Ah, working from home. If you’re sick of long commutes to a boring office, where you’re stuck 9-to-5, Monday through Friday, remote work sounds like a distant paradise.
But the reality is, working from home is more feasible than you might think – and I’ve got 50 examples to prove it. So, if your dream is to work from home, and you don’t know where to start, this list has something for you. I guarantee it.
Why working from home is so appealing
Some traditional bosses think that working from home is an excuse to goof off and do nothing, but most people have sound motivations. They want to work without distractions and interruptions from co-workers, skip the time-wasting commute, wear comfortable clothing, stay close to home for family needs and generally have more control. Plus, it’s been shown that people who work from home end up being more productive.
That being said, working from home isn’t a perfect solution. You’ll still have to work hard, no matter what you choose, and navigate a number of unique challenges, so be careful to choose your best path forward.
The rising trend
A recent Gallup poll demonstrates that working from home, or telecommuting, is on the rise, with more than a third of Americans telecommuting at least some of the time in 2015. And that trend makes sense: We’re in an era where resources, information and communication are boundless and portable, and these systems are growing increasingly sophisticated.
So, how can the average worker – maybe you? – make an actual living without leaving the home? Here are 50 ways.
1Transition from your current job
Your first option is probably the simplest; instead of looking for a new job, try to transform your current job. After all, most white-collar jobs these days can be done from home. For example, do you spend most of your day in front of a computer using software that’s available on the cloud? If so, there’s no reason you can’t tackle those responsibilities from home.
Even if you’re in a more traditional or conservative industry, the right pitch could convince your boss to transition your position to a remote one. According to Global Workplace Analytics, even government and non-profit sectors are gearing more toward work-from-home opportunities.
2Opt for a hybrid model
Maybe your boss needs you in the office for a weekly meeting, or you’re needed as an additional face for client meetings.
Consider the prospect of opting for a hybrid model, in which you work from home two or three days per week, but go into the office for the remaining days.
This may not be your ideal set-up, but it’s better than a full week of office commutes. Plus, if you do a good enough job in those few work-from-home days, you’ll have evidence that a fully remote model could work.
3Write content for others
We’re in the midst of the golden age of content marketing, and that means the world is hungry for more content. If you’re good with your words, you might as well capitalise on this trend.
Content marketing has created a high demand for original written material, so it’s not hard to find companies that need articles written regularly – sometimes daily. Reach out to content-marketing firms which employ many writers and are always looking for more talent.
Find writing jobs on Craigslist, or on Freelancewritinggigs.com. You could also sign up to work for a content mill, which is designed to churn out high volumes of content on a regular basis (just don’t expect a massive salary).
4Edit, audit or review
Depending on your skills or experience, you could also make a living by reviewing the work of others. For example, you could become an editor who reads and improves articles – rather than writing them yourself – or you could oversee the work of newbies in your industry, by reviewing photos or audio submissions. So long as what you’re reviewing is available in a digital format, it could be a perfect work-from-home opportunity (provided you have enough volume to keep you busy).
5Play video games
You read that right. It’s entirely possible to make a work-from-home career out of playing video games – that is, if you’re good enough or interesting enough. Brands like Twitch and Youtube Gaming offer gamers the opportunity to live-stream their video-gaming experiences; and believe it or not, thousands of people sign on to watch those videos and streams.
If you’re a highly skilled gamer, then, or you can find alternative, unique ways to draw a crowd, you could build a brand and an audience and earn revenue from the sites, based on your contributions. Monetise via ad revenue, tips from your audience or Patreon. Gamers Brittney Brombacher and Greg Miller are both excellent examples of people who have built a brand in the video game industry and are monetising them via these methods.
6Create a blog
One of the best ways to build and maintain a revenue stream is to create and manage a blog. This could be about almost anything: Maybe you want to review new music, or to show off your homemade co-splays. All that matters is your ability to build an audience over time.
If you can attract a few thousand monthly visitors, you can turn that audience into a cash-generating machine in a number of different ways, including getting paid to advertise, using affiliate links or setting up a Patreon account to encourage your audience to support your content-creation efforts and gain access to premium content.
Tim Urban of WaitButWhy.com has followed this route and makes nearly $13,000 per month (at the time of writing) from Patreon pledges.
If you like the idea of writing your own content, but blogging eludes you (for one reason or another), consider writing ebooks on the topic of your choice.
Ebooks are basically longer versions of articles, usually spanning several thousand words with illustrated examples and practical tips on how to accomplish something. Provided you have an interested audience available, you can charge a few dollars per download and make a substantial, recurring profit.
8Be a reviewer
Everybody has an opinion, and everyone’s a critic. If you like to share your opinions, and are able to do so articulately and in a way that benefits your audience, you may find reviewing a viable way to work from home (for the most part).
The sky’s the limit here: If you’re into media and pop culture, you could review movies and music albums. If you like board games and video games, you could review new ones emerging.
You could even review local businesses, or almost any product you can think of. Again, you just have to build an audience first.
9Be a social media marketer
Logging into social media and making a post doesn’t require any kind of physical presence; this makes it nearly perfect as a work-anywhere job. Social media marketing isn’t as simple as “playing around on Facebook all day,” but its fundamentals don’t require special skills or equipment. You’ll need experience to be successful over time, but it’s a highly learnable niche.
I’ve personally written an ebook that covers all the fundamentals of it, The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing. If you don’t have any current experience, it’s a good idea to start out by working for a small business or startup, or build your personal reputation on your own before applying for formal jobs.
10Become an SEO consultant
Like social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a marketing strategy that takes place entirely in the digital world, and it’s fairly approachable, even for newcomers.
You won’t be able to do any advanced troubleshooting or pull cutthroat competitive tactics in your first few months, but all the information you need to be successful is available to you. Just be prepared to subcontract to specialists if you find yourself stuck, or want someone more experienced to help you out.
11Become a PPC Consultant
Next up, you could run pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns. Clients will pay for ad-placement costs, and give you a management fee on top of that to research, plan, organize and track the results of each ad campaign.
You can specialise in one platform or learn multiple platforms, to appeal to a wider audience. Some platforms, like Google, offer certification programs you can use to prove your credentials. There’s a bit of a learning curve here, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.
12Be a graphic designer
If you have design skills, you can produce graphics for individuals and businesses to use in advertising, on websites or for other purposes.
There are many ways to do this. You could become a full-time graphic designer or an independent contractor with multiple different clients. Alternately, you could use a matchmaking site like 99 Designs to get work on a piece-by-piece basis.
It’s hard to pick up design skills naturally, so if this is the route you want to go and you don’t already have the skills, you’ll need to invest in your education first.
13Take pictures or make videos for others
Freelance photographers can make significant income, depending on their skill and experience level. Of course, to take photos, you’ll have to occasionally leave the house.
If you’re interested in learning the basics of photography, there are many sites to help you get started. In a related application, you could create videos for businesses, as well; to do this, create an “explainer” video to pitch the brand, making an advertisement or just turning a piece of written content into an interactive visual experience.
14Start a video series
Speaking of videos, they aren’t just for other people. In the same way you can start a blog and make money from it, you can create your own channel on YouTube and earn money. The key here is to find a niche that isn’t currently occupied, then either inform or entertain a specific target audience (preferably both).
An effort like this will require market research, creativity, hard work and a lot of luck. But if you’re consistent, you may find it possible to generate an audience in the hundreds of thousands – maybe more – which can earn you significant recurring revenue. An excellent example is Vsauce.
15Become a virtual assistant
It’s not the most glorious job on this list, but it is one of the most in-demand opportunities for work-from-home employees.
Depending on whom you work for, you could have responsibilities as a virtual assistant that include booking hotel accommodations, organising or taking notes, maintaining schedules, compiling (digital) paperwork or even reading and researching on your employer’s behalf.
These opportunities are available in a number of different niches, so look for them on job boards, and network to find promising open positions.
Related: The Rise of the Virtual Assistant
16Fill in with Fiverr
Fiverr is a site that originated with a diversity of different freelancers offering services starting at $5. Today, most services are still $5, but more intensive services cost a little more.
Because competition is high on this platform and rates are, accordingly, low, it’s hard to make a career out of freelancing on Fiverr alone (unless you’ve mastered your niche and have a thriving target audience or reside in a part of the world with an extremely low cost of living).
Still, it’s a helpful site to round out your earnings or to make initial attempts at a newly developed skill before you start advertising your services on your own.
Do you like to cross-stitch? Do you make your own pillows? Or work with clay, or knit? All those crafts can be sold for a profit, and in some cases a pretty high one.
Different crafts offer different available profit margins, depending on the skill level involved, the amount of competition and audience factors.
However, almost any craft can be sold reliably if you know how to market yourself. You can use a site like Etsy to get started, or try to build a site and online presence on your own.
In the same way, you may be able to sell your art on the web. For the most part, you’re better off developing a personal brand for your artwork, networking actively on social media and showing off your latest creation.
Building a personal brand, moreover, will help you establish a reputation, plus people will be more likely to buy your work if they can see your face and personality on display. Of course, the subjective issue of taste in art makes it a hard business to break into.
19Come up with ideas for new businesses
If you have a creative mindset and like the idea of advertising, you could make a decent living coming up with ideas for new businesses. There are a handful of different options here; you could write company names and taglines for new and emerging businesses or even write jingles for new ads or marketing campaigns.
If you’re new to the game, you’ll have to submit to contests and similar opportunities, but once you develop a reputation and a portfolio, you can shop it around to higher-paying clients.
Do you enjoy being in the kitchen? Do people go crazy for your red velvet cupcakes? There’s a way to turn that into a business, and you don’t need to open a bakery.
You can sell your baked goods online, offering a pickup service as an option (if you’re comfortable with it) or charging for special delivery. Just be sure to check your local regulations for the sale of food products, to ensure you comply with any legal restrictions.
In general, however, there’s enormous potential for profitability here, as the cost of baking ingredients is usually low.
21Create and popularise a website
If you’re not much of a blogger, you could still create and popularise your own site. You’ll just need to find a different angle to use to strike a chord with your audience. For example, you might post comic strips on a regular basis, or accept user submissions of embarrassing photographs.
You might even offer a unique service, like a custom calculator. Any way you can build an audience is good. Once you have it, you can start displaying advertising, or selling other goods and services. For inspiration, look at the empire I Can Has Cheez Burger built just by posting funny cat pictures.
This is an especially valuable option for anyone walking away from a long-term career in favor of a work-from-home opportunity. You still have your years of experience and skills to use, so make them work for you.
Consultants, depending on their experience, can charge hundreds of dollars an hour for one-on-one workshopping, and it can usually take place over the phone or through video chatting.
Here, you’ll need to have a strong personal brand and a reliable list of references if you want to secure any deals, so prioritize your reputation first.
Coaching is a kind of informal consulting, usually targeted toward consumers rather than businesses. There are an infinite number of paths here, so use your creativity; if you have experience or an interest in physical fitness, consider becoming a weight loss or athletic coach.
If you have a wealth of personal experience, you could become a “life coach,” and help people through hard personal decisions or life events, over the phone or through a personal chat.
As happens with consulting, you’ll need a strong reputation first, so that should be your first priority. Author Brenden Dilley is an excellent example of someone monetizing his expertise as a life coach.
If you’re savvy at online marketing, you can buy websites that aren’t reaching their potential, fix them up, market them, monetise them, and then sell them for a huge profit. You can use a site like Flippa.com to find, buy, and list websites for sale.
Related: 10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!
If you have significant savings to play with, you could consider turning yourself into a scaled-down version of a bank. This process is known as peer-to-peer lending, and has become quite common thanks to technology that makes it easier to accomplish.
Depending on what platform you sign up for, you’ll have various options, such as making one-on-one loans, or pooling your assets with others for loans, and you’ll choose different “grades” of clients that offer different levels of risk and reward.
26Do data entry
This is another job that isn’t especially glamorous, but it’s available (and will continue to be for the indeterminate future). If you don’t have deep or niche skills, this is a perfect way to get started with a work-from-home job.
You could be filling numbers into a spreadsheet, entering invoices into a database or fulfilling any number of other tasks. It’s a bit mindless, but for some, that’s less stressful than most jobs.
Next up, you could learn to program. There are dozens of different programming languages available, for applications that range from creating custom websites to making your own video games. This is one of the most versatile options on this list because programming is in such high demand and is valuable for so many things.
If you’re skilled in a worthwhile language, your potential is virtually limitless. The problem is usually getting started. Thankfully, sites like Codecademy are available to teach you everything you need to know, completely for free.
Once you learn a programming language, you’ll gain experience quickly by knocking out odd jobs for various employers or by working full-time for one with a specific niche. But eventually, you might turn to more creative work.
If you create your own app (which is much like creating your own website), you could potentially create a stream of recurring revenue that lasts indefinitely, especially if you charge for downloads, offer in-app purchases or double down on advertising.
29Focus on real estate
If you have the spare capital, consider investing in a rental property (or two). If you take your time and choose good tenants, you should be able to earn more in rental income than you’ll spend in mortgage payments and maintenance.
This alone may not provide you a full salary, but it’s a nice extra chunk of income that you won’t have to leave your house for. Just keep in mind that landlords do have many responsibilities, including ensuring proper maintenance of the property and handling tenant turnover.
30 Open your home
If you feel comfortable with having other people in your own home, you can open it up temporarily to new guests in a handful of different ways.
You could rent out a room or rent the entire place to travelers with an app like Airbnb. Or, if you’re feeling even more entrepreneurial, you could convert your home into a full-on bed and breakfast. Either way, you can take care of almost all your responsibilities from the comfort of your home.
31Tutor and teach
Chances are, you have something you can teach.
- Were you a rock star accountant at your last job? Perhaps you can teach people to do their own taxes.
- Do you remember being a whiz in calculus in college? Consider going to a college campus and offering your tutoring services.
- Do you know how to play an instrument? Post a classified ad for one-on-one lessons.
Most things can be taught in your own home, and once you build a reputation for yourself, new students will constantly trickle in.
Most businesses rely on a sales team to secure incoming revenue, and those salespeople typically rely on phone calls and emails to make new contacts, so why not step into that role yourself?
You can try for a full-time sales position you can do from home, or you can work out a deal to earn a commission for each sale or referral you make to a given company. If you have sales experience, this could be a lucrative opportunity for you.
If you’re less about closing deals and more about finding the best fits for an organisation, you can prospect instead of sell.
As a sales prospector, you’ll be leveraging your network of contacts and pools of potential contacts given to you by an organisation, or tapping other sources to find interested candidates to pass on to other sales staff. Prospecting jobs are usually less stressful than full-on sales roles, but they don’t have the same income potential.
You don’t need any special training or education to be an underwriter, but you will need to become familiar with the underwriting processes of the company you apply for. Underwriting is the process of analysing risk and value, usually in the financial and insurance industries.
There’s often a straightforward process to follow, which includes collecting information, entering data, doing calculations and making judgments based on what you know, meaning that this work can be done entirely from home in most cases.
35Take surveys and participate in focus groups
Companies are more than willing to pay people for their opinions, often in the forms of surveys and focus groups. The amount of money you make here can vary wildly; you might make only $1 for a survey that takes you 20 minutes, or you might get $150 for watching a pilot of a TV show and giving a few statements about what you think.
If you enjoy this evaluative work, it can be worth pursuing, but don’t expect a massive paycheck. There are many sites dedicated to helping you get started.
36Flip garage-sale finds
This option veers slightly toward cheating, because you’ll have to leave the house at some point.
Many people have made a living by going to garage sales, thrift stores or even junkyards to find inexpensive yet valuable goods to “flip” on the internet and sell them for more than they originally paid. Depending on your profit margin, there’s really no ceiling to your earning potential here.
Thanks to the prominence of online project-management software, you can be a project manager from the comfort of your home.
Help businesses complete development projects, writing assignments, design jobs or anything else you can think of. If your skills lie in organisation, communication and coordination, this is the job for you.
People build new websites, apps and games all the time, but before they roll them out to the public, it’s important they be tested for quality.
Quality assurance testing (QA testing for short) is a gig that lets you try out these products while they’re still in beta. It helps if you have experience in programming or UI/UX design, but that’s not necessary in most cases.
You could also offer research as a service to companies, in a number of different ways. If you’re assisting a busy entrepreneur, you could help that person by reading new books and summarising them.
If you’re working for a marketing agency, you could conduct surveys and other forms of market research. People are willing to pay for information, so if you can get it easily, you can land a steady gig.
Event planners have the potential to make big money, depending on their experience and the nature of the event.
You could go the professional route, working with non-profits to throw major fund-raisers, or the personal route, planning things like weddings and birthday parties. Either way, your ability to organise, co-ordinate and entertain people will come in handy.
Related: Event Planning Sample Business Plan
Do you know a second language? If so, you could probably find easy work as a translator. Common language translations, like Spanish to English, or vice versa, will offer plentiful opportunities for a relatively low rate, while rarer languages, like Farsi, will provide fewer, but more lucrative opportunities.
Consider expanding your knowledge with a third, or even a fourth language to maximise your opportunities. You can even do it for free.
We live in the information age, and companies are desperate to gather and interpret as much data as possible – whether that’s information about their customers, data points for their marketing campaigns or financial information. You can fill a need by creating reports from these data points and drawing conclusions and/or making recommendations from them.
The only problem is that you’ll probably need some experience in data analysis to do this. Beyond that, there’s no need to go to a physical office to work, since data is accessible anywhere.
43Hire and scout
Human resources is always going to be an important industry, and you can help fill the gaps for companies in almost any sector.
Most companies don’t have any problem attracting applicants for entry-level jobs, but when it comes to top-talent positions, they rely on active scouting to find the best candidates.
Build your social media presence up as a recruiter, and you’ll be able to scour the social web for the perfect candidates for your clients’ job openings (and make decent money in the process).
44Be a transcriptionist
As you might imagine, transcription is not a labor-intensive or skill-intensive job, and accordingly, pay is minimal. Still, typing out subtitles for movies, TV shows and other forms of video and audio can be a source of extra income.
If you’re interested in building a more stable job from this opportunity, there’s one solid-paying area to try: the medical industry. Writing out dictated voice memos from physicians pays more and demands more, but is still approachable enough for almost anyone to learn.
45Make websites for others
Thousands of people want to make new websites every day. The problem is that most of them don’t know how to do it, and they’ll gladly pay someone who can walk them through the steps.
Even though we’re now in an age of emails, texts and social media, many people still prefer phone calls when they need customer service. That means companies need people to answer those calls.
While working in a call centre may not be your idea of a great career, it’s much more pleasant when you’re using a headset in the privacy of your own home. This is an especially valuable option if you don’t have a wide skill set or you’re interested in having minimal responsibilities.
On the flip side, you could find a job that has you making calls, as well. I’ve already included general sales positions on this list, but there are many other opportunities to make calls for businesses.
You may find yourself prospecting for other members of the sales staff, or following up with customers to capture their opinions about a recent purchase. You’ll have to dig for these opportunities (rather than making them yourself), but they’re out there.
48Provide IT support
Almost every business needs some degree of technical support, whether it’s for their employees or for their customers. And even if you don’t have a degree in computer science, you likely have the technical prowess necessary to fill that role.
If you use a remote desktop app, you’ll be able to access other people’s devices without having to be nearby; and for most other issues, you’ll be able to talk or chat people through the process.
49Open shop in or around your home
If you have a skill that requires some level of human contact, you can always open up your business in or around your home – that way, you can get the best of both worlds. For example, if you’re an auto mechanic, you could open a small car repair business by using your driveway and your garage (if it’s big enough). Or, if you’re an accountant, you could set up a home office to help people with their tax returns.
50Buy a franchise
Buying a franchise is only an option if you have free capital to invest, but it can be advantageous. When you first start out, you’ll need to be hands-on with the business and to make in-person visits from time to time. But eventually your operation should stabilise and provide you a stream of revenue that doesn’t require much work beyond occasional remote communication.
Where to look
All these options sound nice, but where can you actually find jobs like these?
- Ask and network. Your first option is to simply ask. Talk to your bosses and supervisors about the possibility of transitioning to a remote position. If that doesn’t work, go out and network; try to meet people offering opportunities you can take.
- Get new education and training. If you don’t currently have the skill set for a position of interest in the list above, you can go back to college or go into training to develop it. When you do, talk to your teachers about future opportunities – they likely have connections.
- Use job application sites. You can also go the more conventional route by scouting job application boards, like Monster or Craigslist. Be smart here; not every “work from home” opportunity is legitimate, so do some research before applying.
- Use e-commerce. You could build a business using an existing platform, such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy, to start selling your products, if you are selling physical products.
- Start from scratch. Finally, and most importantly, you can build everything yourself from scratch. Become an entrepreneur, launch a website and make your own rules.
How to get started
Beyond that, when you get started working from home, there are a few things you’ll need to do (or at least keep in mind):
- Remember that remote work isn’t a paradise. As exciting and perfect as working from home seems on the surface, it isn’t always a good thing. It can get lonely, motivation is a challenge, and you might just go stir crazy if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Develop yourself. No matter what you do, try to develop your skills and abilities along the way. It will come in handy in the future.
- Create a dedicated workspace. Don’t just sit on the couch with a laptop. Create a home office to earn the psychological benefits of “going to work.” Doing so also has tax write-off benefits.
- Hedge your bets. If you’re becoming an independent contractor, consider learning two new sets of skills or pursuing two types of jobs. It never hurts to hedge your bets.
- Set goals for applications (and be relentless). If you’re looking for work-from-home opportunities, set goals for yourself, and don’t give up until you reach them.
- Under-promise and over-deliver. If you want to keep your job, you’ll need to under-promise and over-deliver on everything. Competition is fierce and relationships are less personal, so your performance matters a great deal.
By this point, you should have some solid “next steps” for building your work-from-home career. Whether you’re following a lifelong passion (be careful here) or merely seizing a notable opportunity, consider this your chance to earn a significant salary without leaving the comfort of your home (unless by choice).
The world of working from home is far less intimidating and less fantastical than it seems. All you have to do is work for it.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Make Course Corrections And Finding Your Differentiator
A lot of launching a business is starting small, and pivoting as needed.
An advisor whom we trust, and who has been involved in our business since launch would like to buy into the business. We could make use of the cash injection, and we believe his experience would be beneficial to the business. His condition is that he occupies a board seat, and that we create an advisory board that he can also sit on. Should we do it? — Mvepho
If you trust the guy and need the money, do the deal. A board seat is fine. Voting should be based on shareholding, not hands raised. Don’t allow for any special minority rights like veto over budget or right to appoint CFO.
An advisory board for a start-up seems a tad overkill, but if he wants one, give it. He’s either going be an ass, or he won’t. Only one way to find out: Get into bed.
The key provisions of the shareholder agreement relate to divorce. How do you get out of relationship? There are three key parts to consider: Forced sale provisions (death, disability, prison, leave country, etc); Valuation formula for exit (5 x NPAT); Agree to arbitration being binding.
The simpler you keep things, the easier it will be to part ways if things don’t work out.
I need to attract customers away from their existing suppliers who offer a similar product to mine. My value proposition is convenience and quality. What other value should I consider? My main customers are restauranteurs and households (flats), and I provide the convenience by instant deliveries of food (chicken and eggs) to their doorstep. — Mam
Pick one differentiator. If one isn’t enough, your product isn’t good enough.
In this case maybe it’s convenience. Or maybe it’s speed of delivery (30 minutes from order). Or maybe it’s the best eggs in SA.
Whatever. Ask customers what the most important thing is, then focus on pushing that as your unique selling proposition.
That doesn’t mean you ignore the other inputs. It just means your pitch is predicated on one key selling point.
My partners and I have managed to get an investment opportunity for our app but now we have an issue about how we should spend that money.
I think we should first get some traction with users with a MVP even though we’re not delivering on our value proposition in the beginning i.e selling before we commit to building and iterating based on user feedback before adding new features.
My partners think that now that we have an investment opportunity, we should build the app with all the features because that’s what differentiates us in the market.
How would you handle a situation like this? — Tula
Start with MVP. Get feedback. Iterate.
Do not start with an app including all the bells and whistles. Firstly, it will take too long to make and get bogged in scope creep. Secondly, if you’re on the wrong track and you’ve already spent all your money, its game over. Insert coin.
Rather start small. It lets you course correct faster and keeps you in the game longer.
My waiter has contracted a chronic infectious disease (not HIV). He’s worked for me for seven years, but I can’t risk my staff/customers getting sick. What should I do? — Bob
The business comes before individuals. It can be painful losing a loyal long-time staff member, but you have to do it if he jeopardises your business survival. Exhaust all options, but if there is no medical solution then you have no choice. But you can’t just cut him loose. If you do that, all your other long-standing staff will look at you and think, “He doesn’t care for me.” Morale will go down, and your business may fail anyway.
If you are forced to lose a loyal staff member, you must go out of your way to ensure he/she is financially taken care of, either through a pension or a lump-sum payment.
It’s the right thing to do, and it will show your other staff that you have their backs through thick and thin.
Alan Knott-Craig’s latest book, 13 Rules for being an Entrepreneur is now available.
What it’s about
It’s easy to be an entrepreneur. It’s also easy to fail. What’s hard is being a successful entrepreneur.
For an entrepreneur, there is only one important metric of success: Money. But life is not only about making money. It’s about being happy.
This book is a collection of tips and wisdom that will help you make money without forgoing happiness.
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Do you have a burning start-up question?
(Infographic) The 20 Most Common Reasons Start-ups Fail And How To Avoid Them
These do’s and don’ts can make or break your start-up.
So, you have a great new idea or invention, and you are ready to open your start-up business. But, you’ve been scared by the well-publicised statistic about start-up failure – more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years.
Opening and operating a successful start-up requires some luck hard-work and thoughtful planning – as well as the ability to adapt that plan. Having been involved as a consultant to numerous start-ups over the past decade, I have seen some fail, some achieve a modicum of success, and some make it big.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts that will help guide your start-up to the promised land:
- Don’t think that a great idea or a great product is enough. The start-up graveyard is littered with amazing ideas and products that have failed.
- Do have a business plan that includes every aspect of how you will run your operation and how it will be successful. It should include all anticipated costs, marketing, manufacturing, the technology required and staffing. A business plan should also include how you will market and sell your product.
- Don’t think your idea or product is original and because you and your friends think it’s amazing, means that it is and there’s a market for it.
- Do lots of research before you spend your money. As a consultant, I have on three separate occasions been asked to help with a business plan for a start-up, where I discovered almost exactly what they are doing has been tried before and failed. In two of those instances, the previous failures indicated that the idea wasn’t good. In the third instance, we were able to learn from the previous mistakes and actually make a successful run at it. The number one reason start-ups fail is that there is no market for their offering.
- Don’t assume you will get financing other than the money you start with from yourself, family and friends. Only a very small percentage of start-ups get Venture Capital (VC) funding and in fact, the funding bubble has burst. And that means early-stage start-ups are getting little or no love from outside equity firms.
- Do assume the initial funding you have will be all you get, so the goal is to have the lowest burn rate possible. Therefore, your initial business plan should have a route to profitability and sustainability before the money runs out. The number two reason start-ups fail is that they run out of money.
- Don’t think that your expert knowledge of your business, a well-developed business plan and proficiency in PowerPoint are enough to craft an investor deck that will get a private equity firm’s attention.
- Do hire an expert consultant who has done this before. VCs can smell an embellished or amateurish deck 100 miles away. You typically only get one look by a potential investor, so make sure your investor deck is the absolute best it can be.
- Don’t assume that technology will be easy or come as scheduled. In almost every start-up I have been involved with, where the need for technology advancement was crucial to success, there were unanticipated issues and delays.
- Do assume that there will be delays in technological deliveries and therefore you need to leave a buffer for that in your business plan. Do have a competent development team and if they are not performing, replace them as soon as possible.
- Don’t think that you can go at this alone or that it will be easy to assemble a winning team.
- Do select your team members carefully, trying to add as much diversity as possible. The most successful start-ups that I have seen have mixed experience and newbies as well as the more traditional kind of diversity. The number three reason startups fail is that they have the wrong team.
- Don’t think customers are just waiting for your offering and investors will be lining up to give you money simply because your idea is amazing – even if you have been a successful serial entrepreneur in the past.
- Do be humble and realistic about everyone you meet. Relationships are a key to success, and like with personal relationships, if you want to be successful, be sure you see yourself as others see you. I have witnessed a lack of self-awareness and a big ego from owner’s doom potentially successful start-ups.
- Don’t think you are leaving a nine-to-five job for the easy and flexible life of being your own boss. A start-up is a seven-day-a-week occupation and now it’s your money and reputation that are solely on the line.
- Do plan to work harder than you ever have with little return on your efforts for an extended period. Do be honest with everyone you interact with, as your reputation will ultimately be a key to your success.
To have big success as a startup, you’ll have to master all the do’s and don’ts above, and that’s a daunting task. So, before you begin, the question you must ask yourself is: “How badly do you want it?!”
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Complete How-To Guide for Starting a Car Wash
What you need to know about opening your own car wash in South Africa.
We all love to have a clean car – start your own business today
Shiny wheels, the perfectly clear windows and not a streak in sight. In today’s fast paced world we often don’t have the time to do it ourselves – and when we do, there are other things that quickly fill that time.
And so we pop off to the local car wash to have it done and ticked off the list so that we can move on to other things.
How often have you sat considering owning a car wash of your own while you’re waiting for your car to be done? If it’s more than once, then maybe you should consider taking the leap and starting a car wash business.
Contents in this guide
- How to Choose What Type of Car Wash to Open
- Steps for Registering a Car Wash Business
- Car Wash Funding Options
- Choosing a Location for Your Car Wash
- Car Wash Insurance and Liability Cover
- Car Wash Equipment and Supplies
- Car Wash Marketing and Branding Basics
- Hiring and Managing Your Car Wash Staff
- How to Set Your Prices?
How to Choose What Type of Car Wash to Open
The first decision that needs to be made involves deciding between a franchise and an independent business model. Both of these come with their own set of risks and rewards – all of which have been set out in the table below.
The decision between an independent venture and a franchise opportunity must be a personal choice based on your personality.
In general – if you are someone who likes to blaze your own trail and like to have complete and utter control over every aspect of your business, then starting a car wash, or any business, as an independent is the way to go for you.
If however, you are better at working within the guidelines and like the freedom of someone else, in this case the parent company, making the decisions for you – then starting a franchise is the way forward.
Make sure when investigating the car wash franchise you are interested in, that you choose a recognisable brand with a good reputation in order to get the full benefit of buying into a franchise.
With both franchising and independent ventures, you now also have the choice of starting a mobile car wash, instead of a fixed full time entity.
Need to know: Should You Purchase An Existing Franchise?
This also comes with pros and cons and these are listed below.
Steps for Registering a Car Wash Business
Here are the main steps for registering your new small to medium enterprise:
Register your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). This involves lodging a Notice of Incorporation (CoR 14.1) and a Memorandum of Incorporation (CoR 15.1 A-E). These forms are available at www.cipc.co.za. They take roughly five to seven days.
Alternatively, it is possible to use a service that registers your company for you with the CIPC such as this one. These services do of course have their own fees attached.
Thereafter, you must open a bank account for your business. Depending on the correctness of the application forms, this only takes a day or two and is free of charge.
For an SME, earning less than a million rand a year – the only form that SARS requires is the IT77C that must be accompanied by a certified copy of your ID and a copy of the company’s registration documentation. The IT77C form is available from www.sars.gov.za. If your employees aged 24 – 65 will be earning more than R5 000 per month, then you will need to register for UIF and PAYE.
To register for unemployment insurance – visit www.labour.gov.za for more information on the process and for the forms.
The final step that takes place in conjunction with the step above is to cover your employees in terms of occupational injuries, diseases or death in terms of the Compensation Fund. This is optional. These forms are available from www.labour.gov.za
In terms of the permits and licenses you will need to start a car wash you need to first assess whether or not the premise you want to work from is purely residential or if it has been zoned to allow it to be a business property.
Furthermore, to operate a car wash you might need to apply for a permit under the water restriction bylaws depending on your municipality and the province you are in. For more information on the permits possibly required visit the Department of Water Affairs website.
Car Wash Funding Options
Before you even begin to look for funding, you will at this point need to create a detailed business plan. No institution will give you funding without one. For instructions on how to put a business plan together watch this video on business plans for dummies.
Sourcing funding for a start-up can be a bit of a challenge if you do not know where to go or what they are expecting of you. Here is a quick rundown of what you would need to prepare in order to encourage others, such as financial institutions, to give you the funding you need to start your venture.
Related: New Ways SMEs Can Find Funding
Broadly speaking there are four main options available to entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. These are: Loans from financial institutions, own capital, investors and grants. Grants usually come from the government and are loans that you won’t have to repay, but grants come with strict guidelines on how the funds may be used.
It is always preferable to start with the bank that you already do business with – that way they have all your information and know your financial habits and behaviours as well as your credit record. Another option is to look at credit unions.
When applying for funding here are a few tricks to help you get the cash:
- Make sure that you have a detailed business plan that shows how the funds will be used and spent. It is highly necessary for you to have a detailed knowledge of the costs involved in your business – from supplies to staff to overheads and equipment.
- Know about the industry and the market you are entering. It can be beneficial for you to do a market analysis.
- You will more than likely have to use your personal assets and wealth as collateral for your new business.
- It will show your dedication and commitment if you use your own capital to place an initial investment. In some cases, it is required for you to do so – such as with SEFA – the Small Enterprise Finance Agency who require a 10% personal initial investment.
Choosing a Location for Your Car Wash
With a fixed location – most of your business will come from ‘walk ins’. It is essential to your business that your car wash, or any service based business, is in a location that is convenient.
More often than not people do not specifically set out to go have their cars washed but rather end up having it done because it was easily available and they had the time.
Here are a few tips of choosing a successful location:
- Being near a shopping area is always preferable
- Heavily populated residential areas with high traffic volumes are better for business
- The site must be easily accessible from the road
- It must be easy for customers to get back onto the road once their car is clean
- Highly visible
- A decent size car wash has more than one washing and drying bay, there needs to be enough space for these as well as a waiting area
- Enough space for cars to queue
- It is also in your interest to pick a location that will allow for expansions as your business grows.
In South African law, verbal leases can be upheld in court, but it is always best to get the agreement in writing.
In clear and concise language that both parties can understand, make sure that your lease covers any changes you may or may not make both structurally and superficially.
Make sure you know how your rental will be calculated – it is usually quoted in Rands per square metre per month, excluding VAT for commercial and industrial properties in South Africa. Make sure you both agree on what costs will be covered by your rental and what costs you will incur (i.e. electricity).
Know under what circumstances the lease may be voided by either party. And finally, know who is liable for damages to the property or for instances of burglary.
Car Wash Insurance and Liability Cover
First off, for new owners the importance of a disclaimer needs to be highlighted. A disclaimer can exempt car wash owners from covering the costs of repairing vehicles that are damaged on their premise but they do not cover gross negligence on behalf of the business owner.
It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that all machinery and equipment is well maintained and is regularly checked for foreign objects that could cause damage. It is also the responsibility of the owner to make absolutely sure that all cleaning products used throughout the process are car-friendly.
Furthermore, public liability cover is not enough. Property in the custody, care or control of the car wash owner is excluded from cover under the public liability section. The correct policy to have in place is the Motor Traders Internal section.
Your level of insurance coverage will have to be higher if you and your employees are the ones driving and moving the cars.
It is important that you as the owner of the car wash to have general liability insurance that covers:
- Medical expenses to yourself and your employees in case of injury
- Custody, care and control coverage
- Equipment break down
- Damage to cars – you will need to set this limit for your policy
- It is also important (especially if you have bought the property) that you have property insurance that will cover your premise in terms of theft, damage, fire, flooding etc.
Leonard Degee, who has been in the independent car wash industry for 12 years, knows that in order for his car wash to continue successfully, it is important that only management handles all the cars.
Not only does it make the insurance coverage easier and cheaper, but customers are usually happier knowing that the person who might be moving their car is more accountable.
Car Wash Equipment and Supplies
In some cases, all you’ll need is a bucket, clean water, soap and some good cloths – and the willingness to approach people to offer your services. But if you would like to open a more professional business and reach a broader market then there is some equipment that you’ll need.
If you are opening a franchise, the parent company or franchisor will be making the decisions for you. If you are opening an independent location or mobile business then you will need to source the necessary equipment.
The basic equipment needed for a manual car wash is:
- High pressure system
- Oil/water separation Unit
- Drainage unit
- Industrial vacuum cleaner with wet upholstery cleaning option
- Possibly an upholstery cleaner
- Depending on the products you choose you might need a foam attachment on your hose.
Alongside your basic equipment you will also need your location to have:
- Concrete wash bay slab
- Pump room
- Drying bay
- Ancillary Walling and Paving
The Basic equipment you will need for a mobile car wash is:
- Pressure washer hose with a compressor
- An industrial hose with nozzle and gun
- A good sized tank in the back of the truck/van or even trailer
- A generator (remember to keep extra fuel handy)
- A powerful vacuum cleaner
For cleaning products and supplies, you have a multitude of varieties to choose from. If you are inclined to go the eco-friend route, there are even ranges of waterless cleaning solutions.
The cleaning product basics you would need are:
- Car soaps
- Metal polish
- Plastic polish
- Car wax
- Glass cleaner
- Fabric shampoo
- Leather cleaners
- Detergent for the pedals
- And then sponges, cloths, brushes – preferably suitable for use on all cars.
Here are some suppliers of equipment and cleaning products:
- Eco Wash – http://www.ecowash.co.za
- Hurricane Car Wash – http://www.hurricanecarwash.co.za/about.html
- Kwik Car Wash – http://www.kwikcarwash.co.za/page2.htm
- Eco D Wash – http://www.ecodwash.com/
- Durawash – http://www.durawash.co.za/
- Dynachem – http://www.dynachem.co.za/
- Geowash South Africa (for mobile car wash systems) – www.geowash.co.za
Keep all equipment in good working condition with regular check-ups. For an easier resale, make sure you have detailed maintenance records on all equipment.
In Degee’s car wash, they purchase R3000 worth of stock every month – which covers the 360 or so cars that they clean.
Car Wash Marketing and Branding Basics
Branding and marketing are two very different concepts, both of which are highly important to the effectiveness of your business.
In order to bring the customers to you, there are a couple of things you could do. These involve connecting on an emotional level, staying relevant and flexible, committing to the community you work in, staying visible and finally aligning your marketing tactics with your brand strategy.
The biggest secret to marketing is being able to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Brand Strategy Insider is an online resource for branding and marketing and they list 50 ways to differentiate your brand.
For the car wash business here are the applicable ones:
- Expand your appeal
- Rewrite the experience
- Break away from conventional wisdom
- Be the expert
- Share values with your customers
- Engage the senses
- Focus on aesthetics
- Treat people differently than your competitors do (treat them better)
When you are implementing these values in your brand, make sure that they go deeper than just your aims. Make these things that make you different the foundation of your business.
That means engraving these changes in the mission statement and instilling it in your staff. It’s important to note that your staff are your brand ambassadors. A good service experience means that people will come back and more than that, they will tell others about you too. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in launching a new business.
Degee says that the best marketing strategy they have is their car wash’s visibility.
In terms of marketing schemes available to you as a new business owner, you have a couple of easy options:
- Keep the conversation active with your customers
- Customer databases so that you can text or email them your specials (these must be opt in)
- Advertisements in local papers and on local sites
- Always squash any bad word of mouth by proving the opposite
- Consider loyalty reward programmes to encourage repeat customers.
Hiring and Managing Your Car Wash Staff
“Good management and good staff is the most important thing,” says Degee. With your staff often handling the money, it is easy for untrustworthy staff to “slip it into their pocket.”
Make sure your staff is reliable and Degee advises that you need to keep theft as low as you possibly can.
If you open a bigger operation than just yourself, or if you are needed to expand your business as it grows, then you will need to hire staff. Because you are in the service delivery industry, you need to remember that your staff needs to treat your customers well – as do you.
To this effect, hire people that are
- Have a good sense of service delivery.
The number of people you hire depends on your expected workload. The more washing and drying bays you have, the more people you will need. You also need to consider how many days of the week you are open and how many hours a day.
Obviously, if you want to go the more automated route with a machine run conveyor system, then the need for physical staff will be less.
How to Set Your Prices?
If you are going to give a variety of different services then you should have options for all budgets and time frames to suit the biggest market possible.
As with any service industry business – you need to have competitive prices for the services that you offer. It’s important to do some market research in your area as to what your competitors are charging for which services.
Important factors to consider:
- The cost of your cleaning supplies
- Your overhead costs
- The amount of cars you can do in an hour
- The number of staff members you have
- Your working hours for the week
- Competitor prices for similar services
- The type of area you are in (residential, urban, rural, business?)
For a mobile car wash it is important to consider many of the same factors including fuel price and distance travelled. In general, the cost of a mobile car wash service is higher than that of a car wash that a patron will go to because of the added convenience factor for the customer.
When deciding on prices for a mobile business, you will once again need to do current market research into what your competitors are charging.
To end off, it is important that you and your staff do a good job on the cars that you clean. The best way to get repeat customers is to supply the ones you have with an amazing service. For an in-depth tutorial on how to professionally clean a car – watch this video.
Advice from Car Wash Pros
Degee offers a few tips for an entrepreneur starting his own car wash.
- Trustworthy staff is hard to find. Sort that out before anything else.
- Sometimes, the easiest way to bring in new staff is through our existing staff.
- A high turnover rate brings the possibility of more theft – try keeping good staff for as long as possible.
For the International Carwash Association visit www.carwash.org.
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