The entrepreneurial bug bit me over 20 years ago. In that time I’ve worked with 3 network marketing companies (and still get paid by one of them), sold gift baskets to realtors and online at the Hallmark store, started my own medical review journal, published multiple websites, written several books, started and maintain two memberships, helped several businesses with their online presence and have ghost written for several authors.
But, I haven’t limited my work-at-home ideas to just adults. A couple years ago I finished a book that my youngest son and I started when he was 10 – Even Kids Can Make Money.
In some respects I think I have a bit of functional attention deficit. Every job I’ve held has not been stagnant. At one small start-up hospital I held the record for the most number of jobs in the least number of years. Not that this was something to brag about! I started in Staff Development, moved to Human Resources (started the department actually), became the Clinical Specialist for the head injury unit and then moved on to become the Manager for the same unit.
All in less than 5 years and including a 3 month maternity leave when I had my twins.
Have you ever been to a work related seminar where they try to encourage the staff to embrace change in their lives? No one ever had to encourage me!
So, when the idea of “retiring” my nurse practitioner license and working from home first popped into my head, it wasn’t a question of IF I would do it – but when and how I would get it done.
There are options in your own community that will allow you to earn extra income working from home or to take on your own business. In either case there are Rules of the Road that must be obeyed in order to be successful.
In my early years I was a rebel and didn’t think the rules applied. After a couple years I learned that although there were rules I could break, the trick was in knowing the rules that HAD to be followed.
My father taught me the first one. Long before I learned about the Magic Kingdom, I learned this from my father who was also an entrepreneur and ran his own restaurant in a small town in IL.
It was a place where high school students gathered and were fed if they didn’t have enough money to eat. Where a plate a fries would feed two teenage boys and where what was on the menu was dictated by the customers. It was a place where people came to hang out in the early afternoon before he closed and where he got to know and was known by the people in his community.
That first rule is, and will always be: The customer is always right. Whether the people you are working with are right or wrong – they are always right. There wasn’t a dissatisfied customer at his restaurant because he wouldn’t allow it.
The second rule is: You must follow the path laid out by businesses who have traveled the road before you. Only AFTER you learn the ropes should you attempt to blaze a new road. By doing this, you have the benefit of experience and success using tried methods in order to test your new methods.
Each journey is a little different. Each path has a few twists or turns you didn’t expect. But each path, in all likelihood, has already had someone traveling before you.
Taking those two important rules into account, and acknowledging that the second rule encompasses many other rules, what options do you have for developing a business that will either supplement your income or replace it entirely?
The number of ways you can supplement your income or start a new business is truly limited only by your imagination. However, in order to have an imagination, you must have a place to start. Here are 7 category ideas that may get you started thinking and imagining how you can increase your income without having an overwhelming workload, and still spend time with your children and friends.
- Physical Products
Sell physical products that either you or someone else made. Are you a crafter? You can sell in Etsy or even set up a store on Amazon. Do you know a rare book when you see it? Sell it on Amazon!
Do you have a cause you want to publicize? Use T-spring to design and sell t-shirts. You can design your own or work with a company who needs your help to get their campaign off the ground.
Set up your own website to sell your product either locally or nationally and link it to your Etsy page. Use a Facebook page to sell your products and ask your friends and relatives to “Like” and “Share” your page.
Have a product you want to invent? Investigate the manufactures in the area. Do a deal with them to produce your prototype so you can sell to an investor. Or put together a Kickstarter campaign for your new product, using your prototypes to encourage investors.
- Network Marketing
Although network marketing overall has a tainted reputation, there are several legitimate companies. If you work hard, spend time and energy learning from the best and putting those strategies into practice, you can do well.
Steer clear of companies that reward early adopters – or people who join the company first. Don’t get involved with companies that make you purchase your inventory to sell. Buy and use the products yourself – if you don’t like it, why would you sell it?
Work only with companies who have a good track record over the years, have independent research to back their claims and review that research. Look at the organizational structure, advancement requirements and statistics of people who have joined and subsequently advanced.
- Information and Ideas
Today instead of buying physical books you can carry a Kindle or purchase an e-book. The best-selling information and ideas are those that can be put into action immediately and often fall into one of these categories:
Health & Wellness
In other words, information or help for people who have a problem and want it fixed immediately.
- Service Provider
You are in a perfect position to undercut the prices for services rendered when you practice from your home. It means your overhead is less, you don’t have employees and don’t have to manage human resources. As a service provider your income is limited by the number of hours in the day – unless you expand and bring on employees. Some of the services you can provide to people include:
Customer service Rep (look online for openings or contact the companies yourself. They can connect your computer with their system and you can answer phones and sell from home when your home is quiet.)
Tutor – middle school and high school students
Online teacher – inside of an established online school, or tutor online
Social Media Marketing Specialist for companies in your community
Consultant – weddings, parties, etc.
- Middle Man
You have been given branded pens, umbrellas, balls, cups and any other number of paraphernalia at events. Who is the middle man between the company who prints and the company who orders? Carve out a niche market for yourself and start marketing your services to companies in your local area. Initially, you can do this over the phone or meet company representatives in person. Negotiate great deals with the manufacturers and be sure everyone is happy.
Do you enjoy writing? Telling stories? Doing research? Maybe you have some specific knowledge, such as medical, technical or real estate, others would pay you to write about. Do searches for freelance writing jobs in your favorite browser. Apply to companies that pay for articles to help you get started and increase your confidence level in your skill.
Never pay anyone to get a job – they should be paying you. There are several bloggers who write about freelance writing and how they’ve gotten jobs in the past. Study what they do, imitate it and get your first client. It is work that can be done after the children are in bed. It requires diligence and research to produce accurate results. But when you have a good client who is satisfied with your work, it can lead to more work.
- Blog and Vlog
Although this is technically writing – it’s writing and video blogging for yourself and not someone else. If you feel you have something to say, have an amusing lifestyle, or tell funny stories, you can generate an audience of people who will purchase your t-shirts, mugs and other physical products. They will watch your videos and visit your blog. You can sell advertising space or your own products in that market.
This takes persistence, consistency and the desire to spread the word about what you’re doing.
NOTHING is too small or beneath you if you want to earn that extra money. I have a friend who is an accountant. After 20 years she was laid off her job. She took on a couple of clients cleaning their homes 2 years ago. Today, she works 4 – ½ days a week and makes more than she did full time as an accountant. She’s burning calories all day and has lost 20 pounds. She listens to books on tape while cleaning, is home when her children get home from school and is enjoying her life.
Before diving head first into something new, do your due diligence and investigate not only the business potential of what you want to pursue, but also your own potential in this particular endeavor. Don’t attempt to do something just because it makes money – you’ll grow to hate it. Instead, find something you enjoy and then figure out a way to make money doing it.