Often being an entrepreneur is perceived as someone that takes risks for others, and becomes a “job creator.”
Thus, becoming an entrepreneur often becomes a matter of growing a business for the sake of employing as many people as possible, at a narrow margin.
In this article we’re going to challenge this assumption and use another definition of an entrepreneur as “someone that wants to work on projects he loves while generating high margins, working less and with an extra lean business model.”
Enter The State of Independence Report
Independents are the nearly 41 million adult Americans of all ages, skill, and income levels—consultants, freelancers, contractors, temporary or on-call workers—who work independently to build businesses, develop their careers, pursue passions and/or to supplement their incomes.
The report shows three strong trends toward a strong market for independent people that become quite competitive.
What are the reasons for millions of people to move out of traditional employment agreement and start on their own?
The report points out the following reasons:
As pointed out in the book by Elaine Pofeldt, solo businesses that hit the million-dollar range typically fall into six categories:
In many cases, those solopreneurs are choosing online marketplaces to start out their operations.
However, the most critical part if about finding the business model that best fits them and that creates most value to the group of people to whom it will serve.
In search of a business model
When I first started out in the digital marketing space, I thought you could get a sort of prepackaged business model, copy it and paste it to have your own business.
For how much I wished that to be true it didn’t work from the start. In fact, the most counterintuitive thing is that finding a business model is as essential for an entrepreneur for a person to find its meaning.
In fact, the business model for the entrepreneur is many things at once. It means creating value for a community while doing something you’re passionate about, and that can generate enough revenues at high margins to keep going in the long term.
Of course, initially, the experimentation might take years. That’s also why in the meanwhile many solo entrepreneurs keep their day jobs for a long time before dedicating full time to their side gig.
Another aspect is the willingness to experiment as much as possible. It is interesting the story fo DuckDuckGo where its founder Gabriel Weinberg, after selling a previous company was exploring dozens of side projects.
After tinkering for a few months the idea of putting together a search engine that focused on privacy stuck with him.
Toady DuckDuckGo is a valid alternative to Google and has created an alternative business model where the search engine monetizes even without getting data from users.
Scalable vs. non-scalable
Another critical aspect of starting a solo business is about the scalability of that idea. Some enterprises are scalable by nature.
For instance, selling info products, such as ebook and online courses is scalable. Offering a consultancy is not.
On the one hand, though, scalability might be riskier as a few people make money with scalable products, while most people don’t make a dime.
Thus, mixing both models can be a winning strategy in the short-medium term. In short, you might want to start by offering a non-scalable service.
Then, build up a scalable product. Let’s say, for instance, that you’ve been coaching bloggers for years on how to build and grow a successful website.
At that stage, you have all the experience to package it in ebooks and online courses to sell to a broader audience.
Your consultancy business will work as a more stable source of income, while your info products organically grow and you’re able to build a recognized brand across a broader audience.
Business ideas with low investment and high profit that you can implement now
A business idea won’t necessarily make you money right away. In fact, if you didn’t skip the previous paragraph, you’ve learned that finding the business model that works for you requires a lot of tinkering.
There is no better way to tinker than start experimenting with ideas and see what sticks and what not. Thus, I’m hoping you can find some inspiration below.
Become a blogger
Committing your time to start a blog isn’t an easy choice. In fact, when I started blogging I did because I loved writing and I do read on a regular basis.
Thus, start this blog a no-brainer. However, for those that do not wish, do not enjoy, neither want to write for living in the long run, blogging might not be suited.
For the rest of you, blogging is a great way to build your brand, connect with people and to experiment with several business models.
If I had to start from scratch with blogging, I’d do it again and again with WordPress.
It can be quickly set up, and it is easy to manage. That is why during my consultations with bloggers and small business owners, WordPress is always the content management system I suggest.
With blogging, you can experiment with affiliate marketing, info products, online teaching, and much more.
In fact, below you can find 26 ideas to monetize your WordPress blog:
Become an online instructor
If you’re good at explaining as much as you’re good at doing things then creating online courses might be your way to go.
If you’re starting from scratch, established platforms like Udemy might work well.
However, if you already have a community of people you follow, I suggest you look more into Teachable.
To validate your ideas for online courses, I suggest you do a bit of keyword research or use some of the free tools available to validate the topic idea.
Also, you can use Udemy Insights to uncover profitable niches:
Become a professional photographer
Companies like Airbnb pay professional freelance photographers to take pictures of the homes part of the portal.
This isn’t per se a high paid job. Yet it’s remote and as a freelancer. Thus, this might give you the change to travel, get paid while honing your skill as a photographer.
Getting paid at high margins as a ghostwriter depends on how you positioned yourself, your experience, competence, and your negotiation skills. As reported on Chron:
Ghostwriters cover a range from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. A new writer can expect $7,000 to $9,000 depending on the length of the book — generally 200 to 300 pages — and the time needed to research and write it. A more experienced writer with a verifiable track record can earn $10,000 to $15,000, according to Writers Weekly, while a writer who’s very experienced can demand $20,000 and up. As a benchmark, the Canadian Writers Union sets the minimum fee for ghostwriting a book at $25,000
Thus, even in this case if you’re starting up, you might not make much.
Yet you’re getting paid to gain experience that you can resell for more to the next project. Also, once you become an experienced enough ghostwriter why not publishing your own book?
Take the story of Andrew Crofts that after writing over 80 titles that sold over 10 million copies then published Confessions of a Ghostwriter. As Andrew Crofts reported to theguardian.com “It’s a perfect arrangement. You get the commission, have the adventure – anywhere from a palace to a brothel – and return to the security of your own home.”
He also admitted his fees would average six figures. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. Yet a career as ghostwriter can be quite rewarding and highly profitable.
Become a Chatbots maker
When the web took off anyone wanted to have a website. Yet at the time as having a website was something unique you could charge crazy amounts of money.
Today, as we’re moving toward voice search and things like Natural Language Processing technologies, have become advanced every business will want to have a chatbot.
Developing a chatbot requires some skills, yet they can be learned quickly, especially if you’re already a developer or have a technical background.
The approximate cost to build a chatbot from scratch can be anywhere from $6000 to $12240.
Become an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing is about selling someone else’s product or service for a small commission.
If you become good at it, you can generate a consistent and highly profitable income in the long run.
I often covered affiliate marketing because if done correctly can be a great business model. In fact, many believe that affiliate marketing is a scam.
But that might be because a few affiliate marketers use pushy (to put it blandly) and aggressive sales strategies that turn people off and make brands they feature, look bad.
Yet if you are honest, share the tools you use and provide value to your community, affiliate marketing can be a great business model.
For instance, if you run a successful blog, for sure you’re using a hosting provider, paid SEO tools and other editorial tools that help you be on top of your game.
You could suggest the tool you use to be a successful blogger to your community (if you teach them how to start a blog).
That creates value for them, while you openly share your experience with those tools and brands.
Become a career coach, resume writer or LinkedIn profile writer
As I’ve been in the job market for years. Thus, I forgot how hard it is for a fresh graduate to learn the HR jargon needed to get into the door of a corporation.
Yet this is a skill you can sell at high margins. In fact, services like career coaching, and resume writing can range in the hundreds of dollars.
For instance, career coaching sessions might cost anywhere from $100 to $500 for a two-hour session.
New social platforms, like LinkedIn, also opens up opportunities in this industry.
In fact, I give for granted to be able to find qualified customers, close deals and find job opportunities through LinkedIn.
However, when I think about it, it took me years to build those skills and mindset. If I decided to pass this competence to someone else, I would do it at least at $500 for a two-hour consultancy session.
In fact, I know that by the end of that session that person will be able to get qualified job offers. The same applies to find leads, which is the next point.
Become a business development contractor
Large companies and corporations spend thousands of dollars to get qualified leads.
They don’t do it because they have money to waste (this might be true in some cases). Instead, those companies know how much each customer is worth to them.
For some of those corporations, the lifetime value of customers might be in the order of thousands of dollars. Also, companies operating in competitive industries are willing to spend tons of money to grab a lead from a competitor.
If you have competence in closing complex sales, you can get paid as a business development contractor. For each qualified lead, you might get in the order of hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
If that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. However, to be able to find qualified leads you have to be extremely competent in the industry you operate.
You need to know the companies from which you’re contracting from the inside out (thus, having years of experience as an insider is critical) and understand the potential customers better than those companies might.
Become an infopreneur
Making money with info products (ebooks, guides, checklist and so on) isn’t easy anymore.
Yet if you’re able to find a niche that is still unexplored, you can make money at high margins. Websites like Examine.com generate at least seven figures from info products.
One option is you can do it all. Another is to contract designer and experienced writers to write those info products. What you need at that point is proper distribution.
If you take Examine.com, it has more than two million visits per month and is among the most popular websites in health and nutrition.
Thus, before you can have a similar kind of success you need to be good at SEO, content marketing, social media, and SEM to create a proper distribution channel for your products.
A website is an estate. Just like people in the real world gets homes, flip them and sell them at a profit.
On the web, there is a group of online entrepreneurs, the website flippers, that get a crappy site, flip it and sell it for a profit.
Selling an online estate can be as much if not more profitable of flipping and selling a real estate asset.
In fact, if you go on a site like flippa.com, a marketplace to buy and sell online businesses you’ll notice websites selling anywhere from $500 up to $500k!
Become an SEO consultant
Google is the most popular search engines in the world. Each day billions of queries get processed by it.
The great thing is that Google shares many of those queries data. In short, with simple keyword research, you can uncover many ideas on how to create content for business.
The other news is that many don’t know how to use that and don’t have a clue about how Google works.
Even though the great content is the baseline for SEO, the rest is about doing experiments and keeping up with search engines evolutions.
If you have enough expertise, you can start offering your SEO services to small and medium businesses for a retainer fee.
In fact, in a recent study by Ahrefs SEO agencies charge anywhere from $500 up to $5,000 per month for SEO services.
Become a contractor headhunter
Just like companies are willing to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for qualified leads.
The same companies are eager to pay the same amount of money for qualified candidates to fill their open vacancies.
The logic is that for companies to find qualified candidates can get quite expensive. Thus, so-called incentives programs might do the job.
Thebalancecareers.com reports that employers referral program can pay anywhere from “$250 to more than $25,000 (for executive positions) with the most common range being about $1000 – $2500 according to a survey by WorldatWork.”
Summary and conclusions
As cloud services, automation tools and business processes become easier and accessible to a larger number of people. Solo businesses that make seven to eight figures are becoming more and more the norm.
Those solo entrepreneurs run organizations that are extra lean and focused on doing one thing right while contracting the rest. The interesting part is that those solo businesses are creating an unlimited number of business models.
Thus, while in the past companies would create organizations out of prepackaged business models. It has become unusual now to start from those premises.
Instead, those solopreneurs tinker with monetization strategies until they don’t find a balance between what they’re passionate about, what creates value for their community and at the same time offers high margins to the solo business owner.