Small Business Saturday: Jobs Where You Are the Boss

ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER

Small business Saturday reminds us that there is opportunity in working for yourself.

To begin self-employment, start simple. The goal is to do the deal, to sell something.

William Procter, co-founder of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, started his first business from skills he learned as an apprentice who dipped candles. When he settled in Cincinnati, he started a candle company that he merged with the candle and soap company of his brother-in-law, James Gamble.

Paul Jobs, who was Steve Jobs’ father, bought, repaired, and resold cars.  He was outstanding at bargaining for parts, a perfectionist for finishing mechanical details, and a great negotiator for selling cars for a cash profit.

I have known people who supplemented their incomes through starting yard-care and landscape companies.  I know other people who rigged out a van as a tool truck and turned home repairs into a full-time business.

I have a friend who set up a motorcycle repair shop in his garage.  He was a full-time electrician and a part-time motorcycle mechanic.  Through this business, he extended his love for motorcycles into a revenue stream, and he met other riders who shared his love for motorcycles.

Some people turn yard sales into flea market businesses.  Earlier in our marriage, my fantastic wife made ornaments for seasonal celebrations and sold them over a few weekends at a flea market.  I am really proud to think of some of the terrific things she made and that many people may still be enjoying those ornaments today.

Tim Ferris is the maestro of small business creation.  The message I got from his book, “Four-Hour Work Week” is not how to cut your work week to four hours.  Rather, the message I got is how to run a business from your laptop.  In fact, I challenge Tim Ferris to work only four hours a week.  He has so much energy that what he considers leisure most people would call hard work: vocational skills development, business networking and advising, financial management, new product creation, and business promotion.

Tim Ferris celebrates that he can run his business from any place in the world.  Hello, Tim: the fact is that you keep working, albeit from Tokyo, Rio, San Francisco, and wherever you can connect your laptop to the Internet.  The second fact is, of course, that you challenge other people to live their dreams and to turn a laptop into money machine.

The Internet is a fairly easy place to start.  There are out of the package e-commerce website kits.  Craigslist and eBay offer opportunities to sell things online.  There are at least a half of a dozen million-dollar businesses on eBay.  There are dozens of people making money writing books on how to create a business on eBay.

So keep it simple. Do the deal.  Sell something.  Start your own small business and find out if you love being your own boss.

Image: ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER/Flickr

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