Client referrals and free solar power
Feb 22, 2007

Today I had a very important phone call. It was a call from a new client, but not just any new client. This new client found me by being referred by another client rather than through and ad or by meeting me in some other context. As I see it, referral business is the most important business you can get. It not only means that you're getting business in the first place, but it means that you're doing your job well enough for people to recommend you to others. Plus, it allows your business to grow much faster than it otherwise would. If my current clients refer new clients and those clients refer even more new clients, before you know it I'll be working with Kevin Bacon! I like to think of it as the first sign that my business is becoming self-sustaining; in other words, that it will grow at a greater rate than my personal investment into it. Eventually this is the trend that will allow (and require) me to hire employees to spread out the work load, and eventually to move myself into a purely management role. In other news, I've just learned of a new company in the renewable energy space. As Jessi and I are now homeowners, the issue of utilities and utility bills are much more important than they once were. I've written previously about cogeneration and how it can have a major impact on your energy bills and consumption. In that post, I also said that I thought it would be great if you combined it with photovoltaics. The problem with such a system is that there's a huge initial investment which means that it doesn't actually save you any money for quite a while (5-7 years in the case of Climate Energy's cogeneration system). But now I've discovered Citizenrē. Citizenrē offers what is essentially a free photovoltaic system. For a pretty small security deposit ($100/kW, with a 5 kW minimum) they'll install a photovoltaic system on your house for free. Instead of paying for the system up front and then waiting for the energy savings to cover that cost, you pay nothing up front and cover the costs of equipment and installation by paying per kilowatt as you normally do. They also let you lock in a per-kilowatt rate that will never go up and will be lower than what you're currently paying your electric company, so you're still saving money. Presumably, if you're generating more than you're using and some of it is going back into the grid you'll be getting money back on that as well. I haven't looked into it as thoroughly as I need to before making any sort of commitment, but from what I've seen it seems like a sound idea. Some people are claiming that it's a scam, but it seems to me like it has potential. I'll definitely be looking into it more and, if I end up being convinced, may get some solar panels put up on our roof.
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