Entrepreneurship basics

Hello! I hope you have enjoyed the BIP posts that I started a few years ago. I have recently been asked about new Ideas and asked a lot of questions about my pots. I have more prompts to come, but I wanted to share my experience and opinions about entrepreneurship basics; it’s not just tech start-ups and you may not need a huge budget to get started. I truly believe in dreaming big and encouraging everyone to do the same. I believe in starting with the skills, experience and resources you already have and growing from there! I encourage everyone to start…simply start. Make time to dream and plan….period.

First, let’s define entrepreneurship. Wikipedia defines – “has traditionally been defined as the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which typically begins as a small business, such as a start-up company, offering a product, process or service for sale or hire.” So even if you are offering computer repair, house cleaning, landscaping, child care, writing services, web design, handmade items at local farmer’s markets, car maintenance, or any of a number of other services or products you are an entrepreneur!

I believe anyone focused on sharing their skills and talents, full-time, part-time, or whenever they have time, is an entrepreneur! Whether you are thinking of starting your own full or part time business, expanding an existing business, interested in starting a side gig, or advancing from your current position at a company then you definitely have an entrepreneur spirit and it starts with a single thought.

So, what is the basic process to turn thought into action? Once you define what you want to do you can start to take action. I wrote about focusing on your interests; defining possible side gig opportunities that fit your interests. You can read that here.

Something that always works for me is to write down my focus. Once I see it in writing it helps me work through the steps needed to accomplish it or adjust the idea, etc. For example if I want to expand my photography hobby and offer small event and senior photos as a side gig on the weekends there are obvious first steps that need completed before I go rent a huge studio space, contact a publisher for a coffee table book deal, or buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment. I need a plan..I need to focus…I need clients!

I made my list and actually had a very successful part-time photography business for about a year until I found a more time demanding job and decided to stop. I photographed families, high school students, corporate golf events, pet photos, a local small band, and even a few shoots for dating profile photos. I decided on photography, because of my love for taking nature photographs. When I started brainstorming about side gigs I decided to focus on what I had to help me define my focus. I already had a nice digital camera, I enjoyed photography, I love being around people, etc. Next step was my action list, which I’ve shared a general recap below:

  • Create a web page (I used the free service through Shutterfly to display samples of my photography and create online galleries for clients)
  • Come up with a business email (another free action item. I used gmail)
  • Advertise and find business/clients; business cards, flyers, I reached out to companies for corporate events, word of mouth, browsed ‘ads’ online, posted cards and flyers at laundry mats, libraries, community boards, online, etc.
  • Set fees and define what is included (I researched the average hourly rate and cut it almost in half because I was not a professional full-time photographer and I wanted to use this opportunity to enhance my photography skills as well as provide an affordable alternative.)
  • Research tips for family and senior photos and offered those on my site and when discussing details with clients (I read a lot about family and corporate photography to enhance my knowledge and help clients decide not only on settings and poses, but also on package options, professional photography terms {to ensure clients I was at least semi-professional}. I also practiced shots with lighting, angles etc. to gain skills and experience.)
  • Set up a payment method. I accepted checks, cash and PayPal payments since I already had a PayPal account from selling some online items
  • File system and organize jobs. I had a ledger with names, packages, dates, costs, and notes to help me track everything. I also kept electronic files for tax purposes, keeping record of payments received and mileage with other items I needed for taxes (there is a limit you can make before needing to file taxes, but I wanted to start off tracking my revenues and spending)
  • Offer incentives. I offered all clients incentives for repeat business or referring friends, either a discount on their next purchase/photo shoot or a gift card if they didn’t have any other photography needs (a $5 to $10 Starbucks or other gift card)

That was my general list and action items. It was low investment, I didn’t get rich, but I made extra money and had a blast doing it! I also made some contacts that I worked with in the future when exploring other creative income options.

I also kept an open mind about input from clients and friends. For example the pet photography came about from a request. I had never even thought of pet photography. That is something I’d enjoy starting up again! I even kept making time for photography trees, skylines, etc. and made photo cards as gifts out of those and through word of mouth I was able to sell some for a small profit!

Are you an entrepreneur? Do you have an entrepreneur spirit? Do you have tips to share or questions? Please comment below or email me at successencourager@gmail.com

Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action, concept, tags on the table.

Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action, concept, tags on the table.

Flexible and fun – Business Idea Prompt (BIP)

I’m particularly excited about BIPs like the one highlighted today, Garage Sale Professional, that require very little start-up costs, are flexible and can be full or part time, and do not require extensive skills or experience to succeed.

I hope you enjoy this BIP and you are inspired to explore your own possibilities!

Please see the Business Idea page for detailed information about my Business Idea Prompt (BIP) posts!

Business Idea Prompt (BIP) – Garage Sale Professional

Details – Purchase and sell bargain items as a ‘yard/garage sale professional’. Items to sell can be found by attending auctions, sales, and consignment or thrift stores then reselling the items for a profit, but instead of just a one time summer event, it can be done every weekend or a few times a month. Most people have unwanted items in their home right now that could easily kick off the selling process and grow as quickly or slowly as you wish! Typically, all sorts of bargains can be found easily and with a bit of cleanup or repair the item can be sold to make a profit. Some entrepreneurs have similar online stores on eBay and amazon and make a profit every single day.

I have a neighbor that holds a ‘yard/garage’ sale almost every weekend in the spring, summer and fall with items she buys at a bargain price and then turns around and sells them for a profit. She and her husband visit discount shops and auctions within a few hours of their home in the winter and early spring or as often as she can to buy and stock up on items. The couple cleans the items or repairs, if needed, and sometimes they find a unique new use; she has made old pans into pretty planting pots, etc. This business is not only a way to earn extra income, but also a fun way to enjoy the hunt of a good deal and the weekend travels. There is no listing fee to pay and she can negotiate a price at any given moment in person. If you are a crafty person, include some of your handmade items for sale!

Experience/Skills Needed – You will need transportation or a way to purchase discounted and bargain items and clean them or basic skills to repair items (if needed). Be a bargain finder, deal maker, professional and friendly with sellers and customers. Decide if you accept only cash or offer a credit card payment option (using your tablet or smartphone, etc.), be available to travel around to find bargains, knowledge of items that will re-sale and are in demand. And you may need access to a storage area, basement or garage for all the items you purchase and may need to fix or clean. General record keeping skills are beneficial; keep an electronic or paper notebook record of each item and the cost and what you sold it for, so you can see your profit in ‘writing’ and what items are the best profit makers.

Marketing – Posts signs in your own yard all season and post them in the surrounding neighborhood(s) right before a sale, place sale ads in local papers or online and encourage all customers to come back often since new items are always added. Give each customer a flyer of sell dates or a business card with general hours, address, etc. Share your sale dates on social media and with family and friends. Leave business cards and sale date flyers at local businesses, hardware stores, libraries, post offices and on other community boards. You may want to include a website on the cards and flyers; an electronic newsletter or web page with updates for customers to subscribe to. Place a magnet decal on your vehicle with contact information. Wear shirts and/or hats with website or other helpful advertising information. Be open to taking requests from customers such as; “if you see this particular item, please buy it”. If you purchase a group of items and they will ship well, list them on an auction or online selling site as additional income opportunity.

Research – The only research that may be needed is to find an average price for most items. Of course this can be based on your cost and the profit you need/want to make, but a general guideline could be useful to ensure the sell. If you purchase an antique, looking up the value and average retail price would be helpful (if possible do this before you purchase the item via tablet or cell phone).

Bonus idea – This BIP could easily grow into a larger business. Expanding this to online auctions sites or Etsy (or similar) could be niche markets if you find a particular item selling well and if it would be easy to find more and easy to ship, etc.

There are a few expansion options with this BIP and small start up costs! Please share any tips, ideas, and success stories!

As with any business please check local and state guidelines to see what licenses, name registering, and other requirements may be needed before starting your business.

July2015-Trulia-7-Ideas-for-Starting-an-Annual-Neighborhood-Yard-Sale-sign-on-tree

Side jobs – finding your perfect fit

Side jobs, part-time work, freelancing and start-ups are popular ways to earn extra money these days. They don’t just supplement income while working full-time; it’s becoming more and more common to use one or more of these opportunities as full-time income. This can either work out to be a career of juggling different jobs for ever or to gain experience for a certain career you wish to move in to. Some people love the variety it allows while others want to move on to something more stable and focused.

Whether, working a variety of side jobs, freelancing or part-time opportunities all allow a form of working for yourself and gaining experience. This can allow for future advancement at a particular job, focus on your own business start-up or allow you to explore different jobs until you gain experience and find something you want to do permanently. As you can see this flexible career lifestyle can offer a lot of paths to explore.

There are so many opportunities to make extra money or start a variety career lifestyle. You can read about many on any given day through a simple internet search. Some are very focused and require specific training; fitness coach, teaching Spanish, legal consultant, etc. But others are a bit more adaptable; personal shopper, event planner, freelance writer (with so many different topics out there to write about), pet sitter, etc.

I’m not saying the more adaptable options are easier or take less to do, I’m simply saying the skills to do them may already be known. A pet sitter might be a good choice for someone who has always been around animals, etc. While being a legal consultant requires more formal training and/or experience.

Before trying to force yourself into one or several of the available opportunities ask yourself what experience you already have, what you enjoy doing and what you could charge for.

Of course time is a huge factor. Do you have certain hours you are available due to a full time job, family responsibilities, classes, etc. Once that is determined you start to explore opportunities available during those hours; you may not be able to mow after a certain hour, but you could write a blog post or post a webinar about a topic you are experienced in no matter what time it is.

Here are a few questions and comments to consider when determining what side job (part-time, etc.) opportunity may be right for you and your current lifestyle –

  • What do you enjoy? Explore this, write it down, focus on how to make it a business or service to offer. Do you like photography? If you do and have a digital camera, can you offer your services as a second photographer at a wedding, corporate events, local bands that can’t afford someone that photographs full time, senior photos or high school sporting events, etc.? Be creative and be observant; what niche can your talent and passion fill? Don’t completely re-invent the wheel, just focus on a particular aspect that you can make better.
  • Do you want/need work outside the home or work from home? Answering this question allows you to explore jobs like mowing, pet walking, wedding/event planner and/or officiant, personal shopper or driver, etc. outside the home or writing, virtual assistant, web designer or content writer, online tutor, survey taker, jewelry or craft maker (selling online), etc. for working at home.
  • Do you enjoy helping people solve a problem, working with the public and communicate effectively? Do you enjoy working alone, creating more so than working face to face? Do you have internet and online work capabilities? Obviously, this answer gives much insight into what opportunities you will enjoy more than others.
  • What services are in demand in your area that will pay you to provide that service need? If you live in a neighborhood with large yards there may be an opportunity for mowing or landscaping that obviously is not in demand at an apartment complex. But if your passion is gardening and you want to work in that field but live in an area that doesn’t seem to have a need, be creative. Can you offer your services of plant watering, container gardening, cooking classes for container gardeners, etc.?
  • How much will it cost for you to offer this side job or start a business and how much should you charge? If it’s a part time job and they provide all that you need, how much does it pay? You will want to make sure it’s worth your time either by earning extra money or it provides an opportunity for you to gain experience.
  • How will you get work? You can search for part time work online through career sites or asking in person at area businesses. If you have skills to offer through side jobs or self employment, there are man sites out there to post your services on for free, you can search that particular talent/skill and see what third parties offer help finding that type of work , you can create flyers and hang them in busy places such as libraries, laundry services, public post boards, get business cards made and hand them out at any given opportunity, make yard signs and ask friends to display them in their yards for you, make or order decals for your vehicle with a web page and/or phone number as well as hats and tee shirts or other apparel, you can also advertise via social media sites and word of mouth.

There are other questions to ask yourself, but once you have focused and answered the few above you can start to search for opportunities to make money! Don’t over think it though, be adventurous and start exploring!

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them. Do you have any questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading, I hope this has inspired you to explore your options and to be creative.