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Set Up a Part-Time Business

In several posts we’ve mentioned the possibility of getting an additional job or taking on some freelance work. The purpose is to find a way get yourself out of a temporary time of short income or extra debt.

But what if you could find a way to add that income on an ongoing basis? “Easy for you,” you say, “but what can I do that people would pay money for, and how would I find them anyway?”

People all around you are starting their own small—sometimes very small—businesses. With so much available, including service-based businesses, on the internet, it’s not hard to research what your options could be.

“But I have a job already!” you say. We suggest: Think about starting a second type of business: part-time self-employment.

We’ve put together a starter-kit of suggestions and resources to get your ideas flowing. You have a talent or a skill, you just have to hone in on two things:

  • What will give you pleasure to do?
  • What will generate the extra income that you need, whether it’s large or small?

Have something you can sell?
Your options are almost limitless online. You can sell through a website company designed just for that (eBay, Etsy), and/or you can start your own website. You can also sell in person: at craft shows, through local stores, at church bazaars, antique shows or flea markets.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the majors:
eBay is the granddaddy of all kinds of goods for sale. Are you interested in a specific kind of antique? Do you have a batch of collectables you’d like to sell? Can you resell regular merchandise in like-new condition–clothes, toys, fabric, tools, whatever you can think of.

eBay will charge you a set of fees throughout the selling process. More information on that is here. They will also help you get started and walk you through the entire process of selling and shipping just a few items or setting up a virtual eBay store—read more about that here.

Etsy: Do you have a craft or art you love to do? Set up a virtual shop on Etsy. It’s similar to eBay, but it is for artists, crafters, and makers of all kinds. You can also set up a shop selling the supplies all those makers need (beads, fabric, ribbons, paper, etc.). Just a few of the categories include: printed artwork of your own, cards, wedding invitations, wedding signage, handmade clothing and accessories, screen-printed t-shirts, handmade objects crafted out of wood, tech accessories like stands and sleeves, and jewelry.

Etsy will also charge you fees: A fee for listing your product each six months, and a fee for when you sell your product. Just like eBay, they will help you get started and walk you through the whole process. They have a good shipping and postage helper, and there are many, many articles on various Etsy related topics. Read through their Seller Handbook here. Etsy provides a lot of support.

Other online options for craft and artwork include:

Sell your artwork or crafts in person at craft fairs and art shows. Here’s a sample calendar for this fall that was published in the Hawaii Star Advertiser, and on the Hawaii Events Online website. See what shows are available, which ones fit your schedule and location, and for which you can have product ready.

Amazon: You can sell used and new books of all types, plus CDs and videos. Just start your seller’s account, get familiar with the terms to describe your book, list it, make sure you have appropriate shipping supplies, and off you go. You can find more details here.

And of course, there’s Craigslist—just be careful when having people view or pick up your products. Just by doing a Google search on Craigslist Tips, you’ll find many articles like this one.

Do you have a skilled service you can provide?
Everyone has a skill for something—the trick is viewing it as a skill that people will pay you to do.

In-Person Services:

  • Are you a skilled mechanic? Start your own small auto repair and auto service in your garage.
  • Do you know about computers? So many people panic when something goes wrong with their computer. Think about a Computer Repair shop on the side.
  • Can you do gardening and enjoy landscaping? There is a booming market for that kind of service.
  • Choose something easier, but still in demand:
    • Window washing
    • Housecleaning
    • Dog walking and pet sitting
    • Household and office indoor plant care
    • Pool cleaning
  • If you can qualify, child-care services are always needed. Here’s just a bit of information about the process.

Think outside the box with ideas like:

  • Provide a delivery service: for offices, medical offices, or just people who don’t have the time to take care of it themselves
  • Instruction classes: Do you have an artistic skill? Can you speak with small groups of people? Think about offering an instructional class at a local art center, the library, or the community college.
  • Do you have a traditional Hawaiian skill? People, and especially tourists would love to experience that. Put together a simple presentation, and approach tour guides, convention planners, wedding planners, and museums.

Online Options:

  • Do you have office skills, and are organized? Become a Virtual Assistant. VAs can do anything from transcribing recording, doing internet research, handling travel bookings, and so, so much more. Start your research with the IVAA—the International Virtual Assistant Association.
  • Go to a service such as Amazon Mechanical Turk (yes, that Amazon) where businesses offer short-term tasks, and pay whatever they think that is worth. Depending on you talents, training and skills, you may be able to make a decent amount of money. Look for more details here.
  • Traditional services like editing, writing, blogging, and copywriting, have mostly gone online now. If you are good in those areas, offer your services through your website, list on appropriate sites, and apply for projects at businesses.

The practicalities: “These all sound great,” you say, “but how am I supposed to both research and set up a business?” You need multiple “partners.”
Website: Yes, you will need a website. Think about social media later on in the process. You can easily set up a template website with several companies like GoDaddy and SquareSpace.
Setting up a business license: PayDayHawaii will help you with your license paperwork. We’ll fill out the paperwork for you, and point you in the direction to go next—we’ll help where we can.
Funding: Yes, sometimes you don’t have the immediate funds to cover a small business start-up, even if it’s buying a sewing machine or business cards. You might be able to get a small business loan, or a loan from family, or you just might have to save up for a while. Also think about crowdsourcing: You post on a verified website like Kickstarter  or GoFundMe, and people from all over contribute (if they love your ideas) to your fund. The great thing is that they can contribute $10, $100, or $1,000, or any amount in-between, depending on their own financial situation and on how much they like your business idea.
Promotional material: Probably the only thing you need at first is a business card. Printing services now have templates (nice ones!) you can choose from, and they have frequent sales. Compare pricing, quantity required, and what you want you card to say and how it will be used. Good online printers include Moo, Vistaprint, and GotPrint. Of course, there are many more.

Advice help:

  • Take advantage of advice from people who have been there. The Small Business Administration has a program in which retirees offer advice and guidance to those just starting. You can find assistance in your area here.
  • Community Colleges also frequently have business-oriented courses for people just like you. Or, take the opportunity to get knowledgeable about computer programs. At the University of Hawaii, Community College in Oahu, you’ll see here that they have an entire Career and Technical Education section.
  • There are many online courses and webinars, especially in the art and craft areas. Companies include SkillShare, CreativePro, and CreativeLive.
  • Also don’t forget your community center—they can offer useful classes, too.

Other Resources:

  • The Handmade Marketplace, 2nd Edition, by Kari Chapin, Storey Publishing
  • Grow Your Handmade Business, by Kari Chapin, Storey Publishing
  • Craft Inc., by Meg Mateo Basco, Chronicle Books
  • Art Inc., by Lisa Congdon, Chronicle Books
  • Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your    Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble, by Bernard Kamoroff, Taylor Trade Publishing
  • Home-Based Business for Dummies, 3rd Edition, by Paul Edwards, Sarah Edwards, Peter Economy, For Dummies Publishing
  • Micro-Entrepreneurship For Dummies, by Paul Mladjenovic, For Dummies Publishing


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Doesn’t this all sound exciting? Do a little research, and stop by your local PayDayHawaii location to get your small business going.



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