A buddy I know from the music scene called me up yesterday. After we exchanged a few pleasantries, he got down to brass tacks. He told me he was happy but needed to bring in more Benjamins.
While I’m not the answer man, I did have a few ideas for my pal. The first order of business is of course to avoid falling into the failure traps that so many of us get caught in. After you take care of that it’s time to get serious about making more dough.
The good news is that you can make enough money on the side to get out of credit card debt, pay off your mortgage or make your retirement secure. The best way to do so is to start a side business rather than just get another job. It’s a little harder to do and takes a bit longer to start kicking in. But in the long run, you’re far better off.
Your own side business gives you flexibility. You decide when to work and how much you want to make. It also allows you to experiment. If one thing doesn’t work, you can easily stop. Another nice thing is that sometimes, part time work can turn in to full-time business ventures. If something starts paying off, you can scale it up. You’ll have more fun working for yourself and hopefully, the business you start will keep paying you even after you stop working – that’s something no job offers. Finally, there are tons of side businesses you can start that don’t require huge investments. Here are 5:
1. Sell other people’s crap
Look around your house. If you’re like me you have a ton of junk you don’t need or want. It just takes up space and makes you feel like you’re living in a sardine can. Do you know how many people have 10 times more crap than you lying around their house? Offer a solution – start clearing clutter. Get rid of that junk for them and make some coinage while you’re at it.
Print up a flyer advertising your service and mail it to your neighbors. I guarantee you’ll get takers. Tell folks you’ll do a walk-through with them and pick out the stuff you know you can sell. Haul it away and give them half of everything you make. If you do this for 10 families at a time, you’ll be capturing huge economies of scale. Set up an Ebay store so when you get someone interested in one item, they can have a look-see at the rest of your inventory.
What are you really good at that other people need? What are your core skills that others value? Are you a good manager? Can you design? Sell? Market? Everyone has core talents and lots of people need your skills. If you have trouble putting your finger on it, interview 3 friends and ask them what they think you’re unique talents lie and how you can capitalize on them.
Once you get some clarity there, put up an ad on Elance or Guru.com. Check out what your competitors are doing in terms of products and services they offer and the prices they charge. Make sure you never try to compete on cost. The worst thing you can do is to be the lowest cost provider. That cheapens your deliverables and ultimately it turns customers off. People want quality – at least the people you want as customers do.
Can you tell stories? Can you teach somebody how to do something that will save them time and/or money? What is it?
Before you write that e-book, find your market and make sure somebody is willing to pay you for your genius brain power. I wrote a fantastic program called Money School for Couples. I spent an entire summer designing and recording it. It was built to help couples stop fighting about money. I figured that since 50% of marriages end in divorce and since most couples who fight, do so over money, the product would be a sure-fire hit. It flopped. I never found how to market it. Don‘t repeat my mistakes.
Go to websites and blogs that cater to your audience. You’ll find business ideas to write about. Connect with the owners of these blogs and ask them if they’d like you to create an e-book for their audience. Offer them the opportunity to co-author it with you – where you do the work and they put their name on it – in exchange for 50% of the revenue. You have a built-in market and very eager partner.
4. Virtual Assistant
The one thing that nobody has enough of is time. You can solve this problem for a lot of people by becoming their virtual assistant. Interview 5 of the busiest people you know – who agree to take your meeting. Ask them what someone could do to free up some of their precious time. Ask them where they think they waste time and why they don’t solve the problem. Ask them why they haven’t hired a virtual assistant to take care of these problems. You’re looking not only for opportunity but for what the objections are and how to overcome them. You might even find a few clients.
This is a pet peeve of mine. My experience tells me that it’s very difficult to find a good bookkeeper. In fact, it’s more difficult to find a skilled bookkeeper who is smart, responsible and timely than it is to find a good CPA or even Doctor. I have no idea why this is but it has been my experience. Call up a few business owners and CPA’s ask them if that is their experience as well. If it is, you’ve hit a jackpot.
Get trained on QuickBooks – if you’re half way decent with budgeting and math, you’ll have no problem. From there on, the sky’s the limit.
All these side entrepreneurial ideas are flexible, don’t require a huge investment and can be scaled up. Once you’ve perfected your service and you have more business than you know what to do with, you can hire and train someone else to do the work. The core skills in any successful small business are marketing, sales and management. If you can create a steady stream of business and put systems in place the control the quality of your work, you’ll have a thriving side business that will help you make significantly more money.