How one idea can increase your income

Cape Dutch house, Stellenbosch
Cape Dutch house, Stellenbosch (Photo credit: Kleinz1)

Changing circumstances can act as a motivator to start your own business – whether part-time or full-time. People start their own businesses or sideline income opportunities for a number of reasons: economic circumstances aren’t what they used to be, their household income needs to be supplemented, family circumstances may change such as having small children, early retirement may be a good opportunity to start something of your own, the “empty nest” syndrome may give parents more free time than they’ve ever had, or you may want to moonlight merely to generate extra cash to pay for life’s luxuries.

Have you been thinking along these lines? Is there some hobby or interest or opportunity that you’ve spotted that you want to turn into a money-making opportunity?

I remember when I was a lowly-paid trade magazine editor I came up with the idea for a curriculum vitae writing service to help pay the monthly bills and provide a small amount of cash on the side. It was most rewarding work personally because I was able to help jobseekers. A well-written CV can make a big difference to a job applicant. I also got to meet interesting clients and found the work stimulating when I could give them a boost in selling their personal services.

Though there is nothing wrong with buying a franchise – you can find a list of franchised stores in the local small business magazines – you need to have a sizeable sum of cash upfront to buy one. A basic hot dog stand, branded under a trade name, goes for anywhere up to R3.5 million. Even a small maths and English education franchise sells in the region of R60,000. The lowest cost franchise I was able to come across was a cleaning and tissue products supplier which will set you back an investment of R30,000.

Why not come up with your own idea for an income opportunity? You can make money from your ideas by turning them into viable business opportunities. Basically, all you need to do is generate ideas or go look for them in the marketplace, assess and develop your concept and plan your successful business.

Your home-based income opportunity doesn’t have to be big at all. I was amazed to come across a small business recently where the owner was searching for collectable books – first editions – and selling them inside a deli where the owner had made available two rows of shelf space for the collectable book owner. How’s that for merchandising at low-cost by piggybacking onto another retailer which has a number of local and tourist customers who browse the store looking for unusual and interesting finds.

What could get you started very quickly is if you own a property and can hire out a section to holidaymakers. This may be a seasonal business depending on where your property is located but the daily rates for self-catering accommodation can be up to 10 times a monthly rental. Even if you don’t own any property, you may well be able to find an opportunity by advertising other property owners’s self-catering accommodation for the standard commission.

Some people find ingenious ways to make additional income. I visited a tourist information kiosk recently and the manager in charge told me of a spin-off source of income for the tourist information centre. Local business owners in the city were so impressed by the tourist information centre’s handling of customer enquiries that one owner of a roofing business has now requested that they handle the enquiries and customer information requests for an outsourced fee.

Operating a small business is a very practical occupation which makes it accessible to most people who have an idea that they think will make money. Yet it’s important to bear in mind that an idea must be able to generate profit or it won’t make economic sense. For those who are willing to find a new or better way to do something, the rewards can be exciting and satisfying.

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