I love to hear stories of first or second generation Americans whose parents (or grandparents) immigrated to the US. Many came with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They worked hard, lived in poverty, and sacrificed. Then comes my favorite part: many of them started businesses themselves. They enjoyed success. They were able to send their children to college to get the opportunities they did not have. It's a great story and it is surprisingly common. I'm always amazed when I hear about impoverished laborers with families of 5, 6, or 7 to feed who started and ran a profitable business. I dedicate this list to them.
- Sell stuff on eBay. I think if you want to get into business for yourself and have no idea what you want to do, start at www.ebay.com. You may not get rich but you'll get an idea of what you like to do and what you can do. Start with your closet junk, and work through that. (If it's like my closet, it should take you a few months!). Once you've developed a reputation on eBay, sign up for their newsletters and find out some of the hot sellers and most requested items (yes, they actually TELL you what people are lining up to buy). Find a wholesaler who will give you a good price and start selling that.
- Sell information. You're good at something. Everyone is good at something. Maybe it's sewing or speed-reading or making your marriage work. There are people who want to know the secrets to your success and will pay for it. Don't know where to start? If you want to write it yourself, get started. If that bogs you down (hey, we're not all writers) find a professional writer on www.guru.com. who will write it for you. Get a website and post a sales letter. Sign up at www.clickbank.com. to process your payments. You can get a book, a website and sales page, and an account at Clickbank for under $1000.
- Work in the trades. I've been hearing this more and more: there is a desperate need for people in the trades. Since I've had to get my roof shingled (and my basement remodeled) I believe it. The trades need people. More than that, they need reliable people. If you can swing a hammer, there are people who will hire you. It's physical work, but there is a constant need and not enough people to fill it. What's more, this is actually a business that increases during a recession because people suddenly want to stay home more often so they spend their income on improving their home (which also improves the value of their home). True, this COULD be an expensive business to get into but some trades don't require a lot of equipment and you can always get a deposit from your customers up front to buy the materials you need.
- Start a concierge service. This is a huge trend I'm seeing: people paying other people to do their chores because they don't have the time. This includes buying gifts, running errands, doing the grocery shopping, dropping off dry cleaning, etc. If you have a car and a cell phone, all you need is a small advertising budget to get started. As people become busier, this service will increase in demand.
- Be a senior's companion. Families do not live as close together as they used to so the grown children are not always able to care for their elderly parents. Relatives who are spread out geographically can hire you to spend time reading to or shopping with their elderly parents.