Weird Ways to Make Money

Borders may be liquidating, but there is no shortage of books still being printed, judging by the listings that come across my desk. The other day, I got a pitch from Wiley about a Steve Gillman book called “101 Weird Ways to Make Money.” The subtitle? “Cricket Farming, Repossessing Cars, and Other Jobs with Big Upside and Not Much Competition.”

The 101 job/business ideas are fascinating enough (maggot farming, specialty beer brewer, golf course bird remover, mobile oil changer, animal boarder, foreclosure cleaner, etc.) You probably won’t get rich from many of them, if any of them, but what I appreciate most is the mindset. We live in a delightfully varied economy. If you set your base expenses pretty low (particularly if it’s only you that you have to worry about — which in an age where children comprise about the lowest percentage of the population ever is the case for many households) there are countless ways to make enough to live on. Particularly if you specialize and meet a need.

It’s a different mindset than we learn in school. Many of us tend to grow up thinking that, just as you go to 8th grade after 7th grade, there is a job related to a particular degree waiting for you after graduation. One of the biggest disillusioning moments young people have is when they realize this is not the case. Sometimes this then leads to graduate school, in pursuit of whatever other degree guarantees an interesting profitable job.

Perhaps there is such a degree. But far better to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, where you look at a high foreclosure rate and feel empathy for the people involved, of course, but then also see an opportunity to clean out those houses on behalf of the banks that repossess them. As the economy undergoes its wrenching shifts, this is a mindset more and more of us are going to need.

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