I’m often approached by many would-be entrepreneurs who want to start a business as soon as possible. They are usually in their early 20s, living in the U.S., and working a job where they are unfulfilled and (possibly) underpaid.
They often want advice and, sometimes, to connect with my suppliers.
It’s a strange thing to connect a random (or even a friend) with a top supplier. But advice is something I am happy to supply.
In this post, I’ll offer four relatively low-risk ways to start a side hustle that can grow into a full-time business.
4 businesses to launch now
Facebook advertising consulting gig. Take an online course on Facebook advertising and then work as a consultant. Network your way into some local engagements, price yourself low to start (perhaps $25 per hour), and knock the socks off your clients. Sure, you’ll make some mistakes. But if you drive return on investment, you’ll soon receive referrals and testimonials. Then hike your rates.
Build some success and generate case studies from your clients. After that, evolve from a consultant to a small agency by hiring assistants and teaching them the business. Focus your efforts after that on customer acquisition and train other people to execute the ads.
A side benefit is that you can apply the knowledge you have gained from buying and optimizing Facebook ads to another business.
Amazon product sales consultancy. This is similar to starting a Facebook ads gig, but the platform is Amazon. Take an online course in Amazon sales, then seek small local businesses that are not on Amazon. Tell the business owners that you’ll get them live on Amazon and to drive sales.
All the business owner needs to do is pay you a small commission, ship the products fast, and maybe pay for a few Amazon ads to get their products kick-started on the platform.
There is almost no risk for the business owner. All sales and profit would be incremental. And you should be able to drive sales for almost any business.
Again, once you have some success, you ask for referrals, case studies — and increase your rates. If you are successful, hire help and grow.
If you have some experience in online marketing:
Media company. Create a blog with a related email newsletter and social media pages. The key is to start in a niche that you can monetize down the road — if you can build a following, which requires compelling content that helps or entertains people from day one.
If you can add a lot of subscribers — at least 10,000 on email and 20,000-50,000 on social channels — then your idea is sound, which you can monetize.
There are many ways to do that, including sponsorships, affiliate sales, developing your own products, and consulting with other businesses. But if you are not able to attract subscribers, then maybe the idea is not the best.
Buy an underperforming ecommerce property. This typically requires substantial experience and money to invest.
The difficulty is finding the appropriate business to buy. There are many marketplaces to buy and sell businesses, but they sometimes unwittingly include scams.
A popular scam is the “pump and dump.” A scammer creates an ecommerce business, buys traffic, and grows the revenue unprofitably, and then sells the business to an unsuspecting buyer.
Once the buyer gets the business, the traffic drops off, and the buyer is never able to generate profits.
Certainly there are reputable brokers. Empire Flippers, for example, is a marketplace that vets every business listed on the platform.
Another option is to search Google for an underperforming business in an attractive product line. Look for social channels that have not been updated recently in a while, but product pages still rank well in organic search.