Covid-19 is here to stay. It is with us and we have to live with it. Whether you like it or not, the pandemic has come with some changes on our ways of life and how we operate businesswise.
For Sharon Nabwire of Shan Errands, this period has presented an opportunity for her to think out of the box. She delivers items such as food gifts i.e. flowers, delivers Parcels and mails clothes, shoes and so much more depending on what a client wants and where they are.
“The first errand I delivered, if I remember very well, were second hand bed sheets, children clothes (night wear). They were to be taken to Gulu to a client I had never met. She trusted me to buy them for her even without us meeting,” Nabwire says.
She says that the client might have been satisfied because from that day, every time her children needed something in Kampala, she would call her to get it.
Nabwire recalls starting her business out of curiosity in 2018 as a side hustle while working with Research World International as a field auditor. She had been an auditor for three years but as time went on, she realised that her new passion could actually work.
“I am a graduate of procurement and logistics management but looking for a job has never really been in my DNA. At some point I told myself that if I have to work, a job in my line of profession will find me doing something for myself at least. That is why I thought about errands.,”Nabwire says.
She knew she needed to give her business more time to grow since clients had started increasing. They would call her at work which had become uncomfortable with her bosses. With these distractions, she decided to quit her job for good and concentrate on growing her personal business.
Nabwire is operating from Jemba plaza level 3 shop Number 146B.
The passion she had and the zeal to help those facing difficulties in getting their items was what drove her to start Besides that, the stress, tight schedules and too much work also contributed to her decision of becoming independent.
However, the main reason for her to be independent was the urge to be self-employed and create employment for other people.
“I love what I do and being self-employed is the best thing right now because jobs are not well paying. So, I decided to join the self-employment world,” Nabwire says.
According to Nabwire, her main task is simplifying tasks at Shan Errands. Her to-do list includes shopping, picking parcels, deliveries of food, medicine, kitchenware, laundry, bill payments, corporate errands, drop offs, online store deliveries, gifts and wrapping for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions, among other things.
“I don’t deal in anything specifically but I help bring services closer to the client. They send money or I go pick it, then go run that errand as directed,” Nabwire says of her chores.
The errands she runs usually depend on the price and the distance.
“Sometimes you cannot set prices that are standard depending on distance, time, location and how much the product or service costs because time is so important in this business,” she points out.
The time for goods to reach the customer depends on the distance but normally she normally makes deliveries in 30 minutess to an hour around Kampala.
For the past two years, Nabwire has been earning from Shs1m onwards but with the current Covid-19 situation, her returns have lowered to between Shs500,000 to Shs600,000 a month.
Most of her customers, she says, are by referrals through family, friends, satisfied customers and a few people that read about what she does on social media.
“I market my business online, especially Facebook and Whatsapp. My friends have also helped me to market on their other platforms and recommend me to their other friends,” she adds.
Besides that, she also has posters, stickers, fliers and T-shirts fully branded which also helps in advertising her business.
Ever since she started this business, she says customer satisfaction is her main objective and for the past two years, her clientele has been increasing with a number of satisfied clients.
“Business has really increased and grown. I have learnt so much about customer care and how to treat interns, ” she adds.
That aside, she has also been living and financing her other related projects because of Shan Errands.
Like every other business, there are challenges and for Shan Errands, most of these challenges came with the coronavirus pandemic especially the general increase in prices as well as high transport costs on boda-bodas and taxis that almost doubled.
“During the early days of the lockdown, I would not operate since most of my movements are on bodas. In fact, I was out of business completely. I didn’t have a personal car,” she narrates. However, business is returning to normal with most sectors opening.
Nabwire also points out lack of capital where some errands require her to use her money first. This is challenging because for some people the capital needed is actually much more than what she would be paid.
That aside, she also faces a challenge of client satisfaction where it becomes really hard for some to appreciate the work done for them.
Nabwire complains of clients who over bargain. These clients, she says, end up eating into her little gains.
She adds that many people are joining the business making it more competitive than ever.
“There are so many companies and more established ones doing deliveries so the small ones, like Shan Errands , need to work on their trust levels first, to stay in business,” she notes.
Nabwire has been asked by many people why she is doing errands yet she had a good job and can also work in some of the big companies around town but she believes Shan Errands is what gives her satisfaction.
“When you’re thinking of a business idea, in my opinion, I think you look at where the problem is first, look at how you can solve it in the shortest time possible with the least amount of effort . With a reasonable client base, you’re good to go,” Nabwire says.
Family and school background
Nabwire grew up in an extended family with parents staying in Buziga, a Kampala surburb.
Born to Mr Ojiamboh Ochieng and Mrs Connie Nekesa Ojiamboh, she went to Nakasero Primary School, Namilyango SS before joining Makerere University Business School where she graduated with a degree in Procurement and Supply Chain Management in 2016.
Ways to start an errand service business
People get older or get too busy to manage daily tasks such as grocery shopping, getting medicine from pharmacies and much more which requires them to get someone to do it for them. As an errand runner you stand to make a nice profit and here are ways to getting started with an errands company.
First you need to decide on the legal structure of your business whether a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability corporation.
Name of business
Every business needs a name and it is imperative that you also find a name for the errands business. You need to think of something catchy and memorable but most of all you need to make sure that no one else is using that name and hasn’t been trademarked already.
Choose your services
It is a good idea to make a list of what good and services you offer. There are many errands you could consider offering: Pharmaceutical, dry cleaning, grocery shopping, and many, many more.
An errand business is great, because you will ot need a lot of supplies. You will need a reliable car to get you to and from your customers and wherever the errands take you. You should also have a cell phone and computer as a way to be contacted. After this you should consider purchasing business cards as a great way to get your name and contact information to prospective customers. Besides that, you also need some way to keep track of all your appointments and customers.
Set your prices
Most errand runners charge by the hour, not the task. If the task involves a lot of driving, you might want to charge for mileage. You should also charge differently if you are being asked to work outside your normal business hours or on a holiday. Consider offering package deals as a way to get customers. If they are only using your services for grocery shopping, pick a special rate for that. Experiment and find out what works best for you.
Task-based employment can be lucrative, easy, and a smart way to generate cash when you are in a bind. However, there are a few considerations about this line of work to keep in mind as you begin. The first is safety. Working through an employment site offers some protection against payment fraud and unsafe conditions, but it cannot be assured. Whenever you are working in someone’s home, for a person, or delivering to a person’s private residence, exercise caution.
Never put yourself in unsafe positions or enter another person’s dwelling that you are not comfortable with. Be sure someone is aware of your location, estimated arrival and return, and check-in with others often.