Monthly Archives: March 2005

Alternative Investing

To date, the primary source of investing I have done with my investment account money is stock. Once the account balance hits $1,000 I put $500 into my Ameritrade account.

Right now I have $1,217 to invest. $500 will most likely go to stock soon, but I have $217 to play around with. I’ve previously used extra money like this to buy business clothing, but I want to do something different this time.

Gambling to me is not only entertainment, it can be a form of investing. Some friends of mine constantly play online poker for entertainment (and of course to make money) and they make decent returns every once in a while, but online poker is extremely time consuming. Online sports betting was brought to my attention by The Alpha Guy.

I don’t know much about sports, but after doing some research I found you can place relatively safe bets that turn small profits. If played out right with no emotion involved, this could possibly churn out some small profits here and there with very little time and research involved. The high stakes gambling can be left for trips to Vegas :)

Obviously there are risks, but what doesn’t have risks? Even if I lose this $217, I will consider it a $217 class on statistics, odds and risk management. Hey, that’s cheaper than taking a statistics course in college!

Business Ideas – Make Money with No Money

The following is a list of several small side incomes you can make without much startup capital (or none at all). High school students, broke college students or anyone looking to score a little extra cash can take this advice. This list goes contrary to the saying “It takes money to make money”. I feel there are tons of ways to make money, but people never pursue them because they seem “menial” or “not worth their time”. Well here are a few things you can do to make quick cash without a formal business plan, investors or anything of the sort.

1.) Sell Water. That’s right. Buy a 24-pack of bottled water, ice it, then sell on a hot day. Your $3.00 investment has turned a $21 profit in a small amount of time. This may seem like something only a bum would do, but trust me, you will learn more from this experience than in any marketing class. Water can be substituted with soft drinks, hot coco etc.
Easy Factor Rating: *****
**Tried this experiment on 4-03-2005

2.) Mow Lawns. If you don’t have a lawnmower, borrow one. Go around a neighborhood offering your service. This business works particularly well for younger kids. Live in a cold area? They substitute lawn mowing with snow shovelling. You can ALWAYS get people to pay for this by lowering your price. Surprise people by offering to shovel a driveway for $3 if you are having trouble finding business. Some money is better than none, and you get plenty of excersize!
Easy Factor Rating: *****

3.) Powerwashing. Rent, buy or borrow a simple power washer and clean driveways and houses. Driveways will take 30-40 minutes depending on size. The real goldmine here is cleaning houses. This job will fetch over $100 and requires only a telescoping ladder and a bit more risk. For younger kids, their 30-40 minutes spent power washing a driveway will fetch about $20-$30. The trick here is to start off one house at a low price, then pitch to the surrounding houses showing off how clean their neighbors driveway is. Getting a company to hire you is even better. Gas stations, property management companies all need power washing services, but this may require some heavier duty equipment. Power washing can be done on any lazy Saturday afternoon where you are doing nothing better. Take before/after pictures and show off your work during your door-to-door sales pitch.
Easy Factor Rating: ****

4.) Accounting. Know accounting? Then become a part-time book keeper for a small business. These part timers get anywhere from $14 to $22 an hour for their services. Accounting CAN be self-taught, but a class is recommended. I know two accountants who make very nice livings working out of their garage. I see ads in the paper looking for part time book keepers all the time. You can educate yourself or hone your knowledge for free with books from the library.
Easy Factor Rating: *

5.) Get a job. Duh. If you feel totally inadequate to take a little risk and make money for yourself, or you need a more steady income, just get a small job. Even though I make enough money on the side, I still hold a job for the added income. If you are not picky about your job and just need some quick income, work at a coffee house, or in fast food etc. Get a job as a janitor, helping hand etc. These areas are always looking for non full time employees. You can get hired very quickly if you apply to those types of positions. Jobs are great, but you must obey the orders of others, often perform duties you may dislike and revolve around someone else’s schedule. The other ideas on the list give you more freedom to wheel and deal as you please.
Easy Factor Rating: *****

6.) Computer Cleanup. If you are decently computer savvy, charge a small fee for cleaning up slow running computers. My old 800Mhz Dell desktop can still outperform most personal computers that are four times as fast because I keep in squeaky clean of viruses, spyware, adware etc. Go door to door asking “Is your computer annoyingly slow? Got crap popping up on your screen all the time? Well I can help you solve that problem in 20 minutes.” I figure you will get quite a few people who would pay $10 – $20 (Or way more!) for your few minutes of service. Simply install all Windows Updates on their computer, install Google Pop-Up Blocker, download and run the new Microsoft Anti-Spyware program and BAM….more efficient computer. I do this for friends all the time, and they can never thank me enough for saving them the frustration of a brand new computer that runs painfully slow because of spyware. I see a huge market for this service. This is a GREAT way for a computer savvy student to make some quick ca$h. Total costs for software = $0.00. Every program I mentioned was 100% free. Who says it takes money to make money??
East Factor Rating: ****

Of course these are only a select few ways to generate small amounts of cash. These ideas will most likely not get you rich, but making cash is better than sitting around and being idle! Also, the experience you gain from trying out these ideas is more valuable than anything learned sitting in a classroom.

Now go out there and make some !!!

Neville’s Google Guide

Properly utilizing Google and other search engines is one of the keys to online business success. I don’t spend a single cent advertising my online business that brings in between $500 and $1,000 per month. I have simply optimized the site for Google and the like.

Here is a quick guide on how to improve your PageRank.

What NOT to do:
DO NOT try to trick Google. I have done this before by creating a sleu of blogs that all linked to each other and my business. I was penalized for using “invisible” links that were the same color as the background and making a web of pointless links. Google recognized that I was “cheating” and dropped my PageRank to the point where I had the worst sales in years. It took me over 6 months to correct this mistake.

WHAT TO DO:
1.) Name all of your pages. Do not leave pages named www.whatever.com/Product123.html. Make sure you name your pages according to product names etc. such as www.Whatever.com/Cool_Flashing_Gizmo.html. This improves your chances of coming in a higher search result.

2.) Name your images. The images for your cool flashing gizmo should be named: “Cool_flashing_gizmo.jpg” etc.

3.) Update frequently. Leaving your site stale does nothing for you. Update something, ANYTHING, every two days. Search engines recognize your site is active, therefore boosting your credibility. Search engines will also crawl your site more often, allowing you to take advantage of recent updates.

4.) Create a blog for your business. Keep your customers updated with a nice business blog. Talk about your products and link to your business. A blog lets customers know that your business is active, and that there is a person on the other side of that website.

HOW DO I KNOW I’M RIGHT?
Try typing in “Miserable Failure” on Google. The first result is “The Biography of George W. Bush.” This happened because a bunch of bloggers put links on their page like this: Miserable Failure. See what power we have!

EXPERIMENT
One of the top search keywords I get for my site is surprisingly “Starbucks Liquor” I did a post about it a while ago. I will make this link, Starbucks Liquor, and see how much it boosts my position when Googled. Right now I am the 8th result. If a couple other of you bloggers make the link Starbucks Liquor in your blog, with the link pointing to www.NevBlog.com, my position will move higher.

Small Update

I had a goal of setting up a third, steady side income by 3.15.2005. Obviously that goal was due yesterday and I haven’t set up anything new. My asnwer to that is to rejuvinate my efforts with Resumite.com. I see a lot of potential in this market towards the end of this school semester when people will be actively searching for jobs.

When I go back to Austin on Sunday, I will have a new 4-bedroom apartment waiting across the hall from my existing 2-bedroom thanks to the efforts of my roommate. He somehow managed to get our apartment upgraded without any moving fees!

On Thursday I will be attending a Zarthusti Chamber of Commerce meeting. Many memebers of the Zoroastrian community (I am Zoroastrian) are very well established in the business world, and it is nice to network and listen to what they have to say.

Spring….Break?

As I’ve mentioned before, I hate being idle. I am in Houston for Spring “Break” and like I planned it has been a great mixture of business and fun.

The business side is in the form of helping to market condos and several web designing projects on the side. I am also doing some accounting for my online business in the meantime.

I also finally got a chance to see the Lamborghini Gallardo of a family friend today.

I look a bit goofy in this picture, but I am revving up a brand new Lamborghini and I could care less!

I also took a visit to our local Honda dealship one beautiful day to check out the motorcycles:

Marketing Tactics

As the school semester begins to wind down, student apartment complex’s have kicked their marketing efforts into high gear.

I personally live in a student apartment, and it is nice to have only students living around me. The competition for tenents is fierce, so these complex’s come up with all sorts of ways to market.

They give out all sorts of t-shirts, keychains, mugs, frisbee’s etc on campus, but the most unique thing I saw was on Friday.

The UT Shuttle System has over 20,000 student riders per day. An SUV plastered with signs from a local apartment complex came to the bus stop with about 15 people waiting and handed out brown bag lunches which had a BBQ sandwich and soft drink inside each. They then gave T-shirt’s to everyone, and said if they spot you wearing the shirt on Tuesday’s they will give you $50 cash!

This random act of kindness very much impressed everyone, creating a good vibe for that certain apartment complex. As I attempt to market condos this weekend, I need to come up with a direct marketing method that’s creative and cost efficient.

Un-Fair Competition

The Houston Rodeo is the largest rodeo anywhere in the world. It draws huge crowds who stick around for a livestock show, shopping, concerts, a carnival and lots of greasy foods.

One thing I noticed when I went today was the long lines at EVERY food concession stand, despite the prices:

  • Pickle – $2.75
  • Soft Drink – $3.00
  • Funnel Cake – $5.00
  • Chicken Leg – $7.00
  • Regular Beer – $6.00

These prices may look familiar if you ever go to football games or amusement parks. The rodeo regulates the prices for these items, not allowing them to be sold for under a certain price. This price cooperation between vendors forces patrons to pay preposterous prices.

Thankfully free competition in the real world prevents prices from getting out of control! From the Rodeo’s standpoint they had a good deal going. They had a complete monopoly on the food market, huge crowds, lots of hungry kids and parents with money to spend.

Lesson for Business Minded People: Fixed competition can be used to your advantage.

For What It’s Worth


Res tantum valet quantum vendi potest

This is a Latin quotation which translates to: “A thing is worth only what someone else will pay for it”

I have this quote posted on my wall upon the advice of Burton Malkiel in A Random Walk Down Wall Street. I am attemting to sell condos this weekend, so I must keep this in mind.

Savings

I am in an Asian Studies class, and we have recently been discussing savings habits in Asia. I’m not sure about the recent facts, but many Chinese families save anywhere from 30% to 50% of their income!

This article shows that most Japanese households save roughly 29% of all disposable income.

Could you for one second imagine if EVERYONE in America saved 30% of disposable income? After the economic bubble burst a few years ago, layoffs would not have hurt as much. Most people would be able to stop working for several months while they find new income streams. Many people would be able to live 6-12 months soley off of “rainy day” accounts without having to touch their longterm savings or children’s college funds.

Savings allows your money to pile up, and if you do not properly manage the urge to splurge, you will end up blowing it in all the wrong places.

I will only spend money on something if I can truly afford it. If something costs $1,000 I can obviously afford it (look to your right). BUT…Notice I do not have $1,000 in my designated spending account. Therefore, I will not buy the product even though I am capable of it.

Too many people THINK they can afford something just because they currently have the money to buy it. Wrong!