I've been just bubbling over with ideas lately. I keep thinking about all the poor people who are out of work and struggling these days. Obviously this is a very tough job market and will be for quite a long time, so people need to get very creative and think outside the box when it comes to earning money.
I have a couple of ideas that I've stumbled across that are so easy, almost anyone could do them with very little money, talent, or connections. So being the wonderful, giving person that I am, I am going to share them with you absolutely for FREE.
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The Daycare Solution
When Blake was about 4 years old, we had him in a fabulous daycare. It was really small and friendly and we really liked it. One of the things we really enjoyed were the dance classes. This lady would come in once a week and teach a half hour dance class for the kids. I forget how much we paid, but let's say it was $20 a month for four classes a month. There were maybe 10 kids in the class, so let's say she was making $200 a month for a half-hour investment of her time. She also had 3 or 4 other daycares that she was doing this at, so that is an income of about $600 to $800, probably tax free. All for a one day a week investment of her time. I call that BRILLIANT! The kids were happy, the parents were happy, and the daycare was happy to have the kids entertained for a half hour a week.
Then to make it even more fun (and profitable), she would do quarterly recitals at all her daycares. She and her Mom would get together and make some simple costumes that could be worn over a leotard and some props and they would invite the parents in for these little performances to see the kids dance. She would charge a $10 "costume rental fee" per kid. That's another couple of hundred dollars of income and she would re-use the costumes at each daycare and recycle some of them from recital to recital.
You could adapt this idea for art classes, karate, academic tutoring, or whatever else you could think of. Even when times are tough, parents will pay to have their kids learn something.
Mini Golf Idea
Here's another great idea that I really liked. This guy rented an unused space at the mall and he set up a little miniature golf course on it. He made the course himself out of individual plywood modules covered in that indoor/outdoor carpet stuff. The smart thing about having them set up as separate modules was that he could easily move them to another store in less than an hour.
A lot of the malls in our area have vacant store fronts. What if you were to approach the management and ask them to let you rent the place temporarily at a discount until they can find a permanent tenant for it? Then when they rent that place out, you just pack up everything and move to another space, or another mall. Most landlords would rather get a partial rent than have the place sit totally vacant. And this business model is very efficient.
Other than the rent and a few basic materials, your only cost is labor and you could likely staff it yourself most of the time. Especially in areas where it rains or snows a lot, you'd have a pretty good clientele of bored teens and families with little kids. And all you have to do is sit back, collect the money and hand out golf clubs. Pretty cushy job, I say.
Help People Sell Things
I used to be an Ebay seller and I have sold stuff on Craiglist, Amazon, and just about every other similar on-line site. You know, it's not a scheme where you are going to get rich in most cases, but if you've got a house full of interesting crap, it's a great way to make a few extra bucks.
However, if you run out of your own stuff, there are a lot of people out there who don't know how to use a computer, especially older folks. What if you were to put some flyers around to help people unload their stuff? You just charge them a flat fee to come and take the pictures and post the ads and then people just contact them to complete the sale. This is also a great idea for garage sales and estate sales. When we were cleaning out my in-law's house after they passed away, I posted dozens of Craigslist ads and we sold most of their furniture that way. We didn't get a lot for it, but we had a very limited time frame and it was better than giving it away.
This is another business I used to run. I'm pretty good with computers and I would go around to people's houses and show them how to use their computers. Nothing fancy, just some basic Word and Excel stuff and a little basic Internet and they would pay me $20 an hour to do it. I also used to teach private classes to teach people how to sell stuff on Ebay at $60 a class and people were happy to pay it. When you know stuff, find a way to teach it and get people to give you money for it - duh!
Options might include: Cooking classes, DIY/Craft classes, blogging classes, financial planning, etc.
The problem is that I stink at marketing and once you've taught someone what they want to know, you have to go and find another client, but if someone is good at that part of it, you could do pretty well at it.
Bonus Tip: I just thought of another great idea. There used to be a show called the Fairy Job Mother. This lady would take out-of-work people and coach them on various aspects of their job search - clothes to wear, resume updates, interview skills. If you had a bit of experience in HR, running a business, or even fashion, this would be a great business to get into. I'd love to do something like this! It would be very rewarding to see the people succeed in their job hunts.