It’s clear that the current economic climate is stressful for many people. With the threat of redundancies, banks going bust, big companies going into administration, and poor pension performance, no wonder the global economic mood is a little pessimistic.
However, rather than wait to be made redundant (if you’re in full time employment) or wait for a job (if you’re looking for a job), I recommend investigating how you can work for yourself and earn an extra income. Sure it’s a difficult time to make money, but it’s worth being proactive to make some cash to prepare for the worst. You never know, your sideline might even become a full business!
I’m in the UK, so some of the advice I offer is heavily-UK biased. However, most of the advice I offer is universal.
Where do I start?
The best place to start with a business is ideas. You don’t have to have a unique idea, you just need an idea that works for your market and geography. Consider your skills and experience. Are you artistic? Do you have great writing skills? Do you have lots of experience in a certain area? Do you have lots of time available? Are you willing to do manual labour or work that most people dislike?
My point is that it is very likely that you have something you can offer as a service or use to create a product. Here are some examples of skills and experience, along with an idea of how to exploit those qualities.
Example - Expert Digital Photographer
you could offer 1-to-1 tuition to beginners on photography, helping them to take photos and do photographic enhancement work on a PC. You could take photos of homes that are being sold or let private by homeowners. Estate agents already do this. However, if someone is not using an agent, they might appreciate such a service. You might do pet photography within people’s homes.
Example - Writing Skills
If you have a high standard of English, there are usually plenty of websites and individuals crying out for great writers. You typically choose your own schedule, defined by deadlines. There will always be low quality writers, but reliable and high quality writers are very few and far between.
Example - Manual Labour
Although you’d need insurance (Public Liability insurance) for most manual work, some people don’t have the physical ability or stamina to do certain tasks. You could help people to move heavy furniture, perhaps within a home or even removing it to sell or dump. You could dig up a whole garden or allotment ready for planting vegetables, which is a fair bit of effort. You might clear messy gardens that are full of rubbish.
Example - Computer Skills
If you’re really good at certain aspects of computer use, then you could offer tuition in that skill area. E.g. teaching users how to sell stuff on eBay; how to copy vinyl, CDs and tapes into MP3 format; how to maintain a PC with anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, etc.; how to easily backup a PC, including all documents; how to do genealogy using a PC and the internet; how to get onto Facebook, etc. All valuable skills that people want to learn, but can feel intimidated about.
Growing your skills
If you’re skill set is limited, you can always take free courses to learn new things. Broadening your skills and experience will help you find a new job, as well as giving you practice with the skills you already have. You don’t need money in order to become more attractive as a prospective employee. Even better, these new skills can help you to start and grow your own business.
Many places in the UK offer free courses to help individuals gain skills and be more employable. These could include book keeping, computer skills, innumeracy, literacy, and more.
You could volunteer for charities and organisations that benefit the community, yet grow your skills in certain areas. For example, fundraising will give you experience with basic accounting. Working with young people or people from difficult backgrounds will help you get experience in learning how to deal with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Helping people with problems will give you experience at listening and communication. I think you get the picture.
What’s my point?
It’s always a good time to grow your skills, regardless of market conditions. Being able to define yourself and your skills differently from other people will make you more desirable as a prospective employee.
Even better, you may have a business idea that will allow you to create your own business. Working for yourself will mean your employment fate is completely within your control. Hopefully the examples above will show you that you could make money from pretty much any skill.
There are plenty of free resources and services to help you get started in business and free courses