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Small Business Ideas- Cultivate Profit Centers to Make a Living Without a Job

Rose Mary is an Air Force veteran and an Occupational Therapist. She enjoys researching and writing on a variety of topics.

Tired of answering to others? Want to be your own boss? Consider developing small business ideas. About a year ago I took two classes with Barbara J. Winter through my local Community Education program. One of the classes was titled Making a Living Without a Job. Barbara’s model of success is based on establishing multiple profit centers, what most of us would consider to be multiple small business ideas. Barbara had great advice and resources to offer. This hub is a summary of some of the things Barbara presented.

Some profit centers can be run from anywhere.  Creative Commons,

Some profit centers can be run from anywhere. Creative Commons,

Barbara J. Winter. Photo provided by Barbara.

Barbara J. Winter. Photo provided by Barbara.


Barbara Winter is the author of the successful book, Making a Living Without a Job:  Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love.  Barbara maintains a website and her blog, Buon Viaggio.  Barbara publishes a print newsletter, Winning Ways, and writes for sites such as  You can find Barbara on Twitter and Facebook.  She is active around the country giving presentations such as the one I attended.  She also does webinars. 

Barbara recommends finding your passions, being a goal-setter, and focusing on rewards.  (Another hub, another day.)  She clusters small business ideas, or profit centers into 6 primary groupings:  Service, Information Packaging, Seasonal, Landlord, Mail Order, and Products.  She personally aims for 10 profit centers, with a goal of $10K per year minimum earning potential each.  Her profit centers change over time with her personal interests and motivation, and with earning potential trends.  Of course she didn’t start with 10 profit centers, and neither should we! 

Pet Poop Scooping Services

Pet Poop Scooping Services


The first grouping of small business ideas is the Service Profit Center. There are two primary types of service.

First there are services that people don’t like to do, and will therefore pay you to do. Services may not require much, if any specialized skills. Such services could include housecleaning, yard work, pool cleaning, painting, and washing the exterior of houses. There is an array of pet services people pay for: grooming, walking, playing and poop scooping.

The second grouping under the Service Profit Center is expert skills. These are specialized skills that others will pay for you to do. This would include trades like plumbing, electricity, and carpentry. Expert services could include teaching a musical instrument, teaching voice, or teaching art. Expert services can overlap with the next category, the Information Management Profit Center. Many motivational speakers and expert consultants fall under both categories.

You can advertize free on Craigslist, or use other web tools and print ads to bring attention to your service.

Expert Speaker/Consultant.  Creative Commons,

Expert Speaker/Consultant. Creative Commons,

Speaking to small group.  Creative Commons,

Speaking to small group. Creative Commons,

Computer Workstation.  Creative Commons,

Computer Workstation. Creative Commons,


The second major grouping of small business ideas is the Information Management Profit Center. This grouping of income options is perfect for people who are passionate about communicating, whether it be through writing or public speaking, or both. This would include most hubbers! Maybe you have a subject, or multiple subject areas you are passionate and knowledgeable about, or maybe you love researching new things. Either way, there is a plethora of options for you in the Information Management Profit Center grouping of small business ideas.

Not only could you work from home with information packaging, you could work from almost anywhere on the planet! Write articles for print or online sites, develop a website, write a blog, speak to any group that will have you. Sell yourself!

For me, I have a tremendous ‘word of mouth’ reputation in the Air Force as an ergonomics expert, and am now working on establishing a reputation outside of the AF. See my hub on Barbara’s lecture, Establishing Yourself as an Expert.

I have written an overview article on computer workstation ergonomics on HubPages. I am deciding whether to write a series of articles on my key points on HubPages, or whether to post my primary work on my own website. I have just started teaching a computer workstation ergonomics class through the San Antonio community education program. And this is just the beginning!

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I could write additional articles on ergonomics for a variety of writing sites. I could develop a more formalized presentation for other professionals. I could post short videos on YouTube, or sell DVDs of my presentation. I could do webcasts. I could write a book or an eBook. For me, ultimately I would like to do onsite consulting in computer workstation ergonomics in office settings.


Craft Fair.  Creative Commons,

Craft Fair. Creative Commons,

Fireworks Stand.  Creative Commons,

Fireworks Stand. Creative Commons,

Christmas Tree Farm.  Creative Commons,

Christmas Tree Farm. Creative Commons,


The third profit center is Seasonal products and services. This would include products that are specific to holidays for example. The idea would be to make a lot of money in a short period of time, and can be good for writers. Depending on your total package of profit centers, you may decide to have multiple seasonal profit centers.

There are fireworks stands in San Antonio that are huge and clustered throughout the city. They only sell fireworks around New Years and 4th of July! A local handyman and repair service advertizes they will put up your outdoor Christmas lights. A lawn service advertizes power washing houses and sidewalks during their off season.

Growing up in S.C., there was a family business that prepared and sold huge quantities of pork barbeque a couple times of year, like Memorial Day and 4th of July. A lot of communities have small business enterprises that smoke turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Another seasonal business is selling Christmas trees.

Maybe you’re an artsy craftsy person. You could make items for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or other holidays. Maybe you could sell handmade or novelty items suitable for Christmas presents. These items could be sold at craft fairs, church bazaars, or similar venues. A friend’s brother-in-law sells his handmade woodcrafted items at a monthly craftsman’s show near Dallas. In Texas, we call these “Market Days”. Some months he does not make much in sales, but picks up orders for custom items that make his time worthwhile.

Turtle Race.  Creative Commons,

Turtle Race. Creative Commons,



The most well known landlord scenario is owning a house or other real estate and renting it out.  There are other ways however for property to support us.  Think a little more broadly, of renting out something you own to other people.  Some of these situations are seasonal.  Have you ever rented a costume for Halloween?  Maybe you’re not into cooking, but perhaps you could rent linens, serving pieces and decorations for people catering their own parties.  This kind of profit center could start small.  Perhaps you buy these things for an anniversary party, or retirement party.  You could rent them out to friends and ‘friends of friends’ by word of mouth. 

Are you handy with small appliance repairs?  Perhaps you could buy broken carpet cleaners, or sewing machines, or snow blowers inexpensively.  You could fix them up and start a profit center renting them out.  Advertize free on Craigslist.  Barbara knew a business that rented mud turtles for a local annual event, featuring mud turtle races. 




One of the oldest small business ideas is the Mail Order business. This profit center is now much easier, and a more attractive option, thanks to options like eBay, Amazon and Etsy. Depending on the product you choose to sale, you could operate your mail order business from most anywhere. Maybe you want to summer in Maine and winter in Florida!



Many industrious entrepreneurs have made a science of finding products to sell on eBay at handsome profits. Just do a search right here on HubPages! Some items may not be appealing to buyers in your country, but may be wildly popular to international customers.



There are two examples of monks who sell products directly through mail order. The Laser Monks sell printer ink cartridges. The Trappist Monks of Ava, Missouri sell delicious fruitcakes.



Maybe you can turn your handcrafted items into a Mail Order Profit Center. I have stumbled on a number of products like soaps and microwavable neck packs, often made and sold by stay-at-home moms as a home-based business. Use established sites such as Etsy, as well as your own websites and blogs to promote your products. My sister has an Etsy store to sell her custom cut and hand painted wood crosses. I have an Etsy store to sell my patriotic flag-inspired mosaic designs.




Power Seller Tips from jimmythejock

  • Rare and Collectible Items on Ebay
    The Ebay Marketplace is a fantastic resource to find rare and unique collectables and antiques at unbelievable prices, there are rare coins, paper money and stamps, there are paintings by some of the famous...
Tupperware.  Creative Commons,

Tupperware. Creative Commons,


Market a product you are enthusiastic about. Barbara says only sell a product that you’d be the first customer for. There are many companies that have been around a long time, and depend on “regular people” to market and sell their products. Most everyone has heard of Amway, Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef and Mary Kay. You could also invent, develop or make something.


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Photo Credits


rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on April 02, 2011:

Thanks for your visit and comment Designsmith. I like the idea generation part. I'm not so good at implimentation.

Designsmith from City of Gold. Johannesburg on March 16, 2011:

Hi, I love that you have touched on one of my favorite passions. In fact one of my biggest "failings" is that I get all excited about another great small business idea and move on past the last one that I had only just got standing on its own two feet.

No problem I have turned all that "job hopping" into a great training product of my own and have reached another happy place. I love small businesses.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on November 14, 2010:

prairieprincess I hope you do check Barbara's site out. I especially like her CD on establishing yourself as an expert.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on November 11, 2010:

this is excellent info, and I am definitely going to check out her site! Take care!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on October 03, 2010:

Thanks businesstrader and businessesforsale. All credit to Barbara Winters.

businessesforsale from Sydney, Australia on October 02, 2010:

I agree with all positive comments in relation to this hub. I will be following future hubs from the author. Well done!

Natalie Watson from Sydney, Australia on October 02, 2010:

Awesome hub! You have outlined just a few of many business opportunity choices for entrepreneurs to choose from. Some really good information to point us in the right direction. Good job!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on August 17, 2010:

Thanks for reading and commenting BarnetAccountants.

BarnetAccountants from LONDON on August 16, 2010:

nice tips here, thanks for sharing,

BarnetAccountants from LONDON on August 16, 2010:

I must say useful tips,

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on August 06, 2010:

Thanks for the comment mybiznes, and welcome to HubPages. Check the HP rules and TOS however. Hub comments are not for self promotion and links.

mybiznes15 on August 06, 2010:

Lots of good information. I agree with finding several "profit centers". Especially theses days. We call in having several "Income Streams". Either way, good job!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on July 15, 2010:

Thanks for visiting LeanMan. Good luck in your endeavors.

Tony from At the Gemba on July 13, 2010:

Some good ideas there, much better to have several businesses on the go than just one and be underemployed! I am looking to have several small businesses when I "retire" from working for others, better to have my eggs in more than one basket.