Hello, could I interest you some freshly picked mandarins? They taste really nice and only cost two dollars a bag.
As kids, my brothers and I were always looking for ways to create a money making business. We used to try selling random stuff to people on our street, we picked mandarins off the tree at home and went door to door, we dug plants up out of the garden and stuck them into pots and drink containers then set up a stall out the front of the house. Basically we tried pretty much anything we could think of to turn a buck.
It’s all funny stuff when I think about it now, but the tactics we employed as kids to make money really don’t differ to the approach I would take as an adult today. You can get as complicated as you like about marketing, but the principles of sales are really very simple. If you apply them to something you are already good at or have access to, then you have an excellent chance of success.
Have a Unique Offering
I love the whole entrepreneurship thing, but for some reason these days I tend to get hung up on the thought that in order to create a money making business, I need to come up with a new idea. I’m not sure why this is, I guess I like the idea of originality, but as a kid I had no problem with trying to sell fruit that someone could just go and buy at the store.
A unique offering doesn’t need to be new, it just has to be a little different. My brothers and I could have tried selling mangoes door to door (in fact we probably did), but we lived in the tropics and everyone had a mango tree. What most people didn’t have was a mandarin tree in their backyard, so mandarins became our unique offering.
If you want to see a great example of a unique offering that isn’t that unique, but has been super successful, go and check out this post by Benny Hsu. I completely take my hat off to this guy and admire his determination to succeed.
Find Your Value Proposition
Basically this is what makes people buy your product, it could be uniqueness, quality, quantity, service or price. Usually this is pretty dependent on what you are selling, but it is important you get it right. in the case of our mandarins it was fresh fruit delivered at good price. I’d say there were a few other factors influencing the value proposition, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
In order to find your customer and then make a sale, you need to understand what it is they want then deliver it again and again. There are plenty of people that offer similar services all over the world, but the successful ones understand what the customer wants and make it very easy for them to get it. No matter what you decide to sell, your value proposition needs to hit the mark in order for you to succeed.
Execution of The Sale
I think that it is probably fair to say that the successful sale of our mandarins as kids was less due to their fresh and cheap nature and more to do with the fact that they were being sold by a bunch of kids.
I doubt a bunch of adults would have as much luck selling fruit, or any luck at all for that matter. This doesn’t mean we didn’t have a money making business, what it means is that the execution of the sale required a unique offering and (arguably) an inflated value proposition delivered by a sales team that was very hard to say no to.
Some people are better than others at selling, but just about anyone can make this work if they want to, you just need to find something that suits your style.
Many people find it easiest selling products rather than services. There really isn’t a big problem with this if it is your preference, but it can reduce your margins. Our fruit was free while it lasted, but when it was gone, we no longer had a product. If you sell products, make sure you have continuous supply.
Examples of products that you can sell are:
Something you already make if you have a creative hobby
I’ve seen more than one Facebook page selling knitted clothes and other cute kids bits and pieces that people just rave about and often the outlay to set up this kind of operation is minimal.
Stuff you have at home and don’t use anymore
Some people are really great at this and even take it to the next level by buying stuff at lawn sales and second hand stores and then listing it on eBay. If you have a shopping bug yourself, this could be a good way to scratch the itch and make money at the same time.
Selling services is a little different, often there is no physical product. This can be good because it means you don’t generally run out and you can usually offer more of them, it can however be a bit harder to push your value proposition as you are essentially selling yourself. Many of the most successful bloggers operate in this way and the rewards can be significant. Your service doesn’t need to be online though, it just needs to be something that people want and value.
If you want to try offering services, these ideas may help get you thinking:
Offer home services
People hate cleaning, in fact they hate anything that is a chore and takes time away from them being able to do something else. If you are handy with a scrubbing brush, iron, lawn mower or can offer any other service that relieves others of doing chores, then there is a good chance you can get paid for it.
Start a boot camp
Not a fitness nut? That’s ok, it doesn’t need to be about fitness. People have other needs too, you just need to sell your service the right way. What about an intensive photography boot camp, or one on blogging, or arts and craft? Identify what you are good at, then find your audience (maybe you could offer it as an adult night class?). There is always something you can do, I’ve heard about people running chicken plucking classes… seriously!
Start a blog or try your hand at online freelance services
Setting up a blog is easy, it’s what comes after that is the difficult bit. If you think you have a good online service and want to grow an audience, then perhaps it is for you. If you just want to offer an e-based service (graphics, writing, programming etc.), then list your service online. There are plenty of places to do this, try oDesk, Elance, or post an advert on some relevant forums and build your business base from there.
The list really is endless and if you take the time to think about it, I’m sure you will be able to think of something that fits best for you. Starting is the hardest part, but once you start it will get easier. Unless you have a mountain of debt, that little money making business of yours will start spitting out money that you are free to spend as you please. Sounds tempting doesn’t it?
What is your money making business idea?
Image by Muffet