These harsh economic times are taking a heavy toll on many people. There are fewer and fewer jobs and, when job openings do appear, there is always stiff competition for those jobs. From an employee’s perspective, this can make one feel as if one is participating in an impersonal exercise in futility, a sort of lottery which one may or may not win, although the odds almost always seem too heavily stacked against the average applicant. From the eyes of employers, it often means de-personalizing the process, forcing people to apply through websites and computers, usually letting employee screening services weed out those with any background problems. Needless to say this is stressing many people out, not only financially, but physically and emotionally. Yes, there is more that people can be doing to find employment (including acquiring better job interviewing skills, getting more training and education, and getting to know about non-traditional or rarely-advertised job opportunities), but, at the end of the day, there are simply more job applicants than there are jobs-and the picture is likely to get worse before it will get better.
Despite our present woes, though, there are still legitimate money-making opportunities for all those people out there who are having trouble finding employment. People can continue to look for employment (which these days is, ironically, a full-time “job”) but that does not mean that one cannot also engage in an activity that can bring in some much-needed cash while waiting for that “lucky break.” The fact is that, even in a tough economy, people still have needs, desires and aspirations that one can try to fulfill, meet or cater to-in other words, there are always viable opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs. Admittedly, it is best if one has a special skill or talent, for these can more easily be turned into a self-created, paying job; short of that, the next best thing is to find a venture or opportunity with a low start-up cost and overhead, one that has been proven to work by other people already doing it, one that still has openings or for which a market still exists, and one which most people can get into with not too much training or preparation. Yes, there are many scams out there regarding “money-making opportunities,” and, yes, one needs to be wary about organizations or individuals pushing get-rich-quick schemes. Fortunately, it is easy to spot those fraudulent opportunities, in most cases. The most salient difference between scams and legitimate opportunities, in fact, is that legitimate ventures openly admit that one will have to work hard in order to make things work. There is no free lunch and there are very few, if any, opportunities whose dividends and benefits are not commensurate to the effort or commitment put into them-in other words, as the old saying goes, “You get what you put into it!” Here are some ideas that have been proven to work for many people; those interested need only Google the selected topic to find organizations and resources where more useful information may be found.
1. Metal detecting. This is, by far, one of the most promising opportunities available today, for a number of good reasons. To start with, metal detectors come in models to fit any budget; they can be mastered in a relatively short time; there are always tons of things buried right under our feet, much of it of a very valuable sort; and, at worst, people generally get back what they invested in the equipment to get into this field. Make no mistake, though, there is a lot of hard work involved, one needs to be careful where one digs (always asking permission from land owners, usually sharing revenue, and always watching out for possibly dangerous animals, like snakes and other creatures), and one can go for days or weeks without finding anything valuable, but, then again, just one lucky find can make some dreams come true, although a few small, on-going “lucky finds” is probably a more practical expectation.
2. Mining for gems and stones. This enterprise is along the lines of the first one, i.e., treasure hunting. No, one does not have to go out and buy an old mine somewhere in the desert in Arizona. There are, however, mines that are now open to the public which, for a set fee, allow people to mine for their own stones and gems. The fact is that the earth is literally filled with all kinds of valuable stones and gems-it’s just a matter of knowing where to dig and what to look for. Regarding the latter, one can educate oneself in a relatively short time, preferably by actually digging and putting some sweat into it, and, as in the first idea, there are tons of free resources and educational material on the Internet.
3. Buying and selling used things. The idea is to sell for a higher price than what one paid for it. Make no mistake: this takes practice, a keen eye, an educated perspective (preferably acquired “on the job”), well-honed salesmanship, good people skills, and a willingness to continuously learn-in other words, this is not necessarily easy. But this is yet another opportunity which anyone can get into with not much of an investment. Bought items may be sold through yard/garage sales, flea markets, consignment stores, E-bay, etc; additional inventory may be found in the same places, but one can add estate and going-out-of-business sales to this list.
4. Pet sitting and walking service. This is yet another service for which there is always a need. One needs to have a love for animals, as well as an ability to control and interact with them, and, of course, one needs to be very energetic. Finding clients, at first, can be challenging, but, after one establishes a reputation and proves that one is trustworthy, calls and inquiries will start to come in. This business, like other such businesses, requires lots of flexibility, easy accessibility, and the willingness and ability to travel to designated locations when the need arises.
5. Errand runner. There are always chores and errands people would prefer to delegate to another, if they could find someone who would do it on a as-needed-basis, who was trustworthy, and who did not over-charge for the service. Like pet sitting, this business is about establishing a good reputation, exercising great people skills, and being flexible enough to meet the special needs of a wide variety of potential clients. One simply needs to let it be known that one’s service is available on a first-come-first-served basis, striving to offer as many services or options as possible . . . e.g., grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaned items, ordering supper, picking up the kids from daycare, making calls, writing letters, etc.
6. Property sitting. The present economic crunch, which has included a vast number of houses now being left vacant, due partly to the overwhelming number of foreclosures and bankruptcies, has created, ironically, a great opportunity for some astute job seekers. In the past, real estate agents were not necessarily afraid to leave houses vacant, but the recent rash, on a national level, of houses being sabotaged, or broken into so that anything that can be removed from the house (like light fixtures, pipes, appliances, etc.) can be taken, has made home sellers wary about leaving houses empty for other than a very short period of time–thus a need for house sitters! Simply put, such a person can be there to protect the property. If the home seller cannot pay wages, the house sitter may be able to get a free-rent arrangement, and, considering how high rent can be, especially in urban areas, this can present a great opportunity for some.
7. Street vending. This opportunity is mostly about selecting something that is appropriate for a season or an area (i.e., a product or service that is or can be in demand in that area), as well as something that will not require a huge up-front investment. Naturally, especially if food is involved, there are a number of bureaucratic requirements to overcome (such as a sales license, special vendors’ permits, etc.), but the rewards can be great. By far, this idea is probably one of the most expensive in this list to delve into; for that and other reasons, it may also involve the greatest amount of risk. This may be an especially profitable idea if one has a recipe for a new edible product which is inexpensive to produce, appeals readily to people passing by, and fits the ambiance and taste buds of the community being approached.
8. Handyperson. If one has mechanical, technical or simply “handy” skills, then this idea is worth considering. There is no property owner who does not run into mishaps, things breaking or simply not working the way they should-this is when the handyperson makes an appearance. This business is also all about establishing or building a good reputation, and about being able to do the job right. People will usually call the highly-paid “professional” listed in the phone book, if they can afford it, but, given another option, many people do select a less expensive alternative.
9. Attic, garage and basement cleaner or organizer. Many people have a certain section of their house which, over the years, gets overly-cluttered with saved items. One can offer these people the peace of mind that can come from having these places professionally cleaned or organized. For one thing (and this is a good point for a sales pitch), such circumstances are a fire hazard, as well as good places for dangerous rodents, insects and animals to set up shop; additionally, family heirlooms stand a chance of becoming damaged, over a period of time. This can be a very useful service, especially if trash hauling options are also offered, and if a home is up for sale or being renovated.
10. At-home answering service. Many companies are cutting back on office staff; they simply can no longer afford to pay people to do certain jobs for which there is no full-time need. Often, the solution is professional answering services; bigger corporations are even outsourcing such services to companies with very low overhead costs overseas. Working out of one’s home (assuming one has access to the proper equipment, including a good computer system) can be the impetus (in terms of low over-head costs and easy accessibility, for those who spend a lot of time at home) for a good business opportunity. Naturally, this is one venture which one would need to “sell” to potential clients, using a well-researched proposal or presentation. Especially if one can agree to get paid only for actual calls received, clients signed up, customers helped, orders processed, etc., this can be an attractive alternative for a business looking to reduce its expenses or enhance its efficiency.