Let them eat cake ... or jam, or cookies
It was the pampered and hopelessly out of touch Marie Antoinette in France in the 18th century who announced that the solution to everyone’s economic problems was to eat cake because, after all, who doesn’t feel immediately better after a nice big slice of cake?
Needless to say, her words fell on deaf and angry ears in the prelude to the French Revolution, but her words did get me thinking about the fact that the solution to some people’s financial woes might indeed be as close as the kitchen cupboard.
At a time when you are short of funds to the point that your ability to feed yourself properly is in jeopardy, what you need just as much as food is a new source of revenue.
Whether you have been out of the job market for a while, or just cannot find a job that pays enough to cover all of your expenses, the solution might literally be to take matters into your own hands and start making something at home that you can sell for profit.
If you are lucky enough to already possess a marketable skill such as cooking, craft-making, growing plants or sewing, you are but a Facebook page away from starting your own “home-based” business.
With the holiday gift-giving season right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start making samples of items such as cookies, cakes, breads, jams, chocolates, holiday ornaments, wreaths, stocking stuffers, etc, to sell to friends, relatives, colleagues, school contacts, and fellow worshippers.
Even if you have little previous experience, or you are not sure what to make, just dig out some of your granny’s best recipes or do a search on YouTube for step-by-step instructions on making and selling thousands of different holiday items.
Don’t worry if you don’t currently have a big budget to purchase supplies. By making samples of each of your items and taking orders in advance you will only have to purchase supplies for the things you have sold; just remember to figure out what your sample actually cost to make and then price each item appropriately so that you do actually make a profit on you wares.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of any packaging materials (like jam jars, gift bags, baskets or bubble wrap) and the cost of gas if you plan to make a lot of house-to-house deliveries.
To further spread the word of your new enterprise, take photos of your handiwork with your phone and upload them to Facebook or Instagram, being sure to include a few words describing the item.
Be sure to include key phrases — such as all natural, organic, homemade, etc — as appropriate, the cost and how to place an order.
Offering some sort of a discount for multiple orders is also a great way to boost sales, as is encouraging customers and friends to post positive comments regarding your goods.
If you are not very internet savvy or have limited access to the online world, there are still lots of ways that you can let people know about your enterprise.
Your solution might be as simple as to ask a friend or relative to print you some flyers to hand out, or get one of the grandkids to set up and monitor your Facebook page.
You can also enlist the help of friends or family to be your “sales force” by getting their help in taking orders or making deliveries.
As with all new enterprises, expect there to be a bit of a learning curve regarding things such as how long it takes to make an item or which things sell the best. Be patient with yourself and take time to make your items as attractive as possible. The items you are selling will often be presented as gifts, so presentation counts.
Once the holidays are over take stock of what you have learnt (and hopefully earned) and think about how to convert this experiment into an ongoing source of revenue throughout the new year. You may not entirely solve your financial woes, but you can definitely alleviate your situation with just a little effort and creativity.
• Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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