The following ideas come from coach/writer Soni Pitts, winner of ChangingCourse.com’s How to Finance Your Dreams Contest
- Gather aluminum cans! You can get lots of exercise if you do this along a highway, and it cleans up your environment. Of course, it takes lots of cans, but the time alone will give you ample opportunity to meditate, work out problems, etc. You can also have friends, bars, vendors, etc save them for you to pick up.
- Offer “sponsorships” of your dream. Ask businesses, etc, to consider donating funds in exchange for links on your website, a note thanking them and stating that they were instrumental in generating start-up funds on the bottom of your (menu, business cards, invoices, product packaging, whatever).
- Hold a raffle! Use your creativity to generate an item or service to raffle off (quilt, years worth of once-a-month coaching calls, you name it) and sell tickets.
- Let your neighbors and friends take out their aggressions on that old junker in the back yard. Sell sledge hammer swings at an old car that has had the gas tank, battery etc. removed (provide safety gear).
- Go to the library and look over those “Free Money” books that list specialty grants, scholarships, small business loans, etc (they’re usually reference, so you can’t check them out). You never know!
Consider letting friends and family buy “stock” in your new business. They would chip in x amount of dollars in exchange for y amount of “royalties” on any income for z amount of years.
- Sell futures! Let investors buy the rights to so much of your service, product, what have you, up front, (a return on the investment) to be received when you get up and running.
- Volunteer to haul off your friend’s and family’s junk, sort out the icky and yard sale the rest. Donate leftovers to a charity in your new company name for an immediate first year tax deduction!
- If you have a degree, or any decent skill, in any subject, then you are set up to do in-home tutoring. Besides the Three R’s of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic, you can tutor in any field (gardening, basic auto maintenance, organizing or decluttering, Bible studies, small home repairs, etc) Check around for local pricing and put up some flyers and you’re in business.
- In a similar vein, local colleges offer continuing education classes and you can teach those. There is usually a reasonable set-up fee (probably depends on your area, but around here it’s $50-$100-ish). If you price your classes wisely and bring in a decent group, you can make good money (and get your name out as an expert in your field, no less). Make sure to give plenty of value (handouts are good, but useful ones are a must). Classes range from basic belly dancing to photography skills to in-depth computer skills and the like.
- Take your show on the road. Busking (street performing) is the traditional way to make a few extra bucks. Make sure you have any necessary permits – some areas have permitting systems that are right up there with small-business set ups, while in other areas, they couldn’t care less if you stripped naked, painted yourself with banana yogurt and tap danced to “O! Fortuna” in the middle of the highway median, as long as no one complains. Get out of the box of considering only traditional guitar playing, juggling and mime acts! Give 5-minute lessons on Tai Chi routines or yoga poses, tell jokes, but sell the punch lines for 50 cents.
- Why should painting faces be reserved for street fairs? Make every day a carnival with some skin-safe paint pens, some glitter and stick on gems, etc. Find a card table and a well-trafficked public plaza and set up. Do readings of truly awful poetry or novels (complete with Shatner-esque presentation skills) and get paid for your silence ($1 a minute!) or whip out the fishbowl and your flashy scarves and do hilarious fortune readings. Be creative, have fun, and bring some big joy into the world for a small fee!
- Take a summer or seasonal temp job (check temp services and the paper) that aren’t around long enough to count on, but that are good for a month’s worth of cash (phone book delivery, Christmas counter help, scouting camp summer help, etc). Make sure that the job won’t cost you more in gas, lunch, child care, etc. than you will make, then go for it. Enough temp jobs in a row can generate a good income, you can almost always choose your hours and you’re never bored.
- See if your local printer needs handyman work on his shop or home. Maybe your raw materials provider needs some overtime labor help during the busy season, or maybe they need help with an unrelated issue or business. If you are properly trained, offer professional services (tax preparation, accounting, data entry, child care, catering) in exchange for your needs. You can both fill out invoices of matching “cost” for tax purposes if necessary (don’t forget to claim the goods you receive as income, as well, if you must go this route for whatever reason).
- Forget money! Remember that money is just a way to get stuff. But other people need stuff too, and some of these people may be the ones that you need to get your stuff from. Consider bartering your time, skills, products, etc. in exchange for theirs. (My mom got her dentures this way – she traded them and all the associated dental work for a hand stitched quilt). Now, this probably won’t fly in a big multi-national chain store (talk about a blank stare!), but that’s just another reason to shop locally owned and operated businesses!