If you want to get out of poverty, you need one of three things: labour skills, business acumen or capital. Ideally you need all three. Unfortunately banks rarely (if ever) lend money to startups in South Africa unless they have assets to put up as collateral. This leaves labour skills and business acumen. Business acumen will allow you to make decisions to maximise capitalising on opportunities. But often times you need capital as the most popular way to utilise business acumen is to buy and sell your way out of poverty.
This leaves labour skills as the ground floor, now a skill is often sold as a service, but there are ways to use a skill to make money in other ways, oftentimes this means fixing and selling something: cars, boats, computers etc. Now both cars and boats are not cheap to buy – even when broken (and you will still need money for parts) and computers are so cheap these days its debatable whether or not they can be fixed or profit: taking labour and other things into consideration.
Today we look at something that can work under dire circumstances providing you have or are able to acquire appliance repair skills. To make a success of this type of business only basic business skills are needed: buy low sell high.
Appliance repair refers to fixing of home appliances, this can be a small appliance (hot plate, microwave, heaters, fans, kettles, coffee makers etc.) or a major appliance (fridge, freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, air conditioner etc.).
But instead of offering appliance repair as a service, you essentially run a product/retail business. You collect or buy broken appliances, fix it and resell it.
Where to get appliances
Now the questions is where to get broken appliances for as cheap as possible – even free.
There are a few sources of appliances (sorted from worse condition to best):
Classifieds such as Gumtree
Shop returns that are considered not viable to fix and often sold at auctions (often in job lots)
Some people will just dump a broken appliances. Yes, appliances found here are often beyond repair but it may be a good source for parts.
This probably has the most potential for both free and dirt cheap broken applies. Many people will give their old appliances away for free or sell it for next to nothing if it starts giving them problems and instead buy a new one (especially if its out of warranty), this is because a working person don’t have time to take the risk of trying to repair it, and paying a fee to do so, that is a hassle. They just buy a new item and sell the old off for next to nothing, sometimes the old item only has a minor problem but they don’t know what it is.
Many people who buy and sell from auctions often get broken items included in the job lot that they buy to resell. They also don’t want to be burdened with the hassle of fixing the product (time in money).
Now if you have appliance repair skills, and you live modestly, this is one business that can generate high margins with little outlay. The people mentioned above have their way of doing things and their business models and you have yours which is fixing things. But you obviously need to know what you are doing, in certain circumstances it might not be viable to fix something but in other circumstances great returns can be achieved.
Besides electrical repair skills, you should also have your own transport. Ideally a bakkie.