Taking care of a child might only get you a few dollars per hour depending on the time and place, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. If you have nothing else coming in, any income can be useful. Also, if you are free to use the time for other things as well, it can make more sense.
For example, a friend of mine pays a woman to watch her child overnight because she works the night shift. The woman is paid only $25 or $30 for the twelve hours the boy is at her house, which is less than $3 per hour. But she is free to do what she wants for most of that time, since the child is watching television or sleeping for all but the first couple hours.
That makes this a good supplemental income if you are meanwhile studying for a license or degree that will get you to the next job or business. This can work even if you are going to the home of the child to watch him or her, but works best when you do it in your own home, where you can most productively use the time available. This is also a good supplemental income if you have a home-based business, like an internet business, or a mail order company. If the child is old enough, he or she may even be able to help you with the business (“It will be fun Jimmy!”).
Here’s another advantage: no investment is required to start doing this.
I rode around with a taxi driver in Traverse City Michigan one night many years ago – a condition of being hired by the taxi company. After several hours during which he made about $10 total, I changed my mind about the job (try larger cities for this one). But while the driver and I were talking he told me about occasional “special runs” that all the drivers waited to get.
Local factories sometimes needed parts delivered to the auto makers. Amazingly, they used taxis. What’s more, they – or GM or Ford – paid full rate for the hundreds of miles, which came to many hundreds of dollars. (no wonder the auto industry is in trouble).
Now it seems obvious that the car makers or factories would rather pay less than a few dollars per mile if a cheaper service was available. At that time I certainly would have been happy to deliver the parts in my car for less than half of what they paid. There was an opportunity here, and there may still be one.
If you already have a car, you can get sign or two made for it and business cards printed and be in business for a couple hundred dollars. I wouldn’t rely on advertising alone, though. It seems to me that a delivery service would do much better faster if you identified potential customers and approached them directly.
For example, list any business chains in the area. These can be stores, restaurants or even some service businesses. Often one store will need to get supplies from another. This sometimes happened at a fast food chain where I worked 25 years ago. The restaurant might break a piece of equipment or run out of cups, and a manager would have to get in his car and go to one of the other restaurants in another city to get whatever was needed. You can leave a card and suggest that they call you in these situations.
You can also approach businesses that don’t offer delivery of their products, and suggest that for a charge that they pass on to the customer, you can deliver. A pet grooming business, for example, could offer pick-up service (which you provide), or a store that doesn’t normally deliver specially ordered items can do so using your service.
This is a business that you can start tomorrow. Check the regulations to see if you need to upgrade your driver’s license (Michigan, for example requires a chauffeur’s license – which means a written test and $10 or so). You also may have to upgrade your auto insurance and look into business liability Insurance.