With the passing of Apple Founder, Steve Jobs, I thought about those who created their own off-shoot industries, perhaps inspired by his creativity and future-vision. Steve Jobs, by his own admission, didn’t create anything new, but rather revolutionized and brought to reality generational improvements in existing ideas. The best part about some of the ideas I present below, is that you do not have to be a Steve Jobs to create wealth, you only have to begin to think, like he did, that the status quo doesn’t have to be.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, personal income for August 2011 decreased (http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/pi/pinewsrelease.htm). You may also be feeling the pinch on a more macro level even if your income stayed the same, your cost for groceries, gas, and other consumer goods have been rising.
With all the gloomy news, you may be thinking of spending dollars on something like a lottery with a one-in-a-bazillion chance of winning, or you can increase your personal income using your own ingenuity, passion, and some get-started ideas here.
The first thing you have to go is look at actual income flowing to you, and your actual costs, at least by month. One thing included in my book Wealth Virtues is a spreadsheet that can help you do just that. But even though I would like you to buy Wealth Virtues to find out how anyone at any income level can achieve realistic wealth, the downloadable spreadsheet (and others) can be found at http://WealthVirtues.com/tools
Once you know how much is coming in and how much is going out, do what your government won’t; start cutting spending. Look at those things you can do without whether it is a type of unhealthy food item, the additional 3000 cable channels you never watch, dining out and fast food, etc. and vow to remove those expenses, at least for the near future. You will find that the less you use them, the less you will need or want them.
Whatever you do, do NOT sacrifice what you are putting into your retirement savings. If possible, you should look to maximize the amount you contribute yearly. Even a 50 year old with zero in retirement savings can save about $800,000 before the age of 65. Read this to find out how.
OK, so you have cut out the fat…and yes cutting out junk food will help decrease your own fat, making you healthier and lower your future medical expenses…but I digress. Once you have cut spending, now look to pay off all credit cards, and if possible, car loans. So you have trimmed the waste, paying off your debts, and now look to generate more revenue (it is too bad our government doesn’t do this), so what next? You can ask your boss for a raise, but his company is struggling just to make sure you even have a J-O-B. If you can get a raise then make sure you provide real value to your employer, and can back up your request with facts about how he or she cannot do without you. If you aren’t sure about what your boss really thinks about you, and you may not want to ask, then remember what Hannibal said to his generals when they told him it was impossible to cross the Alps with elephants “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam”. It means, “shut up, I’m in charge!” Actually it doesn’t, but it is close. It is Latin for “Find a Road or Make One.” That is the mindset you must adopt.
Hannibal’s generals were thinking about risk. In other words they feared what they could possibly lose. Do we not do the same when it comes to finances? Of course it is still true that higher risk leads to greater gains – but risk can still be a hard thing for many of us to accept. But there are alternatives to increase our income with very low risk. Below are a few ideas for you:
1. Start writing online. If you are passionate, knowledgeable, or even interested in a subject, write about it at least weekly using a free Google Blogger account at http://blogspot.com. Where you make income is from running ads using a Google AdSense account and links to Amazon using your Amazon Affiliate account.
2. Mow the lawn. My then 15 year-old nephew decided he wanted a convertible with leather interior, but didn’t want a car loan. In the spring, he went door-to-door in his neighborhood offering to mow lawns at least 10 times through the summer for a contract amount of $25 per mowing, trimming, and cleanup. He then acquired 10 customers. After raising his $2,500 in three months, he bought a car literally driven by a little old lady on Sundays. It was an older car, but had less than 35,000 miles, was a convertible, and had an unspoiled leather interior. He even had enough money left to pay the insurance for a year.
3. Create a calendar of events website. Start with your local area and seek out disparate lists of events from different sources. Create a simple website that combines all these events as well as adding a means of folks to submit events. Add some AdSense Ads or adds from other Affiliate Programs, and start making some income. A site like this can make anywhere from $100-$200 per month just in Google ads. You can see an example of a local calendar website here.
4. Market yourself with less of yourself. Combine your desire to lose weight (which will drastically reduce your future health care costs) with your desire to make money through self promotion. Ever hear of Jared Fogle? Jared lost a lot of weight switching to a Subway sandwich diet. He had no intention of self-promotion, but an article about him written by a friend who wrote an article about him in Men’s Health magazine prompted a Subway franchise to see how they could use this story, and Jared in ads. Think about your own future success story, then start documenting your goals with words and photos. If you are overweight, then transform yourself into one of the Spartan soldiers from the movie “300”, people may want to find out how to do it, and pay you for it. It doesn’t have to be weight loss, but anything that is a goal that you are passionate about.
5. Memorial picture video service. Have you even been to a party, gathering, or even a memorial service and viewed a professionally produces slideshow presentation set to music? It is not as hard or as expensive as you would think to create your own, then market your talents and products to places like funeral homes or wedding planners. My wife started doing this as a hobby for family events using a great tool called ProShow Gold. She has built up a portfolio based on reoccurring family events, the last getting better than the one before it. If you have a talent for manipulating photos and music even without a technical background, think about something like this to build your talent, then market it. This is a very low-overhead business idea, especially if you already own a good computer.
6. Tape to DVD conversion. A while back I bought a Sony DVD creator that would convert analog tapes to digital format DVDs. There are many systems out there, but I use a Sony DVDirect External DVD Recorder, but there are newer versions like the Sony VRDMC6 which is a greatly improved system. How many people still have VHS tapes that are getting old and need to be converted to DVD or Digital format? How much do you think they would be willing to pay for this service?
Those are just six quick ideas I came up with that are low cost, don’t require an advanced degree in rocket science, and are potentially pretty fun. These ideas may help you to spur your own unique and creative ideas to create an additional revenue stream without risking a lot of your time or capital.