Sorry I have been gone. Those who are regular readers know that I am in the process of opening a bar/restaurant and that has been eating into my time and money. But it is an investment and I know that a little work now will pay dividends later. That reminds me of a post I was working on called Start that $20 hustle and make a million dollars.
Most people don’t know what $20 a week can get them. Hell I was told what it would do for me when I was 16 and I didn’t listen. If I had, I would have an account right now with over $100,000 cash in it grown from $20 a week.
To, for some folks, $20 is a drop in the bucket. It is lunch money. For others it means the difference between hamburger helper for the family and just plain helper.
$20 can be found almost under every rock in your neighborhood, if you know what kind of rocks to look for.
I get emails all the time (so if you sent one and I haven’t responded, hang in there, I am working on it). Most of the time it is stuff like “How do I get my hustle going?” or “Where can I get money to finance my hustle?”
The hardest part to locking down a strong hustle is money and patience. If you have ever done any kind of crime, you know that you spend a lot of time waiting. You are either waiting in the bushes for traffic to clear so you can break a window or you are waiting for the store to clear out a little before you run in there. Maybe you are waiting for a foggy night to do your dirt or you are waiting for a homeboy to call you up with the ok on the spot where he works.
Most of the time it is a gut check. You ask yourself, does it FEEL right. Being kids of the 70’s and 80’s my friends and I used to call this our “Spidey Senses”. Some of my other friends called it being ghetto psychic. It is how you know someone is a cop, even though you don’t really know. It is the gut feeling to know that now is the time to act.
But the waiting to act is hard. That is the hardest part to get over. You can have millions in the bank but unless you check the gut, keep it in your pocket. This is why I think that those who grew up in the game have an advantage over those who didn’t. You can smell danger. The other advantage is that you know when to take the risk of running up and smashing that window.
So now that we know that you have to have patience to know when to act, you have got to find the dough. Money has a funny way of multiplying. Think about it. When I was a kid, I sold candy on the schoolyard. I had a little store in my backpack. Actually I carried a duffel bag that was half candy and half books with zippers on both sides. I stole about $2.00 worth of nickel gum and Jolly Ranchers from the 7-11 near my house. I would go back and pay for them as I have the money now but they closed like 12 years ago.
Anyway, I flipped that $2.00 in candy into $4.00 that afternoon. I went and bought $4.00 in candy and sold it for $8.00 the next day. I did this until I was making between $10 and $20 a day net. That’s a pocket full of cash for a 3rd grader in 1983. I took those profits and rolled them into extending my line and setting up distribution (selling candy is like selling crack or weed or anything else). I was the Nino Brown of the elementary school.
But all I needed was that seed money. So here are some ideas for setting up your empire, starting with your first $20. By the way, I have done each of these things myself so i know they work.
Tow Yards – Many Tow Truck companies have impound contracts with the cops. When people don’t pick up their cars, the tow yard doesn’t want to sell them like they are a car lot (they usually don’t have a license to sell cars). So they sell them for scrap to the local junkyards. Offer to sell those cars for them for a split of the profits. They only get $50 to $200 for the salvage on those cars. You might get the car with a salvage title, but my first three cars had salvage titles and that didn’t bother me. Plus a lot of those salvage yards just sell those cars anyway. You are acting as a broker and can list the car on craigslist or ebay if you want. If you have $50 to $200, just ask to buy the car from the lot yourself and don’t split the upsell value.
Recycling – I am not saying go get a bicycle and a bunch of bags and hit the garbage cans. Not that there is anything wrong with that, those people are Hustlers in their own way. I am saying to go by the local bars and restaurants and talk to someone. Maybe it is the owner or the manager or the security guard that is guarding the dumpster. Offer them 50% of the recycled value of the cans and bottles. You swing by once a day, week or month – whatever works. You will make a few extra dollars for sure and you could even turn this into a little business. I used to do this when I was a kid. I didn’t have a car so I would just go to the restaurants around the grocery store and get them to give me their bottles. I would turn them in at the store for cash. It was an easy $10 for an hour of work in 1982 when minimum wage was a little over $3/hr in California.
Mobile Car Wash – If you live somewhere where people like to drive, then going to their homes and telling them that for $5 to $10 you (and your kids or spouse or friends) will wash their cars. If it works out you can set it up so you can stop by once a week to once a month. Use quality soap and nice cloths and bring your own hoses and nozzles so you don’t have to borrow anything from the owner. Make sure you have nothing sharp on you (watches, belts, keys). You can even take a camera with you and take a picture of each car (to document existing damages) and have a check list with a drawing of a car (like the rental places use). In the winter time, shovel snow. Get to really know them and get them on an oil change schedule too.
Be a Mobile Store – People buy water. You can buy it bulk, cheap. Go places where people are exercising (the park, the gym, the community center, little league ball games) with a backpack lined with water resistant cloth (think solar reflectors from PepBoys or thermal blankets). Freeze some of the bottles and put them on the bottom. Make a T-Shirt at Zazzle.com or CafePress.com that say “Water $1.00” or “Snack Pimp” or something like that. If you are in a wheel chair and like to beg for money as your hustle – don’t go panhandle – put some hooks on your wheelchair and be a mobile store. I am far more likely to buy something from you than give you my hard earned money for nothing! And likely people are more likely to give you money if you at least make the effort to sell something.
Make Something – You know how to do something. What are your friends calling you up to help them with? You help people all the time even if it is moving furniture. Do you have a truck, rent yourself on Craigslist for people who need the help. Do you know how to make necklaces? Are you willing to learn something? Open up the PennySaver or phone book to the handyman section. What are other people doing? Learn it and do that too! I have a concrete back patio that my wife wants to stain. It is stamped so there are a lot of brick-like patterns. She wants me to get out there and stain each “brick” individually in alternating colors. Yeah, it will look good and it is easy to do – but I don’t want to do it. I would pay someone $500 to come do it for me over the weekend. I would pay for the stain, brushes and kneepads. And in California as long as it is under $500 you don’t need a contractor’s license. There are a lot of guys like me with more money than time. You have more time than money. Go get their money.
So there are 5 solid ideas. Not everyone can do all of them but anyone can do at least one of them. Take that little money you get and throw it into a CD or savings account or Roth IRA or mutual funds or something. Sit on it and let it grow until you find the next hustle.
If I had done this when I was 16, and increased my savings to my earnings, as I got older – I would have over a million dollars cash in that savings account. Life is funny like that. When you get older you see all the missed opportunities. But while you are looking back at them, don’t forget to look around at the here and now. You don’t want to be 10 years older looking back to now thinking about all the opportunities that you are missing right now.
That bar/restaurant I am opening started from $20. I fixed some computers and stuff when I was 16 years old. I taught myself how. I read books at the library and hung out with other people in that kind of stuff and learned what I could. I charged $20/hr to fix any computer problem that I could fix. I used that money to buy a 1966 mustang for $1,200. I sold that Mustang for $2,500 to help put together the down payment to buy my first house. I sold that house for $200,000 more than I paid for it. I took about $100,000 of that and paid off all my debt and used the rest to buy a crappy little bar in the ghetto. The other $100,000 I used as a down payment on the next house.
I set that bar up, cleaned it up and squeezed every dime out of it until it was the most successful 1100 square feet in that neighborhood. I took the money from that and leased a very high traffic and visible spot in the good side of town. Just by moving into the new building the value of that business has doubled. Remember what they say about real estate? Well it is the same for businesses too – “Location, Location, Location”. The day I open the doors the business will be worth about $500,000.
It all started from a $20 hustle.