Idea No 4 – Handyman services

I was inspired  by my friends at who are great all-round handymen.  They got into fencing by chance because so many people were asking them to build or repair fences for them. It became a standing joke and my pal Jon became known as “Fencer Jon”.

That gave him an idea and he moved from being an all-round handyman into something more ambitious. He now has two teams of fence contrators and is about to get another van and take on another couple of workers. It’s been a huge success story.

But I digress!  The starting point for Jon and his partner was being good at everything. You know what they say – Jack of all trades, master of none. But sometimes that’s no bad thing. There are many people who just don’t know where to begin with DIY so that has opened the door for many “Jacks” who know how to hang a picture, mend a fence, paint a door and have made a living or a part-time income from it.

Look around you at the ageing population of the UK. There are millions of older people who no longer want to climb a ladder or reach up to paint the ceiling. It has created huge opportunities for younger people who are prepared to learn these skills and offer them at a reasonable price. I doubt you’d ever have to worry about putting bread on the table if your could turn your hand to a dozen handyman jobs.

Some of them need virtually no skill at all, so perhaps that could be a good starting point for you if you don’t have any training or experience in DIY.

Could you put together a piece of furniture from Ikea? It’s not rocket science but it’s surprising how many people just can’t do it. Once you’ve done a couple of chests of drawers (probably the hardest item to assemble) then you’re set to go. Offer your services for a reasonable rate – say £20-30 and you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to pay. If you can’t even put together a self-assembly chest, then offer to do it for friends to gain experience. You can’t really do any damage unless you start drilling holes!

I’ve already mentioned fencing and you can start there by mending fences. It’s a matter of looking at the fence to see how it’s constructed. Then buy wood to fit and nail or screw it together. It’s not difficult but again many people will be prepared to pay in order to avoid having to find a hammer!

Other simple things to start with – that require no skill at all – could be car washing, sweeping paths and tidying gardens (but be sure to check with the householder what they want removed. There’s nothing more devastating than someone removing all your prize flowers).

Perhaps you could do odd jobs in the garden like moving around pots, mowing the lawn, laying down bark or even watering hanging baskets. Then again some people need their dog walked or their gutters cleaned. These are all tasks that can be undertaken by a handyman and will bring in the cash.

As you progress, as long as you’re polite and helpful, you can be sure that you’ll get recommendations. You can build up a nice little round, then as more work comes in you can start to pick and choose the jobs you really want to do.

That’s where we came in with Jon and his fences. His successful business came from his willingness to do anything and everything to earn some money and keep his customers happy.

There’s no reason you can’t do the same and become a success yourself in whatever field you choose. Part-time, full-time – it doesn’t matter.

Idea No. 3 – Getting creative with Wood

Working with wood lets you become creative with natural items you can find around the place. Even in Crawley I’ve been able to find some interesting examples and I got friendly with Horsham Tree Surgeons who let me have interesting branches. I suggest you do the same and find a local tree surgeon who will cut through a lovely piece of trunk with their chainsaw or keep an eye open for unusual shapes to give you something to work with. Scour the beach for driftwood that will insire you in all sorts of ways. Walk in the woods to pick up odd-shaped branches, but make sure that the wood is solid and not rotten, otherwise your work will be in vain.

Once you’ve collected your wood, you can engage your brain and imagination to turn it into all manner of items, depending on your artistic abilities.

If you’re really talented then the world is your oyster and you can carve some wonderful items that will sell for good money. If, like me, you don’t have that artistic gene, you can still do well and make craft pieces that will be attractive enough to sell at a craft fair.

Here is a lovely suggestion that I’ve used myself to great effect: make a stunning clock.  Here’s how to go about it.

Choose a slice through a sizeable trunk or a burl on the side of the trunk that has a beautiful grain. (here’s where your friendly tree surgeon comes in handy). Now rout out the back and make a hole through to the front where your clock hands will fit. Of course you’re going to have to get the clock workings first to ensure everything fits. These can be bought very cheaply for just a few pounds online.  If you don’t have a router, find a friendly carpenter who will help you out or Google it!

Once you have the back of your clock prepared, it’s time to start sanding the wood. It’s far easier to use an electric sander, of course, making sure you wear a mask to protect your lungs.

It’s a dirty job so do it outside, away from the house if possible, on a fine, dry day. This is going to take some work but if you persevere you can achieve a lovely silky finish that will show off the grain. If you’re doing it by hand, this is definitely going to take a while, but you can still get the same effect by starting with course sandpaper and a block, then working to a finer sandpaper to finish.

Once the sanding is finished, you can oil or varnish your wood. Tung oil is a good option, or you may already have something in your shed that would work. Don’t skimp on this because you want a beautiful finish. It may require some fine sanding between coats.

I would use Google again to read about the different types of finish so that you can find something that will enhance your wood and bring out the grain. You can go for something high gloss if that’s the look you want, or perhaps something with more of a silk finish would look better.

Once you’ve got the finish right, then the final step is to insert the clock and a battery. Voila – a simple and cheap clock that ought to sell at a craft fair for £50 – £100 – maybe more if you’re managed to find some wood with excellent grain.

There are many ways to sell your items and we’ll be covering that in future posts. I’ll also give you more ideas for working with wood.


Idea No 2 – What can you sell?

Another idea that may sound obvious – but I’ll bet there are things around your house that you could sell to raise cash.

The whole point of raising some money with these first two ideas is to give you a little something to get started with. Most businesses, however modest, will need a little capital to get you started, so let’s make the process easier.

If you really don’t have anything at all to sell, then you’ll have to move on to Idea No. 3, but I’m guessing that 98% of you will have something, but maybe you just haven’t realised it yet.

Here are some ideas for finding things to sell

  1. Sort out your old CDs, DVDs, videos and books. You can sell these on E-Bay or Amazon very easily. Invest a little time learning how these sites work and how you can sell almost anything.
  2. Go through your children’s old toys. You may need to give them a good clean, but you’ll be surprised how many can be resold once you’ve spruced them up.
  3. Sort through your clothes to find anything saleable that doesn’t fit or you’ve gone off.  Don’t forget to include shoes.  They may not raise a lot, but we’re looking for every penny here and on these sites you can add a reasonable amount for postage, which can boost your profit.
  4. Do you have a wedding gown or bridesmaid dress or christening gown that could raise some money?
  5. Search through your drawers and cupboards for things you’ve hidden away because you don’t use them any more. Do you have any unloved ornaments stored in a box somewhere or perhaps some old silver cups that you won as a baby?
  6. Any old furniture that can be sold as is, or perhaps you can paint it, rub down and sell it as shabby chic. Recycling in this way can be satisfying as well as profitable.
  7. Go through your garden and look for plants that you can plant in pots to sell at a boot sale. Even ivy, which grows all over the place, is worth good cash if you can get a few strands to grow up a cane. Or maybe you have some flowers that you can cut, tie up with a pretty ribbon or wrap in tissue to sell outside your house or at a boot sale.
  8. Do you have any craft items lying around the house that you could turn into something saleable?  Perhaps some wool that you could knit into hats or scarves or some spare material that you use to whip up some cushion covers or table runners. Use your imagination and come up with some creative ideas to add value to some of the stuff that’s been living in your home.

Good luck with your searches – try to think outside the box and create something out of nothing.

Check back for some more ideas shortly

Idea No. 1 – Find that Cash

It’s simple, it’s fairly obvious and perhaps it’s even a bit of a cheat!

But it’s also easy to overlook so here goes – don’t beat me up, just try it.

Search for money you’ve lost

Ridiculous right?

loose changeBut maybe not. I can virtually guarantee that you’ll come across some small change if you’ll just hunt it out. Here are some places to try – and remember, every single penny counts.

Don’t move on to Idea No 2 until you’ve thoroughly searched all the places below

  • Down the back/sides of the sofa and armchairs. Yes it’s a cliche, but you can usually find some loose change down there if you just get down on your hands and knees and suffer the indignity of bruised hands
  • All the drawers in your house where you may have thrown the odd £.  What about that cup or pen holder that may contain the odd 10p? Search it out
  • Your car. Start with those little hidey holes, glove box and other compartments. Then look down the back of each seat and scrabble around the floor a bit. Find anything?
  • Your pockets. Get out all your coats and jackets, both winter and summer and rifle through them. I’ve been know to find the odd fiver lying around. Search trouser pockets too.
  • Handbags, pouches and suitcases. Take everything out and search through every compartment. If you come across any euros or cents, put those aside too.
  • Hiding places. Do you have anywhere you may have squirreled away some cash “just in case”? Think hard – you may have forgotten where you put it
  • Check old bank, building society and Post Office accounts. Sometimes we abandon these with a few pounds left in. Do a Google search to discover how to locate any money left in dormant accounts. Be ruthless – it’s your money and you should have it in your pocket. Many people have old Post Office accounts with a few quid in them, amounting to millions of pounds nationwide. Claim yours!
  • Premium bonds. Perhaps your parents or grandparents bought you the odd premium bond when you were a child. Could you cash them in to give you a little extra money?
  • The shed, garage, outbuildings. Sometimes we take things out of our pockets and just dump them in a pot or on a bench. Could you have left cash anywhere in your garden or outside buildings?

So I hope you’ve found at least a little cash. At the very worst you’ve wasted half-an-hour, but I bet you’ve found some loose change at the very least!

It’s a start and it marks a change in your attitude towards money. Harness that changed view and move on to Idea No 2