Unstable employment may be here to stay. 10% of the work force is now unemployed, and millions more are under-employed, working at temporary or part-time jobs. By some indicators the economy is showing signs of recovery, but globalization, advances in technology and rising healthcare costs have been gradually cutting away at employment long before onset of the Great Recession.
In Multiple Income Streams to replace One Man-One Job?, we discussed different options to deal with the increasing unreliability of permanent, full-time, fully benefited jobs. Starting a side business is at the center of that discussion.
Why start a side business?
Even if your job seems secure at the moment there are a number of reasons you should be interested in having your own side business:
- Many of the jobs now in jeopardy were once considered “safe” only a few years ago. Banking was one of these, but we all know how that’s playing out now. Could your field be next?
- Even in jobs that are relatively safe at the moment, opportunities to advance have diminished. While your job may provide some security, you may need to look elsewhere in order to move ahead in your livelihood.
- Having an established second income could cushion the fall in the event of an unexpected layoff, freeing you to accept less than full-time work if necessary.
- Retirement. Few investment projections adequately account for the effects of inflation on future portfolio values. Relying exclusively or even primarily on overly optimistic retirement investment projections could leave us far less prepared than most of us assume.
- A solid second income could reduce the stress that comes with being dependent on a single source for your livelihood.
- Work for a living on your job, but a side business can offer an opportunity to do what you love.
- What starts out as a side business could grow into a future full time career.
- Any time we step into a new venture, we develop and expand opportunities and skill sets that weren’t available to us before we started. You never know what parallel opportunities could result from having a side business.
Stop waiting for “someday”
Who hasn’t fantasized about striking out on their own to start a business? What keeps us from doing it? A steady paycheck is one reason; a benefits package is another.
You don’t have to give any of that up. In fact, being securely employed and dealing from a position of strength is probably the best launching pad from which to start a business. Keep your regular job and start your business as a side venture.
To use a sports metaphor, think of your regular job as your defense where you fortify your household and don’t take chances. Your side business is your offense—the venture in which you take chances in favor of achieving long term financial independence or even real wealth.
Choose a business that you would like to do—a hobby, a business that really interests you or something for which you have a natural talent. Many people work in careers they don’t particularly like because it pays the bills, or worse, because it’s what they’ve always done. Having a side business should be about preferences—doing what you really like. Think of it as an opportunity to break out and to try something fresh and new.
Part of the reason you’ll want to start now is that it often takes longer than we think for a new business to start generating a positive cash flow. But start now, while you have a cash flow from your regular job, and you’ll have the staying power necessary to make the venture a success. Wait until you lose your job to start and the whole dynamic will shift from strength to desperation.
Side business suggestions
Here are some side business ideas just to get the creative juices flowing:
- Tutoring. Were you a strong student in school? If so, you can tutor students or adults in a favorite subject. English as a second language is in great demand right now due to the influx of immigrants.
- Blogging. Like to write? Have some great ideas? There are blogs on virtually every subject. Find one or two you like, visit blogs, leave comments and see how the process works. Get enough visitors to your site and you can earn income through ad programs like Google Adsense as well as affiliate programs. In addition to making additional income, blogging also offers a way to get your ideas out into the world.
- Repair work. If you have knack for fixing broken things, a side business in repairs could work for you. Cars, houses, computers all need to be repaired and with the current emphasis on college norm careers, there aren’t always a lot of people around who can do that kind of work anymore. Start in your local area, and spread out from there.
- Home remodeling. Given the weak economy and the even weaker housing market, a lot of homeowners are opting to renovate rather than move. I know a few people in home remodeling and they’re busier than ever.
- Sell a product. . Most people work in service businesses these days and products often get overlooked. Find a product or product line that you believe in, that you actually use and can endorse without reservation Since most consumer goods are produced overseas, finding an inexpensive product source should be relatively easy.
- Parlaying your full time job into a profitable sideline. Can you take the work you do on your primary job and turn it into a side business? This can be the easiest way to start earning money quickly and should be the first business type you consider.
- Converting a hobby into a profitable sideline. Do you have hobby you really enjoy and where you’re really knowledgeable? This can be something you can blog about, earning revenue not only from ad sales on your website, but eventually from product sales related to your hobby.
- Professional speaking/promoting. Most people have an almost mortal fear of speaking in public, which puts a natural lid on the number of people who do it. If you like speaking before groups, find out if there’s a way you can monetize that skill.
- Pet care. The dual career household is now a cultural fixture, but who’s minding the family pet when everyone is at work or school? This is a business you can start in your own neighborhood—where you have credibility—then branch out as your referral base builds.
- Web design/marketing. Websites and web marketing have become major advertising venues, so nearly every business needs help in this area. If you have skills in web design or web marketing your potential market is nearly the entire business community.
You can come up with as many ideas as you have interests and skills, but the important thing is to get started now while time and circumstances are on your side.
If you think that building a side business may be the right path for you, but you don’t know what kind of business to go into, check out my post, The Freelance Blog Writer Side Hustle. Blog writing is one of the most promising side ventures you can enter because it’s growing rapidly and has excellent potential to lead to still more opportunities. This post can help you get started if you think it could be a business for you.