DREDGE THOSE STREAMS OF INCOME
Many people have told me that they have tried starting businesses at the beginning of the year before and failed. They say that January is not a good time to start a business and they have some statistics to back up their fear; depleted spending power after end-of-year expenses, companies setting up their own budgets and therefore not quick to make sizable orders/expenses, etc. According to their review, it is better to start a business at the end of the first quarter. That is okay if that line of reasoning works for you but if you have tried for years and failed to expand your streams of income due to procrastination and anxiety, then you have to do something different and do it now otherwise, come June 2024, you may still be waiting for the right time.
If January is not viable enough because spending power is highly depleted, then start your business in November so that you are not a total newbie in the new year. Don’t procrastinate, start work on that project and that idea now. Gradually, taking baby steps first, you will be amazed at what you will achieve by the end of the first quarter of 2024.
That said, as a follow–up to our previous publication, we are going to review some online businesses that you can start working on straightaway to dredge those extra streams of income and give your 2024 a better financial stand.
All over the net, a common agreement is that this is the best time to start an online business. Available statistics say that over 2.14 billion people shop online and an online business straight away gives you a slice of this huge market. There are other benefits that an online business offers aside from its massive reach; like it’s flexibility in both hours and location. You can stay in Africa and conduct business profitably with people across the globe and you create your own schedule, making it easy to combine several businesses and activities effectively at the same time. Many of these businesses do not require a huge start-up capital, in fact, some require zero capital; all you have to do is learn or brush up your skills and branding.
So, below are five simple online businesses that you can do in your spare time. They are easy to start and can fit in with your present job.
(Please read my previous articles on steps to take before starting off any new business).
BECOME A FREELANCER
A freelancer is experienced in his/her particular field but chooses not to work as a full-time employee of any company. These days, freelancers are in high demand because entrepreneurs have found it beneficial to have expert contributions from freelancers without the burden of swelling up staff strength. There are freelance teachers, web developers, writers, graphic designers, doctors, recruiters and so on. Of course, some are more in demand than others and expertise may also contribute to varied remunerations.
You cannot offer freelance service in a field that you are not well versed in; brush up your skills if you are a little rusty. Sign up with apps like Fiverr, Upwork, LinkedIn etc that offer you the opportunity to connect with people who need your services.
Freelancers can combine their freelance work with their day jobs and most of them have the freedom to take on several jobs at the same time. Many freelancers say they earned enough to quit their regular jobs after just a few months of starting off.
The extra benefit in freelancing is that you can turn it into a big business; bring professionals under your own platform, create a portfolio to promote their services online, get jobs for them and earn a commission on their earnings.
START A BLOG/VLOG
Many people took advantage of this option years ago and their success stories are evident. Fortunately, it is a field that cannot be saturated. There are always people waiting to read or hear what someone has to say and if you are consistent and entertaining/educative enough, you begin to gather your own dedicated followers. Starting a blog is one of the most profitable online business ideas. Many six-figure online entrepreneurs began by blogging about their skills and knowledge to a small audience that grew gradually.
A successful blogging business is more than just sharing thoughts on a subject. It requires consistency, research, appeal and currency. It is more effective to focus on a niche than to just blog about every subject under the sun. Focusing on a niche will help you to define your audience and this will also help you to be more specific in addressing their particular areas of interest.
Traction helps to turn a blog into a money earner. When you have drawn a sizeable traffic to your blog, potential business partners are attracted to advertise their products and services through you. The other avenues of earning through blogs are through affiliate marketing, Google Ads, product endorsement and sponsored content.
Blogging may take time and patience to develop and sustain but it always pays off eventually.
SELF-PUBLISH AN eBOOK
Sites like Amazon KDP and Apple Books have made it easy to self-publish books and make them available to a large audience. This of course has made it possible for writers to realise their dreams of becoming authors and to sell their books without spending a dime. Earnings come from royalties from the eBook and vary depending on appeal to audience and the platform. Of course, the platform takes off their own percentage and costs from the gross earnings as the books are sold.
Some bloggers who already have a large audience themselves may publish their books and make them available on their own pages thereby maximizing their earnings. However, they would incur some costs.
START AN ONLINE STORE
Creating an eCommerce store to sell fashion and beauty products, art or other items is one of the best small business ideas to pursue. Find online store ideas by researching trending products or tapping into a micro niche. Segmenting your niche may initially attract low traffic volumes, but it helps reduce competition and eventually provides substantial growth potential.
Find something that differentiates your product from the ones generally seen in the market.
This business however requires start-up capital. You will need to build your website, stock your products and carry out some form of targeted advertisement. Delivery channels also have to be adequately set up. Before starting your online store, calculate the startup costs carefully so that you don’t get frustrated midway.
Besides displaying products on your eCommerce website, consider selling on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tik tok. Diversifying sales channels can widen your audience reach and increase revenue.
Check online for free courses on business management, digital marketing and site maintenance skills, if you need to.
BECOME AN AFFILIATE MARKETER
Affiliate marketing is one of the most affordable online business ideas. An affiliate marketer is just like a promoter. You pick a brand’s product or service, get a marketing link and publish that link in your own page and content. Once someone purchases the product/service through the affiliate link you published or promoted, you make a commission from that sale .
There are certain easy steps to take to become an affiliate marketer for different brands. First you sign up as an affiliate for the brand of your choice. Next, you pick a product from that brand, you produce content such as blog or skit that contains information relevant to the products you’re linking. The key is to create original content that resonates with the readers’ interests enough to make them click on your link and buy. Then you’ll be smiling to the bank.
Check out the business ideas that appeal to you, do your due diligence and start off. Don’t wait for the new year to start.
Next publication, we will explore some other online businesses. Get busy!
A FATHER’S PAIN (2)
The rough-looking young man was at my driver’s window, banging the roof of the car and yelling at the top of his voice.
“Were you trying to run from me? Were you avoiding me? Who do you think you are? You think you are better than me? Wind down this window before I break it for you.” He was looking more agitated as the seconds flew by.
I wondered what to do? Tell my driver to give him money let him go before he would actually go ahead and break the glass? Call his father Mr. Kusu to find out if indeed it was Jayjay that I was looking at and try to intervene? How? That young man looked like someone that had lost his mind and was ready to inflict injury on anyone at any given time. Just then, there was a little movement in traffic and my driver attempted to move. The young man brought out a small hammer from the folds of the hoodie he was wearing as jacket and told my driver to settle him or the glasses would go down. It was getting serious.
My driver looked back, obviously to get a direction from me. The young man caught on and started asking who was at the back, trying to peer in through the heavily tinted glass at the back door of the vehicle. Just like a miracle, some four armed policemen came out of nowhere and apprehended him before he could run. They took the hammer from him and started pulling him roughly away. I quickly told my driver to call one of the policemen back.
“Officer!” I called in greeting as he walked up to me. I thanked him for saving the situation.
“Someone alerted us that there was a dangerous person on this bridge. Begging is not allowed here but some of these bad boys just rush up here, frighten some motorists and collect money from them for their next drugs. It happens all the time.”
“Well, thank you. You came right in time.”
“It’s our job, Sir.” He said calmly.
“May I trouble you further?” I asked. I got the details of the station they were taking the young man to.
“He looks like the son of someone I know. Please keep him with you till night. If he is who I think he is, his people will most likely come to pick him up.” I said. I gave the officer some money to buy food for the young man and for himself and his colleagues.
I put a call across to Mr. Kusu. After the exchange of pleasantries, I asked him about his son.
“Jayjay is dead!” Mr. Kusu told me over the phone.
“Dead?” I asked, feeling a strange chill run through my body. “I’m sad to hear that.” I stuttered. “When did this happen?” I persisted.
“E-e-mm, almost three years ago or maybe longer. Forget about it, Doc. It’s one of those sad things in life. We have already put it behind us.” He said hurriedly.
For some valuable seconds, I was in shock. If Kusu’s son was dead, who was his lookalike that walked beside my car, shouting at my driver and demanding to get alms? That was no ghost. He looked like Jayjay Kusu.
“Was it an accident? Did you see his dead body?” I asked. Normally, I don’t press for personal information like that, especially sad and sensitive matters but please I had seen this young man and the thought that it was a ghost made me totally uncomfortable.
Mr. Kusu was quiet for a while but just when I tried to apologise for raking up old and unpleasant memories, he interrupted me with a deep sigh.
“Doc, I won’t like to lie to you. I suspect that you may have seen someone that looks like my son in Abuja and that is why you are asking about him.” I told him that I saw someone. He sighed again.
“For about 15 years, Jayjay was the deepest source of joy and pride to me. He was brilliant, well-mannered and focused. I saw a great future ahead of him. I wanted to send him abroad for his university education but my wife wanted him close by where she would see him every weekend if she wanted. And that marked the beginning of the end.” He said with another heavy sigh.
“I don’t understand. Didn’t Jayjay study abroad?” I asked.
“Initially, he went to a private university here in Nigeria. In one year, my son had joined a cult on campus and he started doing drugs. Just the first year! Luckily, we discovered early and sent him abroad for rehabilitation. My wife and my daughter, Angel had to go live abroad for five years just helping Jayjay cope with his studies amidst relapses. You know what happened when he came home for youth service. I should have left him to rot in jail or allowed him to die the many times he overdosed. I kept trying, picking him up and paying for rehabilitation because I felt it was a situation that love and understanding could remedy.”
“Did he die from overdosing on drugs? I asked as Kusu took another long pause.
“I wish,” he said simply. “I wish he died from anything four years ago. Jayjay almost killed his mother. Do you know that my wife is confined to a wheelchair now? That vagabond pushed her down the stairs. He had sold off three of our vehicles and came back for the last one. She took the key and walked away. Enraged he ran after her and pushed her down the stairs and she sustained serious spinal injuries. The saddest part is that in her agonised state, Jayjay put his hand into her bra, took the car keys and drove away without calling for help for his own mother. That was in January 2020 and for my family, that is the day he died.”
It was a lot to take in. I didn’t know what to say to this man because I could literally feel his pain.
“I saw him today begging for alms on the road. I wasn’t sure it was him.” I said and told him my conversation with the police.
“No need, Doc.” Kusu said wearily. “I told that boy that he was dead to me and my family and I was dead serious. He has attempted twice to come here looking for what else to squander away. I called the police and had him taken away both times on grounds of attempted robbery. Some people have seen him, just as you did and called me. I told them that it wasn’t my son, that my son was dead. Right now, Angel, her husband and two sons are enough comfort for me. I thank God daily for that your relation that advised me to get Angel. She has been our comfort.”
My heart was too heavy to hear the rest of the ordeal this family had passed through. What brought about the total derailment of that young man? Was there indeed no remedy than to cut him off as dead?
I am still thinking of what to do to help Kusu because I know that despite his hard stance, his heart must still be bleeding for his lost son.