Up until this point, everything we’ve talked about is focused on short term gains: finding a way to put food on the table. Exchanging services for currency. Perhaps scaled things up a bit using the drop-servicing concept.
But what if you’re willing to wait for the money?
Why settle for labor’s paltry share of the profits as a freelancer or agency owner when you can enjoy the full fruits of your efforts as an entrepreneur?
Working For Cash => Building Assets
We’re going to look at several businesses which you can start with minimal investment beyond your own labor and some incidentals. Suggested startup budget ranges from between $250 for a self-written blog to a few thousand dollars for a e-commerce site. We’re assuming you’re going to do most of the hands on work yourself to save money.
The expectation is you’re going to earn very little from these projects over the next few months. It can take 12 – 24 months to get Google to pay serious attention to a website and start sending organic traffic. You can move faster with a well design social media strategy or advertising campaign – but both of those will involve time, money, and risk.
The end game? You’ll have a functioning website, online store, or digital product that is capable of generating a steady stream of income with minimal effort on your part. This income stream can last for years: we have websites that regularly drop 4 and 5 figure checks into our bank accounts on a monthly basis.
You might even be able to “flip” an income producing website or product to another investor for a large cash payment. Mature content websites are valued at about 30 x monthly earnings. So an affiliate website that earns you $1,000 per month can likely be flipped for $30,000 to an appropriate investor.
In summation: you’re working for free today in hopes of building an income generating asset for the future… and potentially flipping it for a large payoff at some point.
Don’t do this if you’re worried about how to pay the rent.
However, this path can provide a nice bump to your retirement plans….
We worked with our contributors to profile out a few opportunities.
- Information Products / Coaching: Do you have unique expertise in a hobby, craft, or technical skill? Consider creating your own course or coaching program. The key here is unique content: please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t waste your time building yet another “how to make money online” or “life coach” course. This is potentially a very low cost startup idea if you create the content yourself.
- Drop-shipping / FBA Businesses: Drop Shipping is a concept which worked well a few years ago, was evangelized to newbies by gurus, and is going through a shakeout right now. Specific issues include managing logistics (shipping from a Chinese manufacturer), high cost of advertising, and product quality / returns. That being said, the underlying business model is still sound: test lots of products without investing in inventory, then scale up the winners using paid advertising, US fulfillment, and bulk-buys to pad margins. There are ways to make this work.
- Amazon Merch (Print on Demand): As an alternative to drop-shipping, there is an emerging group of companies that support print-on-demand manufacturing (for shirts, promotional items, and many other things). This is another opportunity for a lean entrepreneur to set up a product business with minimal investment.
- Graphic Design & Artwork Based Businesses. If you’re good at graphic design, there are many platforms where you can potentially sell you art. A pro-tip, however: be very careful about doing custom work (lots of back & forth); there’s a lot of value in being able to build a process to repeatedly sell the same product.
Want to grow faster? Check out the strategy piece on the One Product Store where you align multiple aspects of the business to grow faster.