By Kevin M
Friday Income & Cash Flow ForumThis is a weekly open forum dedicated to increasing income, cash flow and customer base, for anybody who needs to increase business or supplement a paycheck. Salaried employees, homemakers, small business owners, commissioned sales people, entrepreneurs, retirees—this is FOR you, and we’d like to hear FROM you. What works in one household or business may not work in another, but then again it might. Or it might be modified and adapted to different situations.
Many times when we think about earning some extra money, the first thing that comes to mind is getting a part time job. But let me suggest that you consider first seeing if such an opportunity may exist where you work right now.
At the bank my wife works for, some of her coworkers, all of whom work at positions inside the bank, take weekend shifts as tellers to earn additional money, over and above their regular salary.
The Benefits to You and to Your Employer
There are several advantages to working part time through your regular employer. For one, you already know the system. You may need to learn a new job, but you will already know the lay of the land and how things work in the company. If a new set of skills needs to be learned, you’ll probably do it in less time than it will take in an entirely different organization. Shorter training time is also a benefit to your employer since training costs money, and the less time it takes the less they spend on the process.
It may also be an advantage for your employer to have you spending some time in a different department, since you’ll be bringing your experience and perspective from your department into another, then also bringing the skills of the new department back to yours. It’s a form of cross training that often makes for stronger companies.
Finally, since you are already employed by the company, you may get a bigger paycheck than if you come in off the street and work at a completely different company. Ideally, you’d be able to work the part time situation for the same rate you get on your full time job.
This isn’t an arrangement that would be available in all companies, but it would certainly be worth pursuing if the situation is possible. See what’s available through company job postings, or talk to the human resources department. Check out what other jobs need to be done that may be on a different schedule than you usually work, then see what can be arranged. If there are no job postings and no HR department, it’s time to get creative.
Start by Looking for “Trouble”
Every business, every institution, has weak spots, places in the organization where, shall we say, things are not working as they should. Where ever there’s a problem, there’s a need, and that may be a potential source of additional income for you. Come to view trouble as opportunity.
You may already be aware of such a trouble spot in your organization, or you can ask around and find out where it might be. It might be better to pose this question to management rather than to various underlings around the organization because a staffer may have a very different view of a problem area than a manager would. A staffer’s understanding of a problem usually has more to do with operational flow; a manager’s perspective will usually have something to do with money.
There are any number of trouble spots, depending on the employer and on the industry it does business in, but some of the more common ones in the current recessionary economy include the following…
Layoffs. When workers are laid off, the work they did doesn’t just go away, it’s either redistributed to the remaining staff or it’s just kind of let go. But a layoff of an individual or group of people should be your cue to start searching for a niche. A department that can’t afford to pay a full timer to do a job, may welcome the chance to bring in a part timer, especially an insider.
Accounts Receivable/Collections. Newsflash: bad economy = collection problems. Many businesses sell their products and services on account, which is a form of short term credit extended to customers to facilitate sales. When economic conditions deteriorate receipts on those credit lines—called accounts receivable (or AR)—begin to slow down and in many cases, to stop completely. Since AR is a primary source of cash flow in many businesses, speeding up collections on those accounts can be a priority. This can be an opportunity though, even if you don’t have experience. The work is more messy than technical, and mostly involves very basic account analysis, sending out pro forma letters and making follow up phone calls. Those functions can present an opportunity for a work at home arrangement.
Sales. If there’s a sales person somewhere inside you selling for your company is most definitely an area to explore. Companies need sales in order to survive in both good economies and bad, but especially in bad ones. You don’t necessarily have to be a sales type in order to do this. Sales also require sales and marketing support, where creativity, organizational skills and a pleasant personality are the primary qualities needed. Find out what needs to be done and how you might be able to help. This is another area in which work at home is a real possibility.
Putting It All Together
Once you’ve identified a need and how you might be able to fill it, it’s time to go to management with your plan. In many organizations, this may be an out-of-the-box proposal, so you’ll need to approach it with some finesse.
Start by making a very loose proposal to the person or people who run the department with the identified problem/opportunity. Be very general at this point—you’re only floating a trial balloon. Ask questions about what’s going on and be sure to make clear what it is you can do to help solve their problem. On any sign of interest, you’ll need to bring your own supervisor in on the discussion, being sure to keep him or her in the loop.
Once there’s general agreement that there’s a need and you’re the person for the job, it’s time to get more specific. Be creative, especially in regard to hours. You can offer after hours only (heck, you’re already there right?), weekends only, or a mix of both. Don’t be afraid to propose a work from home arrangement, complete with a plan as to how you’ll make it work. Compensation: easy, you’re regular rate of pay (at a minimum).
Make this happen, and not only will you have created an additional source of income for yourself, but you’ll also broaden you skills and experience into a different area of the company’s business, making yourself more likely to be protected in a layoff, to be eventually promoted, or better qualified for hire at another company should the need arise.
It’s a tough economy, and an even tougher job market, but it’s one that’s desperate for people with imagination, ingenuity, flexibility and initiative. This is an opportunity to take charge of your circumstances from right where you’re sitting.
If you’re a salaried worker, retiree or a homemaker, what are you doing to find new sources of income? If you’re a business owner, or in some capacity responsible for bringing business in the door, what is it you’re doing to attract customers and cash flow in this economy? What ideas have you heard about or know others to be doing? What’s working, what’s not?