There's something appealing about starting your own business and earning a little side income doing something you love. That's how I started Bargaineering.com, and it grew into a full-time business. All I had ever dreamed of was a hobby that might pay for a nice vacation each year.
The process for turning a passion into side income isn't difficult, though it can be time consuming. Follow these guidelines for assessing your interests and finding the perfect side business.
1. Brainstorm potential business ideas. This brainstorming session is crucial because you need to get all those ideas down in order to analyze them. What are the pros and cons of each idea? What makes you unique? Why should customers choose you over the existing competitors? Is this something you'd be willing to wake up early for on Sunday? Or work on during a Friday night?
Let's take a simple idea - a dog walking service. The pros are that you love dogs, you get exercise and you can get paid to be outside with pets. The cons are that some dogs can be difficult to manage, you may have to travel to get the dogs and the hourly pay may not be great. You believe customers should choose you because you have experience with dogs of all ages, you are a veterinarian and you are reliable and punctual. You have no problem waking up at 6 a.m. on Sunday or staying over someone's house to pet sit on Friday night.
2. Analyze your ideas. When you're done, you should have a general idea which of these ideas you like and which you don't. Rank them from most appealing to least appealing. Whichever idea is at the top is the one you start with for step 2 - until you decide otherwise, this one is going to be your new "business."
3. Determine if you can make money. For your dog walking service, this is as simple as going out on the street and talking to complete strangers. Walk around your neighborhood until you see someone walking their dog. Ask if they would pay you $5 to walk their dog. If they say yes, walk their dog! (Congratulations on your first client!)
If they say no, try to make the sale. Can you walk the dog tomorrow? Later in the day? If they still say no, ask why they won't hire you. It's a scary process putting yourself out there, and you're probably going to get rejected a lot, but it's crucial that you get this real world feedback as soon as possible.
4. Revisit your list. If you learn you simply cannot sell yourself as a dog walker, it's time to move to the next idea. What if you wanted to make a line of organic soaps? You could spend a lot of startup capital renting commercial kitchen space and ingredients, or you could make a batch in your own kitchen and try to sell it to your friends. You may not have had a unique enough selling proposition with dog walking, but perhaps you have one with organic soaps (or whatever the second idea on your list is).
Eventually, you will find a side business that can earn you income. You just need to be persistent and diligent.
Jim Wang is an entrepreneur, who started personal finance blog Bargaineering.com and now discusses how to make money blogging at Microblogger.com.
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