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Ways To Make Money From: Office And Business Services

Office And Business Services

SINCE MANY SMALL to medium sized firms don’t have the time or staff to deal with certain tasks such as book-keeping, advertising and debt collection, they will contract out the work to individuals working on a freelance basis. So there’s a whole range of services you could offer if you have specialized knowledge or experience.

These opportunities require little in the way of capital investment or experience, but you may want additional training in your chosen field. It is possible to get RSA, City and Guides, Pitman and NVQ certificates in subjects such as typing, keyboard skills, word processing, data processing, desktop publishing and more. Contact local colleges for course details. Here are 30 fantastic office and business services you could start:

  1. Typing and word processing service

Small businesses often need typed reports, letters, business plans and like, but can’t always afford a full-time secretary, so the work handed to freelance typists / WP operators.

All you require is a quality typewriter or a PC running word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Word Perfect, plus reasonable typing skills. If you need extra help just put up cards in local shop windows to recruit homeworkers.

You can charge anything from $8 per hour upwards. If you provide quality, speed and flexibility you should be successful.

  1. Typing dissertations and CVs

Another typing / WP service is to provide dissertations, theses and project for students. Reach them by pinning up business cards on notice boards around lecture theaters, halls of residence and common rooms. The average rate is about $12 per thousand words.

Typing CV is another possibility – you can charge $20 per CV (including ten additional laser copies). If you have a lot of clients it is worth investing in a document scanner. This will scan handwritten notes and turn into computerized text, thus saving you time and effort.

  1. Dictation service

With average rates of $7.50 – plus an hour, dictation is another lucrative secretarial service.

It helps to know shorthand when taking dictation in person or over the phone, but don’t worry if you don’t. With a dictation machine it’s possible to transcribe dictated types and turn them into type written documents.

If you can afford one, buy a voice recognition system. These turn dictated information into text, helping you minimize effort and maximize profit.

  1. Telephone answering service

Although answerphones and other electronic recording devices have made life easier for the small business, many people are turned off by the frustration of having to listen to a recorded message. This can cost firms thousands of pounds in lost profit, but you can help – by providing a telephone answering service, taking orders and messages and even making sales calls.

All you need to start is a phone, the number of which your client should get printed on their letterheads, leaflets and so on. You may need to add further phones and lines as you get more custom, and hire / buy a switchboard.

Potential clients include salesman, homeworkers, mail order companies and people who work on a 24 hour on-call basis such as plumbers, electricians and mechanics. Charge each client about $25-$50 per month for a specified number of calls, with a surcharge of 25 pence for each call beyond that number.

To get work, remind firms that quick, courteous and efficient service by telephone answering staff will secure lucrative business.

  1. Telesales

If you enjoy talking to people on the phone then telesales is another possibility. Although not everyone’s idea of a good job, you can earn far more as a self-employed telesales worker than you’ll ever make working for someone else.

The idea is that businesses hand over their customer lists for you to make calls on their behalf. Ensure that when you telephone potential clients they are impressed with your efficient, friendly and persuasive telephone manner.

Charge a flat fee per call, plus commission on any sales. Make enough calls and this is bound to be profitable.

  1. Letter writing service

Firms and individuals constantly need to send out letters for various purposes; for example, a bank loan application, a sales letter, a letter persuading a debtor to pay up, or a letter of complaint. Not all managers are skilled at letter writing, so may prefer to pay a professional to do it.

If you have a reasonable command of English and either an electronic typewriter or a computerized word processor, this is a good money maker. Save a template of each letter type and modify it to suit each individual client. If you need help, books are available that highlight good examples of standard forms of letter (‘How to Write Sales Letters that Sell’ by Drayton Bird is one example).

  1. Copywriting service

The standard of a great deal of advertisements, brochures and sales letters that firms produce is pitiful. They don’t do the job and are a waste of money.

Bosses may be great at running the company but can’t necessarily be expected to write effective sales literature, which is why good copywriters are always in demand.

The best way to begin is to take a course in copywriting. The Streetwise School of Copywriting provides an excellent background both in effective sales writing and getting clients – call 01709 820033 for a course information pack.

There are two main sources of business: you can market yourself directly to small-to-medium sized firms or, since larger companies tend to approach advertising agencies rather than individual copywriters, you can contact agencies offering your services as a freelancer.

Bear in mind that freelance copywriters get paid more money for less work than practically any other writer, earning over $20,000 a year on average.

  1. Logo and letterhead design

All businesses need memorable, classy-looking logos, letterheads and other printed materials. Usually this means going to an expensive graphic design studio or printer, but you could provide a low-cost service if you have a computer with graphic design software (such as CorelDraw, Aldus Freehand or Adobe Illustrator) and a color laser printer.

It’s possible to buy quality paper (often featuring background colors and patterns) that will pass through your laser printer, making it easy to produce short runs of professional-looking letterheads, leaflets, posters and so on.

If long print runs (i.e. Over 100 sheets of A4) are required you’ll need to pass on the work to a printer, but you could set up a deal where they pay you a commission on each job you pass on – you’ll charge your client a design fee too.

Small businesses tend to want small amounts of printed materials as and when they need them rather than large amounts that take years to use up, so this service will thrive so long as your charges are competitive.

  1. Photocopying and fax service

A photocopying and fax service requires the minimum of effort to set up and run.

Machines can be leased or bought cheaply secondhand. To cut the expense and aggravation of faults, get a maintenance agreement with the manufacturer or a repair person.

It may be worth setting a minimum photocopying charge to encourage high-volume business – people wanting the odd copy might be more trouble than they are worth.

  1. Making rubber stamps

Rubber stamps are useful to businesses – for letterheads, stamping invoices, directories,’ signatures and the like – and a rubber stamp – making service is a straightforward and profitable one to offer.

If you can establish a healthy level of demand it may be worth buying a cheap machine – business auctions and magazines such as Exchange and Mart are good sources of supply. Alternatively, take order for a manufacturer and earn a commission on each item you sell.

  1. Paper shredding and disposal

Companies are always clearing out old files, accounts, letters and other paper materials. Why not turn their waste into cash by disposing of it for them?

It’s possible to buy paper shredders (try auctions and business magazines) that can be loaded onto a van and taken to the company to shred materials on site.

The selling point is that you can save firms money. Compared to the alternative – getting someone to load all the material onto a truck before taking it away to be burned, perhaps having to lug the materials along corridors and down many flights of stairs in the process – your service should be quick, hassle-free and cost-effective.

Look into recycling possibilities, which can make you extra money (being environmentally-friendly is a good selling point too), as well as the animal bedding, packaging and fuel markets.

  1. Book-keeping service

Few small business managers are skilled in bookkeeping or employ full-time accounts staff, and fewer still enjoy doing doing the job themselves, so there’s plenty of demand for basic book-keeping services.

You’ll need experience, and if you have knowledge of computerized accounts, wages and PAYE, tax and VAT returns, so much the better. But don’t worry if you know nothing about book-keeping – you can profit by setting up an agency. Recruit a few experienced bookmarkers who can work from home, keep them supplied with work, and profit from doing little other than promoting the service.

  1. Data processing and database service

When managers start a business it is making sales, rather than administration, that is understandably foremost in their minds. But many have scant awareness of the need efficient order processing and customer file management and become swamped when the orders start coming in.

A way to help managers improve efficiency is to offer a database and data processing service. You deal with putting the firm’s customer records (and other information, such as suppliers or creditors, if necessary) onto computer database, and maintain and clean up the files as necessary.

Databases are the most efficient way of storing such information. They give access to specific records at the touch of a button (for example, you could print out a list of customers in a certain postcode area, or that have bought a certain product), they can be updated in bulk in seconds, and they can be used to produce personalized sales letters and address labels with the customer’s name and address automatically inserted. Since mailing lists can be sold to other organizations, databases can be a source of profit too.

Anyone with a PC and database software (such as Dbase, Filemaker Pro or FoxPro) can set up this service – just contact small-to-medium sized firms and explain the benefits you can offer.

  1. Organizing business mailings

Handling mailings on behalf of business customer is a useful add-on to the database service.

Imagine a firm wanted to ‘warm up’ its customer base by sending a promotional leaflet and covering letter to all customers that hadn’t made a purchase in the past two years. A database would make this possible. You’d select the relevant files and print out their address labels and customized covering letters.

The next step is to insert the materials into the envelopes, stick on the address labels and ensure each envelope has the correct postage. A team of part-time envelope stuffers can be recruited for this.

It’s common practice to put up postcards in shop windows offering homeworkers the chance to make $X per hour per 1000 envelopes they stuff at home.

Just drop off the raw materials at their house and pick them up again when the envelopes are stuffed and ready.

  1. Mail collection and distribution

Wrap-and –ship shops are big business in the US and there’s great potential for them here.

The principle is that customers can bring anything into the shop, no matter how big, and have it wrapped and send immediately. This includes anything from one-off parcels to large business mailings.

Don’t believe that you have to transport the goods yourself – simply do a deal with Parcel force or whoever, charging the customer the cost of sending the parcel plus a 100 percent mar-up. Although this business is likely to be most successful if operated from a high street location, start-up investment is minimal and the only ongoing costs will be for marketing and packaging materials.

A related service is receiving business and personal mail. Although post office boxes provide a similar service, you may have an advantage in being closer to your customers, or you might have a ‘prestige’ address. Charge $5-plus a week for receiving mail. You can double this figure by offering a re-direction service (by mail or by personal delivery) to the client’s real address.

  1. Credit control and debt collection

If you’re good with persuasive letters and phone calls then credit control could be for you.

Offer yourself to local firms and take a commission on each debt collected. Some operators ‘buy’ debts from other companies. Say a firm has a customer that refuses to pay a $100 bill. ‘Selling’ the debt to a collection agency for $25 means it can at least recoup some of the money. If the collection agency is then able to recover all of the $100, or over $25 at least, then it is in profit.

This end of this business is only for the tough and extremely thick skinned, so if you feel you’re not mean spirited enough for debt collection, stick to simple credit control. This is a vital service to small companies, who rely on collecting bills to maintain cash flow. If this is a business you’re experienced in you can make extra money teaching other firms how to collect debts.

  1. Business detective

Being a business detective (or consultant, if you prefer) could be a lucrative operation for the right person.

Get firms to pay you unearth information vital to their business, for example: on rival companies, their products and services, their prices and profitability, their suppliers, their promotional methods, their advertisements and sales materials, their staff and wage levels… Details such as these are invaluable to firms, particularly when developing a new product or service, so you can charge consultancy rates of well over $20 an hour.

  1. Efficiency expert

Here’s another big money consultancy service for someone with organizational talent, good communications skills and plenty of business experience.

The efficiency expert is hired by firms to organize their files (computerized and otherwise), accounts, company structure and operational methods, staff, and even the office layout, the purpose being to boost efficiency and improve the work environment and inter-relationships. Again, expect to charge an hourly rate of $20-plus.

Setting up free seminars is a great way to publicize your expertise, establish contacts, and generate more trade.

  1. Organizing business events

Companies often need to organize board meetings, seminars, trade events, conferences, press meetings, corporate entertainment and staff parties. They don’t always have enough knowledge, time or staff to do it themselves and will pay an ‘expert’ instead.

You don’t need ‘expert’ ability, however, just energy, organizational skills and commonsense. Your job is to discuss firms’ requirements and then implement them according to their budget. Develop strong contacts with venues (suitable for anything from a small board meeting to a party for thousands of people), hire companies (for things like tables, seating, audio visual equipment, trailers, caravans, tenting, and staging), caterers and even entertainment agencies.

Building up contacts will help you get an idea of what is needed for each event – the venue, equipment, food, entertainment and so on – and how much it will cost. Firms will also have benefit from your knowledge, getting a better event to suit their pocket, and you may even be able to negotiate clients a discount from venues and other suppliers.

  1. Integrated office services agency

Why not set up an agency comprising any or all of the other services described here?

A one-stop-shop on a prominent street close to business clients will benefit from the exposure and repeat custom. Once customers know where it is, and realize you provide a range of useful services at reasonable prices, they’ll come again and again.

Don’t think that the start-up costs will be prohibitively high. True, to lease (or buy) office space and equipment such as computers, photocopiers and fax machines won’t come cheap, but you can do most of the work yourself initially. As business improves you can take on extra staff.

Alternatively, the jobs you can’t do yourself can be provided ‘by appointment only’ the passed to freelancers. Contact freelance typists, graphic designers and anyone doing something you can’t do yourself, and ask them to work for your agency on an on-call basis. These jobs can be passed to your freelancers, with you taking a commission. This way you can cut overheads and still offer a comprehensive service.


  1. Setting up pension plans
  2. Business loan counselling
  3. Company registration
  4. Personnel consultancy
  5. Business broking
  6. Billing and bill paying
  7. On-site teaching and seminars
  8. Business book ordering service
  9. Translating
  10. Inventions broking

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