The Quick Start Group
The Quick Start Group (QSG) is a voluntary initiative to help people with no experience or local references to build real businesses and careers. If you are willing to put up time and work, we will help you find real clients and get positive and constructive feedback on your services, so that you can market your idea faster and more effectively.
Interested? You can read more below.
The Chicken And The Egg
First of all, a quick introduction: I'm Danilo and I'm a remote business consultant.
I used to live and work in Brazil, and was in a fairly comfortable situation there. After taking some time to travel in Europe, however, I became a different person: discovered new countries and cultures, learned new languages and started a personal relationship.
From that point on, I knew that in order to create the life that I wanted (with more freedom of time and place), I’d have to rethink my work and business. And that was how I started the long process of experimenting and learning that took me to where I am now, working independently as a consultant.
Like many of you, I wanted to start a new project/company/career that could give me both financial support AND the freedom to move, but didn't want to constantly search for local jobs, and liked the idea of starting something that could offer me these in the long-term.
When we decide to start a new project and get some practical experience, however, the beginning can be very tough because of the lack of opportunities. That happens mainly because of:
Low experience: We can learn an awful lot on the internet these days, as you can find free content or courses for almost any subject. When we change career, want to start freelancing or initiate a business, however, it is essential to have practical experience to learn and improve your skills - and this you can only get with clients.
Lack of references: We all have family and a couple of friends we can contact, but when you are outside of your country (as a regular traveler, immigrant/expat or digital nomad), there is only so much they can do to help you get the first clients. Word-of-mouth and common connections are the #1 way to get new clients and projects (and even receive remote job offers).
It is the "chicken and egg" problem: you need experience and recommendations to get your first clients, but you need clients to get experience and recommendations. How do you solve it?
Investing Your Time Wisely
One of the best ways to do it is by volunteering or offering your services for free (for a limited time).
A number of professionals (and companies) that started by using this strategy, and at least once a week I see someone following the same method on social media groups or online forums like Reddit.
"Are you telling me to work for free?!", you might ask. People usually get super fixated with the price of their services, but fail to look at the whole picture.
Many consultants would advise you to put aside an initial budget and pay for ads to get your first clients. "Even if you have no profit when you start out, it is important to get experience, feedback and reviews for your service", they say.
That is one way to think. But what if you have no budget to advertise in the first place?
You offer to a couple of people your service for free. Instead of charging your customers and spending on ads, you simply charge nothing. Instead of investing money, you invest your time and attention.
You get practical experience. You get feedback. You get written reviews to use as social proof, and work with people who can become paying customers in the future.
The Quick Start Group
Now what we are now testing is an upgraded version of this idea: You not only get all of this, but you also get... services back from someone else!
This is how our QSG works:
You fill a simple form explaining what are the services you would like to provide without costs to test the market and get experience, and what kind of service you would be interested in testing in exchange of practical feedback;
We connect you with one or more "testers", people who are willing to try out your services, and we help the parties to define the scope, frequency and duration of the try-out to set clear expectations for it;
We collect constructive and positive feedback from the "testers", both during and at the end of the try-out, so you know what you need to improve and so you can gather reviews to help you market your service. You will also start building a network of people who trust and recommend your service to others.
(BONUS) You might be assigned as a tester too! If you need help with e-mail marketing, we may connect you with a digital marketer. Having trouble to write your pages? You can be one of the first clients of a young and ambitious copywriter. The main idea is to help others to START.
If you can perform your service on a remote basis, you are welcome to the group: We already have business consultants, coaches, digital marketers, graphic designers, content writers and many other professionals jumping in.
To participate in the QSG the only thing you need is time and to be willing to do your best to provide a serious service and deliver value to the others.
Just like all the members and testers, we do not charge anything to facilitate it. In this world full of pyramids, scams, and profit-driven gurus, our intention is to simply help people get practical experience and feedback, and connect honest and value-driven people.
What You'll Get:
Apart from the personal satisfaction of helping and creating value for others, you get:
As a member:
✓ Less talking, more doing: Practical experience and accountability from working with different testers;
✓ A laboratory to accelerate your growth: Recurring feedback from testers to identify how to improve your services, and suggestions of resources to further develop your skills;
✓ Social proof: A final written review from each tester that you can use to promote your services outside the group;
✓ Valuable networking: Remember that any tester can become a paying client or recommend you to others as long as you deliver an amazing service!
As a tester:
✓ Specialized services for free: Although we cannot guarantee quality, all of our members are deeply committed to continually improve, and you can get great value without cost to help you focus on what you do best;
✓ Certification of voluntary activity: you will receive a LinkedIn badge for supporting other freelancers and entrepreneurs as an advisor.
Interested in joining the Quick Start Group? Fill the form and we’ll get in touch.
P.S.: This is a new initiative, so we are also learning and correcting things as we go.
Although we cannot give any guarantee regarding the quality of the services provided (since they are all performed voluntarily), we try to promote clear communication and accountability between the members, so we can quickly identify who are the members that are committed to their testers (and take constructive feedback seriously), and those who are not interested in improving their services and helping others.
P.S.2: It might sound counter-intuitive, but I'm usually against business owners trading their time for free.
Since everyone wants something for free, people tend to not place a value on products and services that they can get for free. Some clients may begin to take you and your expertise for granted or worse - simply take advantage of you. It also devaluates other professionals in your area and the market as a whole, which is bad for everyone.
On the flip side, there's what Ben Franklin called it "Doing Well by Doing Good." How many times in your life have you tried something, liked it, and bought it? It is the idea of delivering value to others first, to put yourself in a position where you can ask for retribution later. This is very important when you are starting out.
The solution? Testing. If people are not willing to pay you for your services, chances are they don't see the value of it yet. It may be useful to make some changes and work with testers until you're sure you are delivering massive value, and can charge for it.
Frequently Asked Questions:
I didn’t get it. What is the goal of the initiative?
To give the opportunity for starting entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals to gain practical experience and fast feedback on their services.
We do it by connecting them to “testers”, who are voluntary professionals willing to try the services for free in exchange for written feedback and recommendations.
Do I have to pay to join the group?
No, application and participation are entirely free. The only thing you will need to invest (as a member and/or tester) is time.
Can I offer my services but also test someone else’s?
Absolutely, every member can also be a tester. You only need to select the services you’d be interested in testing on the application form, and we’ll get in touch as soon as we have a match.
How should I expect to find any paying client when I’m also offering the same service for free?
The name and contact information of the participants are kept private, so that only members and testers who work together get to know each other. This avoids other people and organizations to take advantage of your voluntary services and gives you the possibility of charging others outside the group for your work.
For how long will I work with each tester?
The try-out period can go from 1 to 3 months time, and it will be set in agreement between you and the tester.
As the duration and frequency of each service are different, so will be the deliverables. For example:
Content Marketing: A 1-month agreement could consist of 2 new articles/week, with a total of 8 articles;
Email Marketing: A 3-month might include only weekly newsletters, with a total of 12 campaigns executed;
Web Design: Creating a website may take 1 to 2 months time, but we require new changes, features and updates are shared at least once a week to monitor progress.
Likewise, all the testers must provide not only a final written review, but also a weekly feedback, so that the members can focus on improving their work week after week.
Can I keep offering my services as a volunteer for my testers after the try-out period is over?
Yes, but outside QSG. We do not facilitate communication or enforce feedback between you and the tester after the try-out.
We also do not recommend it, since offering free services indefinitely devaluates your work, other professionals in your area and the market as a whole. You should do it only to improve specific skills in practice and/or test new services. Once you get these down, the only way to grow is by charging for your services.
What happens if I get match with a tester who doesn’t do his part?
If a tester fails to deliver proper feedback and we do not identify it, please don't hesitate to tell us without any delay. We will do our very best to enforce the voluntary agreement.
In the worst case scenario, in which a tester refuses to make his part on the group, he will be permanently excluded and the try-out canceled. We will then proceed to find another suitable tester for you to work with.
Can I reschedule a service if something comes up?
Canceling and/or rescheduling a service can be done with appropriate notice. Please allow at least a 2-day notice for changes.