Mother Earth Monday – Creative Self Employment

This is the last of the Yahoo articles to be appearing on a Monday. I think this hinges well with the self-sufficiency postings I have made in the past. I suspect everyone dreams of being self-employed at least once in their life. With a little creative thought and a willingness to start small and free of debt, you can grow a business from a weekend affair to a full time self employment. Just be aware that your earnings may not be tremendous at first.


Getting Started
First and foremost, let me say this to you: DO NOT JUMP STRAIT INTO IT! Can self employment work if you do? Yes. Is it likely to work if you do? No. Instead, start small. It isn’t very likely that your first month is going to bring the earnings you need to only do this job. It isn’t likely that even the first year is going to turn out to put you into major profitable earnings either. Have at least one person in your household earning the kind of money you need to sustain all of the necessary bills if you really are going to focus entirely on being self employed. That way when you run into a bad month, or several bad months for that matter, you still have what you need to keep yourself eating and in your home.

Think about what is there. If you love paving, can you flourish as a paving expert in a small town that already has two? Sure you might, but it probably isn’t going to happen right away and you are going to have to prove yourself better than your competition time and again. You certainly wont find your earnings very impressive until you have been around a while when facing such competition. Negative statements travel faster than the positive ones do, which can also work against you far more early on. Make sure you aren’t entering a saturated market and make sure you have passion to pull you through.

What Sort of Job?
Don’t focus on just the traditional jobs unless they are what you love. The more creative your idea, the more it will stand out, but also the less likely it is to be something that large numbers of people are going to want or need. You need to focus on what is going to be creative enough to set you apart from others, but common enough to be actively sought after.

Brain storm. What are your talents? What are your skills? What do you already know how to do or what can you learn quickly? In the above example, you might try doing stamped forms in concrete. Pouring a walkway is worth only a little more than the cost of materials, but pouring and then laying the pattern that will make a walkway appear to be paved stones is worth far more to people and the amount they are willing to pay will rise accordingly. You make far better earnings on your efforts. Have you considered something like recording audio books? How about walking dogs for the elderly or those who do not have the time? What about placing signs for real estate and other businesses? I’ve even seen people making money from plastic cups with a string that were decorated to look like chickens and made a clucking sound.

Making Money
You might be saying to yourself, how can that bring enough earnings to cover my needs? Well, consider a moment that many self employment ideas require little to no capital or other initial investment on your part. Take the example of the chicken cups above. I have seen them sell for 3 dollars at festivals in the past, but let’s assume you are selling for only 2 dollars. Doesn’t sound like much does it? How much money does it take to make twenty of them let’s say? The cost of two sheets of felt, some glue or rubber cement, a bag of red plastic cups, twenty beads, some small google-eyes and a bit of string. We will say this comes up to an average of about 10 dollars since some of the items will be used over a longer period of time such as the glue.

Okay, so an earnings of 10 dollars profit on every 20 sold. Initially, it may take you an hour to make 20, but over time you will find ways to streamline the work and may put out as many as 60 in an hour using the assembly line style of production. We will go the smaller route and say you make 40 on average per hour of work. That means you’re making 20 dollars per hour.

You now are saying to yourself, he is full of it. He hasn’t factored in the fact that making them doesn’t mean you have sold them. Initially, this is very true. Starting out you might only be averaging 4 dollars an hour on these even if you are managing 60 in an hour. Such is the nature of trying to employ yourself. Finding steady buyers can be a huge help in this, since it means you are filling orders rather than making a product and hoping for the best.

So how do you get things to a point where you are earning 20 to 30 dollars an hour? There are several ways. Advertising may help, but remember that you have no assurances that your ad will be read by your target. Where is your product likely to take root? For larger ideas like the custom paving mentioned earlier, advertising will certainly help, but beating the pavement (pardon the pun) is going to help more. Displaying your work, either by a website or by showing samples when you go to vendors is going to be very helpful in gaining interest. Sell wholesale to vendors if you have a product you can mass-produce. Sure you might lose a little bit in terms of the per-item income, but the fact that they will be ordering them in bulk means that you can make only as many as you need.

Additionally, as they are already a guaranteed a sale, you earn an exact amount per hour of work without having to hunt sales. Hunting for sales is what eats up your earnings by costing time that could be spent producing. Sell those little chicken cups for 2 dollars per at your own vendor booth and you aren’t likely to make enough to cover the cost of the booth itself. Sell those same cups to a vendor who has a booth at several local festivals and farmer’s markets at a reduced price and every penny is going strait into your pocket with only the material costs to cover. This sort of activity is going to help you just as much as being creative when it comes to being self employed.

Final Thoughts
Is it going to make you rich overnight? No. It might not make you rich at all. You have to be loving what you are doing to make it worth it anyway though. If you don’t love it, you will probably not stick with it through those rough early times or the irritating points that arise later in this endeavor to employ yourself. There are far faster ways to make money quickly if that is all you are really after. Do what you love and that love will come through in the effort you show for the work. Pay for materials with money in hand rather than debt and you aren’t really at any risk of hurting yourself beyond the initial capital. Draw all further money to expand the business from your earnings. At worst you will lose a little time and will have learned how to improve on the marketing of your next self employment attempt.

Other advice from me on the subject of self employment? Try to set yourself up with a work space that is specific to the task. It is far too easy to get distracted or to let your day to day life interfere otherwise. Keep a specific account for just your business expenses and profits. When it comes time to do the taxes, you don’t want to have to worry about the mingling into your home life of where profits and expenses are. It will make your life far easier. While we are at it, don’t forget to save back enough for taxes. Figure up what your taxes will be based on your profits and DO NOT SPEND that money. It isn’t getting automatically taken out as it might if you were working for someone else and at the end of the year, it will have to be paid whether you spent it or not. That is one of those little tricky aspects to being self employed. Also remember that there are special forms for taxing self employment earnings.

My last bit of advice is this: Learn. Learn everything you can about how to market your product. Learn from what people say. Learn from how you go about doing what you do in such a way that you can find ways to improve your abilities. Learn to watch trends and to turn them to your own advantage. Always be learning and you will always have creative new things to try and new ways to improve your self employment business. Don’t just take my word as your only advice. Many others have said a great many useful things about being self employed and you should absorb it all. Learn it, but also take it with a grain of salt. What works for one may not for another. Good luck! Work smart and with passion and you will succeed in making enough earnings to do your passion for a living. Maybe it wont be enough to go buying a mansion, but you will have more earnings than if you hadn’t done anything at all!

What are your thoughts?

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