All right, so you’re a grower who has successfully gotten your operation off the ground, and your stalks – and profits – are shooting ever skyward.
Congratulations. Now what are you going to do with all that cash lying around?
To get the most out of your money, you should put it to work, right? You can expand your operation, but a strong financial portfolio is a diverse one. You’ve already demonstrated your entrepreneurial prowess with your grow operation; now it’s time to branch out into a side business to generate an additional revenue stream.
However, your grow operation is and shall remain your baby. You don’t want a massively distracting headache sucking away all your time and mental resources. Here are five ideas for low-maintenance, quick-setup businesses to help you round out your business profile.
Start a Coworking Space
These spaces offer a work environment to anyone who wants one without the commitment of a lease or the nagging of actual coworkers. They’re in vogue and perfect for independent designers, techies, entrepreneurs, traveling businesspeople, students and writers. Customers typically pay a monthly membership fee that can range from $50 to $500. Many coworking spaces also offer hourly and daily rates.
The big cost factor is in getting the space – do you buy or lease? – and the challenge is in finding a hip location. Once you do, outfit it with trendy coffeehouse furniture, provide some basic office equipment and perhaps free coffee and water, and include any other bells and whistles of your choosing. Providing keycards to customers means they can let themselves in, minimizing supervision time. But you’ll probably want to hire someone to mind the place.
Follow Your Nose
Considering that you’ve probably developed a discerning grower’s nose, you could put it to use in another line that requires a sharp sense of smell: coffee roasting. Home coffee roasting is hot nowadays, and it’s highly scalable. You can easily go from the garage to a commercial space as sales pick up.
Let Someone Else Put Your Money To Work
Plenty of people want to turn their passion into a job. It could be a friend who wants to start designing furniture and needs capital to get equipment and pay the bills while getting his business off the ground. Or it could be an animal lover who wants to start a dog grooming business that sends a van to people’s homes. You provide startup funds, take a percentage of the business and let the person go nuts.
There’s a big drawback here, though: You have to do serious vetting of the person and the business plan to judge if it’s going to be a viable business. You might also consider getting involved in crowdfunding.
Anything Utilizing a Skill You Happen To Have
Good at web design? Graphic design? Glassblowing? Doing taxes? Are you handy with tools? All these activities can be formalized into an official business. Set up a limited liability company, and you’re in business. LLCs are the most common form of small businesses and are quick and easy to create. Dial it down at times when the grow operation needs your attention, and dial it up during slow times.
It’s also good to have a small network of others who share your skills – people you can subcontract the work out to when you’ve got urgent grow business.
For low maintenance and schedule flexibility, it’s hard to beat a self-serve car wash or laundry business. It’s not exactly glamorous, but all you have to do is check in every day to collect money, restock and clean. Hiring someone to do this for you shouldn’t cost much either. Listing prices for coin-op car washes and laundry businesses range anywhere from six figures to several million dollars, depending on location, condition and traffic.
Also not glamorous, but all you need is a truck, power-washing equipment and a little marketing. These guys are needed in all sorts of situations, from residential to commercial. Pay for the stuff and get someone else to do the work.
Before jumping into any of these endeavors, it’s important to keep in mind that just because this is a side business, it still requires time and energy, no matter how small it is. Gwendolyn Wright, a San Francisco-based small business consultant, has some well-grounded advice for anyone who thinks it will be easy: “If you think you’re going to start a business and not put energy and time into it, don’t start it.”
Even a business like a coworking space is going to need supervision and plenty of marketing to generate awareness, and hiring people to run a business requires a deep level of trust, even if it’s just a car wash.
“Cash moves,” Wright warns. “It’s mysterious.”