The Covid-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented dimension in the life of many of us teachers. As teachers, our primary source of income was a salary. While the scourge ravaged almost every sector of business, the education sector, from which we earn got a fair share of the beating.
Even as schools slowly begin to open, they can only maintain a fraction of staff since enrollment has been affected. Sad as this may be, it is a wake up call for us to look into alternatives to our sources of income. In my article 10 business ideas for the teacher of ICT, I mentioned a secretarial business as one of those that a teacher of ICT could venture into.
Fortunately, some teachers like Wogisha Denis Kruger have ventured into this business and from them we have a few tips to pick.
So, what do you need?
1. A relatively good computer
In a secretarial business you will do a lot of typing. This will require you to have at the very basic, a WordProcessor or but ideally the entire Microsoft Office suite which will give you Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher. The reason I mention a relatively good computer is because you have to look at future usage.
A good computer is one that can currently run Windows 10 with the hope of accepting another version after it. This will one, make life easy for you in case of software and hardware upgrades and two, the ability to use the latest version of Microsoft Office which is currently Office 2019. The latest version of Office is not compatible with earlier versions of Windows. It wouldn’t look cool if you are still using aged software versions, would it?
Again, I insist on a good computer meaning that it must have enough storage as you will have to keep a lot of files over time. A good computer will have enough RAM, a DVD Writer and a good quality monitor. A cheap, small monitor will strain your eyes and may in the long run give birth to eyesight problems.
A good second hand computer to start with will go for as low as Ug. Shs. 500,000/=. However, you will have to stay away from cheap alternatives as you will spend more on repairs and replacements.
2. Printer, Scanner and photocopier
What is a secretarial business without a printer and photocopier? If you are on a tight budget, you could start with a simple 3-in-1 printer. These come cheap from as low as Ug. Shs. 150,000/= along Kampala Road. The advantage of a 3-in-1 printer is that you have a colour printer, scanner and photocopier in 1 machine and at a cheap price. So, if you are on a budget, a 3-in-1 printer will suffice for the start.
When business picks, you will definitely need a faster and more efficient printer. Laserjets are more expensive and can be acquired at around Ug. Shs. 500,000/=. A photocopier in relative shape will go for around 1.2 million Uganda shillings.
A secretarial business involves a lot of sitting usually involving day long sitting. For this reason, you need a comfortable seat to reduce the strain on your back. Your clients will also need a place to wait as you work on them. A bench if you are on a tight budget can start.
At E-zone Internet cafe in Nabbingo, which also offers secretarial services, a hybrid seat where clients sit as they wait for their work doubles as a storage facility for reams, tools, refill kits, client’s items and much more.
4. A Binding machine, Combs and Covers
A secretarial business is not complete without a binding machine. You will part with around Ug. Shs. 150,000/= to have a decent binding machine. To accompany the binding machine, you will obviously need to stock binding combs and binding covers. Binding covers come in pairs with transparent sheet for the front and hard cover for the back. If your budget allows, you may stock various colours to serve the clients’ different tastes.
To bind clients’ work, you will also need binding combs. You may need to stock various size sand colours to meet your clients’ needs.
5. Laminating/Sealing machine with accessories
In the day to day activities of the business, you will occasionally be asked for laminating services. A good laminating machine also costs around Ug. Shs. 150,000/=. You will definitely have to stock laminating pouches for all sizes including identify cards.
6. Stapling machine, Staples and Staple remover
You definitely need a stapling machine to put related fasten related documents together. In cases where you need to unstaple documents, a staple remover is necessary. Most people unknowingly use crude methods to remove staples. This could damage your nails or cause tetanus in case you are pierced during the process of manually removing staples.
While a normal stapling machine will suffice for small jobs, you may need a heavy duty stapler for bigger volumes of say 50 or more sheets.
7. A punching machine
Sometimes you may be required to add evenly placed holes to sheets of paper. A paper puncher is what you need and is something you won’t do without in a secretarial business.
8. Paper Trimmer
And off course, sometime you will need to trim sheets of paper. a case in point is when you need to make business cards. After printing out your cards on A4 paper, you will then need a paper trimmer to cut out the business cards in neat equal sizes.
9. Phone USB Cables
During your routine, you will sometimes receive work to print from a phone. Most phones currently use type A/B-micro but more phones now use type C cables. Having these two types can be a good start if you are to allow printing from phones.
10. Flash disk
How else would you pick work from a client’s laptop? A flash disk is a must. A good quality flash disk will cost you around Ug. Shs. 30,000/=. Cheap flash disks come with their problems like wrong storage size and can easily corrupt files.
11. Assorted Stationery items
To boost your daily income in this secretarial venture, you ought to have an assortment of stationery items for the shop. Your clients and passersby will randomly ask for items such as envelopes, pens, pencils, erasers, reams, manila paper and more.
12. A Reliable Technician
One in a while, your computer, printers and copiers might fail. If you are not technical enough, a reliable technician comes in handy. While there are many masquerading as technicians, The Geek Village are by far the most reliable. with over a decade of experience, they are unique in such a way that you only call them and they come to your location, do their work in a neat and professional way.
The above are only basics for one to start a stationery and secretarial business. A year’s savings by a teacher of ICT are enough to give one a humble start. What was left out of this list are the obvious like rent, average skill in use of computers, an assistant to help with errands and a business plan.
As teachers of ICT, we can use our very skills to setup income generating projects to our benefit. Indirectly, these projects help create employment and experience opportunities for the young generation therey by helping the government in reducing the unemployment rate in our country.
What else do you think is missing on this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. to help our fellow teachers.
Stephen Dumba is the co-ordinator Central Region ICT Teachers Association of Uganda and Director E-zone School of Computing. Besides teaching, he is a veteran Computer Repair Technician, a Web Designer and a regular speaker at tech events and teachers’ workshops.
+256 772 111 223 / +256 752 111 223 / firstname.lastname@example.org