20 easy work from home businesses. (And how to start them)
NO!!!! This is not another laundry list of home business you could have come up with yourself if you simply took the time. Telling somebody that can go out and mow lawns is hardly earth-shattering news. These 20 easy work from home businesses are businesses we have seen with clients.
The real value is in the how. How do you start a home-based business? How do you market with little or no budget?
Landon Fillmore Systems, we have been at this for over 25 years. We have seen success and failure in home-based businesses.
(Click here to read about Sean’s son, the landscaper who worked 80 hours a week for no money.)
First, let me say, there is nothing wrong with you! You do not need affirmations, a success coach, or a guru. In fact, these things typically hurt your success because they cause you to think of yourself instead of your customers.
There are three things that you should first make priorities.
- You absolutely must be somewhat organized.
- You must set up a basic accounting system.
- You must understand basic marketing principles.
You do not need money to start a business.
Why do we say somewhat organized? Home based businesses are rarely ever organized for no better reason than your home is not an office or a warehouse. It is a home. Your job is to keep it from becoming a cluster****!
Notice, we mentioned setting up a basic accounting system for your new business and not learning accounting. Learning accounting will distract you from making money. All you need to do is get a separate checking account, link it to a simple online system like Mint and check it every few days.
(For more information on accounting systems, click here)
Finally, you must learn basic marketing principles.
The good news is that you can jump start that process by using this website and clicking here.
The most important thing for your new home-based business!
You absolutely MUST start right.
What does starting right mean? Simple. (But not easy) You have to know how much time you have, WHEN this time fits on an actual calendar and what your potential income AND profit margin will be.
You cannot screw this up. We are not talking about a complicated business plan, but a simple margin and time analysis.
You MUST be proactive.
In business, people often misinterpret what this means. YOU do not have to be aggressive, competitive or blood thirsty to successfully run a homebased business. But your product or service does!
At Landon Fillmore Systems, we have had dozens of highly successful clients that we would describe as total wallflowers! Small business owners that were petrified of selling and as non-competitive as your house cat. What did they have in common? They were ahead of the 8 ball.
So, to be proactive in marketing, your product must stand out.
Now, think this through. Did we say your product has to be the best?” NO, we said it has to stand out. It has to be unique. If it stands out, you do not have to. As you go through the list of 25 easy work from home businesses, each will have a title “Unique Selling Idea.” This is just one or a few examples of ideas that make your home-based business or job stand out.
20 home-based businesses and/or jobs. The list.
1) Homework coach
Unique selling opportunity: You are not the child’s parent!
Let me fill you in.
It is a fact, a scientific fact, that children do not listen to their parents. How does a person create a small business from a child ignoring their parents?
I coached pitchers for years. I could tell a kid exactly what their father just told them, and they would listen to me, having just rolled their eyes and told their father take a hike.
Click to read “Do parents matter.” (1) (2)
If you have ever watched the movie “Father of the Bride,” with Spencer Tracey and Elizabeth Taylor you know what I mean.
One scene is hilarious. Spencer Tracey is trying to convince his daughter, Elizabeth Taylor that she needs to wear a coat. Taylor keeps telling him, no dad, no dad, it is not cold out. Just then, her boyfriend walks in and says, “honey, don’t you need a coat,” and Taylor replies, “Do I?”
But what many people do not realize is that children were designed biologically to ignore their parents and listen to their peers at the age of about 12. It is not a comedy show it is a fact.
In the Starbucks where I go first thing in the morning, there is a man who does SAT prep. The problem most parents have though is that by the time the SAT rolls around, the child may be beyond help.
Why would somebody pay someone else to help their child do homework?
University educated parents will spend almost any amount of money on a child. Your expertise would not so much in being smart as being focused.
The difference between successful and unsuccessful students is often not that they lack intelligence, they simply do not know how to study efficiently. But the parents face insurmountable problems.
First, professionals have little time. Second, as we discussed, their kids typically will not listen to them. The fact that you could operate this service after school or on weekends is a huge boon to them.
Some things you may study to be a homework expert are…
- Speed reading.
- Memorization tricks,
- Math tricks.
- How to extract information from a book.
- How to set and achieve goals.
None of these things are particularly hard to learn, and even if you never get a single customer, would it be all that painful to know them yourself?
There are 100 ways to motivate a child but let me give you one idea. When my daughters were young, they took Suzuki violin classes at a music school. (In fact, if you plan on becoming a homework coach, I strongly suggest your read a book on Mr. Suzuki’s methods.) Although the lessons were private, Saturday was group day. On this day, they played together (competition) and in front of their parents. (adoration)
A few times a year, they performed in front of crowds, even in the first year! This was how the school motivated the kids to practice.
America is so far behind the educational 8 ball that is it is frightening being here. When I lived in Germany, it stunned me how much smarter German kids were than Americans. For Germans, fluency in English is required even for kids in vocational schools! There is no such thing as “bad in math.”
One thing I learned as a coach was what kids need more than anything is one on one attention from a parent. This is why people pay $50 an hour in some cases for SAT coaches.
These days, there are so many resources for helping kids, your problem will be choosing the best ones.
I knew a woman who was one of those MONSTER parents. She lived in a small farming town and her daughter went to Harvard on a full scholarship and was a Rhodes scholar. Her secret?
She loved her daughter. I knew the family well. The kid was an awesome kid, but no different than any other kid on the block. A year after her daughter went to college, she went to work at a local public school and in one year, raised the average SAT score 100 points! How?
Mostly, by what I said above. Speed reading, speed learning, and digesting books on how to study. She enrolled her daughter in things Harvard likes, like junior miss and charities.
Kids do not come with directions. Parents learn as they go along. The right mentor can make a child successful. The wrong one could put them in prison. What do you think a parent would pay, today in our drug ensconced world to keep their kid out of a jail or a rehab clinic?
A hell of lot more than they will pay to get their lawn cut.
2) Personal Assistant
Unique Selling Idea: Think “what would you want organized?”
You are not simply filling a calendar!
To command top-dollar you have to do things and have knowledge that the average personal assistant does not have.
Here are the tasks professionals want their personal assistant to be an expert at.
- Paying bills
- Scheduling flights
- Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays
- Keeping tabs on their kids when they are in college or overseas.
- Answering the phone and screening out assholes.
- Keeping their schedule.
- Buying their clothes.
- Isn’t that what any personal assistant would do?
Theoretically. But in reality, it is rarely the case. To be a high wage personal assistant, one has to master these things.
Anybody can go on Orbitz and click buttons, but to schedule travel, an assistant must understand what it is like to travel. They then have to put themselves in the shoes of their boss.
On my last trip to Nuremberg, I went from Buffalo to Boston, Boston to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Nuremberg.
But it is not as simple as that. I scheduled two days in Boston to see the sights as well as my daughters. I had to get from the airport to their apartment in Brighton. What is the best way?
In short, the best flight, though not the cheapest was Lufthansa to Frankfurt with a train connection to Nuremberg. Why? Because It was faster to take the train to Nuremberg than wait for a connection on a plane. It was also $400 cheaper.
The train station was a half a mile from my apartment, versus the airport which was ten miles.
My point is that a good personal assistant thinks through these things. That is why they are as rare as albino elephants. To be a good personal assistant and make top dollar, you must be irreplaceable.
If you have never traveled for business, you cannot imagine how much it sucks! Imagine this conversation.
Executive: Are we all set for my trip to Sao Paulo?
Assistant: Yes. There were a few flights that were a bit cheaper, but I decided on ***. I did not think you would want to spend seven hours sitting in Atlanta.
Executive: You are right!
Assistant: I have a service picking you up. I heard that Sao Paulo airport can be a bit crazy. As you do not speak Portuguese, I did not think hailing a taxi would be a great idea.
Executive: Good thinking.
Assistant: The suites were a bit pricey, but I was able to get you a junior suite by using some of your frequent flier miles at the Marriott. The Marriot is a block away from the conference center. I did not think you would want to spend your evenings in a hotel with 3,000 software salesmen.
Executive: (Laughs) You nailed that one. Anything else?
Assistant: Just one thing. On the way back, I scheduled you to stop in Houston and visit your daughter. You know, she misses you terribly.
Executive: Oh God, where would I be without you?
Assistant: (chuckle) Sitting in the airport in Atlanta.
Now, ask yourself this question. What do you think an executive would pay for that service? Warren Buffets assistant makes $670,000 a year!
I have been to at least 35 countries and I guarantee you; the average travel agent does not know jack shit about business travel. When a businessman travels, he is usually going to a place that is trying to maximize cash flow. Your client is just another ass in a seat.
In the Nuremberg trade fairs, there are thousands of people in hotels. I stay in an Airbnb in the Altstadt. It is like being at home.
Being an executive assistant is easy. Being one that makes top dollar requires commitment. But in the end, you become irreplaceable.
Organization is key
3) Tax Return Preparer.
Unique selling opportunity: People fear the IRS.
I know what you are thinking. There are a million of them out there. Here are the secrets that will make you top buck.
- Make house calls.
- Be an expert,
- Be proactive.
- Make house calls.
Nothing scares the shit out of people like having their tax return prepared. Most people are more afraid of the IRS than terrorist bombings.
People are most comfortable in their homes, especially the elderly.
Although many people think of tax return preparation as a necessary evil, in most cases it is an exercise in hand holding.
2) Be an expert.
Most people rule their financial roosts by using a combination of second-hand opinions, TV show bullet lists and lunchroom scuttlebutt.
In fact, most tax preparers do the same.
To offer professional service, learn the craft.
The IRS has a designation called “enrolled agent.” It is the gold standard for preparers. It is an exam that covers literally everything you could ever see from income to estate tax. It puts you on a level with a CPA.
There are dozens of things people do not know that can make you an expert. For example,…
- How much can they take out of their 401-k?
- Is their mortgage interest deductible?
- Do they have to pay taxes on inheritances?
- Is it worth it for their spouse to work?
- Can they still deduct their kids?
- And 1,000 more.
This positions you as an expert. It allows you to charge the max.
One other BIG selling point is to help them budget. Connect their bank accounts to Mint, the free online budgeting program. Charge them a monthly fee to email them an end of month income and loss statement.
They will LOVE you.
3) Be proactive.
Do not call us, we will call you.
This was our motto when we were in that business. If you get in early, it raises the chances of you getting referrals before the season ends. It also keeps you from having to do extensions.
In any business, always try to keep the ball in your court.
And the leverage for this business is?
Unique Selling Idea: The customer can focus on making money.
Bookkeeping is the motherland for a home-based business/
Almost everybody needs one, almost everybody wants one and almost nobody has one.
I know what you might be thinking. I will download the app.
Yup, download and ignore.
For small businesses there is no bigger pain in the ass. It is 10PM, you just spent 12 hours installing a deck and now you are paying bills.
The fact is, though, it is easy. If I had a pocket calculator and a few months, I could teach accounting to a chimpanzee. In fact, it is designed to be simple.
Basically, accounting was designed to encapsulate the profitability and financial status of a business in a single set of documents.
Those documents are a balance sheet, a statement of cash flow and an income statement.
In real life though, small business owners cannot read these statements even if they were prepared on time, which they rarely are. What small businesses need is someone to pay their bills, tell them how much is left and put it all in a simple ledger.
But it is not just small business that needs them!
I remember years ago meeting with a high-level executive that worked for Eastman Kodak. And when I say high level, he was considered for the position of CEO.
He looked across the table and said, “I have no idea why my wife and I have no money.”
I was stunned. This guy was making $500,000 a year and this was 25 years ago, back when $500,000 was serious chicken. Not only that, but he had a degree in finance!
He paid me a lot of money to tell him that he had a summer home that was bleeding him dry (but aren’t they great investments?) a wife that was chewing through $40,000 a year at Bergdorf Goodman and a $200,000 income tax bill.
The fact is these guys do not have access to bookkeepers. They usually get cold called by “financial planners” whose only real plan is to hock life insurance.
And keep in mind, these are the types of customers that are accustomed to paying fees. For an executive to spend $3,000 to get a simple Will they could just as easily buy for $12 at an office supply store is not uncommon!
The beauty of bookkeeping as a business is that you can start small and end up making 6 figures. You simply start out paying bills and making ledgers. You already know how to pay bills and can learn how to use a spreadsheet in about 2 hours.
As you earn, you learn. After a couple years, you are a tax preparer and are hiring people.
Create a free B2B marketing database here.
Hoke based businesses need data.
5) Image consultant.
Unique selling opportunity: for men.
I remember years ago seeing a sign for a friseur. (It was in Germany, a beauty salon) It was a picture of Albert Einstein and below it the caption read, “A bad haircut can make even a genius look like an idiot.”
Let us face it. Heterosexual American men know nothing about style. This can be a highly lucrative home-based business.
A few of my favorite places are Munich and Monaco. A European man would not get caught dead dressing down in these places. European professionals dress well.
I have a favorite Italian restaurant down the street called JT’s. The owner has class. The women that go there, dress to kill. The men wear tee-shirts and throw F-bombs.
They are clueless. Aside from perhaps a pole dancer, what woman is going to be attracted to a man in a Pittsburg Steelers shirt, (another man’s name on a shirt is a real turn on for women!) throwing F bombs in a restaurant with $45 entrees?
But more importantly, what employer is going to put that guy in a management position? I will guarantee you that everybody knows you do not judge a book by its cover. That is, everybody but book PUBLISHERS!
But image is not dress, image is style. It involves more than just what a person looks like. For an aspirational man or women, it involves how they carry themselves, where they hang out, how they speak and what words they say.
There is no single biggest developer of personality or success than environment. But today, that environment is splayed across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and a dozen others.
Like bookkeepers, almost everybody needs an image consultant.
Oh, and for women… The business may very well make your clothing a tax deduction!
Unique Selling Opportunity: Be like Leonardo Da Vinci.
Do you want to know a secret?
Leonardo DaVinci was not an artist. He ran a home-based business!
For ten years I kept his biography on my night stand. If DaVinci was alive today, he would either be a doctor, an engineer or be working for Raytheon.
DaVinci was a businessman. If the Vatican asked him to paint the last supper today, he would probably go to Romania, hire a bunch of actors, dress them up as apostles and take a picture.
Davinci ran a shop. He had employees, sometimes dozens. He designed weapons, sculpted images and was a party planner. Every time a Medici got married, they hired him to do the decorations.
oh yes you can!
Much of what they call art today is bullshit. It is just some egotistical pot head that wants people to “feel his feelings.” If you told an art student today that in real life, Mona Lisa was a spoiled, unattractive daughter of a rich Italian, they would pass out. The simple fact is, if they had camera’s back then, there would be no Mona Lisa.
I get a kick out of people who try and sell welded steel as art. They are all starving. I told one once that if he went to Louisiana, he could make $100,000 welding in the oil industry.
He was not looking to make money, just get attention.
It is really not that hard to make money as an artist, especially as a side job. I once knew a woman that made $5,000 a year selling glass jewelry she made in her basement.
But she only attended ONE SALE A YEAR!
What a person needs to do though is sell things people want to buy.
To sell any art or craft piece you have to ask yourself a few things.
First, what makes this unique?
Second, what are my price points? The way you figure this out is to look at what other people are selling.
Price points are important when you are determining where you are going to sell something. One trick retailer’s, and especially restaurants like to do is put a really expensive product on the menu. This makes everything else looks cheap by comparison.
I once had a client that sold clothing in a posh suburban neighborhood. He had sweaters that cost him little, so he put them on a table at $75. He did not sell a single one.
The next year, he put them in a display and sold them for $200. They were sold out in a month.
I had a client years ago that was the wife of a deceased business owner. She was the sweetest women you could meet. Her passion was quilting, and she was good at it. But she would not sell them, she donated them to a church what auctioned them. They sold for hundreds to over a thousand dollars.
Obviously, I am not suggesting you give away quilts, but what is eBay other than an online auction? You can find the value of almost anything on eBay.
Unique Selling Opportunity: Target Marketing.
When most people think of renting, they think of real estate.
But there are an almost unlimited number of things a person can rent. A few examples are.
- Equipment like nail guns, sanders, cement mixers, power generators.
- Fun stuff like boats, kayaks, tents, and decorations.
- Party stuff like tables and chairs, portable bars, and portable toilets.
- Clothing like wedding and prom dresses.
Basically, anything a person will only use once and a while. Most renters are self employed people who work out of their homes.
The unique selling opportunity here is to reach people who want to rent things that are either too expensive or not used enough to buy. How do you reach these people?
Think of it this way. Imagine you want to rent a kayak. You could call around, google kayak rentals, or ask a friend. But what if you already KNEW a company that rented kayaks? What if they delivered them to location? What if they also thought of all the cool stuff a kayak trip needed but you forgot to buy?
The best way to start considering rentals as a business is to read our post on “Creating a Marketing Footprint.” Why do people rent Kayaks? They want to have fun. So, do you market Kayaks. NO, you market fun! How do you reach them? Creating a footprint will start you on that path.
8) Antique dealers
Unique Selling Idea. Think outside the Antique dealer.
I know what you might be thinking. It takes a lot of money to buy antiques. The fact is it does not.
There were four antique dealers I have known in the past. Their antiques were…
All four were millionaires. None had original capital more than a few thousand dollars.
Antique dealing is one of the oldest businesses in history. The Roman’s, the Han dynasty, even the Biblical Jews of Jerusalem were collectors.
To make this a side business, just apply the rules above and add a few.
The additions are…
Do not buy anything is you do not know how much you can sell it for.
Do not swing for the fences. That is, do not try to make a killing. I once bought an 1800’s standing liberty dollar for $2,000. I held it for 10 years and sold it for… drum roll please… $2,000.
There is a limited market for expensive coins, and I did not have access to it. One of my richest clients has about $2 million in coins, bullion, and antique toys. He had very few items worth more than $100.
For a primer on how misers make great businessmen, click this link.
You do not necessarily have to be an expert on what things are, or their histories, though that helps. What you must know is what the market for the antique is.
9) Vegetable and/or herb stand.
Unique Selling Idea: A stand in front of your house.
I used to have a neighbor that was passionate about gardening. Every year, he put up an UNTENDED roadside vegetable stand. And every year he made enough to take his ENTIRE FAMILY on a cruise.
That is daughters, grandchildren, and sons in law.
What makes this desirable is the new move towards homegrown.
There is one particular herb farm in San Francisco that caters to Sanfran’s restaurants. They make $350,000 a year on a half-acre plot!
I used to have a small farm and ran an organic operation, though I did not sell anything. It was more fun that a holiday on the beach. On top of being thin, tanned and in the best shape of my life, I had tons of friends.
But what if you do not have land?
That is easy. You can rent it from a local farmer for next to nothing. In my old neighbors, dozens of people had victory gardens on rented land.
The beauty of it is the growing season is a few months and the financial benefits are huge. People pay obscene amounts of money for roadside stand vegetables.
But weren’t your neighbors unattended stand vegetables stolen?
Actually, the opposite happened. Since people rarely had exact change, they left a bit more in the cash box than they owed!
Another thing that one can raise is cattle. Dairy farms rent space all the time. In fact, in many cases they give away space to 4h kids. I knew a girl (14 years old) that saved $12,000 selling cattle in 4H auctions at the county fair.
What if local zoning does not allow it?
Rent a small patch of land on a road that does allow it.
10) Personal Trainer (A real one!)
Unique Selling Idea? Create a new customer environment.
People that are already in great shape do not need personal trainers. People that are fat and out of shape do. What is their challenge? They are in an environment that does not reward a healthy lifestyle.
I know. There are a million personal trainers out there. Guess what?
90% suck the wazoo.
Do you really need somebody to stand next to you when you are working on an exercise machine that has the directions pasted on the side? Hell no.
Let us get real for a moment. Working out sucks. So why does it?
Many years ago, I found myself 30 pounds over-weight. I spent an entire winter working out and actually GAINED weight. So, in the spring I quit the gym, bought a cooler, filled it with beer and decided I was going to become an obsessive gardener, but my secret. I only used HAND tools. I lost 30 pounds.
The funny thing was a family of woodchucks ate my entire garden. I did not care. It was fun!
So, ask yourself a question. How can you help people lose weight and have fun? How about hiking or hill climbing in a nearby park? Cycling?
If you combine caring about your customer, constant communication, studying people who are successful and cutting-edge medicine, you can be a real rock star.
11) Travel Agent (For a fee)
As a lifetime world traveler, I guarantee you, the vast majority of travelers have no clue what they are doing.
One might think the internet is the solution. But at Landon-Fillmore Systems, we do not use ANY online travel systems. Orbitz? Nope. Expedia? Nope. Travelocity? Nope. TripAdvisor? I think you get the picture.
A concierge at a hotel in Frankfurt Germany told me last year that almost all of their complaints are from people who used online booking agencies. Last yar, after getting ripped off YET AGAIN I informed our staff that we were no longer using booking agencies. For European flights we use Lufthansa airlines For South America, we use American. For domestic, United, American and JetBlue. We book through the airlines directly.
For hotels, in the US we Google search cities and call the hotel on the phone. For Europe, we either use Airbnb or we call the hotels.
The dirty little secret of successful business travelers is that they have personal assistants that plan their travel.
Let me give you an example. I am writing this page from my house in Merida Mexico. There are several beaches here in Yucatan, but the real shitholes are where the tourists are sent. I do not know a single Mexican that would get caught dead in Cancun or Cozumel. Here, people go to smaller places with nice beaches and no tourists.
Do you want to be constantly harassed by people selling crap on the beach? Constantly confronted by drug dealers and hookers? Go to Cancun or Cozumel.
As a business, your job is to keep your clients away from…well, other American tourists. Ids it because American tourists are bad? Absolutely not/ American tourists are genuinely nice, despite the stereotype. The problem is American tourists are “channeled.”
In my apartment in Nuremberg, I can watch the groups of tourists going by from the Viking Cruises. They are like cattle. They are bussed from the boats, dragged through the streets, and plopped down for their prepaid meals at restaurants.
Is this what you would want?
The key for you to run this as a business out of your home is outreach. Which customer would pay you $500 for travel plans? How about somebody who is about to spend $12,000 on a river cruise.
The thing you have to keep in m mind from the marketing of a small business is what differentiates you from the competition?
The first thing is the competition is trying to maximize cash flow. This means they are getting selling commissions from hotels, restaurants, and tour operators. One in Nuremberg advertises a “Frankish Beer Tour” for 90 Euro! 90 Euro to bar hop?
For 90 Euro you can get drunk out of your mind and have enough money left over to take a bath in Frankish beer!!! All you have to do is go into Google Maps, look up Frankish restaurants and make a map.
What are some of the things your competition ignoring?
Basically, anything they can monetize. These are things like parks, bike paths, walking tours and museums. (Without guides) In fact, most attractions have apps that are translated into your language.
To make this a home-based business, where do you start.
First, do a few for free. You might say, “Mrs. client, I’ve just started a business where I create personalized European travel. I want to help people who want to travel freely and not be a slave to tours. (Refer to our pages on Triggers and pain points. Sell freedom, not vacations)
Second, I suggest you pick one area and become an expert. This will give you confidence but also credibility. When you are done, ask if they have any friends that travel extensively and expand from there.
12) Professional Planter and gardener.
Unique Selling Idea: Elderly gardeners.
This one is huge!
Anybody who has ever been to Buffalo, New York for Garden Walk weekend, or has spent time in Munich, in Bavaria or London to tour victory gardens knows how big this home-based business can be.
Tens of thousands of people stroll through Buffalo during garden walk. In fact, Buffalo was designed by Fredrich Law Olmstead to be an interconnected park. The individually crafted gardens are spectacular, and all done with TLC from people who love their city.
All almost everyone one that walks through these hundreds of home gardens says the same thing.
Gosh I wish I had one of those.
Why don’t they? For many elderly people, they physically cannot do it. For professionals, they do not have the time. For many if not most? They simply do not think about it till garden walk weekend.
If you saw how much money is spent in garden centers on plants, you would be amazed.
13) Salesperson. Six figures for those with balls.
Unique Selling Idea: Money only.
This could be the best time in history to start a home based business.
There is no business where a person with no skills can get rich faster. A person can make a veritable KILLING as a salesperson. But to be a high demand seller, you have to be a vulture. And you must DEMAND a big payday.
You might be thinking, “what can I sell?” Here are some pointers as to what you should avoid.
Avoid companies where the average commission is less than $1,000.
Avoid selling products that do not have annual trailing commissions of at least 10%.
Avoid companies that pay more than 30 days after the sale.
Avoid companies that do not provide you with backup. (Sales videos, brochures, a web site, and giveaways.)
Avoid companies where the top sellers make less than $100,000 a year and get references from their salespeople.
Avoid companies that lie about their product.
Believe it or not, salespeople are typically pretty honest. They will tell you what is good or bad about their company. You should also ask them, “if you didn’t work for this company, who would you SELL for.” (Not work for, sell for.)
Decide from day one that you are not going to be a small fry. Do not throw back the little fish, do not call them in the first place. The whole idea that the big fish are harder to catch is a myth, usually spread by sales managers. I was selling to S&P 500 CEO’s my first month in business.
The client knows you are a salesperson. They are not blind or stupid. If you are selling enterprise software, they know the real work is going to be done by back-office geeks.
What should you sell? Here is a short list of high commission products.
- Enterprise Software
- Life Insurance
- Property and Casualty Insurance.
- Financial Software.
- Used cars.
- Real Estate
- Small Businesses
- Factory equipment.
The skills involved in being a great salesman may not be what you think. The most important is organizational skills. You MUST be organized and cannot waste time. But the fact is, if you are starting a home-based business, this is what you want in the first place.
The second skill is you must have powerful selling scripts and never wing it. Think Tom Brady. Brady is the best quarterback in history because he has developed the nauseating ability to throw perfect 8-yard passes. When he throws, he aims at a player’s shoulder! He is throwing to the fastest players on the planet. Brady never wings it!
If you are going to be successful as a salesperson, you must be able to quantify what you are doing. Like Brady, you have to memorize your selling scripts and deliver as if every sale is the Superbowl.
This is the difference between making $40,000 a year and making $1 million.
14) Light manufacturing.
Unique selling Idea: Small niches.
Contrary to what you might think, especially if you talk to engineers, manufacturing is easy. For the home-based business, it can be incredibly lucrative. At Landon Fillmore, we have had clients that manufactured all manner of things in their homes including glass jewelry, Christmas ornaments, cabinets, gun parts, racing cars, semiconductor chips and even one that made cruise missile parts.
But manufacturing is more than that. We have had clients that made dresses, dolls, fudge, birthday cakes, quilts, sweaters, and taxidermy!
The key in manufacturing is who and how are you going to sell it. The great thing about manufacturing is you can make things all year long and sell them all at once. We had a client years ago that made that cheap wooden lawn crap that you see in craft shows. He spent the entire winter making things like bird houses, plaques, etc. And he sold ALL of it in a single art show that occurs every year in a park in western New York.
He had gross sales of about $50,000 and costs of less than $5,000.
What can you manufacture?
The easiest way to find out is to ask potential customers what they want. Imagine you want to sell pet supplies. Simple, go to pet stories and ask them what their top selling items are. Cat beds? Dog chew toys? Bird cages? Doggie jackets.
But do not limit yourself or think you cannot do something. Like anything, you cannot do something until you can.
Your thinking here though might be, “what can I make that I can easily sell myself without working 12 months a year or 40 hours a week. What a home-based business gives you is freedom!
15) Grant Writing.
Unique Selling Idea: Find the right charities.
The dirty little secret of grant writing is anybody can do it. Grants are formulaic. In other words, they use a software system and many if not most charities use the same software.
We used to have a client that was a large charity. They had several outreaches that matched with charities that gave away grants. All your job is, is to match the grants’ purpose to the charities purpose. The actual filling out of grant forms is easy.
Charitable organizations are organized based on (primarily) two Internal Revenue Codes, section 501c3 for charities and 501c4 for nonprofits. The difference between the two is only registered charities can accept tax deductible contributions. Some, like the Lions Club or Rotary exist as both, non-profits (their membership) and charities. (Their community outreach)
Charities giving away money for grants are careful with who they give it to. This is why grant writing is done using grant software which is online and free. Filling it out is tedious but easy. But remember, these charities are designed to give away money. In other words, they are looking for the grants!!! They have plenty of money. What they do not have is outreach.
The Unique Idea is to find outreach organizations that could get grants but are not aware they can or do not have anyone that knows how. The way you might start is to build a database of charities using the technique we outline in the following post.
Click here to learn how to build a free database using Excel and Google Maps.
Only rather than companies, you are building a database of non-profits and charities that might use grants. Then, make a similar database of charities that give away grant money.
For example, one charity is the Roberts Woods Johnson Foundation. If you go into their website, they will tell you what their goal is and who they will consider. Then you simply find a legitimate outreach organization and write the grant.
You will find that in marketing, whether it is $500,000 software or vintage beanie babies, there is no substitute for getting your hands dirty. Do not be afraid to make contacts and ask for things. 99% of the people you meet will trip over themselves to help you.
16) Hot shot driver
Unique Selling Idea: Uber for businesses.
Learn how to start a business without starting a business.
Years ago, when I worked in the oil industry, we used hot shot drivers extensively. Their job was delivering things, usually parts, to job sites. UPS does not deliver to job sites they deliver to locations.
Imagine your business is home building. You have a crew of 10 and they are framing a house but are almost out of nails. What do they do? Many if not most building contractors are chronically understaffed. Do they pull an employee off the job to go to Home Depot?
In the morning, the contractors often go to Home Depot. If they run late, their crews sit on their asses on the job site until they show up. 10 guys at $25 an hour adds up fast.
The key to being a hot shot driver is to be reliable. The ones we used were typically red necks, many women, who did not have a lot of skills. They make very good money, but they all had one thing in common. When they said a part would bee on an oil rig at 7AM, it was there at 7AM.
In the oil industry even smalltime drilling operations can cost $20,000 an hour! Do you think they care about the $200 they are paying you? Hardly. Do you know what delivery services charge lawyers to deliver a legal document with signature guarantee? $100. This is for an envelope!
As we talked about above, and the reoccurring theme in gig2big.com, the key is outreach. This can be accomplished with the tools referenced throughout this post as well as our website. What are some companies that may use hot shot drivers?
- Construction companies
- Manufacturing companies
17) Small Business Marketing.
Unique Selling Idea: The business is rife with delinquents.
Now that you have been through a few of the gig2big ideas, you might see a trend. We are not really high on computer geeks. Certainly, we HAVE computer geeks, but sometimes you have to simply get out there and get your fingers dirty.
If you go through the post on our website, under marketing, we are big on data but bigger on touch. So here is your challenge.
What can you do that other marketers will not?
To start, you can read, study, and work out a plan to implement “Creating a Local Footprint” taken from our website. But not just that. You will coordinate all of your customers marketing efforts, so they are working with marching band like precision. Here is what you can do.
Run their Facebook page. This means writing content, creating graphics, and running ads.
Run their Instagram page, with glossies and graphics.
Run their email marketing campaign.
Set up their giveaway tent to get customers.
Manage their outside selling opportunities by booking art show and craft show space.
Write and manage their magazine ads and newspaper outreach. (Be their press secretary)
Design and have printed their window display, sidewalk displays, banner ads and business cards.
Get a bar code that links to their website and make sure it is displayed prominently.
Manage their website.
And many more services!
You will discover that many companies do a piece of this, but few do ALL of it, so advertising tends to be disjointed and ineffective. Also, the various companies compete against each other. If Facebook is not worth the money, is your Facebook guy going to tell you that? Of course not. That is all he does!
One thing you will find is many companies have tons of free resources that they do not use. For example, veterinarians get deluged with free samples. But who coordinates the free sample giveaway for a purpose, such as collecting emails?
18) Baking, cooking, and catering.
Unique Selling Idea: Focus on PROFIT MARGIN ONLY!!!!
There is a restaurant in Medellin Colombia called “****ing Good Ribs. It is owned by a British couple. All they sell are platters of ribs.
Not small platters and large platters, just one size platter. There are NO OTHER MENU ITEMS. If you walk in alone, you walk out with a huge box of take home. The business is always crowded and ex33tremely successful. If you want to go there, you are forced to find three friends to help you eat the platter of ribs. There is always a line at the door.
In any business, you want to estimate your profit margin BEFORE YOU START. In other words, you do not use the idea to create a business, you use the projected profit margin to come up with the idea.
Click here to download our free profit margin calculator.
#Geeksnote: Make sure you read through the attachments and notes. They are as important as the calculator.
There are few businesses that require more work than the food business and few where you can lose more money. It costs a fortune to run a restaurant. If you are going to cater, or sell food, you must have a profitable niche. In fact, you might make more money renting barbeque grills than selling food.
Within this niche though there are an unlimited number of choices. From our travels, some ideas might be…
- Specialty cakes.
- Pig roasts. (Using old style Eastern European techniques.
- Crab boils.
- Wine and chocolate events.
- Holiday parties.
As we said above, the key in any small business is always OUTREACH. Find the ideal customer, pre-calculate potential profit margin, and serve them only! Once you know this, you will think differently about which business you attempt.
19) Equipment sales, repairs.
Unique Selling Idea: Chain saws, appliances.
Many years ago, we were called in to see a potential customer that sold Stihl Chain saws. The shop was literally, off the map. It was at the end of a dirt road which exited onto a stone and tar paved county road on the border between New York and Pennsylvania. It was near virtually nothing.
But the business thrived.
The owner, a red neck that was extremely polite and very smart repaired and sold expensive chain saws. In this part of the world, people use chain saws extensively and spend a lot of money to own them.
Besides repairing and selling saws, he sold blades, sharpened blades, sold chain oil, heavy gloves, and back braces. He also sold rough cut hardwood he cut himself. He easily made six figures. (Though he worked a lot)
Chain saw sales are not for everyone but think of what he was doing.
He only repaired Stihl brand chainsaws, which meant in a short time he was an expert at repairing them. People that pay $900 for a chain saw get them repaired. People who spend $200 throw them out and buy new ones.
When people came to drop off or pick up saws, they would invariably buy oil, gloves, and accessories. In fact, he sold dozens of pairs of Stihl brand safety glasses a month. His rough-cut hardwood business was very strong. He would buy logs from loggers, some hardwoods but mostly softer woods like hemlock. These he cut into boards and sold in bulk to farmers building barns or people building backyard barns.
Do you see where we are going this for your small business?
First, he sold saws. There is little profit in this. But all his other auxiliary businesses made him his real money.
What can you “fix” that will bring auxiliary business? Here is a short list of things we have seen over the years.
- Lawn Tractors and lawnmowers
- Furniture. (Hugely profitable)
- Auto’s (One thing, like brake jobs)
- Clothing and shoes
Let me give you an example. We had a client that repaired furniture. Some of it was complex and involved shaping wood. What were his auxiliary products? Furniture. He would get old furniture, recover, or restore it and resell it.
None of these things are particularly difficult to learn and frankly, with today’s online learning, a person can learn almost anything for free.
Green housing. Seedling sales.
Unique selling idea: LED lighting
If you go by greenhouses, you will see the huge structures that they use to grow seedlings as well as plants. This is 19th century technology.
We used to have a client that had extensive greenhouses. His natural gas bill was over $50,000 for three months!
But the new greenhouses use wavelength specific LED lights that use so little electricity, the utility bill is almost insignificant. And because they create heat and light, the can be used anywhere. Like, your basement.
How much are seeds? You can plant a truckload of tomatoes for a few dollars!
The new indoor growing technology today is already commercially viable. The farm of tomorrow will be in an old warehouse. These new farms are designed to produce vegetables that do not need pesticides, but I would not suggest you go that route.
The reason is the niche is too competitive for a small business. To sell certified no pesticide food you need expensive enclosures and suits that are similar to hazmat suits to guarantee no human contact. But to sell seedlings, you do not need anything. You can create enclosures with sheet plastic and inexpensive 2 by 4’s. You can wire the lights with cheap fixtures.
The BIG thing though is you do not rely on the sun. You can leave grow lights on 24 hours a day. Seedlings require little soil. You can focus on simple vegetables and flowers. And if pot becomes legal, you are in perfect shape.
Once your business grows you can rent warehouse space, which costs next to nothing.