There’s No Excuse For Being Broke; 3 Simple Strategies To Cash In Quickly

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How Much Money Can You Make in Only Two Hours with less than $5? 
That’s the task that was assigned to a class of entrepreneur students at Stanford University. Each team of students was given a sealed envelope with $5 in it, and while they had a few days to plan what they would do with the money, the moment they opened the envelope, they had only two hours to make as much money as possible. Each group would present the results of their experiment to the class, and the group that earned the most money would win.
Before I share with you these amazing strategies that students used to make hundreds of dollars in only two hours with only $5 to invest, let me ask you a question. Do you think you have $5 you can invest if you knew it could make you a few hundred dollars? What if you could make $650? Is that enough money to get you to the next level? Do you think you can scrape together two hours if you knew you could easily turn it into a few hundred dollars? Some of the battle tested strategies you are about to read about will have you slamming your hand onto your forehead wondering why you didn’t think of such an easy and obvious way to make money. Others will have your eyes light up as you realize that the key to finding these easy ways to cash in quickly are floating around anywhere you look, all you need to do is open your eyes to see the opportunities sitting right under your nose.
Back to our story, as told by Tina Seelig, the Stanford professor who taught this week long class on entrepreneurship. Tina continues by telling us that the teams that made the most money didn’t even use the $5, in fact they realized that the Five Dollars actually limited their thinking by framing the problem too tightly. They realized that the question, “What Can I Do With Five Dollars?” was the wrong question, because it prevented them from thinking about all the resources and opportunities available to them that didn’t require any money. So, I guess the question to you now is, Would you be interested in making a few hundred dollars in just two hours, without spending a penny out of pocket?
Here’s how the first group made money. They set up a stand with a handwritten sign in middle of Stanford University Campus offering to measure peoples bicycle tire pressure for free, but if they wanted their tire to be inflated, they charged $1. At first the group felt like they were taking advantage of the students because you could fill up your bike tire for free around the corner, but after an hour they realized that everyone was extremely appreciative of their efforts. So, half way through the two hours, they stopped charging a dollar and instead asked for donations. You know what happened? The students actually ended up donating much more than a dollar. Tina Seeling elaborates that the most important lesson to be learned from this group is that iterating along the way enabled them to actually make more money. Had they stayed in their dorm room and wrote out a business plan, they never would have discovered that asking for donations would make them more money. This is probably the single most important thing you should realize when thinking about how to make money. Thinking about all your limitations and worrying about your own fears will hold you back from ever discovering that you could easily make money by putting yourself out there with a basic idea, trying it, and experimenting along the way figuring out what works. Do you live near a college campus? What about somewhere that has lots of people with bicycles? Is there any reason you can’t go out right now, get a tire pressure gauge and tire pump and quickly make a few hundred dollars in a couple of hours? Not your speed? That’s ok, the next group actually made more money, again without spending a dime in just a couple hours on a saturday night.
What did the second group do? They knew that the popular restaurants in Palo Alto had really long lines on saturday night and realized that people in the back of the line would gladly pay $10-$20 to switch places with someone in the front of the line. So, they went ahead and made reservations for Saturday night at all the popular restaurants in Palo Alto, and sold them to people waiting in the back of the line. What a brilliant and easy way to make a few hundred dollars. It gets better though, some of these restaurants had these buzzers that let you know when it was your turn, so whenever they sold a reservation, they also took that persons buzzer and resold it later on in the night. Are there any busy restaurants in your area? What an obvious idea that you can implement this very week. By now you should realize that there is almost no excuse not to have a few hundred dollars in your pocket. All you have to do is look around, identify something that is annoying or a pain for others, and they will gladly pay you to make their life a little easier.
What if you don’t have two hours to spare? The group that won it all, won by challenging all the assumptions.Not only did they not use the $5, but they also didn’t use the TWO HOURS. They realized that the most valuable resource they had available wasn’t the time or the money, but rather their 3 minute presentation time in the classroom after the contest.
What did they do? They sold their presentation time to a company that wanted to recruit the students in that class…For $650! Isn’t that amazing and brilliant?
The most important lesson to take from this is that we often frame our problems way to tightly, but when we unpack them and unpack them we start to discover all sorts of resources we have available at our disposal to make money.
Want some more ideas? Mark Cuban shares on his blog two great ideas that could easily generate several hundred dollars with minimal investment. Set up a sign in the parking lot of a sports game, college, professional, or even high school, and offer to relace peoples sneaker with shoelaces that match the team colors that are playing. You could probably charge $10-$20 a pair, the laces shouldn’t cost more than a buck or two each, and it shouldn’t take more than 3-5 minutes to lace up a pair. Coming from a guy who owns the Dallas Mavericks and invests in all sorts of businesses, if Mark Cuban is recommending this idea, it’s hard to imagine it not working.
Another relatively easy idea mark discusses is to learn how to program universal remote controls, print up some free business cards from vista print, offering to program peoples universal remotes to all their devices for $25 and placing them at the counter of a local Radio Shack, Grocery Store, 7-11 and other convenience stores that sell universal remote controls. It shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes to learn how to program the remote and I know I would gladly pay for someone to come over to my house, program my remote and give me a quick crash course on how to use it.
So much opportunity sitting right under our noses, but many times we think about our limitations, all the things we don’t have at our disposal instead of opening our eyes and realizing how much money is just begging to be put in our wallets, all we need to do is pay attention, and take a little action.
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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $15,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

Comments

  1. Joe Gindi says:

    Great ideas. Thanks David!

  2. Rebecca Michaels says:

    I love all these stories about the students. I feel like they’re the kind of ideas that people would scoff at, but when you sit down and think about it there is actually a simple kind of brilliance to it, to their ideas and also what people will and won’t pay for. The point about how they wouldn’t have learned about the donations being more than $1 if they’d just sat in their room and done a business plan really does hit home for someone who is in the position of thinking of ways to make money. It reminds me that even if the idea seems trivial at the time and you haven’t sat down with a step by step plan, it can actually pay off if you put a little thought into what people do and don’t want. The restaurant idea is a stroke of brilliance, and I was just thinking back to the line at my favourite burger place that I was at last night. We had a reservation for a friend’s birthday so we got a table straight away, but if I was stuck at the end of the cue, would I have paid $10 for a table on top of my meal? Yes, because I don’t want to wait. I want to go and sit down and enjoy my meal, not stand in a cue. There are so many things like that and this is a very motivational post to push people in the right direction.

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