Entrepreneurship! How many of us dream of starting our own business? Whether it is to supplement what we are already doing or because it’s just the way we’re wired, many of us would love to find that one tiny gap that everyone else has missed, that will just explode our income. And allow us to live out our passions.
As strong as the entrepreneurship desire might be, many of us are equally stuck – not enought time, no money to invest, not knowing what to do or where to start or just too scared. Or we simply can’t see our way clear from where we are now to realising that too big dream, making it look unattainable in our current reality. Who would pay big money for that?
In the past, when my own entrepreneurship itch sometimes got too strong, I would often go online for inspiration. I would be looking for ideas on building a business based on my existing skills, something that wasn’t capital intensive and that wouldn’t need me to go back to school for more and/or qualifications. Also important, was the ability to do something that felt authentic to me. That’s when I first came across the concept of online businesses. And I was hooked. People were making full time incomes, often starting with little more than a laptop, a good internet connection and an idea. Let’s not forget those who simply just fell into it by mistake.
So, here I’ve compiled a list of businesses that are literally thriving and exist only, or primarily, online. The point is to give you a sense of the scope and variety of 1) women who are exploring this as a viable avenue and 2) some very creative ways of taking ideas that, ‘in-real-life’, would remain hobbies or lead to a lifestyle equivalent to that of a starving artist at best.
Do not be fooled by this name because there is so much more to this concept then what the name implies. Erica Zidel has created a platform where parents of small kids from around the world can create babysitting networks. Instead of paying someone to look after the kids, parents pay each other in kind – I babysit for you one day and the next day you do the same for someone else. So we all belong to a network, based on where we are in the world and are able to help each other out as and when the need arises. Sitting Around is how we are able to find each other or even start our own, local cooperative if you will.
As with many journalists, Cheryl Tan, parlayed all those years as a journalist, chasing after a story and trying to beat deadlines, into a career in public relations. But not as a high-powered communications executive in corporate or an agency. She started her own little shop teaching small business owners, especially, the public relations skills that would otherwise cost them a ton. Through Cheryl Tan Media, she provides information, knowledge and insights on building relationships and working with members of the media to create awareness about your brand, service and/or product. Her podcast, Standout, provides some nice accompaniment – where she talks to others who have first hand experience in leveraging powerful and consistent media relationships.
Lauren Riker has been knitting since she was a little girl. Because she had trouble finding modern knitting patterns fit for the twenty first century girly, she tried her hand at creating her own. The fact that she is a fashion designer by profession, hasn’t hurt one bit. So that’s what she does, she creates patterns for modern day knitters and also provides how-to tips and tutorials for the not so experienced. Interestingly enough, she has chosen to continue part time in her fashion design job, simply because she really enjoys it and she found the isolated existence of a solopreneur a bit challenging.
People running hectic households will so appreciate this one. Trained chef Allison Schaaf has created a web based, subscription service where people can get weekly menu plans – gluten-free and paleo friendly. Depending on your specific requirements, they do all the planning, developing what they say are scrumptious menus along with step-by-step preparation instructions (takes you 2 hours a week!) and a complete grocery list. So, anyone who is interested can take out a monthly and yearly subscription and your days of stressing about what’s for dinner or recycling the same batch of recipes go straight out the window. Plus, it’s all healthy.
To hear Regina Surname tell it, she was sick and tired of working for ‘the man’ – it just wasn’t working for her anymore. Over the years she had gained quite a bit of experience starting and running (not necessarily successfully) a variety of businesses. Now, through her byRegina brand, she takes all of that knowledge and tech savviness and teaches aspiring entrepreneurs about building and monetising blogs. She focusses a lot on infopreneurship – a term that I learnt from her – that is, creating and selling information products, like courses, ebooks, graphic design services, all on online platforms.
Ruth Soukup’s blog is all about life in general, wrapped around the theme of simple and purposeful living. This is something she started as a means of therapy to help curb her wild spending habits and has since incorporated many blog monetisation tactics that have helped to put her on the map when it comes to online business success stories. A lot of what she has learnt is also encapsulated in her best selling book How to blog for profit without selling your soul (definitely worth a read).
Brigitt Esselmont, is the grande dame of Biddy Tarot. She is a true example of someone who was able to turn a hobby that she had been practicing for a number of years into a thriving business – tarot reading. And she gave up her high paying corporate job in human resources to dedicate herself to the business. She basically teaches people how to read tarot cards and effectively use them in everyday life. A part of her business also includes coaching and supporting others to start their own tarot reading businesses, be it online or not.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that these were all overnight successes and didn’t involve plenty of hard work, time, sweat and tears to get to where they are today. What I would like for you to take away from this is the possibility – not just of taking a risk, but of daring to think outside the box…maybe even throwing away the box entirely. By pursuing what they loved, building on experiences and skills that they already had, even taking advantage of life’s challenges – these are great examples of women’s creativity at its best.