, here’s a reflection of my time at The University of Sheffield Enterprise;
1:46 pm My Year as an Enterprise Intern
I had an assignment due in two days so I decided to procrastinate, I ended up on Career Connect and saw that USE (the yellow building next to the diamond) was looking for enterprise interns and the deadline was in two days. I bookmarked it but my assignment was more important. I was then blessed with an email saying that my assignment’s deadline had been extended and so I used the time to update my CV and write my personal statement to be sent to Liz. It was one of my best decisions.
For the past year, I’ve worked on and supported projects such as the Skills Exhibition, How to Start a Venture session, Pitch Club and Pitch Your Way to £1k. Other opportunities also opened up to me because of this role such as being an ambassador for a summer school and meeting amazing entrepreneurs. Continue reading “My Year as an Enterprise Intern” »
23 May 2018 - 10:22 am Leadership in Practice – Lessons Learned
On 18th April 2018, I delivered and led my first event; Enterprise 101! To begin with, the participants were asked to list the words that they associate with ‘Enterprise’. Here’s what they thought! Continue reading “Leadership in Practice – Lessons Learned” »
This year, whenever I met someone knew, the conversations went like this:
Person A: So what do you do?
Me: Well, I’m doing a full time Masters, but I also have three part time jobs.
Person A: Oh my, three jobs?
Me: Yes, but I don’t work a lot of hours overall. I still have time to study and to occasionally go to the cinema and theatre.
Person A: So what are the jobs?
Me: Well I work as an ambassador, I work in a coffee shop and I also work as an Enterprise Intern.
Person A: What’s that? The intern thing, I mean.
And this would be the moment when I would have to take a deep breath because this job is not a one-sentence description type of job. Even though I could technically describe it through one sentence: developing and supporting projects. But what does that sentence mean exactly?
A few weeks back, I organized an event called the Skills Exhibition. There were two parts of the event, a skills exhibition and a ‘How to Start a Venture’ Workshop. For the workshop, we invited two entrepreneurs, Will from Mak Tok and Mihaela from Research Retold. Will went out of his way to help me organize the workshop without me asking for help which I was extremely grateful for.
I first met Will in the USE coworking space where he introduced himself and told me that he sells sambal… which was something very familiar to me. Sambal is a chilli paste that people from Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brunei and Singapore eat almost everything with. However, after multiple attempts at making it, I am still unable to perfect it. Therefore, Will became my hero. I now have a solution to a quick dinner of rice mixed with the Mak Tok’s Signature Sambal and the rice can even be substituted with quinoa or couscous.
Recently, Will organized a birthday party for Mak Tok to simultaneously launch the full range of Mak Tok’s sambals. Attendees were treated to traditional Malaysian performances, guzhen music and food! The food spread was separated from where the sambal was but many of us ended up putting some sambal on our plates to have it with the food – it was that good. Continue reading “Mak Tok: Introducing Culture through Chilli Paste” »
21 May 2018 - 9:08 am The power of really listening, a lesson from Spill
Sometimes, we can be terrible listeners. When friends come to us for advice, we often reply by trying to fix their problems or offer our own personal experience of the situation. I recently started volunteering on an online support forum for mental health. You start by having a short course in how to be a better listener – then you get thrown in the deep end!
The main thing that you learn is how to actively listen to people. Active and reflective listening involves truly hearing and understand what the person that you’re speaking to has said, and then working with them to explore that more. This is contrasted to simply putting across your own opinion or thinking about the next story that you can say.
This skill is why counsellors and other mental health support people are so valuable. They allow you to explore your own feelings and emotions by actively listening.
Since finding out how we can be pretty terrible listeners I’ve really tried to become a bit better in life. It can be easy to slip back into the habit of waiting for the next time that you can speak but it allows for much better conversations when someone can really explore what they are thinking about.
Since starting Spill I’ve learn more than I could imagine about mental health. Because the subject has been taboo for so long, the skills that are used haven’t been valued as highly as they could be. We’re on a mission to normalise talking therapy so that everyone can have someone to talk to. Learning to be better listeners is definitely a part of that journey!
14 May 2018 - 2:50 pm Challenger banks, orange credit cards and Monzo
Aside my Masters, I have three part time jobs (which accumulate to less hours than you would think) but they help with paying the rent (and the cinema and theatre) . One of my employers is Coffee Revolution in the SU. And whenever I’m on the till taking orders, I start noticing more and more orange credit cards. At first, I would ask: is that a Monzo card? And when met with a positive response, I would get really excited to meet a Monzo user. Now, it’s just becoming the order of the day. But what is Monzo do you ask?
Monzo is a challenger bank and a tech startup. It’s a newly established enterprise that aims to compete with the longer established banks in the country (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds). It distinguishes itself through its focus on technology and online data. Monzo is an app-bank. Transactions happen online, the app has interesting features such as freezing your card if you’ve lost it, or saving money into separate pots. It also has free costs to use abroad.
The first event that I was involved in was Pitch Club which was then followed by Pitch Your Way to £1k. Before I get into deep details, I would like to firstly just say how amazing these two events were. People pitch a random idea for 1 minute, they get a free drink and on top of it all, they win prizes (cash money) if they have the best ideas. It was amazing how someone can enter the pitching competition without really having anything to lose. Being it my first time being on the other side of the table for something like this, I’m going to share with you the things that I’ve learnt.
Learning to identify what ideas are viable and can be developed.
For both events, one of my responsibility was to become a so called ‘Dragon’ which means that I had to listen to people’s ideas and identify who had a better idea. I can assure you that it is not as easy as it sounds. We had a judges’ matrix with us, however, we knew that in the end, these ideas would have to be developed for the next round so other factors were added into contributing to the way we selected the winners.