If you don't have any specialized skills or experience, you can still make good money running errands for other people. Having an errand-running business isn't a bad deal, either. Do you like working "out of the office", being on the move and a constant change of scenery? Errand running could be the ideal business for you, without the headache of long-distance travel.
You don't need much financially or equipment-wise to start - a vehicle is ideal, but actually a bicycle may be able to handle jobs just fine. If you have a truck or van, you increase your job options, and the rates you can charge. By the way, errand running can be a convenient part-time business.
Another benefit to being an errand-runner is that your client base is actually growing. People's busy lifestyles combined with the expanding baby boomer group makes errand runners in high demand. Companies are even outsourcing to save money - your errand running business can profit from businesses too. In fact, you have so many potential customers, it may be overwhelming on where to start. Consider a delivery service for doctor offices, shopping assistance for elderly people, take-out service for restaurants, transporting packages for businesses and running miscellaneous errands for busy parents, just to name a few.
You can charge by the hour for your errand service, but don't forget to include your mileage costs, or add it on to your hourly fee. You may decide to offer regular clients discounts to entice them to hire you for more help. If you can make yourself available for "emergency" service or working at short notice, you can also charge higher rates.
So where do you find your customers? The best way (not to mention cost-effective) may be to network with people you know or print business cards and drop them off at establishments such as local dry cleaners, garden shops or elderly care homes. Meet with business owners, restaurant managers and doctor's offices to explain your company, and how you can save them money. Print a resume of the services you offer, along with your rates, hours of operation, contact information and references. This way they can keep the information after they meet with you, and the first impression you make is professional and organized.
Treat your customers well with reliable, timely service, and you'll have a hard time getting rid of them. Word-of-mouth advertising can spread very quickly, so use this "marketing" strategy to your benefit by going the extra mile for your customers.
So how do you actually start your errand running business?
1. Get to know your local community - geographically. Short-cuts can really help. If you want more specific start-up instructions, pick up an inexpensive start-up guide on how to start an errand running business or interview an already-successful delivery company or errand runner who can give you advice.
2. Find out who your customers are. What tasks do people dread doing in your neighborhood? What extra value will you offer them and how much are they willing to pay you? See what other companies are charging for similar services. Keep in mind that you don't need to offer the lowest price to win customers - as long as you offer more value (i.e. additional service options, faster service, weekend or evening hours, etc).
3. Find out which licenses or permits you need from your local government office. Talk with an accountant, insurance agent and banker (you can get referrals from other local business owners or friends) to get helpful tips on financing, tax issues, insurance and business management that will save you time, money and hassles in the long run.
An errand-running business really allows you to start small and grow at your own speed. Learn as you go and make your own rules - after all, it's YOUR business.