No. They're not. While you may not end up with grease under your fingernails, you are not stuck working in a shop somewhere. If you work in the trades and want to start an online business, you can draw from your industrial experience to help you. Here are 5 businesses you can start if you have a background in the trades.
1. Invent a new tool for your trade. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Is there something you've created out of necessity that you think other people will want to buy? For example, maybe you've become so sick of the way a piece of equipment doesn't stay in place while you're welding, so you've created a bracket to hold it. Or maybe you have developed a better way to hold shingling nails while you're crawling around on the roof. Whatever your trade, you've probably found an easier way to do something. If you patent it (which isn't that hard to do), you can use the Internet as a place to sell it. Or, consider contacting a company like www.inventionhome.com to help you take your invention from idea to reality.
2. Tool/equipment auctions. Have you spent any time on eBay? If you have, you may have found some of the equipment and vehicles they sell there. Was it hard to find the right equipment for your industry? If it was, you may want to consider creating your own online equipment auction site. Yes, you won't be as big as eBay, but you don't need to be. Your industry probably has many people entering it and needing to build up their toolbox of equipment and many people leaving when they retire and wondering what they'll do with all their stuff. Your auction site can connect a buyer and seller in a specialized industry that eBay does not adequately serve.
3. Sell information. Even if you're not a writer yourself, you may be able to partner with a writer to create information that can help people in your industry. For example, consider some of the areas where you may have enjoyed a little more help yourself over the years. One area a lot of trades people seek help is in the soft-skill areas of business ownership, such as customer service or accounting. You don't have to be an expert in these areas, just successful. Draw on your own experience to provide advice to those who are starting in your field.
4. Advice. Remember back to your first day on the job. Were there times when you hit a snag in your work and wished that there was someone you could ask? Maybe the site foreman wasn't around to help or maybe you didn't want to ask for help from them. There are many people in the trades who face that and you can offer help to them on a website. There are two options to consider: you can create a free area for general help and a paid area where people can ask more specialized questions. Be sure to provide well researched advice as well as links and additional resources to help them.
5. Service locator. Most of the above ideas are services you provide other trades people in your own trade. A service locator is something you'd provide to the general public. If you've been in business for a few years, you probably have connections and contacts all over that might be interested in participating with you. By offering a service locator, you can create a website that will help people looking for a particular service provider in their area. For example, someone who wants a plumber in their area might click onto your website and find one, along with certifications and details on accepted payment methods. You can make money on this by offering preferred placement for sponsored service providers.