It's always good to not only seek financial freedom, but to achieve it, and when you can make a few extra coins from the comfort of your own personal laptop or computer, that's even better. The options online might seem endless, but there are a few things to consider before pursuing a money-making venture or opportunity that is solely based online. It's telling that recent Pew Research Center findings show that 24% of Americans reported making money from a "digital platform economy." And by 2023, the projected gross volume of the digital-based gig economy is expected to hit more than $450 billion.
If you haven't already jumped into an online-based side hustle, business, or career and you're still looking for more reasons, we offer 10. Check out how to make money online, with a key emphasis on fun and savvy:
1. Sell, sell, sell.
We're not talking about posting photos of your current living room furniture in a last-minute plight to get the rent money here, either. (That's definitely not fun, and oftentimes it's more frustrating than successful). Let's take things a step further. We're talking about offering creative works such as art, crafts, graphic works, fashion designs, photography or templates. We're talking about trading stocks, or selling products and services you actually love and care about. And you don't have to reinvent the wheel here. Try platforms like Shopify or Etsy that take the legwork out of website design and e-commerce tools, try affiliate marketing, or sign on to be an online influencer or team seller for your favorite brand.
Of course, you can still also make money as an online sales professionals for major companies including Google, GrubHub, and Neiman Marcus, making up to $84,000 a year.
2. Become a consultant.
True, there are a lot of coaches and consultants out there, but why not use the skills you've built working at your 9-to-5 or earning degrees to help individuals, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits? You would be hired to pinpoint an issue, analyze a problem, and offer solutions via a projected plan, and you can offer these skills via your own free website (try Wix, Wordpress or About.me). You can also use Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook to showcase your knowledge, build community, and attract clients, or you can work from home for companies who need to fill this role. Oftentimes, you don't even have to be the person executing the solutions plan. You're just the mastermind.
And please think outside the box on this in terms of what this could look like for you (i.e. using your graphic design skills to consult on a new logo or website rebrand or your journalism degree to offering project management consultations for church blog projects).
3. Build community and capitalize.
If you're a creative or personality who loves to build a vibe, who has a specialized skill, who caters to a niche crowd or who is passionate about specific issue, this is perfect because you can use your passions and unique abilities in a variety of ways. Brands and nonprofits will actually pay you to not only expand their audiences and draw more people to their products, causes, and services, but they will pay you for access to the community that you've built through your own content creation or creative direction.
They will also pay top dollar for the skills of creators who are able to tap into markets they've had difficulty reaching or who have the skills, methods, and tools they do not have. You'll want to be sure that the missions and values of any brand or org you work with matches those of your brand and community, of course. So get those creative projects, advertisements, vlogs, and photo shoots out of your head and on somebody's computer or smartphone! You could rock out to making thousands of dollars if things pan out. You don't necessarily have to be an "influencer" with thousands of followers either. If you're savvy, great at showcasing who you are online, and are able to market yourself via pitch competitions, job openings or meetings, you can still do this and be successful.
Major companies also pay a pretty penny for full-time community engagement roles, to the tune of up to $98,000 per year.
4. Learn coding, web design, or digital graphic arts.
Again, this is all about doing things you actually enjoy, so if you're not into creating beautiful imagery, concepts, animation, apps, digiprints, or games online, go ahead and skip this one. Also, you don't really have to know the ins and outs of programming or tech to do some of these jobs. Some successful app builders and game creators, for example, actually outsource the parts of the process that they're not great at (or have no interest in doing), so if you have a concept and want to bring it to market, go for it!
Digital graphic arts can be used for a multitude of things (like how this artist uses them for apparel), so, again, think outside the box on how these skills can be used to make money. If you want to brush up on your DIY design skills or simply want to learn something new in order to monetize coding, try Udemy or Codecademy and then flip that into your piece of the $100,000 per year salary pie for a career change.
5. Rent or source valuable spaces or items.
This makes sense for someone who has a fabulous home, backyard space, garden, garment or shoe collection, or office and has the flexibility to offer such items and spaces to others for a fee. The fun factor: Managing and witnessing how your spaces and items can be the cool-factor catalyst for events such as photo shoots, weddings, birthday parties, anniversary dinners, or ad campaigns. Your home could be the backdrop of a fabulous Halloween shoot (like this one Janelle Monae shot at designer Dani Dazey's spot) or you could source fab items for campaigns or projects (like how this power couple of Blk Vintage did for Issa Rae's Insecure.) This might be more of a hybrid offline-online gig, but it can still provide the time and creative flexibility you crave with the major aspects of operation being web-based.
6. Get into gaming.
Yes, you can get paid to play games, and though there's a lot of spam out there in terms of information on legit companies, you can find legit opportunities to make money this way. Try popular platform Twitch (and don't forget to read the rules and get to know the tax implications of earnings or donations) or you can try apps that pay you for how much time you spend fooling around with a game. (Check out reviews and do your research before downloading or participating.)
Another avenue is to create a YouTube channel---where all you do is test out, review, or simply play games---and build an accompanying Patreon where viewers can offer donations or pay for memberships to view specialized content.
7. Create adventures for others.
For outgoing types who still want to be able to tap into the introvert who would rather work online, making life that much more interesting for everyday folk by creating experiences or adventures is ideal. Airbnb offers a platform for doing this, but you can also set out on your own to create private picnics, plan parties, lead excursions, coordinate trips, or add to the offerings of others who provide specialized goods and services.
Take a nod from this entrepreneur, who offers exotic fruit tastings in Montego Bay, Jamaica, for example. If you're not into actually managing experiences or dealing with people, you can be the creative thinker and coordinator to turn dreams into reality, for a fee, corresponding only via the web and offering packages.
8. Chef it up.
A love for cooking, creating dining experiences, or providing diet and nutrition insights is a must for this one, and you can provide all of this from the comfort of your home. If you like vegan food, have a knack for creating recipes in a way that no one else has, know a thing or two about food chemistry or nutrition, or simply want to provide a space for content you want but don't see, get up and offer it. You can make money selling recipe downloads, meal plans, or virtual consulting, and you can cultivate a client base that you're passionate about. You can also become a virtual nutritionist, food specialist, or culinary teacher. The online food community is growing, so get in where you fit in.
9. Build in a dance or fitness platform.
Sis, don't sleep on this. Billboard reports that the global dance music industry raked in $3.4 billion in 2021, and the fitness industry has reportedly hit almost $100 billion. We're not about that scarcity mentality over here, so there's clearly money to be made. If you love dance, have experience, or just love to stay active and see results, this might be perfect for you. Go ahead and offer virtual classes, start that YouTube, or get into a gym or private space of your own. You could even host via sites like Zoom, Skillshare, and Teachable are great places to start. (You could even try OnlyFans, if you dare.) Read the fine print on profit percentages, userability, and additional features like membership management.
10. Just sit...
Nah, not that, sis. House or pet sitting can not only be fun, but it can offer some spice to your life in terms of the opportunity to experience new things and diversify those experiences. Platforms like Nomador and Housecarers have been raved about among the OG house sitter tribe, and for the pet lovers, there are sites like Petsitters or Rover. You can also take a look at Care or TaskRabbit to find gigs. If you're living that nomad life, just want a chance of routine or scenery, or want to enjoy the company of an animal without the commitment—and get paid for it—this is worth a try.
For more job search tips, career advice and profiles, check out the xoNecole Workin Girl section here.
Featured image via Getty Images
Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they spend it.
Samari Ijezie is the creator of The Female Economist, a platform created to challenge and disrupt the stereotypical gender norms within the financial industry while educating millennials of financial literacy. However, before founding this financial literacy company for women and marginalized millennials, she had a career in fashion and style as a model that started in her preteen years. Though she briefly kicked off her modeling career at the age of fourteen, it was short-lived because soon after high school, Ijezie decided to go off to college but later had to drop out during her freshman year due to not receiving financial assistance in the next term.
After reigniting her determination to excel, Ijezie eventually pursued getting her degree once more and later earned her dual degrees in Economic and Political Science from University of Massachusetts Amherst. Though crunching numbers and secretary duties were never easy to her due to her dyslexia, the current New York resident overpowered her disability to become an expert in finance as leverage to escape poverty. After multiple jobs in finance and accounting from a Massachusetts state agency to Spotify and Publicis, the Boston native eventually launched The Female Economist platform where users can learn through articles, courses, webinars and is soon creating a tool that matches individuals with their own certified financial advisor.
In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Samari about splurging on much-needed vacation time, her alternative definition of wealth and success and having a scarcity mindset.
On how much she makes in a year and how much she saves:
"Each month, I try to save at least $5K. Because my monthly income varies each month from trading and brand gigs, I always ensure that I have at least $5K coming in on a monthly basis. I do have a Roth IRA. I like having this account because I can see the companies I have in my index fund."
On her definitions of wealth and success:
"Wealth has no dollar amount. Wealth is the amount of time that you can sustain with the amount of money that you have. In other words, how many days can you survive without working; living off your savings. I define success by someone accomplishing their goals and dreams."
Courtesy of Samari Ijezie
"Wealth has no dollar amount. Wealth is the amount of time that you can sustain with the amount of money that you have."
On the lowest she’s ever felt when it came to her finances and how she overcame it:
"The lowest I've ever felt with my finances is when I was in college. I personally was not making any money but also was acquiring loans to put myself through school. I was ignorant when It came to understanding money and personal finances. I overcame this by fully taking the time to understand personal finance. I worked on building my credit score. I used websites like Credit Karma to find the best credit cards to set myself up with to help build credit. I consolidated my loans and started paying them off on a monthly basis. After I fully took control over my personal finances, expenses and savings, I then began to invest."
On her biggest splurge to date:
"My biggest splurges are on vacations. I consider splurging money on experiences and memories to be comparable to an asset. Traveling to me helps me become a worldly person, and that is something that contributes to my education and knowledge. So, I do not mind spending thousands of dollars on a vacation where I am learning about the country's culture."
On whether she’s a spender or a saver:
"I consider myself a spender. I do splurge on unnecessary items. I do enjoy shopping and looking fly. However, if I buy expensive products/materials, if I cannot afford to buy it twice, I tell myself that I cannot really afford it. I am a spender because tomorrow is never promised, I could save millions, but If I never spent it, how can I truly enjoy being a millionaire? I train myself to properly manage money by spending money on things that help better my life. I rather spend thousands on opening an investment account that can allow my money to compound rather than spending it on designer, nightlife, or any other guilty pleasures that us millennials face."
Courtesy of Samari Ijezie
"I am a spender because tomorrow is never promised, I could save millions, but If I never spent it, how can I truly enjoy being a millionaire? I train myself to properly manage money by spending money on things that help better my life. I rather spend thousands on opening an investment account that can allow my money to compound rather than spending it on designer, nightlife, or any other guilty pleasures that us millennials face."
On her savings goals and what retirement looks like to her:
"My plan is to retire by 35. I have been working since I was 14 years old. So, retiring in my thirties is very important too. I will be able to fully retire when I have enough money that can allow me to not work. I do enjoy keeping busy, so by the time where I can retire, it won't be fully retiring, but doing things that I enjoy that continue to make me money."
On the importance of investing:
"Investing is very important to me. I invest by figuring out my goals. Some of my investment accounts are short-term investment goals and others are long-term. Depending on the financial product, I have different goals. When I trade options, I have the intent that I will make a short-term investment."
On her budgeting must-haves:
"In my budget, I do allocate money to doing the things I like which include food. I am a big foodie and take pride in eating very well. As everyone knows, to eat healthy is very costly. So I do allocate a monthly spending budget for food. I enjoy seafood which can be very costly, but that is something that I will spend money on because it makes me happy to eat well."
Courtesy of Samari Ijezie
"My mindset completely changed in regards to money. I used to have a scarcity mindset where I would tell myself at times I cant afford this or complain about my financial situation. Once I started reading more books and opening up my horizon when it comes to wealth and abundance, I started making more money. Wealth is truly in the mindset of the beholder."
On her intentions behind multiple streams of revenue:
"I created The Female Economist to have six streams of revenue. The first one is through ad revenue, affiliate marketing, e-courses, brand merch, membership, and consultancy. When I created this business, the business model was only through ad revenue, but as the demand increased for more objectives, the business structure changed to adapt to that. The intention of having multiple streams of revenue was purposely so the business would be able to function with or without me."
On unhealthy money habits and mindsets:
"My mindset completely changed in regards to money. I used to have a scarcity mindset where I would tell myself at times I cant afford this or complain about my financial situation. Once I started reading more books and opening up my horizon when it comes to wealth and abundance, I started making more money. Wealth is truly in the mindset of the beholder. I stopped using words like 'can't', and instead started saying, 'How can I afford this?'
"Growing up in a single-parent home, I had a lot of unhealthy ideologies when it came to money. I grew up in a household where it was us trying to make ends meet regardless so, as I aged, I always just had that scarcity mindset of I need these now because I may never be able to attain it again. As I became financially independent and literate, that changed."
For more of Samari, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Samari Ijeze
Originally published on August 14, 2020
Being an influencer started as a career that many didn't understand and some didn't respect. There were all kinds of questions and assumptions surrounding the industry like, "Don't they just take pictures?'' Or, "Can you really earn money from doing that?" But, oh how times have changed! Because babyyy, some of these influencers are bringing in dough! One of my personal favorites is JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson, a Dallas-based lifestyle influencer and content creator who has taken the social media world by storm.
I came across her page randomly one day and was immediately drawn to her posts. Between the fashion, authentic voice, and her beautiful family, it's pretty easy to want to follow along. Something that stands out about JaLisa is that what you see is what you get. For example, when she was heavily promoting home decor, she was buying a house. And now as a new mom, she's working with a lot of baby brands. So whether the content is branded or not, it feels relatable, and always looks top-tier.
However, this wasn't always her plan. After graduating from college, JaLisa worked in IT for three years and influencing was simply a side hustle that she enjoyed. But the more she shared, the more her audience grew. She told AfroTech:
"After work hours, I would drive to the city, do my shoots, write blog posts and all that stuff. It got to a point where I was making more from those after-hours than I was at my corporate job."
Still, when she decided to leave the position many of her friends and family thought she had made a huge mistake. In fact, she only made $50 on her first branded post.
"When I put a real strategy [behind myself] and started providing value to my audience, that's when things started to monopolize and I set myself up as a brand. I think a lot of people think if you have a lot of followers, then brands will just start reaching out. But you need to be the full package and market yourself [to make real money]."
The energy is a bit different now! So much so that last year Jalisa tweeted, "A mill in brand deals next year. Mark my words and remember this tweet." Well, cue, Lil Wayne's "A Milli" because, earlier this week it became a reality. JaLisa announced via Instagram that she is now a part of the seven-figure club saying:
"Mood when you wake up and realize you hit your $1M brand goal and still have Q4 to go. God I thank YOU."
As she shared in her interview with AfroTech, JaLisa has been able to make the bulk of her income through brand deals, with the remaining 10-15 percent coming from a combination of YouTube and affiliate links. In addition to her consistency and hard work, JaLisa also attributes a great deal of success to her team. Whereas sometimes creatives naturally try to perfect every element of the process, she decided to do things differently, find people who were good in the respective areas, and work as a unit.
Thanks to faith, consistency, and a bomb team, a dream became a million-dollar reality!
Read more about how JaLisa secures the bag on AfroTech here.
Featured image via JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson/Instagram
When it comes to money, many of us are behind in ways to provide passive income strategies for our families. Particularly, something that many of us in the culture don't do enough of, is investing. It's simple, to the point, a way to make sure your family is comfortable without putting much effort into doing so.
Well, the celebrities of today does lots of it. In fact, many of their careers take a backseat to the opportunities they have to build their portfolios and create generational wealth for years to come. Now, celebs do more than just sing, act, play a sport, or secure a few little endorsement deals. Additionally, now, they push the limits on those contracts, or with building that business, or capitalizing on their brands. And I ain't mad at them. In fact, I celebrate and welcome them. So, join me as we do just that.
Here's a list of the leading Black celebrity investors in the world:
Note: Data is complied from money.co.uk. They were surveyed on five factors: net worth, number of investments (personal and partner investments), highest investment sum, estimated total amount of funding and average investment sum.
Jay Z + Beyonce
Rapper turned billionaire entrepreneur, a.k.a. Jay Z, obviously topped the list as the celebrity with the most investments. He has made stacks from his album sales and tours, sure, but most of his coins come from his business moves, which include music, tech, art, and luxury alcohol brands. Jay is very well aware of his influence and uses it to his advantage. Buying art for a small(ish) price, rapping about said artist in multiple songs to increase the value, and sitting back and watching it collect prestige, is what he does. And now, the rest of his portfolio, according to money.co.uk, has at least 11 personal and partner investments with a total investment sum of $983M--tech and champagne being his biggest investment areas.
This means that the once kid from Marcy projects, is now worth a cool $1.2 billion.
As far as Bey, she recently announced that she was investing in a hemp farm to obtain her own CBD. She also has a partnership with Adidas, as well as many upcoming business ventures on the way (you know she doesn't give too much away until she's ready).
Up next is Oprah Winfrey--also a billionaire, but that has found huge success in media with a career that spans well over 20 years. From here, she pivoted her talk show into a business, and her brand into an empire.
Oprah has a 25.5% stake in her created cable channel OWN. She also has a 10% stake in Weight Watchers. Her other investments includes Maven clinic, Oatly, Apeel Sciences, True Food Kitchen and Waywire.
The one and only Compton doctor, Dr. Dre came in next. Dr. Dre is the epitome of what a music producer is and has held this title in a way that no other has. His entrepreneurial journey began in 1996 when he created The Aftermath, shortly after leaving Death Row records that March. And as we all know, he eventually founded Beats by Dre, and sold it to Apple for $3 billion. He still has 20% stake in the company. #whew
The greatest athlete of all time, Ms. Serena Williams, through her Serena Ventures, has invested in 34 startups over the past five years, with 60% of the investments focused on companies founded by women and minorities. OK, I'm going to say that again: The greatest athlete of all time, Ms. Serena Williams, through her Serena Ventures, has invested in 34 startups over the past five years, with 60% of the investments focused on companies founded by women and minorities.
She launched a self-funded, direct-to-consumer clothing line, S by Serena, in 2018. She also owns stakes in the NFL's Miami Dolphins and Dana White's UFC. Flex on the people, sis!
Williams Adams, a.k.a. the brainchild of popular eclectic group, Black Eyed Peas, is quite the entrepreneur. He invested in (and acquired) a $4.6 million stake in app-only bank Atom in 2017, and he has also dabbled in tech in the last few years, putting his money in startups such as the app 'Knock Knock', and he's even launched his own line of headphones.
Will.i.am is even international with his investments, as he's invested £5m ($6m) in Music Messenger's Series A round, followed by a further investment of £5m in Shellanoo Group and £3m investment in Honest Dollar.
Nasir Jones has quietly established himself as one of the most prolific investors in the world. In April, Yahoo News reported that he could be $100 million richer following his 2013 investment in Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange expected to reach over $100 billion in valuation once going public. He's also the founder of QueensBridge Venture Partners, which has reportedly invested in more than 40 start-ups across a range of sectors like financial technology, health care, and music production.
Additionally, Nas has invested in Lyft, Dropbox, Tradesy, and LANDR, a start-up that uses big data and artificial intelligence to produce music.
According to Crunchbase, Will Smith has made 21 investments across multiple industries. He has invested in companies such as Superhuman, Titan, Sundae, Sandbox VR, Flockjay among others. He also happens to have one of the best pages on the 'gram.
We're never going to get anymore music from Rihanna with the way she collects the bag elsewhere. Sis is making billions from her side hustles! Rihanna is the richest female musician in the world with a net worth of $1.7 billion. Her investment portfolio includes a 50% stake in Fenty Beauty which accounts for $1.4 billion of her worth. The rest of her worth comes from her stake in her lingerie company, Savage x Fenty, worth an estimated $270 million, and her earnings from music and acting. She's even venturing into the perfume business, because, why not?
Outside of music, 50 Cent famously invested in Vitamin Water, which was sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion. His other ventures include footwear, headphones, Casper mattresses, Le Chemin du Roi Champagne and Branson Cognac.
Tyra has been lowkey these days, but that doesn't mean that sis hasn't been quietly getting those coins too! We know her as an actress, author, television personality, supermodel, and founder of TZONE. But she's also an investor in TheSkimm, Videogram, The Muse and Shop Tap Industries.
Featured image by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for ABA
There's always talk about entrepreneurship and how it can be the key to making your financial dreams come true, but there often isn't as much talk about the sacrifices—especially those that hit your pockets hard—required to get a business off the ground, nevertheless keep it running. And maybe you've got a great idea, but when you're out there just trying to live a normal life, who can even think about taking money out of the I'm-barely-making-ends-meet account and putting it toward starting a business? Research even shows that one of the top reasons women don't start businesses is because of the startup costs required.
Well, we're not into discouraging our aspiring bosses out there. We're here to talk solutions for starting a business with little money. Here are a few ideas inspired by those who have done just that so you can get started on making your business vision a reality:
1. Start small and scale.
Sometimes that infamous quote, "Go big or go home," might not apply to startup costs. Take a nod from the founder of The Mane Choice who is now CEO of Olbali Corp. Courtney Adeleye started her line of haircare products by making the first product in her home, and she took advantage of free resources such as YouTube and Instagram to build her customer base. Within a few years, she was able to turn those small efforts into millions of dollars in sales and expansion into collections of products in stores likeTarget.
Get out of your own head and get into facts by reading up on what it truly costs to start your business and then calculate, based on your finances and lifestyle, what you can realistically afford to do.
For example, if you want to sell clothes, maybe start with one cache item, see how that sells, and then expand the line. Want to offer a service? Start with one niche that you can excel at, track the success, then pivot and change your strategy where necessary. Want a storefront? Try a mobile or online business first, build up your capital and customer base, and create a plan for saving up and financing for your grand opening at a later date.
2. Pool investors.
There are many ways to do this, but don't let that overwhelm you. (Also, don't be intimidated by the big-money talk or the multi-millionaire professionals who are the movers and shakers.) If you have a good product, prototype, brand, or idea, think strategically about who could invest in your launch and get in the game.
Angel investment organizations or firms are a good place to start (and there's a good list of those that support women- and minority-led startups here). Platforms created by women like Arielle Loren, founder of 100K Incubator, are also great resources for finding investors and networking with other entrepreneurs.
You'll want to weigh the pros and cons of taking on an investor to start up your venture. Getting money is great, but investors sometimes have authority over important aspects of your business including how the money is spent or even the name of your company. They might also, down the line, play a role in how you run your brand or even decide whether you remain as the leader at all.)
Another great option is crowdfunding or microfunding, where you use a platform like Kickstarter, present your business idea or project to the world, and raise funds via community investors.
Dawn Dickson, founder of Flat Out Heels and CEO of PopCom, was able to raise more than $1 million to launch and expand businesses via supporters in her community. Other entrepreneurs have used this method and raised funds even without having a physical product, gauging interest and building momentum via pre-sales, offers of equity, and prizes.
Oh, and don't overlook networks within your family, your school, your civic organizations, or your workplace. There might be someone less than six degrees of separation from you who is willing to invest just to gain a percentage in profits or ownership or to contribute to the greater good.
3. Get into a pitch competition.
Be inspired by the story of Stephanie Smith, founder of Digital Insomnia, who won $25,000 to put toward creating a digital marketing simulator prototype. Or the story of Range Beauty founder and CEO, Alicia Scott, who was able to take her brand from $300 to $300K by becoming a master of pitching her business. Organizations and businesses often sponsor pitch competitions that offer thousands of dollars in startup funds as prizes, and this is a great way to get that financial boost you need to start your business. Some even cover all expenses and offer additional support resources like mentors and tech tools.
Sharpen up those public speaking, marketing, and sales skills, sis, and make sure your business plan is a solid one. Invest in a coach, watch competitions online, or attend a few so you can hear common feedback from judges.
The better prepared you are, the more likely you'll come out the victor. (Oh, and of course, here's a great list of a few to start with. Yep, you're welcome.)
4. Outsource and partner up.
Any time you can split the costs of something, you save, so if you have a similar idea as someone else or you might be serving the same audience, why not partner up and pool resources? Malaika Jones, Nia Jones, and Tai Beauchamp, the three Spelman sisters who founded wellness brand Brown Girl Jane, are a great example of how combining talents and resources for launching a brand is more than smart.
Let's say you want to start a business building and selling phone apps. Well, maybe there's a tech professional in your network (or someone you could get to know through, well, networking) who wants out of the 9-to-5 life and has plans to transition into tech entrepreneurship. Pitch your idea and see where there might be common goals. Match their skills and network with yours and you might have a winning combo in which you can split the costs of bringing an idea to life.
Not too keen on partnering up and sharing profits? Many online vendors can handle certain aspects of getting your business off the ground in a more cost-effective way due to their level of experience or expertise. It might be a better idea, in the long run, to simply pay them a one-time fee to handle those areas.
Contacting a consultant with skills in coming up with cost-effective strategies for starting your business can sometimes save you money in the long run. LinkedIn is a great place to start to find other professionals and entrepreneurs to become partners or consultants, and nothing beats attending events and seminars (whether virtually or in person) where smart business-minded and successful folk congregate.
5. Try low-investment retail.
Just a disclaimer on this one: We're not talking about "easy" or "get-rich-quick" ways to start a business, and you'll want to be aware of all risks associated with these sorts of businesses (or any business, for that matter). That being said, dropshipping, print-on-demand, and direct sales are options for breaking into a business without shelling out a lot in upfront costs.
Picture this: You design something for T-shirts, mugs, or other custom items (or pay a one-time fee for someone else to), upload the design on a third-party supplier portal, build your store on a platform like Shopify (which costs less than $50 to launch), and then let the third-party supplier take care of the production, inventory, and shipping.
Products are made only after orders are received (thus, printed "on demand"), allowing you to avoid several overhead. Sites like Amazon offer dropshipping, and there are other platforms that allow you to create your own marketplace without having to take care of order fulfillment.
If you've ever heard of Avon, Mary Kay, or Tupperware, then you know a bit about direct sales. With this model, you might have to pay a registration or starting fee (several of which are less than $100), be offered an optional, moderately priced starter kit of products, or both. You'll earn a commission on sales (with some as much as 50 percent) and you'll be able to tap into a network of support from others in the industry.
The direct-sales market includes selling almost anything nowadays—cosmetics, kitchenware, coffee, health and wellness supplements, hair extensions, appliances, even medical scrubs—but be sure to look into the fine print on quotas, refund policies, and earnings or incentive models. Avoid scams, and be sure you have a realistic understanding of the sales savvy, time commitment, and financial investment required for success in these types of businesses.
6. Be patient and save up.
Some of us want to start something without worrying about a loan to pay back or investors to answer to, so a savings plan is the best option. If you don't have enough money right now, save up. It may take a bit longer, but hey, you have to start somewhere. Karen Young, founder of Oui The People, a personal care brand, saved up $1,500 while working for Estee Lauder to launch the beginnings of her business. Shana Cole, founder of The Shana Cole Collection, used $4,000 in savings to launch her first line of lipsticks and expand her customer base from Jamaica to the U.S.
Slow and steady can win the race, and if you're able to be disciplined, set a goal, and stick to a plan, you'll eventually have the money you need to get started. Think about it: Saving just $5 a day can go a long way. In one year, you'll have more than $1,800 for your entrepreneurship adventure.
Look at your current budget and needs, and find areas where you might be able to cut back or adjust in order to pour into your "Business Launch" fund. Also, be sure to look into savings accounts that have higher interest rates or high yield options so you can get the most from your efforts. Squirrel away your next tax refund, or find ways to give your savings a boost such as reselling items or downsizing your home or car. Implement settings like automatic transfers or deposits to a separate account so that you'll be sure to hit your goal in the time you need to.
Finding the money to start your business on a small (or barebones) budget is all about being creative and figuring out the best route for your future. The key is to at least take that first leap, with research and planning as your parachutes, and just go for it.
For more business tips, career advice and profiles, check out the xoNecole Workin Girl section here.
Featured image by Getty Images
Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they get it.
As we are out here getting to these coins, I want to ask you all something really quick. If you could write down the first idea that pops into your head, how much is it worth to you? And I am not talking about how much money you THINK people would pay for your idea. But how much money do you honestly believe your idea is worth right now? I ask this because a lot of times, as creatives, when we are coming up with ideas, we struggle with being confident in knowing how valuable they are. Now, no idea is too big or too small. But, with so many possibilities in the world with how you make a statement, it can get a little cloudy with believing that your idea can stand out among the rest.
I believe the trick is to not focus on how much faith you have in other people to buy in, but to focus on having faith in yourself. Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe your idea is valuable because you are valuable? You should always be confident in your capabilities first to really push forward your ideas/dreams. Your ideas are an extension of you, so they will always be pretty expensive. It doesn't matter how you came up with the idea or if you feel it has been done before. When you take a chance on your idea and stay determined to see it through, you are taking a chance on yourself. Every time.
This mindset is something I learned from six-figure entrepreneur Afenya Montgomery. Last year in 2020, I was able to attend an event at a coworking space where I connected with other women who were pursuing different businesses in different industries. It was so amazing listening to all their stories, especially the host, Afenya Montgomery. When we met, I knew we would stay in touch instantly. Now one year later, Afenya reminded me of how important investing in yourself is when it comes to entrepreneurship.
"I'm the kind of investor where I invest in myself and my ideas to watch them grow and flourish. I had this idea and I had to see it through. Nobody wants to look back years later and think, 'I should have done this or that.' I felt like if I was going to bet on anything, I was going to bet on myself. Always remember, when you are putting real money behind an idea, don't be in the talking stage or dating the idea. You have to be married to it."
Courtesy of Afenya Montgomery
Afenya Montgomery, born and raised on the south side of Chicago, started her professional career in the nursing field. Afenya was able to obtain her Master of Nursing degree and an MBA with a focus in executive leadership. In the year of 2017, Afenya felt that it was time for her to pivot. During that time, she started meeting up with her friends at local coffee shops and noticed that there was a lack of resources for people of color in entrepreneurship. That is all it took for Afenya to come up with an idea to help change that problem. Afenya mentions, "The idea began to form that it would be great to create a network of people that could act as accountability partners, potential business collaborators and resources for each other. Our first event was a panel discussion in June 2017 titled, 'Leveraging Your Network to Create Impact,' and we haven't looked back since."
Afenya is now the founder of The iCAN Collective. The iCAN Collective was founded on the pillars of Innovation, Collaboration, Accountability and Network. The iCAN Collective strives to give women a space to build a foundation of collaboration, authentic connections and support as they blaze new trails on the path of entrepreneurship or in their careers. This company is a collaborative coworking space for women of color entrepreneurs, creatives, and game-changers, where it offers memberships, exclusive events, networking opportunities, and brand packages. Afenya wants to be a resource for creative entrepreneurs and celebrate them for going after their dreams.
When you chase your dreams and execute them no matter what, nobody can tell you nothing.
In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Afenya Montgomery about how trusting your gut, being strategic, and building your business at your own pace are the keys to creating financial freedom.
xoNecole: How much money do you make in a year? A month?
Afenya: I usually make mid-six figures with my company in a year. My revenue breaks down to making around $15-20K a month.
What do you define as “wealth” vs “success”?
Success for me means you are setting goals for yourself and getting them accomplished. You create these milestones for yourself and they can be small or big. Either way, you are getting them done. As far as wealth, wealth to me is being able to have certain things you want in your life, but more importantly, leaving something behind for your children and building that legacy.
What’s the lowest you’ve ever felt when it comes to your finances?
The lowest point for me was back before I was in nursing school. It was during the Great Recession and I got laid off. At the time, I was a newlywed, I had just bought a house, and I was about to have a baby. So that was when I started to look at money differently. I realized you can't only depend on a job. You need other ways in order to sustain money. I didn't think about entrepreneurship at that time honestly, so what I did was, I started a blog about my journey. Then, I looked at what I was passionate about, what careers aligned with that, and thought about how I can have more control over my money.
How important is investing to you?
I have always been interested in investing and how I can save money better. Even before my company, I would open money marketing accounts and make sure I was smart about utilizing what I had for the things I needed at the time. When it comes to investing, I think it is really important to know which type of investments are right for you. Because let's be real, it is not easy investing thousands of dollars or 500 dollars into something that you want([laughs). I'm the kind of investor where I invest in myself and my ideas to watch them grow and flourish. But it is important to have a diverse portfolio and that you are married to this investment/idea.
When it comes to structuring your business, what are your streams of revenue and how did you go about establishing them?
Prior to having a physical space, The iCAN Collective was about creating workshops and networking events/opportunities for women of color interested in entrepreneurship. I found myself having these events in different spaces and figured why not create a space that was permanent. From there, I wanted to provide different things that a lot of spaces do not offer. So with this space, we provide membership, a coworking atmosphere, host events or intimate gatherings, and we offer brand packages. It's important to have something that is unique and stands out from the rest.
What are some unhealthy habits about money or some unhealthy mindsets about money that you had to let go of to truly prosper?
The first thing I had to change was this mindset about money as if it will never come. My brother would tell me these affirmations stating, "Money is always free-flowing. I am abundant. Money will come my way, etc." Affirming to myself that money is always around me shifted my scarcity mindset. I think a lot of us think about money with this mindset and we cannot continue thinking, 'If I spend this amount or I go after this goal, I will never have money again.'
"Affirming to myself that money is always around me shifted my scarcity mindset. I think a lot of us think about money with this mindset and we cannot continue thinking, 'If I spend this amount or I go after this goal, I will never have money again.'"
Courtesy of Afenya Montgomery
What keeps you motivated?
If you are passionate about something, then build the strategy behind what you want to do. I have heard people say that when it comes to business, do not go after your passion. But why passion is important to me is because that is honestly what keeps me going. If I don't have any interest or drive to be in that space, then I can't innovate in that space. Entrepreneurship is not one of those things where you're going to get a check just for showing up. You have to be really good at what you do and also have passion for it to see it flourish.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned through being a businessowner?
It is important to be flexible and roll with the punches when you're an entrepreneur. But more importantly, my main lesson has been trusting your gut and trusting God. If God gave you an idea/mission, it is already protected by Him. I always tell people that I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was more of a God-given assignment and I have faith in what I am creating to be aligned with my purpose.
What was it like learning to expand your business from one city to multiple cities?
We are looking to expand The iCAN Collective to New York, which is funny because I actually wanted to move to New York when I was 18 years old (laughs). I am so in love with the vibe of New York and I also have family who live there. What I learned about creating a space in a new city is to always poll your people. It is really important to build relationships with the people in the community. I try to look at it through the lens of what I can I bring to this space to support the community the best way I can? I ask myself, what is the main need and what can I provide?
Was it easy to become a well-respected businesswoman in your respective industry or did it take time?
In the beginning, I was letting people know 'ya'll better put some respect on my name' (laughs). The thing about Chicago is that we are known to be a little cliquish. So it is not that I didn't know people in the industry, they just didn't know me. I won't lie, navigating through the industry was hard. I would go to a bunch of events, hand out my business cards, and network, network, network. But as time goes on, you realize that it is not about everyone knowing who you are, it is about the right people knowing who you are. You want to know the people who can speak your name in rooms that matter.
"As time goes on, you realize that it is not about everyone knowing who you are, it is about the right people knowing who you are. You want to know the people who can speak your name in rooms that matter."
Courtesy of Afenya Montgomery
What’s the best advice that you’ve received about finance during your first year of entrepreneurship?
The best advice I think that helped me during my first year is to build slowly. There is this misconception where you see people starting their businesses and everything is happening so fast, so you feel you have to catch up in a sense. But you really have to look at your strategy for your business, intentionally, in order to scale. Another really good piece of advice I received is that, a lot of people talk about an individual having multiple streams of income. But I don't think we talk enough about businesses having multiple streams of income. I have learned that it really helps to diversify what you provide in your business. If you are trying to be a million-dollar business, make sure that every move you make feeds that desire.
To learn more about Afenya, you can follow her on instagram @afenyabsn. You can also check out her business website here.
Featured image courtesy of Afenya Montgomery