Most people have found themselves in a situation where they have not worked in quite some time. They might have exhausted their resources and unemployment benefits. They might also find that friends and family are in a desperate situation as well and are unable to help. Usually this is when hindsight kicks in and they say “I should have done something when I had the chance” or “If only I had known.”
The current economic situation is effecting everyone. Even if you have a great job and you do not believe that said job is in jeopardy, you should still take a few precautions just in case unforeseen events take place that put you in a situation that is outside of your financial comfort zone. The best thing one can do in a good or bad financial situation is to diversify. Basically, one should not depend on one source of income at any given time. If you have some free time that you can use then most analysts will tell you to use it constructively by generating passive or extra income. That is not to say that one should not spend time with family or friends but to use an hour here and there throughout your week to find and utilize great ideas that generate income over time.
Set goals that can be easily achieved such as writing a few articles or repairing things for friends and neighbors. Start a blog that uses ad revenue to support itself until you get enough readers to turn a profit at the end of each month. Simple goals that do not require much time or effort can really pay off in the long run. If you do have a great job for now then taking these steps to insure your well being now will definitely pay off in the event of a financial crisis. Should you lose your job or your main source of income you can always fall back on your smaller projects. This will give you time to find another job or to increase the amount of passive income you can generate at home or on line.
You might be thinking that you have no idea what to do other than your job. This is normal because there are a lot of people that depend on their job as their main source of income. What you have to do at this point is make a list of your skills and check to see what they are worth. You might be shocked at how much you can actually make for hobbies or skills that you use to just have fun with. If you love to paint then see what your paintings are worth. Find places that will display your work near your home on consignment. Once your painting sells the business that was displaying your work might take a small commission and give the rest of the profit directly to you.
Here is a great example that I used a while back when I needed money. I used to be a automotive mechanic at a large dealership. I made good money but I wanted to find a better way to make money that did not involve working in harsh conditions or with dangerous materials. I had tools and a garage I could use so I put a free ad on line for bicycle restoration and donations. First, I posted an ad that said if you have an old, rusty children’s bicycle that you could donate it instead of throwing it away. This would help to keep landfills from growing. I also stated that I would take the bicycle, repair it and then donate the repaired bicycle to a charitable organization for children. I also wrote that if anyone wanted to repair or restore their own bicycle that I could do so at a reasonable rate.
Now, there are bicycle shops in my area but they only deal with tuneups, repairs or new bicycle sales. Not a single shop that I had researched offered restoration services for used or antique bicycles. At this point I had found a niche that no one else was competing in. The fact that bicycles are far easier to work on than cars are was also a bonus. I ran the ad for several days and then started to get emails about my service. I managed to accumulate over 40 adult and children’s bicycles that needed repair or that could be used for parts on projects that were almost finished. People that contacted me were more than happy to bring the bicycles to my garage and even stated that this was a great idea.
I invested very little on parts and paint. The adult bicycles that were donated were tuned up or repaired and sold. The proceeds from the adult bicycles were used to buy inexpensive parts for the children’s bicycles and the rest went in my account for my expenses. I informed the people that brought adult bicycles to my shop that these bicycles would not be donated but instead they would be repaired and sold because the only donations that were accepted by the charity that I gave to were children’s toys or clothes. I was upfront and honest about what I was doing and this paid off very well over the course of time. When someone would donate to the shop and I told them what the situation was they would tell other friends of theirs that had old bicycles and essentially gave me word of mouth advertising for free.
I started this business with next to nothing. Just a few tools and my garage. My biggest investment was my time. Once things started happening it seemed to snow-ball, growing week after week. Pretty soon I had actual restoration projects that were mostly profit. This created even more income and I had the charitable write off at the end of the year to offset taxes that were incurred by doing the actual restorations for paying customers. Anything you do will involve some risk but in this case the risk was very small. I simply posted an ad on a free site and waited for responses. If no one had responded then I had lost nothing more than a few minutes of my time and at that point I would have tried something else. After all my tools were just collecting dust and the whole point of investing in tools is to make a profit from having them and using them.
The first year I donated 34 bicycles to the charity close to Christmas time. I had restored 12 customer bicycles and repaired 23 bicycles. I had accumulated hundreds of parts including chains, pedals, handlebars and frames. So, by the end of the first year I had started this project I had a full blown shop with parts and services ready to go. All with very little money invested. The money I had invested was returned by providing services for paying customers and I even turned a profit. The second year I had just as many donations and a 63% increase in actual sales and service tickets. About 3 months into the second year I no longer needed to post free ads, but I did anyway. It got to the point where I was outsourcing some of my repair and tune work to a local bicycle shop and in return they would let me raid their parts pile to fix the children’s bicycles that I was donating. Yes, it is true that my competition was actually helping me maintain my business. These days a situation like that is unheard of but in my case this bond between my shop and the competition helped both businesses to grow and turn a profit. They also had no problem whatsoever helping needy and underprivileged families.
At that point in time I was pulling in about 16k in profit while only spending about 4k for expenses and labor. I set my prices just below what the competition were charging because my overhead was next to nothing as it was. About six months into the second year a “bicycle flipper” contacted me. A bicycle flipper is someone who buys a bicycle for $60 and then sells it for $80 or sets his prices according to what the bicycle is worth. This bicycle flipper would go to police auctions and buy a “lot” of bicycles that consisted of 10 or 12 bicycles. He could purchase the whole lot of bicycles for $80-$100 and then sell each bicycle for a profit. The problem was that some of the bicycles were cheap children’s bicycles from marts or toy stores. To him they were worthless and simply accumulated in his back yard. He accused me of taking advantage of people and claimed that I was selling all of the bikes and he was going to report me. I laughed and explained how I got started and showed him proof of all the bicycles I had repaired and donated. From that point on he would donate all of his “profitless” bicycles to my shop and we became good friends.
Now I am in the fourth year of this business. I have quit my regular job. I make more money now than I did as a mechanic. It took a while, a great strategy and some hard work but now I am one of the biggest donation stations in my area and almost 100 kids get a great used bicycle for Christmas that otherwise would get little or nothing.
I also have a nice client base that shops at antique sales and estate sales. They bring me bicycles that I repair and restore for a profit. To this day there are no other companies doing what I do because they believe that there is not enough profit to sustain such a business. I used my skills as a mechanic and an automotive refinishing technician and applied them to bicycle restoration and repair.
Anyone can use just about any skill set and apply those skills to a completely different business that has little to no competition. In my case I couldn’t find a niche so I created one. The difference is that my niche was created first and foremost to help others and then to generate income. Not only do I help needy families but I also help businesses that are in my area and by doing so I have created a network of businesses that help each other instead of trying to put each other out of business. I negotiated reasonable prices for parts and services with these businesses in order to outsource projects I do not have time for and to help my competition stay busy during slow times. This has benefited my business because now I can purchase parts or materials at a discount. This creates profit for everyone involved and has grown far beyond my initial expectations.
Think about how businesses are run today and how the environment for business is brutal. Instead of trying to kill your competition you may find that helping them actually helps everyone involved in the long run. The economy does not need more companies forcing their competition out of business, what it needs is community and partnerships. I believe that this is one of the main concepts that could help our economy recover and prosper. If just half of the companies that are suffering right now adopted this kind of business model then the economy would see almost immediate results in the form of increased sales and profit. Think about it. The more money that is available in the community directly relates to the amount of money that the community spends.
Let me know what you think about this concept and if you have any ideas about your niche that helps everyone involved. Leave me a comment or some feedback and definitely tell your friends about this article.