My Own Business

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Savvy Business Start-Ups

Begin With a List

In response to your request for ideas for people to make money at home I am suggesting the following. Make a complete list of your talents such as perhaps you make delicious pies, or grow beautiful roses, or make pretty patchwork pillows or like to walk dogs, ask all your family and friends what you're really good at. List these things on a page and beside each one make another list of who might need,want, or use these services.

I have worked at home most of my adult life and found it quite enjoyable. I've done things such as making pies for restaurants, making patchwork doll quilts and little girls patchwork "prairie" skirts and matching bonnets at Christmas time; and little boys western vests with appliques, these sold like hotcakes around christmas time. My children wearing their own versions to school was my free advertisement.

I have also made patchwork 'quillos' lap quilts that fold into a pocket and turn into a pillow. I make up a lot of things and sell them at my garage sales which are more of a arts and crafts sale with baked goods as well. I have a friend who makes fishing flies and a neighbor who grows the most unusual houseplants you've ever seen; another one who makes silk corsages and flower arrangements, even bridal bouquets. I used my cooking and baking skills for years to bake cakes and pies for neighborhood friends for cash, got tired of that and started sewing. Now do alterations out of my home.

And my most recent and most profitable work is my current work; I am a roadside artist. I enjoyed art/watercolor/drawing for years; decided if someone is smart enought to make a living at something they hate, they should be smart enough to make a living at something they love and I just love to paint. I could paint for 12-14 hours a day and never be bored or tired and it is work, but work I love. So I decided to combine my love for art and go on the road and travel now that my children are gone. I am a roadside artist; my specialty is painting in watercolor, miniature postcard sized potraits of people's homes and selling the finished product to them for a small but respectable fee. They are delighted to have a real painting from a real artist of their own personal home. I always embellish the little paintings, adding a few trees or flowers where there is a little bare spot. Hey, I am beginning to sell enough of these to actually make my living this way. I can do 1 in about an hour and a half and get 25-50$ each for them. That's not bad wages for 'work at home'. But now, I just decide which house I want to paint and I have a pocket set of watercolors that fits into my purse and a little film bottle of water and a stack of blank watercolor paper postcards. I drive around, find a house I like, and paint it quickly, then go to the door and sell it, matted, in a zip-lock bag with my business card taped on the back of it. I give them a receipt, collect sales tax and get their name and address. In the wintertime when it's too cold to sit in my car and paint, I paint from all the neat photographs I took all summer and spring. Then I have a big art sale at my house, much like a garage sale and send a postcard invitation to everyone who ever bought a painting from me. This has worked for me.

Maybe you don't paint but you do something well. Everyone does. I prayed about my direction and it took a lot of trial and error with cake/pie baking, sewing, etc before I found my real niche. But I didn't give up and I'm having a ball at earning my living now. Make your list, find yours and go for it, it can be done. I'm proof.
Mary ZS-W

You Can 'Clean-Up'
or Teach

I have an idea for the person who wants to make some extra money. I cleaned houses and offices for 11 years. This is very lucrative and the hours are very flexible. No start up costs, except for an ad in the local paper. I had all my clients furnish all the supplies. As long as a person is dependable and honest you can make a very good living at this. It put me through college, I worked weekends, weekdays and evenings.

Another extra income job I stumbled upon, is teaching non credit classes at the community college I presently work for, in the financial aid office. You don't have to have a degree just knowledge about what you want to teach. For example a craft, computer software, oil painting, gardening, cooking etc. Inquire at your local college to see if they have a continuing education program. The classes are small and the students are usually non traditional students. I just finished teaching a beginning basic course in Microsoft word it was for 3 nights 3 hours each night at $40 dollars an hour. Not bad for some extra income.

I also signed up to go out to local business when they need help with Microsoft word. The college pays me $40 per hour to do this. I am planning on teaching a 6 week course on making crafts for the holidays out of recycled materials. One night per week for a couple hours each night.
Debbie H. of Sheridan, WY

Bulk Vending With a Twist

I just wanted to let you know of a way I know to make extra money. People should be extremely careful about getting into bulk vending, but there is a way to make some extra money via bulk vending in a round about way. Please word this as you see fit.

There is a bulk vending distributor in my area and they are usually in need of dependable people to put toys and candy into capsules (for those vending machines that your kids love, but as a frugal parent you try to avoid). They require that you fill 10,000 capsules within a week and they pay between $40-50. It doesn't work out to very much more than a few dollars an hour, but you'd be surprised how many you can do while watching tv.

Try Sales

Some times the best type of jobs are not all the way work at home jobs. I had a full time job but needed a little extra money. I saw an ad in a local employment that covered my state. I met with the owner who needed someone to sell ads in the area I lived in. I promised to devote 20 hours a week to this project and it was straight commission.

My first ads I sold were by simply looking in the classified section of the newspaper and sending out a fax advertising the state paper and it's circulation. I had the cost of my long distance fax and most calls came back from the companies. I called and made appts with other companies the same way. I made about $500 in six weeks with small cost. Most smaller newspapers look for someone to sell their ad space. Turnover is high in sales.

The rewards are good - a commission on what you sell. All you have to do is be creative with your approach and ask the buyer to advertise. I believe finding extra money this way is "safer" than the post office ads.

Easier to Cut Expenses

In one of your articles you said a lady had asked for help in making extra money at home. I have found it is truly easier to cut expenses than make extra money, but I do have some tips. Baking has been rewarding for my daughter. She has a table at the open air market in the summer and sells pies and cookies. It has paid pretty well - enough to buy some groceries anyway. Also social services looks for respite care workers some times. You would have to like kids and be flexible with the hours. Depending where you work, the is a big demand for contractual house cleaners. These type of jobs can usually be flexible.

I don't like to call myself a tightwad. I don't like to be called cheap. I don't even like to be called frugal. I live a simple lifestyle because I choose to. I am a RN and work three days a week so we can get our insurance through my work. I also have to have money to buy groceries and buy supplies for my diabetic teenager. We don't have a lot of money for extras. I do not feel deprived. It is a choice that I have made - to work as little as possible and be available to my child. I have little possessions and little savings. I have probably made a big mistake living so close to the edge. But I live how I want to and strive everyday to give to others more than myself.

We are a self centered nation. We have rasied our children to be self centered and not think of others. I would like to see you do more articles on doing more for other people.

Three Ideas

I have a few ideas for making money at home. I donate platelets every 3 weeks at our university hospital for chemotherapy patients. The process takes 2-3 hours, which is longer than donating whole blood, and the discomfort is about the same as giving blood. I'm reimbursed $30 for my time. At first I shuddered at the thought of "selling my body parts," but it faded as I cashed my check.

I am not a seamstress and my sewing skills were learned back in 8th grade home ec, but there are many people who don't have the time or the skills to do simple sewing repairs and alterations. I posted a flyer at a nearby retirement home and have hemmed pants, taken in seams, and sewed on buttons. I pick up and deliver which is a bonus for them. I called a tailor in town to get an idea of how much to charge.

Finally, find a consignment store and give them things to sell. My store will give me 50% of the sale price, or 70% if it's priced over $30. I stripped my house of all the knicknacks I hated, the clothes I never wore, the punch bowl I never used, etc. This summer I plan to buy good quality clothing at garage sales and then consign them. I may make only a dollar or two per item, but that can quickly add up.

(editor's note: if you're going to give blood or blood products, make sure you get proper physician advice on how often you can donate. We want to keep our readers healthy!)

What I Did Wrong

I haven't done any kind of home business since I was in college and needed pocket money. (In other words, I've never tried to make ends meet with a home business.) Back then I expanded my occasional babysitting into a Storytelling business.

I was a feature of preschoolers' and early school-age children's parties (mostly birthday parties, though I was asked to do a holiday party), where I told fairy tales. "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "Stone Soup" were favorites. My overhead was extremely low: my "costume" came from the thrift store and the remnant table and I got my stories from the library. I did no advertising; just word of mouth from the folks I babysat for and then from other children at the parties. My price structure was rather loose: two stories for ten children was $12 (this was when the going rate for a college student to babysit in the evening was $1.50 an hour) and we'd negotiate if there were more or fewer kids or if I had to travel a long way to get to the party.

If I were going to try this again I would 1) spend money on accounting software (in school I had a friend taking accounting classes who liked to "practice" on me); 2) more closely track profit and expenses; and 3) come up with a firmer price structure so I wouldn't have to do so much negotiation.

I stopped doing it because it started taking up too much time and I started getting into different types of work (like computers). It was fun, though, and an easy way for me to pick up some extra cash.
Amy F.

Data Entry

I'm a stay at home mom, with two boys 4 and 20mths all during the time i'd been home , i wanted to work at home always looking for an idea. My mother in law saw an ad in the local paper for data entry work and it was a local number. so being cautious, I called the Better Business bureau with the name of the company and they said the only complaint they had was that they couldn't get there work out fast enough! So I sent a resume to them. and I've been working for them over a yr and it's only 15 min from home! I type Phone directories at home, you work by the line, so obviously the more you do the more you make. I usually work 20hrs a week and i make around 125.00 per week gross. Which I think is pretty good, I don't have any expenses. Just love for my job and my kids!


I work at home (in addition to working in an office). I usually work about 1-2 hrs a day transcribing notes for a chiropractor. I figure I average about $10 an hour not counting travel time. I go to his office twice a week to pick up & drop off notes (usually get adjusted while I'm there - an added benefit). I did not have any schooling to do this but he did give me a list of abbreviations used. Since he pays by the line, he wants notes abbreviated but reports & letters are typed word for word. Of course typing speed will determine how much you can make.

I also do additional work for an investigator who tape records witness statements for lawyers. This work is inconsistent but at $3.50 a page (the going rate here) it's great when I can get it. Tapes are transcribed word for word and must be exact, including every "duh, mmm, huh" etc. I usually average $20+ p/hr here (Las Vegas area)!

Occasionally, I also make up newsletters, brochures, advertisements, etc. Price varies depending on the detail of the work - about $20-$50 p/page. A good eye & a program such as "Printmaster" is helpful.

I've also discovered that many lawyers need transcribing done - letters, witness statements, etc. I spoke with a woman in my area who has a 2 month waiting list.

Other than a computer & printer, transcribing work requires a transcribing machine. These can run up to $300 but I borrow mine from my mother-in-law until I can afford my own. I imagine you could find a used one for much less.

MLM Experiences

In January I began my own home business with Shaklee products. It was the best $29 investment I ever made. The first week I got started I made $60. I thought the check was wrong because I didn't feel like I had done anything! The next month I earned a check for $261. I still didn't feel like I had done much of anything -- just shared the products with about 10 people. After I got this check, I wondered what would happen if I actually worked at it! In March, I became a supervisor and earned a check for $918. The money has been great obviously, but the neat thing is that people have called to say they feel so much better.

I have done / tried many different multi-level marketing companies, but none of them compare to the opportunity you have with Shaklee. I have even won a 4-day trip to San Francisco for me and my husband -- all expenses paid. Just wanted to share this with since you said you were looking for good home-based businesses. Like I said, I have tried many others (Mary Kay, Longaberger Baskets, Tupperware, Usborne Books) and this one is definitely a KEEP!!
Lynda R. G.

Easy to Start

I just finished your newsletter and have a couple ideas for the woman who wanted some side work. These are pretty simple minded, but I fell into them by accident and they provide me with about $300 /month in extra cash.

  1. House/Apartment cleaning - A neighbor knew I had some time on my hands and asked if I would be interested in cleaning their place twice a month for $60 a visit. They did not want to spend their free time on cleaning. While I hate to clean my own place, cleaning someone else's place for cold cash is pretty easy. I have since picked up 3 other places simply by referrel.
  2. Walking dogs - I don't have dog, but love pets, and have found that working people are willing to pay pretty well if you take their pets out for them. Again, working for referrals is the key.

I like both of these things because they are VERY flexible.
Matt R.

What Didn't Work

You stated in your newsletter that you would like to hear about people's experiences with home bases business opportunities. Well I could write a book. The last 2 years I have tried several, I was a stay at home mom and I didn't want to go back to work so I tried to start my own business. I did not make any money with these schemes, I have an enormous amount of debt. I will be filing for bankruptcy soon, and I am sueing 2 companies over this.

I started by buying vending machines. The vending business is presented as a great opportunity for anyone. You install your machines and only service them once a week. You take your coins out of the machines and take them to the bank. I talked to 4 sucessful owners and was told they worked only 2 days a week and made 6 figure salaries. My machines were supposed to bring in $100 a week in sales but I quickly found out that they averages about $20. I took out a home equity loan to start this business and could not make the minumum payments because the sales were so low.

But I am stubborn and I didn't give up easily. I bought more machines, each time hoping that the next location would be the one to bring me out of the slump. But every location was the same. So I tried a different kind of vending machine. I bought several York Peppermint Pattie machines and these were supposed to provide me with an income of 50K. I thought that was an exageration but would have been happy to make 25K a year. I should have received $500 a week from these machines but only made $20. By this time I was ready to get out of the vending business.

I sold my drink and snack machines and used the money to buy this computer and a medical software program. I could not sell the mint machines, no one would touch them. I was going to process medical claims at my home. I bought all the necessary equipement and took the training. I could not find a doctor who was willing to let me touch his precious claims, and last week I found out that the company I purchased the software from is now filing for bankruptcy. This business boasted working only 15 hours a week and making 75K a year.

I looked into a few other home based businesses also. I purchased Brad Richdale's packet from his infomercial for only $39. I figured how could you go wrong with such a low price. The packet doesn't contain very much information, just very general info about marketing. They have a salesman call after you have read the info and offer you the real pitch. For $8,000 you can get in on the Internet Yellow Pages with Brad Richdale. I passed this time. They pretended that their yellow pages were the only yellow pages on the net, but I found out otherwise.

So I am through with these schemes. In selling my vending machines I talked to alot of people in the industry and found that the only way to make it in their industry is to buy used machines very cheaply, or to buy out people who were going out of business like me. I purchased the machines for $30K and resold them for $4,500. The phrase pennies on the dollar rings a bell. I have almost 50,000 in debt and will soon be filing bankruptcy. I only expect a small settlement from one of the companies I am sueing, maybe 5,000, a mere drop in the bucket.

I am now at content to babysit in my home and live a simple life. I will use all the cheapskate tricks I know from now on and not dream about making alot of money and buying alot of things. This has taught me not to be so materialistic and to be grateful for what I do have.
Shelley R

Try Retail

The lady that called could get a part-time job or if she knows how to make crafts things, she could sell them. Maybe she could have a yard sales. I know this will not make her a lot of money. If she has typing skills she could get a part-time job typing. But she would need a computer. But I think a part-time job would be the best. Alot of clothing store and shoe stores are hiring for the summer now. This is a perfect time to look for a part-time job. Because I am working a part-time job. I want to purchase myself a computer.

Debt Book
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