Hello, my name is Joe At water and I would like to tell you how I got to where I am today. It’s funny how life can be at times, the smallest of ideas can change a nation and that is exactly what happened in my case, so sit back, make yourself comfortable, and open your mind to your own possibilities.
The GFC had hit everyone hard and the small business owner, of which I am one, seemed to be hit the hardest. The government was doing nothing to help us out, families got growth stimulus packages through government agencies, big business was getting large chunks of money to help bail them out of the crisis but small business was getting nothing. Nothing new I suppose, probably how it has always been but having not owned my own business before I just never saw it. Mind you I’m not complaining about it, well not much anyway. For three years I had been operating, well struggling, having opened just before the effects of the GFC were really being felt and I had sunk all of my money in to getting myself up and running. There was no fall back plan as no one was hiring, especially not middle aged men with no formal qualifications. I had to make this work or I would lose everything and be out on the street like so many others that had been forgotten by society. I suppose I should tell you that my business entails fixing computers and teaching people how to get the most out of their computer. I don’t sell computers, or parts as it is just too expensive trying to compete with the big companies so I didn’t even try. This meant that I was in a very niche market and with the price of computers falling all the time I was being squeezed out by the fact that it was getting cheaper to throw away a computer and buy a new one rather than to fix even a minor fault on an older one. That brings you up to date with where I was and what state of mind I was in when the thought occurred to me that….
The day dawned just like any other although I was in a bit of a mood as I knew I was about to get another stack of bills and business had been quiet, really quiet, I still hadn’t earned enough to cover the expenditure for the month yet and more bills were on the way. It was time I tried to drum up some more business somehow. I decided on another letter drop as these had worked reasonably in the past, so I set about to draft what I would put on the pamphlet. It was during this time that I received a call from my daughter telling me that her old computer was playing up and could I have a look at it because she wanted to give it away to some friends that were doing it tough and couldn’t afford a computer for their kids. I told her no problem and that it was a nice gesture on her behalf and I could look at it anytime she wanted to drop it off. I finished drafting my pamphlet and was just ready to start printing them as I thought about what my daughter was doing and how I could probably do the same thing on a bigger scale and who knows it might just get me that extra business I was looking for. So I decided on making a double sided pamphlet with the one side promoting my business and the other asking for old and unwanted computers so I could “do them up” and give to less fortunate families.
I had immediate response to the pamphlet drop with the phone ringing off the hook with people wanting to donate their old computers to such a worthy cause. There also seemed to be an increase in the number of people wanting me to do paid work to get their computers operational again. Then I received a phone call from someone who worked for the local news paper service that had received one of my pamphlets and wanted to know if I would mind them running a story on it. Free advertising is something you never pass up so it was organized that a photographer would come around and get some pictures and they would run a story on it. Well now the phone was going nonstop and I started to wonder about whether this had been such a good idea or not as my house and office started to overflow with old computers. I spent my spare time working on these old computers and soon had a few ready to give away so I contacted one of the charity groups to come and collect them to be distributed. They wanted to get some publicity on this and so contacted the same news paper that ran the original story who were more than happy and willing to continue the story about the free computers. Little did I know that this would soon be picked up by the local radio station who also wanted to do an on-air interview about the scheme and what it was about and again I was being inundated by the generosity of the people who were donating their old computers, but along with this came the offers of help from other businesses like my own where they could spare an hour or two to help fix these old computers. As the computers started to flow out at a reasonable rate it was only going to be a matter of time before one of the networks picked up on the story and offered to run it nationally and to help by paying for the rights to the story. I could not believe that I was now in a position to actually pay someone full time to help get the free computers back in to the hands of the people that needed them as well as now having so much paid work that I could also get someone in to help with that.
It seemed like such a small idea in the beginning, just get a few old computers and do them up enough to give to a few less fortunate people but it has now turned in to a nationwide phenomena turning over nearly five hundred computers per day through thirty different distribution points, and me, well I have just been promoted to CEO of New from OLD, Computers for Kids, a charity in its own right and a breath of fresh air for those a bit less fortunate than others. Even a small idea can turn in to something great, never dismiss your own ideas as being silly or irrelevant you just never know where they could lead you.