Monday, December 22, 2014

5 Ways to Turn Merry Days into Money Days

Guest Post by Lyz Marshall, E-Magnify Business Counselor

Many of us are preparing for the holiday season with thoughts of giving and sharing with those close to us. For would-be entrepreneurs, it is also a perfect time to try out a business idea or new product or service. Why? The holiday season and new year creates a marketplace of consumers that are primed and ready to purchase goods and services that satisfy a need or desire. At a loss for business ideas or not sure what to do? Here are five ways to turn these Merry Days into Money Days: 

1. Create Something Unique and Personalized
  • Bake It: Do family and friends rely on you to make your special cookies or treats every year? Why not package them for sale this season? You could customize and market them to those busy parents that promise to have treats for the kids' play, a party or school event. 
  • Make It: Maybe you have a knack for thematic, ethnic or traditional decor or you are crafty and artistic. Why not start a customized home decorating service? That's what Martha Stewart did to build a multi-million dollar empire! Use your talents to develop ethnic or traditional items that make the season nostalgic for both young and old alike.
  • Create It: Perhaps you (or your kids) have a way with words and a great creative eye behind a camera. Why not create customized holiday animated cards, promotional videos, or customized ornaments for your school, church, or community/volunteer organization's fundraiser? Crowd funding is a popular fundraising medium but the top websites use a creative touch to gain momentum.

2. Offer a Gift of Time
  • Organize It: Maybe you have a talent for organizing and prioritizing in a way that makes 24-hours in a day double. Celebrities, executives, and famous people are not the only ones that deserve (and need) to have an assistant to stay on top of things. Offer concierge-type services to help organize busy schedules or coordinate visiting family and friends' holiday travels or entertainment needs.
  • Find It: Love to shop and bargain hunt? Be a personal shopper to purchase and deliver recipe ingredients or hard to find ‘wish list’ items to your client's home. I once hired a girlfriend to be a personal shopper after I was bedridden due to a major surgery. It was the best $50 investment I ever made! She fulfilled a real need, made some extra cash (I relied on her several times), and helped a friend in need. 
  • Shuttle or Watch It: What about offering to be a shuttle service for visiting friends and relatives that need transport to and from the airport, train or bus station? Maybe you are better at organizing and entertaining younger people? Offer a sitting service for those parents that need to catch early bird or late night sales or need time to hide those treasures. (Psst...Don't forget to check with the parents of furry, four-legged family members)!

3. Clean Up and Out
  • Clean It: The holiday season is also a time of endless parties and gatherings that generate a lot of clutter and trash. After a day of decorating, entertaining and hosting, who really has the time or energy to clean before or after the party? Here's your chance to shine --literally! Offer a party preparation and clean up service that specializes in before and after party clean up for families, community groups, or organizations. 
  • Clear It: Offer a de-cluttering service to haul away old debris and trash before or after house or party guests arrive. Don’t stop there…help with the removal of old items within the home and around the home that are safety hazards.

4. Get Some Hang time
  • Hang It: Are you (or a significant other) handy around the house? Offer a service to hang and later remove outside Christmas lights and yard decorations. 
  • Build It: Other services might include building and setting up cumbersome decorations and trees, assembling complex electronics and entertainment systems, or assembling toys and furniture.

5. Turn Something Old into Something New
  • Recycle It: Let's face it. We are a culture of people that collects stuff. People have packed garages, storage units, and homes filled with forgotten or overlooked treasures. Take a look around to see if you may have slightly used or unused items that could be sold on eBay or Craig's List. Think of the new or upgraded items you could get in exchange. This is especially true for old cell phones and games that are dusty gold mines of cash! 
  • Consign It: That extra holiday weight gain might make some clothes and shoes a little more snug than you would like. Why not give them a new home and a fresh start for others in need through consignment shops and stores.

By taking just a little time to offer your talent and resources, the holiday and new year can be a much merrier season -- all the way to the bank!  Do you like these ideas but you are still not sure of how to start?  Contact E-Magnify women's business center and schedule a free appointment with a business counselor to help you get started.

What are some ways you make extra money during the holidays and all year round? Tell us here or share your ideas in a comment. 

About the Author: 
Lyzona Marshall is an E-Magnify Business Counselor, Assistant Professor of
Business at Seton Hill University, and a business owner. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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