Yes, it’s that time again! Time for me to share a free business idea you can use to become your own boss.
After the first entry in this series I gathered there was some confusion over my goal in sharing these ideas. The point is not to give you ideas that will make you rich. The point is to give you ideas that will make you self-employed. I want more people to explore the possibility of self-employment, and you can either use these ideas as-is or as a launching pad for your own business.
Some readers seemed to get the impression that I was offering a way to get rich quick, or attract venture capital, or go public with a billion dollar valuation. But getting rich quick is the wrong goal, on the wrong time frame. Most people never get rich, and you want to do it quick?
The point of being self-employed is to be self-employed, and my free business ideas are here to help.
Made in America Great Again
If you’ve ever met me at a Saverocity DO or at one of my subscribers-only meetups, you may remember my hilarious, or at least chuckle-worthy, graphic t-shirts. What you may not know is that they’re printed on American Apparel t-shirts, which are made by union labor in a factory in downtown Los Angeles (for now).
Clothes made in the United States? Aren’t those preposterously expensive, due to our onerous labor regulations and crushing minimum wages? Couldn’t you save thousands of dollars buying t-shirts from Southeast Asian sweatshops?
Nope. You can buy 12 graphic t-shirts printed on American Apparel for $143.88, plus $10.99 in shipping, from RoadKill T-Shirts (not a referral link, you should just shop there):
Now, is $12.91 per t-shirt more than you can pay for the cheapest sweatshop t-shirt on the market? Of course. Does the cheapest sweatshop t-shirt on the market have a hilarious graphic design? Of course not.
Moving on from t-shirts, I recently decided I needed a better khaki than the Dockers I’ve been buying for the past few years. After an hour or two of googling about, I discovered the All American Clothing Co.
Think back to the last pair of casual trousers you purchased. Go ahead and pull it up on Amazon if you have to. How much did you pay? My go-to pair of Dockers is currently listed at $49.30 on Amazon, with free shipping as you’d expect.
Using a 20%-off coupon code for “new” customers, and purchasing 3 pairs of these khakis to get my order over $100 in order to qualify for free shipping, my all-in cost on each pair of trousers made in the United States was $43.96:
They recently arrived and after wearing them for the last couple days I can tell you they are twice as comfortable as my old Dockers. Paying less for high-quality, American-made clothing is a no-brainer.
By now you may have gathered where this is going, and what my free business idea is: if American-made goods are much less expensive than you think they are, then they’re also much less expensive than other people think they are. And that means you can buy them for the real price and sell them for the inflated price people think they’re worth.
Nuts and bolts
The great thing about Made in America Great Again is that it lets you start as small as you’d like and scale up as you go. The prices I showed above are retail prices. To get started, you could order 20 pairs of khakis in a range of sizes, and pick your favorite 3 or 4 graphic designs and order 24 shirts in a variety of sizes and colors (you need to order multiples of 12 to trigger the biggest discount). Then hang out a shingle at your local flea market, people’s market, or farmer’s market. Selling the trousers at a modest profit margin of $20-30 each, and t-shirts for $10-15 more than you paid will secure you a decent profit you can roll into the next order, and give residents of your neighborhood or city access to affordably-priced US-made clothing.
Once you’ve discovered the designs and sizes that have the most demand, you can reach out to the merchants to secure wholesale pricing and start selling more often, and at larger profit margins. This free business idea offers essentially unlimited potential for growth since most people in the United States don’t have convenient access to US-made apparel.
Finally, keep in mind that these trousers and shirts are just a starting point. As you expand you should add other great American-made goods, like can openers. It’s your business now: what American-made goods do you think people in your community should have access to? Make it happen!