I sent out an email about the economy and asked people how they were doing. Here’s one email I got back:
For the last six years I have been a one man show doing paint repairs for car dealers. 90% of my work was painting bumpers at their location. I also did minor touch-up and scratch repairs. I’m getting out of that business because it’s as close to a Depression in the car business as it can get.
Q: How could I turn what I know into other sources of income?
There are three ways to make money from your expertise:
The IRS is probably going to tax active and leveraged exactly the same, these are just definitions to use as you look at how efficient your current income-producing model is.
The one man show was definitely active income. You didn’t have any leverage simply because you WERE the business.
If the economy was still booming, I’d have you look at hiring other people, selling products that help the dealers, etc.. But the economy has definitely shifted in this area.
When you’re looking at leveraging what you know, there are really three things to look at:
What you’re really good at, in fact, what you could be best in the world at
What you love to do
What your customers want and need
What you’re good at = Entrepreneurial abilities
What you love to do = Emotional hook
What you customers want and need = Economic realities
So, taking a look at the one man car repair/painting business – what was it that you did that you were best in the world at? It could be that you were phenomenal at matching paint or actually painting, but it could also be something that wasn’t even that related to the business.
Call up 5 of your former customers and ask if they would help you with a project. You want to send them a letter to ask what they think you did really well. Then send the letter – what do they think was your unique ability here?
Now ask 5 friends/family members the same question.
You might be really surprised at the answers and that might get you going on thinking of some new avenues.
Now, for the emotional hook: What part of this were you really passionate about? Here is where people get it wrong when they are working on their “dream”, in my opinion. If you say that you’re passionate about growing tulips and you’re painting cars, there is a huge disconnect. It’s possible you really do want to grow tulips, but we need to also look at economic realities and what you do best.
And finally, this is the one where you’re caught right now. What do your customers want and need?
If after the first two, you find that it’s something to do with cars, I think there is a huge market. People will be hanging on to their cars longer. They want them to run better and they want them to look better. People also want to Do-It-Yourself. So, quick and easy kits on how to do that. Or some people need to sell, how about reports on how to detail your car yourself so that it gets the best value when you sell on Craig’s List? What are the 5 things you must fix on your car first? How do you value your car?
My guess is that once you start looking at what it is you are really good and what you really love to do, you’re going to find that niche.
Part 2 of your email:
I am about to start working selling life insurance and annuities.
How are your life insurance agents doing?
Just like every other part of the economy, some are doing great, most aren’t. Selling life insurance is so different from what you did before that I wonder whether this is more an effort to make some money, not so much build a business. If that’s the case, then I’d suggest something that is sales related but less relationship intensive. If your heart’s not in this and you’re not really passionate about the business, you will probably find yourself struggling and/or unhappy.