Unhappy with your job? You aren’t alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3 million people quit their jobs this past November alone.
Employees quit for a variety of reasons, from unhappy work conditions to the desire to be their own boss. Many who leave settle with another company, but a large percentage turn to self-employment. This growing trend isn’t expected to slow. By 2020, analysts predict that more than 40% of the American workforce will be independent.
The gig economy is populated by freelancers of all types, and more than a few have chosen unusual paths. You won’t believe what these six entrepreneurs are selling online to reach financial freedom.
When people ask Peter Lovisek what he does for a living, he explains that he deals in rare, museum quality fossils. Yes, you read that right. We are talking woolly mammoth tusks from Siberia and a 50-million-year-old garfish. “My business, Fossil Realm, sprung forth from a longtime hobby,” says Peter. “It became a side hustle throughout my years in high school and university, and I’m often shocked that I ended up pursuing it as a career.”
How does one even get started in wheeling and dealing fossils? At 13, Peter attended his first fossil and mineral trade show in Detroit. He spent his savings on fossils that spoke to him; one piece was a fossilized trilobite from Morocco. Peter then sold the pieces for a profit at a trade show in his home province, Ontario, Canada.
He repeated this tradition year after year and started selling the fossils on eBay. “It’s taken many years, but my business has reached the point that it supports the lifestyle I want, which is extremely rewarding,” says Peter. His business allowed him to buy a new home and travel to other countries with his wife, Helene.
Jeff Kneal worked for an e-commerce site for four years and decided to branch out on his own after learning how to operate a drop ship website. After researching niches, Jeff stumbled across the idea of selling live crickets. He launched The Critter Depot and now earns about $500 a month. Bonus: he never has to touch a cricket, since his supplier takes care of shipping the little guys.
Craig Wolfe took the iconic rubber ducky and gave it a Hollywood facelift. His business Celebriducks transforms rubber ducks into celebrities including film icons, athletes, movie stars and rock stars. The company has sold over one million ducks. Its most recent rendition, the Trump duck, is a best-seller. “I never thought he would actually win and really did not see this coming,” Craig says. The Trump duck looks like the President and comes with the slogans, “Take quack America,” and, “Make bath time great again.”
Before Craig started the duck business, he was the largest publisher of television commercial artwork. He created the first ever animation art lines for Coca-Cola, M&M/Mars, Nike and more. He sold his business to go all-in with his ducks. The risk was great, but he admits, “We are a bit crazy and different, but then again we have sold over one million ducks so something is working!”
Wrist Water Bottles
“When I first came up with the idea for a water bottle you wear on your wrist, many people told me it would never work and I should just get a ‘real’ job,” says Julie Austin, inventor of Swiggies, a portable wristband water bottle for kids and adults. Julie’s instincts were on target. She has sold over 750,000 Swiggies in 24 countries and was a NASDAQ Product of the Year semifinalist.
Her pluck and business success led to invitations to be a keynote innovation speaker for corporations such as Procter & Gamble and Northrop Grumman, and a guest on many popular talk shows.
Notes from Santa
Think Santa is only for December? Then you may not be a parent who relies on Santa to keep their kids in line. Dana Gutkowski took the idea that Santa “sees you when you are sleeping and knows when you’re awake,” and turned it into a profitable business. Her website, North Pole Notes, offers parents a way to send Santa-themed notes and goodies to kids all year round. This means your child can get a valentine from Santa.
Dana launched her site in September 2016. She says, “North Pole Notes grants me freedom from a 9-5 job and enables me to express my creativity on a daily basis.”
Sam Williamson, an internet marketer in Glasgow, wrote a blog about fish keeping because he had a passion for it. Readers asked for his advice on the best fish tanks and tank related products. Noticing an opportunity, he started selling fish tanks through his website, Fish Tank Bank. His fish tank business often brings in more in a month than his day job as an internet marketer. The earnings from his side business allowed him to reduce his workload to part-time hours.
These six entrepreneurs prove that you can earn a great stay-at-home income selling just about anything, as long as you can identify the market for it. As Julie Austin says, “There is always a buyer. Don’t let anyone talk you out of a great idea!”