12 February 2016

Sounds a bit dodgy, doesn’t it? On the side. What I mean is, of course, the opportunity to run a small business alongside or in between something you’re already doing in your day to day life.

Who should work part time?

I have had the pleasure to meet, guide, inspire and advise the rich tapestry of life. Those looking to start a part time business could be students working their way through university, parents and guardians working around their childcare, semi-retired and retired folk planning to keep active and add to their pension income or even employed people creating a path to eventually move to self-employment.

What do you need?

There are two key areas to explore. Firstly, your personality. Do you have the attributes to run the business? Are you passionate about what you are undertaking? Are you driven to make it happen? Do you have the energy to juggle plates? Are you persuasive? Are you resourceful enough to bring everything together? Do you thrive in uncertainty? Do you learn from mistakes and how good a communicator are you?

The second element is whether you have the necessary skills, experience and knowledge and resources to meet the needs of your customers. Look at your skills set and transferable skills; this will help you make the right decision.

Choosing a business idea, 20 questions to ask yourself

1. What skills do you have that can form the basis of a business?

2. Can you see some form of opportunity from your existing work or occupation?

3. Can you combine your skills with someone else’s?

4. Can you turn a hobby into a successful business?

5. Could you run a home-based business?

6. What goods and services are needed locally by consumers?

7. What goods and services are needed by local businesses or organisations?

8. Are there local opportunities in leisure or tourism?

9. Can you supply something that is currently being imported?

10. Can you take advantage of new government initiatives?

11. Can you see an innovative solution to a problem?

12. Are there opportunities thrown up by research, particularly at local universities?

13. Could you sell to friends and relatives?

14. Can you take advantage of new fashion trends?

15. Can you provide natural or eco-friendly products, or improve something to make it  more environmentally friendly?

16. Is someone retiring, and can you fill the gap that they will leave?

17. Can you teach something more swiftly or effectively?

18. Can you combine products or services into a ‘package’?

19. Can you ‘piggy back’ your idea on to an existing business offer?

20. Can you create something inspired by influences on your life?


Ideas to whet your appetite…

I have listed a number of ideas, naturally it is not exhaustive. The links are purely there to assist you in your second step in researching the idea. The third step should be checking out any support Nwes can provide in areas such as advice, loans, grants and property.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is an excellent way to begin working for yourself – full-time or part-time and it can cost nothing to start. For example, you can start by using a free blog – add some interesting & useful content and then add some relevant affiliate links. If you put enough effort into it, you could be earning a decent income. If you want to learn more then go to the UK’s main affiliate marketing forum.

2. Trade on eBay, Gumtree and other online sites

Figure out what’s selling on eBay, and then invest in setting up a professional-looking eBay shop.

3. Sell stock photography

Sell good quality digital photos to sites like istock.com, shutterpoint.com and fotolia.com.

4. Personal chef

Invest in a good cookery course, and then start offering your services to friends of friends in need of dinner party assistance.

5. Writer and Publisher

Publish your own book through blurb.com. Sales will come in from the site, and you can sell yourself to new prospective clients by saying you’re also an author. Check out this blog for a view on the subject.

6. Antiques trader

Do some serious homework on cheaper pieces – invest in an encyclopedia and read magazines. Buy a few items to hedge your bets, and then sell to antiques dealers and shops. Find some advice here.

7. Virtual assistant

Sign up to a site like virtualassistants.co.uk. Invest in a secretarial or touch typing course to give yourself an edge over other candidates. More information can be found here.

8. Personal trainer

The fitness market is a growing one, especially with the issue of obesity in the UK. This government website provides some tips.

9. Mobile takeaway or stall

You can buy a stall, equipment and stock. Make sure you comply with all health and safety regulations and get a license from your local council if you’re selling alcohol, hot food between 11pm and 5am or food from a stall or van on the street. The Street Food gives lots of tips and guidelines.

10. Late-night alcohol delivery

Supply the midnight masses and charge a premium on booze and snacks delivered after pub closing time. Just Drinks provides regularly updated research, analysis and statistics about the UK drinks market. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for overseeing the Licensing Act 2003.

11. Domestic and/or commercial cleaning company

Start this business with no overheads by using clients’ cleaning products. Do some initial market research.

12. Focus group organiser

Target small businesses at networking events and with flyers, offering to user-test their new products or websites. Then place free ads on Gumtree to find participants and skim a fee off their hourly pay.

13. Flyer distributor

Call around all local business and clubs and say you’ll find them someone to hand out flyers for a £3 charge (on top of their hourly rate). Then find students in need of work on Gumtree.

14. Pop-up shop

Rather than commit to a long term lease, take on a short term version in the high street or set up a stall where there is good, appropriate footfall.

15. Treasure hunt business

You can start this business for next to nothing. Do some research on your local area and plant clues for family fun days and cheap office outings.

16. Market gardener

There is a growing demand for organic and home-grown vegetables these days, and with packets of hundreds of seeds coming in at around 60p, you can sell your own produce for a whopping profit. Or just take clippings of plants and herbs you already have, grow out into separate pots and sell to neighbours and friends.

17. Gardener and landscaper

Got green fingers? Put them to use by offering your services to people in your area. Show them sketches of how you think their garden could be improved and you become a landscape gardener to boot (though you’ll need to do careful research on what grows well in which places and at different times of year).

18. Food delivery service

Capitalise on people too busy or too lazy to cook by offering to deliver delicious dishes of their liking, home-cooked by you. You could also act as a transport service and deliver on behalf of a restaurant or takeaway.

19. Walking and cycle tours

Armed with nothing more than a map and a book on local history, you can guide tours around your local commons, hills or towns and share insight into the history of your area for a small charge.

20. Clothes repairs

Basic needlework is astonishingly straightforward. Offer to darn friends of friends’ clothes for a nominal fee and take in too-big shirts and skirts.

21. Gift baskets

Knocking up ribbon-adorned wicker baskets brimming with jams, freshly-baked muffins and fruit is relatively cheap, but you can charge a premium. There are many different styles relating to the event you are marketing.

22. Dog training or grooming

Getting a formal qualification will improve your chances of doing business with people you don’t know. Check out the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and Dog Grooming School for more information.

23. Pet sitting and walking

Most pet owners prefer one-on-one tender loving care for their animals, rather than putting them into kennels. Keep your rates competitive and incentivise clients to refer a friend.

24. Event and party planning

Perfect if you’ve got a natural knack for organisation. Establishing cut-price deals with catering companies, florists, wine suppliers and the like will ensure you offer a competitive service. You will need to be a superb project manager and negotiator.

25. Car boot sales or set up your own event

Have a proper clear-out of your junk to get started, and then reinvest profits into buying stuff from any charity shop you have time to scour. Offer to take friends’ junk off their hands to cut overheads.

26. Social media assistant

More and more small businesses are latching onto the fact social media can help them, so offer to maintain accounts for them for a small fee – you can keep business ticking over while still doing your day job. Tools like Tweetdeck will help hugely.

27. Handyman

There are gutters to clean, tiles to be scrubbed, lawns to be raked and paths to be laid all around the country. Post friendly notes through letterboxes advertising a cheap hourly rate.

28. Private/Home tutor

If you’ve got a degree, or good A-level results, you can offer to help out students with their homework and exams. Get a certification to make it more official if you struggle to find work.

29. CV writer

If you’ve made it through the rat race and come out the other side older and wiser, you can help newbies tidy up their CVs. Advertise on Gumtree and ask friends, and keep fees low.

30. Second-hand clothes stall

Get yourself down to a retro clothes market in a university town, armed with piles of 70s, 80s and 90s clothes from charity shops, and you’ll find you can charge anything from £5 to £50 an item.

Good luck with your quest to do a bit on the side.

Written by Nwes Advisor, Richard Voisey.


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