I think the best thing about being an entrepreneur is that you see things that other people don’t. For example, if I mention an idea to you and it doesn’t apply to you, you could still use the idea in other ways.
The way to do this is to apply something that we call ‘what if’. What if I made it bigger? What if I made it smaller? What if I chose a different way of doing it?
Let me give you an example: Gordon Bannantyne of Dragons Den fame began his career by selling ice creams from an ice cream van. He bought his first van for £450. Then he set about doing what others were doing only doing it better.
As a result, he often had queues going to his ice cream van, because for example, he offered a coating of hundreds and thousands on the ice creams for free, to the kids. He worked hard. And built his ice cream van empire up, eventually owning dozens of vans He is now of course a multimillionaire entrepreneur, worth over £200 million. Yet he never even had a bank account until he was in his forties.
So why didn’t the other ice cream sellers think of this? Because they were stuck in just selling ice cream mode, not entrepreneur mode.
I will always remember what Duncan said once. “It doesn’t matter if everyone else is doing it. Just do it simpler and do it better, and you will make your money”.
So let’s apply the ‘what if’ method to the following idea.
Our son Scott actually mentioned this when he came up to visit us the other week. He recently lost his dog Mr J, and he wasn’t going to get another one. They tied him and his partner down too much as they lead very busy lives studying for a PhD and teaching at a university. Scott also has a business offering physiotherapy on animals, i.e., dogs and horses.
He told us that he was dog sitting for someone, and was charging £35 pounds for the day which the owner was more than willing to pay. The dog sitting was both as a favour, and for Scott to still be around a family pet. As dog owners know – when you’ve had a dog it’s difficult to be without one in the family.
So he was charging £35 for the day and the owner was supplying the dog food etc. That isn’t a bad income for literally enjoying yourself looking after a pet. Scott told us of a woman who did this and often had five dogs to look after at any one time. She charged £40 for the day. Five dogs at £40 each (less for long term sitting) equates to a very nice income for doing something you love. According to my calculations that’s £200 for the day – £4000 on a good month!
Obviously, for that type of venture, you would need a house with a big fenced off garden area etc., so that the dogs could roam about freely and safely. But even one or two dogs a week would give one a very, very nice income, wouldn’t it? Work it out for yourself…
You may not like dogs. You may prefer cats, for example. So why can’t you look after someone’s cat? A lot of people want to go on holiday, and they do not want to put their pets in kennels and catteries, so they would prefer their pets to be looked after either in their own home or in a family home surrounding.
Again – apply the ‘What if’ formula. What if you love horses? What better way to make an income doing something you love, even if it is part-time?
First off – I know that if ever we want to go away for a while, we have a lot of problems trying to find someone local who will help us as they are usually fully booked up. And I do not know of any other venture whereby you could get paid good money for doing something that you enjoy.
In these trying times, an extra 50 or 100 pounds a week could go a long way towards the increasing energy bills, council tax, petrol or diesel etc.
So – if we had to start again from scratch, I know that at least we could get our weekly shopping without actually breaking into a sweat and helping others by offering this much-needed service. By the way, the other day I saw a van with advertising on the side by someone who has a service of going to working people’s homes regularly throughout the day to let their pets out and take them for a walk whilst their owners were at work. I took the liberty of contacting them to see how they operate, and they charge a weekly fee. This person charges 40 pounds for the week to go round to someone’s home and take their dog for a walk during the day. She could not assist me because she’s fully booked up and she has 12 clients on her books which equates to about £2,000 per month.
By the way – my figures are based on a 5 day week.
So what is stopping some people from offering this type of service? Perhaps they say they cannot do this because they do not have a vehicle. My answer would be if you want it badly enough you will find a way, and for me, that way would be to get a bicycle and service, local customers, by cycling to their homes (mind you at my age I would probably be too knackered to take the dog out for a walk by the time I had cycled there 😊 )
What if. What if you don’t even like animals?
Try a housesitting service – mow the lawns, water plants etc., whilst the owner goes on holiday.
What if. What if you don’t like mowing lawns?
How about offering carers the chance to get away for a couple of hours by keeping the cared-for person company? You wouldn’t believe how much stress these wonderful people are under, and they would welcome the chance to be themselves, go out for a meal, go and wander around the shops, meet up with friends etc. This is obviously especially good for someone with carer experience or nursing qualifications.
So where would you get new customers from?
As I mentioned in a post earlier, there is a fabulous local website called Next Door which you can advertise for free in. I guarantee that by regular advertising and then getting good reviews, you would have more customers than you can possibly handle – in which case you would start to branch out and find a responsible school leaver or student to assist you.
I am sure Gordon Bannantyne didn’t try to drive dozens of ice cream vans all by himself!
Check out Nextdoor here:
Let me know in the comments below if you think this is an idea you could expand upon, or already run this type of venture and whether you have any tips for anybody else.
Let’s get some va va voom going in our lives!
Footnote: Do I need to point out that you should take out public liability insurance? It costs about £2 a week. (Google things like ‘dog sitting insurance’).