To me, part of being prepared is not just having a good stockpile of supplies on hand, but having a backup income source as well. In today's economy, most companies have no loyalty to their employees; no matter how valuable you may feel you are to the company, you could find yourself laid off if they feel it's best for their bottom line. So why not start a part-time business with the help of Craigslist this summer? Even if you're currently employed, the extra money can be good for adding to your preps, paying down debt, or just saving for a rainy day. Here are seven ideas for a part-time business, arranged by how hard they would be to start.
Sell Your Stuff
Go through your house, find everything you haven't used in the past 12 months, clean it up, take a picture, and sell it. This is basically the same as having a garage sale, except you have to invest less time in getting ready, and you can usually sell your stuff for more. With a garage sale, you have to hope that the right person comes along in those few hours that you're open, but on Craigslist you can let your ad run as long as it takes.
You have to put some thought into how you're going to sell everything - no one is going to want to drive across town for your old VHS copy of Kindergarten Cop, but they might for a group of 20-30 VHS tapes. If you don't think you can get at least $5 for something, try combining it with a few other items and selling them as a set.
This is the easiest way to make some extra money, but obviously it's not something you can do more than maybe once or twice a year.
There are loads of great items to be had in the free section of Craigslist, but you've got to be quick. If you want it, odds are someone else does as well. Many times people are just wanting to get rid of something as quickly as possible, and with a little cleaning and a nice photo you can turn it around for a tidy profit.
I avoid any ads that say "porch pickup" or "out on the curb" - unless it's a very short distance from you, then it's likely that someone is already on their way over. Also, don't be afraid to just walk away if you get there and the item is in significantly worse shape than the ad described.
Garage Sale Flipping
Remember how I said you can get more for your stuff on Craigslist than at a garage sale? You can take advantage of that by shopping garage sales for items to resell. Look for things like designer clothes, baby items, rare toys, old games, retro kitchen items, Tupperware, electronics, etc.
With the school year coming to a close, many students will be moving back home for the summer. You can check some of the bulletin boards in student areas to find furniture and other items that they don't want to take with them for the summer, or just keep a close eye on the dumpsters as the students move out!
Additionally, you can look for textbooks being sold cheap. You'll want to be sure that the same version will be used in the fall (check the course listings on the school's website), and you'll probably need to hold on to them until near the start of the semester to get the highest return.
You could try running a Craigslist ad offering delivery or moving services for large items, assuming you have a truck or a trailer. You'll have to make sure it's worth your while - find out in advance the pickup and drop off address, as well as exactly what needs to be moved. Be sure to hammer out all the details in advance... Will they help you lift if more than one person is needed? Are you just delivering it to the door, or are you expected to take it inside (and possibly up some stairs...) as well?
Make Outdoor Furniture
With a few basic hand tools, you can make a wide variety of outdoor furniture like picnic tables, benches, planter boxes, adirondack chairs, etc. Smaller kid-size versions of these items are great as well. With a little Googling you can find dozens of free plans online, and you might even be able to find lumber in Craigslist's free section. You can also consider picking up used items and refinishing them - a few galvanized screws to tighten everything up, and some sanding and a coat of outdoor stain will make a picnic table like new again.
Repair and Re-Sell Big Ticket Items
This is the most difficult job you could start, but it also has the most potential for profit. If you have the know-how and the space to work, you can buy problem items, repair them, and re-sell. Even if you don't have the know-how, odds are you can find a bunch of Youtube videos to get you started. I'd recommend three types of items:
Many people don't want to perform basic maintenance on their bikes, so when the tires and brakes get worn out or the chain starts to slip, they think it's time to buy a new one. As long as the frame and wheels aren't damaged, it's pretty easy to strip a bike down, clean and lubricate all the components, throw on some new tires and brake pads, and make it as good as new. If it's seen REALLY heavy use, then a $5 can of Krylon spray paint will work wonders.
Just like bikes, many people won't perform the tasks needed to keeper their mower humming nicely. Obviously, small engine mechanics is going to be a little more difficult than bicycle maintenance, but if you can learn to do a basic tune-up and sharpen a blade, there's some good profit potential. Just make sure you're not stuck with 20 mowers in your garage when November rolls around, or they're going to be sitting a while.
Again, this business is going to take some technical knowledge, but it's possible to find appliances that need just a bit of work to be able to flip them for $100+ profit. Maybe a washer needs a new door switch (or even a new control panel), a dryer needs a thorough cleaning, or an oven needs a new thermostat.
Additionally, many times when you sell someone a new (to them...) appliance, they will let you haul their old one off for free. Even if it can't be fixed, the scrap metal is probably worth at least $20 at your local junkyard.
So, there are seven ideas to get you started - are there any other summer part-time businesses we missed?