You read about it in the news from time to time: “Cisco is laying off 5,000 employees…” and two specific thoughts swirl through your mind. Those being some form of, “Wow, that’s terrible news,” and “Thank goodness that’s not happening to my workplace.” The second thought may be true for the time being, though that’s not what many would call a guarantee.
Just earlier this year, Qualcomm trimmed down their global workforce by nearly 5% to stay competitive in the cut-throat mobile chip market. That may not sound like much until you consider that 5% amounts to over 1,300 layoffs in the San Diego, CA area alone.
For those of you who play the stock markets, what I’m about to say will make perfect sense: you need to diversify your income through one or more side projects.
With tons of options at your disposal, reasons against setting up a small business are becoming scarce. Look at Etsy, a self-contained marketplace where individual shops can sell clothes, arts & crafts, and other creative items. Tools like Shopify, Weebly, and SquareSpace are sprouting up across the web to provide the means to build a website and launch your online store with ease. App designer platforms like Gamesalad aim to help users build the next Flappy Bird, ideally without much actual coding.
Although developing the next big app or building a unique subscription box service has proven to have very high potential when well-executed, there are much more fascinating biz models with even more earning potential (though they require more product development). There’s an old saying about the California Gold Rush: you didn’t get rich by digging for gold, but rather by selling shovels. In today’s terms, that means that by offering a platform or tool that grassroots businesses can’t live without, you are likely to see some serious growth.
When Rohan Gilkes set out to found Wet Shave Club, he and others like him surely noticed that most tools on which new businesses frequently depended were overly generic and costly burdens. For example, signing up for a quality email list builder like Leadpages, Aweber, or GetResponse will set you back $25 or more a month. Gilkes & Team realized that by self-developing and sharing the tools from which they benefited, they could bring even more value to the table than their original B2C business. So they created Launch27, a fully-featured booking platform for service-based businesses. Now they use that very tool with another business of theirs, Maids in Black. They didn’t even stop there: they also released a powerful alternative to the already popular web traffic & conversion growth add-on SumoMe.
It seems nearly everyone wants to be behind the next wave of marketplaces like Ebay and Alibaba but most don’t have the know-how to code their own website or their marketing tools from scratch. Since startup capital is scarce for so many newcomers, try formulating your business idea around helping other aspiring entrepreneurs succeed. It has worked very well for Mr. Gilkes and his Co-Founders, it has worked for my own online business, and it brings incredible satisfaction and purpose to the work you do.
Even if you don’t succeed at first, you will learn so many invaluable skills: locating information or talent you need (resourcefulness), delegating tasks (management), pulling together what you plan to sell (product development), how to face your clients (sales), a plan to grow your customers (marketing), and making decisions on which you can follow-through (executive). Best of all, each of these skills will carry over into other areas of your life and give you a completely new perspective (and appreciation) for your full-time job.
Justin Ponce is a Silicon Valley-born millennial located in Asia-Pacific for nearly 3 years, simply trying to make something of himself while balancing the people and things he loves most. You can be assured, it is much harder than it sounds. Justin remotely runs a small web design & sales growth business with some of his close accomplices.
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