Filed in First Monday Comments Off

Where are the opportunities? Before I get started on this column, let me share some of the guidelines from J.F. (Jim) Straw and his Business Lyeceum website:

  1. Start with a small investment, $10 or less.

  2. Look for a maximum return of between $1,000 and $5,000.

  3. No selling (we’ll get to that in a minute.)

  4. Immediate possibilities.

  5. Its completely legal.

I started this as an experiment to see how well it would work. I take frequent walks on my island home and meet a lot of people (and their dogs) during the day. Each of them has something they want or no longer need, but don’t know what to do or who to contact to solve their problem.

I created a small handbill (8.5 x 5.5) which asked if they had things they no longer wanted or needed. If they said yes, I would meet with them to see what they had and, for a small fee, take it away. Now, I only have a small Honda, so whatever I chose to take off their hands had to fit in the trunk of my car.

The fee paid for my gas and travel expenses, but not make me a fortune. Over the course of the first month I tried this I may a whopping $500, which, as I mentioned, paid for my gas and an occasional lunch.

I purposely looked for unique items that would have some resale value. I wasn’t looking to clear out their junk drawer. I wanted things that would sell well and for a small profit.

Of course, I documented everything, who I talked to, etc, so there would be no question as to whether I had rights to the items.

Next, I either put an ad on Craigslist or took the item to one of the local auctioneers. In both cases, I didn’t do any selling. Those who responded to the ads or bought it at auction paid for the item because they sincerely wanted to own it.

As for what I earned from all this effort, I averaged about $1,000 in extra cash flow. Most of the items sold for around $25 as an average, so it meant doing quite a bit of work to find all the inventory I needed, but, in the end it was well worth it.

I’ve developed an “at will” money-making skill that I can use almost anywhere.

As a side note, this also works well when helping local businesses liqudate some of their excess inventory. I prefer to work locally, rather than buying things from a liquidation company, because I know the business owner and the quality of the items I am representing.

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