A lot of people read blogs like SavvyScot for online business ideas and inspiration for making more money. While cutting your spending back may leave you with more money at the end of the month; for many of us, this is still not enough.
When I was a student I had a fair bit of free time on my hands and spent many a drunken night planning how to take over the world and make it rich before I graduated. Unfortunately too many good times were had and not enough action…. BUT I did launch one business venture with a friend that made some cash.
Making Money as the Middle Man
Making money by being the middle man is the dream. The seller often sits on the risk by holding stock and the manufacturer sits on the risk by nobody ordering the product. Now if you can be the ‘facilitator’ – the one who connects the two parties – you can make some serious money.
I always remember reading a Richard Branson book as a kid and him telling a story about the middle man. After being asked for advice, he proclaimed to an acquaintance in a hot tub on holiday one night that opportunities were all around us – he gave the example of the pool heater that was warming the water and suggested that the guy investigate a licensing opportunity for his home country. A few years on and with an exclusive distributor deal, the guy was a millionaire!
I decided that I would try and find an equivalent opportunity on a much smaller scale. In order to be successful, I realised I had to find a demand – the desire for the product(s) and then a seller that could deliver. In order to be successful, I had to offer something that the seller could not provide directly to the customer. We quickly identified that there was a real issue identifying reading lists for our courses. It was very difficult to understand which books were recommended for which course.
We proceeded to build a comprehensive list across various disciplines and built an Amazon portal. In this case Amazon would handle payments, stock, delivery etc. and we would get a referral cut – very similar to how many bloggers make money today. The customers (fellow students) could use our portal page to find the books that were relevant for their course and would be offered the same competitive pricing that they would receive from going directly to Amazon.
The Successes That Followed
The model was simple – we customised a portal and people clicked through to buy via Amazon. As soon as we had the list of recommended textbooks and all the course codes compiled, all that was left was to advertise the service. We used a combination of techniques: we door dropped about 2000 instantprint leaflets advertising the website URL and the service, we put up posters around campus and paid for adverts on the union TV screens. For the cost of a domain (£10), printing costs (£100) and placement fees (£100) we had a small venture up-and-running!
Because we were offering a quality service that was convenient, people re-visited the site year on year. Word of mouth and social media soon began to advertise the service for us and we were successful.
Opportunity IS There for the Taking
Look around you and think of the things that grind your gears. Chances are that these things also grind other people’s gears too! What can you do to facilitate a relationship / agreement / sale? It is far easier to make money than you think – all you need it motivation. 🙂
Ron Rodney says
Hat tip on a great idea you had there.
And like you say it’s the pain of what you’re going through that can give you the seeds of an idea.
In our case it was the hassle and being overcharged for getting car repairs that we started our business.
Here’s a blog post we did about it – LINK REMOVED
Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com says
Cool story – I think you’re 100% correct. Opportunities are all around us, the main question is if you’re eyes are open to recognize the opportunity and capitalize on it.
Darren @ Ideas For Biz says
I market fast food menus in my small town by scanning the menu into Photoshop, adding an advert for my website then uploading it to said website. Actually, it is a directory, and I have monetised it using the typical freemium model. It’s a good directory because it is sooo small and well targeted. Social media integration has been awesome and paying for FB ads has helped to ping the attention of those people who are just waiting to be told about the service. You only need to tell them once, and running a Facebook ads to get new Likes does that.
The local fast food shops also agreed to run special offers where free items can be redeemed by quoting a voucher code. This is powered by Twitter and a third party app called Future Tweets.
It’s a seriously simple businesses idea but you MUST keep up to date with all the menus. I add all the menus free but charge for banner ads on every page of the directory. It’s hard work but adding Adsense makes it worthwhile (Just-Eat are an Adsense advertiser) so multiple revenue streams are possible.
I have set up more of these directories in other small towns near me. It takes time to build the things and get people aware of them, but it is worth the effort and teaches a lot about internet marketing.
In future I will be able to raise prices having cornered the market. Put it this way – many of the takeaway owners do not have a clue how to do it, so as you point out in the article, it is a case of being the middle man.