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small business ideas for men

small business ideas for men

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work -

Posted: 14 Feb 2019 03:54 PM PST

People no longer want to retire at 60 and after that spend the rest of their lives counting on their failures and lost opportunities, solely depending on pensions. For this reason, several people are now interested in activities that directly feed the passions that make life worthwhile. While the career market remains a conventional way of earning a living in the 21st century, it is proving ineffective for some constraints that override its convenience. Are you one of the persons considering a venture instead of a full-time job? What are some of the most lucrative small business ideas in South Africa? Read on!

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

We live in an incredible era mushrooming with business opportunities that require minimal investment. Most of these businesses are not only cheap to start but will let you work from the comfort of your home. So, what are the most successful small business ideas? South Africa is now ripe for cutting edge investments at low startup costs. Most interesting is that some businesses will only require a set of vocational skills and an internet connection. Let us now concentrate on some of the highest paying small business opportunities that you can start right away and achieve your lifelong dreams.

READ ALSO: 15 best Business opportunities in South Africa to start with

75 best small business ideas in South Africa 2019

What are the best business ideas? It is challenging to settle down on the most profitable business opportunity when there are thousands of suitable alternatives. As such, the list of small businesses in South Africa provided below should help you make an informed decision in your entrepreneurial prospects.

1. Virtual or personal assistant

Providing professional assistant services both online and offline is a well-paying business opportunity for an individual with unique skills in particular areas of interest. However, less prevalent in the country, these jobs attract high paying clients ranging from small business to corporates. Unlike their counterparts, virtual assistants enjoy much freedom in getting to decide on factors such as clients, working hours, and hourly pay rates. Start the venture by setting up your online profile and search for potential clients through common services such as

2. Hairdressing services

With a salon or hair cutting experience, you can launch this business opportunity for a financial breakthrough. Consult with the local authority for state requirement compliance. You can as well establish yourself as a makeup artist or even start a massage parlor. If you cannot afford to rent a place, you can be mobile in providing these services.

3. Interior designer

The desire for comfort and luxury drives homeowners and business merchants to decorate their homes such as to share their vision statement. Start by finding out what clients want and compare it with what you can afford to offer based on your skills and financial ability. You should be passionate and well versed in this line of business.

4. Electronics repair services

Repairing electronics is a well-paying service that feeds several South Africans. The business is rapidly becoming necessary as technology continues to expand in computing, phone, camera, television, and speakers among other electronics.

5. Social media consultancy

Social media is not only changing the way we interact but conduct commercial activities as well. Almost every South African is an active user of prominent social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp among others. You can take advantage of the ever-growing online community by establishing your brand as a social media influencer. If you do not have the right skills to start this venture, you can look out and complete professional courses offered by Google and other affiliates concerning the niche. The possibility of this business opportunity is limitless and will undoubtedly earn you highly. There are social media management tools already available in the market to make your work accessible and more comfortable.

6. Tutoring services

Tutoring services for both children and adults are always on demand. There are many clients in South Africa looking to study the second language or need experts in a particular subject of study. Tutoring is convenient because you can do it at people's homes and any other convenient setup for that matter at a reasonable fee.

7. Grocery delivery services

The service is high on demand by individual customers and big supermarkets. It is an interesting business to pick up since some people are too busy to run all the errands, and such will become some of your happiest customers. Even more interesting, you can couple the business with other well-paying opportunities in the delivery line.

8. Gardening and lawn care

Both gardening and lawn mowing are highly rewarding businesses which run throughout the year, earning you good returns. Besides, you can carry out concurrent business in herb farming, raking, and snow removal when lawn mowing or gardening are not at their peak. The business is highly dynamic and suitable for both rural and urban setups, only taking up little space.

9. Developing chatbots

It is interesting how much technology has influenced modern day commercial activities. Let us check the facts; a decade ago businesses needed websites following which the need for portable phone apps took over. Apparently, every company needs a way to engage live customers through instant messaging platforms. If you own relevant skills in AI and chatbots, why not sell your skills for lucrative pay? You can also learn to utilize free design tools to harness the opportunity while it is still ripe.

10. Marketing services

With some skills and knowledge in marketing, you can start a well-paying business. The high entrepreneurial competition calls for intricate marketing skills to stand out in the market. If you feel you are eligible to help organizations market their services and products, then hit the road with a digital marketing agency. Besides influencer marketing, there are boundless opportunities you can start with as you build your brand. If you are skilled in search engine optimization, then this is a business niche for you.

READ ALSO: 50 best money quotes of all time

11. Affiliate marketing

This business is not only easy to start but also easy to run. Affiliate marketing entails promoting company services and products at a commission. Start by selecting a product which you like and then start pushing it for a profit. It is arguably more accessible to start an affiliate marketing business if you have a website. Have a means of proving your success through statistics if you can persuade potential clients to use your service.

12. Become an assistant or seller at eBay

Unlike affiliate marketing, eBay sellers promote and sell products to clients. You can opt to sell for self or on behalf of others at a commission. It is worth noting that the jobs come with risks, but it is well paying if you can pick the right distributors and secure your banking details while online.

13. Graphic designer

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Technology is taking over the world with high paying jobs like graphic design. Companies are interested in branding, making the service on demand. People skilled in applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator can conveniently start a business as graphic designers. Besides branding, you will design logos, information sheets, letters, advertisements, newsletters, and magazines.

14. Tax consultant

Strategize yourself as a tax consultant and attract good pay to companies that want their taxes prepared and filled. Such is a necessity to enable companies to shift their attention to routine operations. The business requires relevant training and expert skills in the accountancy and taxation field.

15. Blogger or vlogger

Blogging and vlogging alike require people with expert knowledge in a particular field. While it is fun to share what you understand better, you will be attracting some good pay. Grab a high-resolution camera and start a vlog where you will share information in the form of videos. With a blog, you only need to set up your blogging site and prepare engaging content.

16. Editorial services

You can start an editorial business right away at no cost and turn it to a lucrative business in the short run. Some of the services that sell well in this business include ghostwriting, indexing, proofreading, magazine article writing, and copywriting among others.

17. Meal planning

Several people are looking for meal preparation experts who have insights on a balanced diet and confidence in the kitchen. This is one of the food business ideas in South Africa that requires you to possess skills in coming up with ingredients, creating recipes, elaborate the nutritional value of servings, and stay within a prescribed budget.

18. Online photo selling

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

The niche is highly suitable for professional photographers with a limitless passion for quality pictures and videos. With a camera and a computer, you can launch this ever on-demand business opportunity. Take several high-quality photos and place them on sale for potential clients to buy them.

19. Translator

If you are proficient in specific on-demand languages, then this is a business opportunity for you. Interestingly, you do not need any form of investment to begin this business but stand a chance to earn huge returns of about $40,000 annually. Most clients prefer to contract translators for agreeable courses.

20. Survey taking

Surveys are a good alternative for a steady income stream, especially when signed with multiple employer sites. Most of these surveys will take a minimum of your time and come with good returns. Some of the prominent survey job sites include MySurveys, Global Test Market, InboxDollars, Harris Poll, and EarningStation.

READ ALSO: How to trade online

21. Direct sales representative

The traditional door to door sales however less prevalent in these days is a well-paying job. Identify a successful brand and become a sales representative. Working for leading companies such as Mary Kay, Tupperware, and Avon will not only earn you good returns but also expose you to the business world.

22. Currency trading

It is now manageable to become a currency trader compared to the recent past when it was reserved for tycoons. With several guide materials such as magazines and tutorials, the business could turn out to become your thing. Master basic analytic skills and technical skills before venturing into currency trading business. All you need is a phone, computer, or tablet.

23. Plan projects and events at a fee

Events and project planning requires a hands-on approach and can be executed remotely. The business falls in work from home category. It is, however, necessary to engage your clients at an individual level at hotels, their offices, homes, and even cafes.

24. Computer trainer

Several seniors are developing interests in acquiring technological skills which were hardly accessible in the past. Young people also provide a broad market for upcoming technologies, which are showing no signs of stopping, but rather becoming the tradition. You can train your clients on how to use their windows or mac computers among other applications. You can as well specialize in simple computing applications such as emailing and internet.

25. Become a property manager

Help your clients manage their properties and make sure they are running smoothly at a fee. Present your contacts as a primary communication channel for clients to access different services. By maintaining the properties well and responsibly, you will attract even more clients to your venture.

26. Courier services

The demand for courier services is at its peak given that more and more people relocate to urban setups. Establish your business and provide pickup and drop services to interested clients. Set a reasonable fee to attract more clients to your business.

27. Life coaching

With a proven track of the record, you can show your success by training others for a living. People aspiring to travel in your path will be more than willing to hear concerning your experiences, successes, and failures as a lesson for them. You can as well offer coaching and mentoring services to people interested in mastering specific mental and emotional skills.

28. Laundry services

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

This is one way through which you can make fast money in South Africa. In starting the business, you do not need to learn additional skills except for a few requirements. Depending on your financial capability, you can set up a laundry shop or carry out the business on a domestic basis. The returns vary considerably based on your location and population.

29. Caregiving services

Caregiving services guarantee good returns both in the short run and the long term. Start by pursuing professional training and other certification programs. The fees are often negotiable and based on the level of operation. Caregiving is easy to start and sustain as long as you have a passion for the niche.

30. Babysitting services

This business is as old as childbearing, making it a profitable and sustainable business for passionate business persons. Hit the road and make money through babysitting. Seeking advice from experienced persons will help you be an excellent baby sitter. Similarly, you can work as a nanny or tutor depending on the level of your skills.

READ ALSO: Famous South African role models

31. Childproofing services

Most traditional living areas in South Africa are more hazardous for growing children. If you are trained in childproofing, take your best foot affront for some returns. The business is more paying to the service providers with proper certification.

32. Taxi or personal driver services

If you have a good driving record, then hit the road and become a personal or taxi driver. Both men and women can take advantage of this business opportunity which is slowly becoming institutionalized. Join Uber or hire out your car and driving services to earn good returns.

33. Bicycle repair

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Several university and high school students find it convenient to use bicycles when commuting to school. Every so often, bicycle consumers among them professional cyclists require bicycle repair services, making it a good business to invest in.

34. Daycare services

Most parents are now becoming busier, focusing on their careers, and thus making it harder for them to attend to their children fully. Opening a daycare in your neighborhood or a town set-up will attract several children whose parents are willing to pay for care-giving services.

35. Bridal concierge

Weddings and associated planning are tedious and often beyond the ability of both the bride and groom. If you have excellent organizational skills, you can tap into this field and build a strong portfolio in this high paying business opportunity.

36. Tour guide

You can convert your knowledge concerning a tourist attraction phenomenon or site by becoming a tour guide. You can charge people for tours in your neighborhood where you have enriched historical and background information.

37. Makeup artist

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Charge people for perfecting their appearances and looks. You may receive well-paying clients including public figures and other invitations. The business requires relevant certifications, so get trained and offer this service professionally to make an earning out of it.

38. Digital media conversion

As technology unleashes new features and gadgets, it is time you recycle those old CDs and DVDs to save critical data. Find clients and help them transfer information contained in these mediums to computing devices for easier retrieval.

39. Packing services

People are always on the move, making professional packing a good business as you help them pack their belongings safely. Help the relocating tenants save time while moving to their new houses and homes. The business is now on demand and will pick up faster than you may think.

40. Dog trainer, groomer, and walker

Dogs are the most common pets, making it a profitable venture to specialize in their care. Besides dog walking and training, you can provide dog sitting services to help busy clients manage their pets without stress.

READ ALSO: Inspiring Nelson Mandela quotes on education, leadership and life

41. Become a personal chef

Some people have money but do not have enough time to attend to their kitchen chores, which may include but not limited to cooking, vegan dishes, and diet meals for patient cases. You can earn a living by attending to the personal chef opportunity.

42. Massage therapist

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Seek for licensing to become a massage therapist. While passionate people succeed the most, anyone can master the business with some training and experience. Acquire the necessary massage products before you can attract your first client.

43. Home inspector

Become a home inspector and earn money. Besides looking around people's homes, you will enhance networking and uphold positive relationships for success at your work. Many large homes and estate setups often require home inspectors.

44. Professional photography

Besides selling photos online, you can practice your professional photography skills at family events or even weddings for a pay. Set up and reasonable fee, advertise your services and deliver projects within the deadline to attract more clients for a higher wage.

45. Referral services

People are always interested in accessing good services from plumbers, lawyers, good restaurants, and tourist sites. By positioning yourself as an expert with all the necessary information, many people will happily pay to receive your services.

46. Telemarketing services

small business ideas in South Africa

Source: UGC

Several companies are speedily outsourcing their services in telemarketing. Position yourself as a work from home freelance marketer. Set up customer appointments and develop warm company leads for commercial returns.

47. Online custom tailoring

People are increasingly becoming aware of their looks and the quality of fabrics. Brand yourself as a custom tailor with skills in making simple clothes. Custom clothing industry will sell given the diversity of attired demand based on size, patterns, colors, design, and more.

48. Travel planning

There are several booking platforms available over the web in South Africa. In the current standing, people can flexibly book reservations right from their homes. Unfortunately, very few businesses offer services to help clients make the best choice. Why not try the idea?

49. Call center representative

Call center representatives are on demand in most industries that value customer relations. With a working phone line and computer, you can start the business. The business is cost friendly and time-saving.

50. Sustainability consultant

Green technology is pushing many businesses into safer and more secure practices. As a consultant, you will advise such companies on effective, friendly alternatives in their operations at a fee.

READ ALSO: How to register a business in South Africa

51. Become a video producer

Videography is useful in developing a work from home career. You can help people gain popularity as YouTube celebrities by providing them and uploading quality videos. Besides well-edited videos, you can specialize in adverts and Vlog editing.

52. E-commerce store

With a great product, you do not have to worry about a physical outlet space. It is now possible to sell your product online where marketing opportunities and tools are endless. Establish an e-commerce store and then strategize to become a leading seller.

53. Financial advisor

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Financial organization and management are vital for people aspiring to start and advance their businesses. With a certified financial planner certificate, you will attract more clients and increase your earning potential.

54. Website flipping

Website flipping entails the art of acquiring poorly developed sites, improving them through the development and selling them at a higher cost. The business is highly affordable for people talented with a combination of coding and bargaining skills.

55. Resume writer

Not many people enjoy coming up with their resume. Use your skills to brand yourself as a resume writer for an additional stream of income. Come up with reasonable pay rates to help maintain your clients for higher returns.

56. Informational product creator

Place your expertise skills and knowledge in the digital format and sell it to the world. Create an e-book and other related informal content to start attracting your very first earnings. Alternatively, you can write content and sell it on popular sites such as Amazon.

57. Writing business plans

Most small businesses experience difficulties in coming up with business plans. Even more challenging is that the program must compel potential investors to consider partnering with the company of interest. With the necessary skills at hand, your potential clients will give anything to see you create them a winning plan.

58. Internet security consultant

Are you a computer wizard with a specialty in security patches? Partner with different organizations offering consultation services and help them secure sensitive client information from potential hackers, viruses, and scammers.

59. Online dating consultant

Finding a date has become easier but finding the right partner is more challenging than ever before. Position yourself as a marriage and dating consultant and provide helpful tips for people prospecting to find suitable partners for themselves. You can help people update their profiles and matching status.

60. Secretarial services

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Remote secretarial services are increasingly becoming fashionable. The idea is suitable for people who share strong communication skills, have good time management habits. Experience is also necessary when venturing into secretarial services as a business.

READ ALSO: List of well known South African entrepreneurs

61. Reviewer or tester

Startups are on the hunt for people to review and recommend their products. You can dive into this lucrative business by approaching the management of setting up your online profile to attract potential clients. You can as well use your blog or Vlog as a platform to share your opinion concerning different products and services in the form of a review.

62. Bookkeeping services

Work from home as a freelance bookkeeper without becoming a certified public accountant. Regardless of whether you are good with numbers or not, you can exhaust online invoicing tools to simplify your work.

63. Sell electronics accessories

Almost everyone owns at least an electronic gadget or two. Take advantage of this overwhelming market by selling accessories such as chargers, earphones, phone cases, and memories among others. It is for sure that the business promises a brighter future in its returns.

64. Google paid ad specialist

Paid internet marketing through ad campaigns is very much rewarding to dedicated persons. You can as well position the business as a source of extra pay. As your consultancy business grows, you will earn much more from your rapidly booming business operations. You can as well become a Landing Page Specialist.

65. Fiverr gigs

First-time individuals with specialized skills can create their profiles at Fiverr to attract potential clients. With some insights and knowledge, you can quickly turn your business into a million dollar business.

66. WordPress website consultant

Many South Africans are expressing interest in blogging. You can build WordPress templates for them or respond to different expert questions that surround WordPress setup, use and applications. Becoming a WordPress agent and consultant is a suitable business.

67. Artwork and collector

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Ensemble contemporary artwork for high-end clients who will pay highly for good work. You can as well develop your art and sell it if you are talented. Artworks share not only explicit messages but also communicate creative ideas.

68. Develop an app

If you are a gifted programmer, you can come up with an app that solves an impending problem. If the app gains market success and high reception, you could become the next millionaire. Apps are useful and compare to no other operational platforms in the modern age.

69. Online news correspondent

Apply your journalistic skills working as a news correspondent from the comfort of your home.

70. Patent an idea

Patents pay well to the owners. Come up with an innovation or invention for a lucrative patent.

71. Personal fitness trainer

Become a private fitness instructor and help people lose weight at a fee. You can as well help them maintain a healthy diet.

72. Music instructor

Are you a professional musician or a talented person? Help others learn how to sing at a fee. You can train them on how to play instruments or sing for an exciting effect.

73. DJ-ing

75 small business ideas in South Africa that actually work

Source: UGC

Develop your skill as a DJ and master the art of entertainment for better hit releases.

74. Baking services

Establish a bakery and apply your skills in baking for heightened profits. We all love cakes and cookies for their enriched flavors. Cooking good bakeries is financially rewarding. Cooking is a diverse opportunity that particularly calls for specialized knowledge and skills

75. Freelance content marketing

This business opportunity is both stable and profitable with prospects of improving in the long run. Experienced content marketing freelancers earn highly making the opportunity very competitive.

READ ALSO: Richest South African celebrities currently

There are several small business ideas in South Africa that almost everyone can venture for a steady stream of income. Some of these opportunities come at no cost while others require some form of investment. Which idea excited you the most and what would be a good small business to start? Share your opinion with us in the comments.



24 Ideas for Your Next Small Business in 2019 -

Posted: 02 Jan 2019 12:00 AM PST

More than 20.5 million Americans own their own businesses.

Another 53 million work freelance full or part time in various fields ranging from computer programming and rideshare driving to, yes, journalism and writing. (Hello!)

Most of the rest of us want to. The OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) found that 58% of women and 69% of men in America agree with the statement "I would rather take a risk and build my own business than work for someone else." The numbers say that you, dear reader, would like to be your own boss.

So what holds us back? A lot of things, really. Money for one. Starting a new business can take quite a bit of startup capital that few people have just lying around. The bigger issue, though, is often ideas.

Thousands of talented people want to write a novel, if only they could think of a story. Many more would start a band if they had a catchy tune. Then there are the millions of entrepreneurs who would open their own business if they could come up with the right thing to do.

To help with that process, here are some ideas for small businesses to get you thinking.

Food Service

The restaurant business is tough. While not as bad as people say, it's still a competitive industry. On the other hand, if you know what you're doing this can be a business model that people love, that fits into any community and that faces almost no competition online.

1. Fast Casual Restaurant

Picture a Five Guys or a Chipotle (CMG) . These are the modern version of old-fashioned diner dives, a long counter where someone serves up good food fast. They're a step up from fast food in quality, a step down from full service in price and overwhelmingly popular. Better still, this model requires less overhead since you can run it with fewer staff and a smaller footprint.

2. Bar and Coffee Shop

Hugely popular and astonishingly rare, the bar/coffee shop hybrid answers three questions: What does a coffee shop serve at night? What does a bar serve in the day? And why is it that the same people seem to go to both places… Serve espresso at 10 a.m., craft beer at 10 p.m. and keep that marginally employed writer (hello again!) spending money all day.

3. Bakery

Everyone loves a treat and these days bakeries have an edge in that market. Social media positively melts down for psychedelic frosting or a cookie that looks like it will bite you back. With creativity and a novel approach, a bakery has the ability to stand out in a market that many other dessert shops lack.

4. Coffee Shop

A regular coffee shop can work. In fact a popular one can succeed brilliantly, but beware. This is a low-margin business that depends on moving a positively enormous amount of product. What's more, your regular customers will be money losers. What, you think a business actually profits off someone camping on his laptop for five hours after paying $2 for a dark roast?

Professional Services

The big advantage to a professional services firm is that you can open one cheaply. You're essentially selling your own skill and expertise. Especially today, you may need little more than a web presence and a business card to get started. These are just a very small number of the ways you can do it.

5. Contractor

Can you fix things or build things? You may want to look at construction and contract work. Maybe you'll go into carpentry, helping people remodel their houses. Maybe you know how to fix plumbing or rewire electrical systems. Whatever you can do it's almost certainly in high demand.

6. Accounting or Law Firm

Obviously this is a niche field. Unless you currently are a CPA or a JD there's not a whole lot of value in hanging your own shingle, and you can probably expect an unpleasant visit from the real thing if you do. However, for white collar professionals there's a lot of value in launching your own offices. Just have some runway capital on hand. It will probably take a while to succeed.

7. Consulting

This one is a little more nebulous… The question is, ultimately, what are you good at? Do you currently work in PR? Maybe it's time to offer those services on your own. Do you do human resource work? You sound like a terrific career coach. Have you spent years in a bank? It might be time to offer financial planning. Whatever you're good at, someone out there could use a consultation on the subject.

8. Graphic Designer

Graphic design combines two fields that rarely overlap: Technical competence and a creative eye. If you can look at a blank page and not only see what belongs there but also know how to make it happen, there are literally thousands of companies out there who will need your services. From designing logos to helping a business create its entire look, graphic design is a strong and growing field.


Media is an upside-down place to work at the moment. While many business models struggle to survive, others have emerged and made individual bloggers and YouTube stars millionaires. You probably won't be the next Ariana Huffington or PewDiePie, but there's a lot of room here to make a living.

9. Freelance Journalist

Outlets have begun relying on freelancers for an increasing amount of coverage, so there's lots of opportunity to work as a reporter and be your own boss. Just beware… Work can vanish in an instant and you cover all your own costs. Not a problem when writing from your desk, but it can make it hard (if not at times impossible) to get out in the world and do the shoe-leather work of real reporting.

10. Freelance Writing and Editing

Firms need people to write PR copy for them. Other companies need someone to polish up their website, edit books, ghostwrite articles or help clean up white papers. Today every business in every business model produces many, many times more written material than they used to. Someone has to ensure that it all sounds crisp, clean and professional.

11. Blogger

Here's the secret that most people don't realize about being a blogger: It's a business. Shocking, right? Yes, to succeed as a blogger you have to write catchy, interesting articles. You also have to understand SEO, audience engagement, bounce rates, monetization, affiliation and partnership deals and much more. This is a marketing and technology business, and if you've got a flair for that you might have the makings of a successful blogger.

12. Social Media Consultant

This overlaps with consulting, but then again most things do. Most businesses know two things about social media: First, it's incredibly important. Second, almost no one really understands it. If you're one of the few people who do get the marketplace of ideas on Twitter (TWTR) , Instagram, Facebook (FB) and more, you might have a thriving business opportunity.


The best thing about starting a business in technology is that it's generally location-independent. You can solicit business from all around the world and may well get to work with clients who can afford to pay top rates for outstanding work. This is a high-skill field that's in high demand. If you've got the chops, consider opening a business as a…

13. Web Developer

Bespoke web development, like graphic design, combines technical savvy with an eye for aesthetics. This isn't a field to enter without experience, but if you're a sharp, talented coder who can lay down a clean user interface against a sharp color scheme, it might be time to start seeing which local companies look like they still use Geocities.

14. Freelance Coder

Many companies rely on outside contractors to help finish big projects, especially during crunch time. Like all freelance businesses this is generally a boom-and-bust model. You might spend three weeks looking for work then spend a month barely looking up from your computer screen. If you can make the income stream work, though, this is a lucrative field with many opportunities.

15. App Development

The best part of app development is passive income. Every product you create will sit out there on the iPhone and Android stores making money for you long after you stop putting a single hour into it. Of course, that depends on getting those products in the public eye. So brush up on your marketing skills, come up with a few ideas and enter the world of independent development.

16. Security Consulting

From white hat hackers to security analysts, the market for security consulting right now is enormous. You can even build a thriving business just speaking to company employees, helping IT fix its PEBCAK errors. This is a high-skill field that demands an outstanding resume, but if you've got the right background it can be incredibly lucrative.


Modern retail is at once a challenge and an opportunity. Online stores have stolen customers from brick and mortar at a devastating rate, it's true. But their biggest victims are the large-footprint businesses like Sears (SHLDQ) , Borders and Best Buy (BBY) . In their place has opened up plenty of room for the small, highly-curated shop that provides an experience as well as a sale.

17. Bookstore

Don't click away yet! Bookstores may struggle, but that doesn't mean they can't succeed. If you can build an identity and experience into your store, with a well-chosen selection that makes life easier than clicking around through Amazon's (AMZN) vastness, you may well have a healthy business model on your hands. If that doesn't convince you, think about this: Americans love to read, and two-thirds of them would rather do it on paper than pixels.

18. Clothing

Clothing has an edge over most other retail spaces these days, because try before you buy matters so much more in their space. You can't slip on a blouse or see just how those jeans fit while clicking around a website. Especially in the far more lucrative women's market this is a critical feature. If you've got an eye for fashion and can build a selection that will get people in the door, this business model comes with a built-in killer app: The changing room.

19. Food Shop

People need to eat. People who want to eat rarely want to wait two or three days for shipping. Get where we're coming from? Whether you open a niche shop that caters to specific interests or sell general goods to the millions of Americans who live more than a mile from the nearest grocery store, a well-placed small grocer can succeed and thrive.

20. Online Retailer

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. One of the best things about online retail is using breadth of audience to make up for niche demand. Whether you want to sell artisan products, like hand-carved jewelry, or creative works like your very own board game, chances are someone out there wants it. With a storefront you'd be out of luck unless that person coincidentally happens to live a few miles away. Online, though, your customers can find you from anywhere.


These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning and launching your own business. The truth is, for almost any skill set there's someone out there who needs it and will pay good money in exchange. The best way to come up with a business idea is to sit down and think about what you can do, what you love to do and what people need. Here are a last few ideas to help with the creative process.

21. Bespoke Travel Planning

Yes, the internet put a stake through the heart of traditional travel agents. Good riddance. That was a business model built entirely on having access to booking systems and little else. Enter the bespoke travel planner. You help your clients have the best possible trip for their money, booking them into hotels, tours and restaurants they never would have found otherwise. You don't sell access, you sell expertise. That's a winning formula.

22. Storage

You know what isn't sexy? Storage. You know what makes an absolute fortune these days? Storage. Whether renting lockers to individuals or bulk warehouse space to companies, secured storage is a booming business model nationwide. You'll need more startup capital than most businesses because this requires lots of square footage, but if you're looking for a business that people need… Well, look no further.

23. Diet and Fitness

Some people look great in tailored shirts and yoga pants. The rest of us would like to look like those people. If you know how to build a diet and exercise plan for losing weight and looking great, we've got some news that's hardly new: You're sitting on a product that lots of people want. Get out there and sell it.

24. Landscaping

Perhaps you simply love working with your hands. You have a talent for helping things grow and shudder at the thought of sitting behind a desk all day. Now consider that there are far, far more people who own homes and lawns than who share your gifts. Yep, right now there are millions of Americans looking at desiccated dirt and mournful trees wondering, "how do I fix this?" Consider that your bat signal.

“Men Are Scum”: Inside Facebook’s War on Hate Speech - Vanity Fair

Posted: 26 Feb 2019 09:28 AM PST

Men are scum.

You can't say that on Facebook.
Men are pigs. You can't say that either.
Men are trash. Men are garbage fires.
Also banned.

It's nine A.M. on an autumn Tuesday, and I'm sitting in on a meeting about "men are scum" at Facebook's campus in Menlo Park, California. The trouble started a year ago, in the fall of 2017. The #MeToo movement had recently begun. Nicole Silverberg, currently a writer on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, had shared on her Facebook page a trove of bilious comments directed at her after she'd written a list of ways men "need to do better." In the comments section beneath her post, another comic, Marcia Belsky, wrote, "Men are scum." Facebook kicked Belsky off the platform for 30 days.

This seemed absurd. First of all, the news at the time was dominated by stories of men acting scummily. Second, Facebook had been leaving up plenty of well-documented crap. By then the company was deep into an extended cycle of bad press over the toxic, fraudulent, and/or covertly Russian content that had polluted its platform throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. In Western Europe, the far right was using the site to vilify Middle Eastern migrants. In Southeast Asia, authoritarian regimes were using it to dial up anger against religious minorities and political enemies. But Facebook was taking down "men are scum"?

Belsky hopped on a 500-person (Facebook) group of female comics. A bunch of them were getting banned for similar infractions, even as they reported sexist invective being hurled their way. They decided to protest by spamming the platform. On November 24, dozens of "men are scum" posts went up. And then … they came right down. Belsky was put back in Facebook jail. The women of Men Are Scum became a brief Internet cause célèbre, another data point in the never-ending narrative that Facebook doesn't care about you.

Ten months later, the issue hasn't gone away, and Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg has let it be known within the company that he, too, is concerned by the policy. Today's meeting is part of an ongoing attempt to solve the problem. The session takes place in Building 23, which, compared with the glorious Frank Gehry-designed offices on the other side of campus, is small and relatively nondescript. No majestic redwood trees, no High Line-inspired rooftop park. Even its signage—inspirational photo illustrations of Elie Wiesel and Malala—suggests a more innocent era, when the company's ethos seemed more daftly utopian than sinister. The meeting room is called "Oh, Semantics." All the rooms at Facebook have cute names like "Atticus Finch" or "Marble Rye," after the Seinfeld episode. Mostly they seem random, but this one feels apt, because Oh, Semantics is where the company's shadow government has been meeting, every two weeks, to debate what you can and cannot post on Facebook.

No company's image and reputation are as strongly linked to its C.E.O. as Facebook's. (Who in the general population can name the chief executive of Google? Of Walmart?) This is partly because the C.E.O. invented the company. It's partly because his image as smart-ass founder was immortalized in a successful Hollywood movie. And it's partly because he's young and awkward and seems to make mistakes all the time. As a result, people tend to judge Facebook through the prism of Mark Zuckerberg's gaffes and missteps. Call it the not-so-great-man theory of history.

But when it comes to figuring out how Facebook actually works—how it decides what content is allowed, and what isn't—the most important person in the company isn't Mark Zuckerberg. It's Monika Bickert, a former federal prosecutor and Harvard Law School graduate. At 42, Bickert is currently one of only a handful of people, along with her counterparts at Google, with real power to dictate free-speech norms for the entire world. In Oh, Semantics, she sits at the head of a long table, joined by several dozen deputies in their 30s and 40s. Among them are engineers, lawyers, and P.R. people. But mostly they are policymakers, the people who write Facebook's laws. Like Bickert, a number are veterans of the public sector, Obama-administration refugees eager to maintain some semblance of the pragmatism that has lost favor in Washington.

Tall and thin, with long strawberry-blond hair, Bickert sits behind a laptop decorated with a TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES sticker. She speaks neither in guarded corporatese nor in the faux-altruistic argot particular to Silicon Valley. As a relative newcomer to the tech industry, she regards Facebook with the ambivalence of a normal person, telling me she's relieved her two teenage daughters are "not all about sharing everything" on social media. When I cite Facebook's stated mission to make the world a "more open and connected place," she literally rolls her eyes. "It's a company. It's a business," she says. "Like, I am not, I guess, apologetic about the reality that we have to answer to advertisers or the public or regulators." To her, Facebook is neither utopian nor dystopian. It's just massively influential and, for the moment, not going anywhere.

In the wake of the 2016 election, Zuckerberg embarked on a ludicrous nationwide listening tour. While he was feeding calves in Wisconsin, Bickert and her team began methodically re-writing many of the policies that had fueled the world's anti-Facebook animus. Last fall, Facebook agreed to show me exactly how they did it. I was granted unrestricted access to closed-door meetings like the one in Oh, Semantics, permitted to review internal deliberations on the company's Slack-like messaging system, and provided with slide decks and Excel spreadsheets that lay out the minutiae of the new policies.

The topics discussed in Bickert's policy meetings are almost always bummers. Today's agenda: terrorism, non-sexual adult nudity, editing disturbing content on the pages of dead people, and, finally, "men are scum." The issue is introduced by Mary deBree, who worked in Obama's State Department. "We don't want to silence people when they're trying to raise awareness around—for example—sexual assault," she begins. However. "However, um, the tension in this is that, if we allow more attacks on the basis of gender, this may also lead to more misogynistic content on the platform."

Hence the dilemma.

When Facebook mass-deletes "men are scum," it's not thanks to top-down bias at the company, or some rogue men's-rights Facebooker taking his stand against misandry. Nor is it a boneheaded "enforcement error" caused by one of Facebook's 15,000 human content moderators around the world. The posts get removed because of one of Monika Bickert's well-intentioned, though possibly doomed, policies.

At Facebook's headquarters, in Menlo Park, the company's team of experts—including veterans of the Obama administration—are working to identify and combat hate speech. Andy O'Connell, who is helping to design a new "supreme court", stands at his desk.

Photograph by Balazs Gardi.

Monika Bickert, who leads the team, sitting at a table.

Photograph by Balazs Gardi.

Facebook has a 40-page rule book listing all the things that are disallowed on the platform. They're called Community Standards, and they were made public in full for the first time in April 2018. One of them is hate speech, which Facebook defines as an "attack" against a "protected characteristic," such as gender, sexuality, race, or religion. And one of the most serious ways to attack someone, Facebook has decided, is to compare them to something dehumanizing.

Like: Animals that are culturally perceived as intellectually or physically inferior.

Or: Filth, bacteria, disease and feces.

That means statements like "black people are monkeys" and "Koreans are the scum of the earth" are subject to removal. But then, so is "men are trash."

See the problem? If you remove dehumanizing attacks against gender, you may block speech designed to draw attention to a social movement like #MeToo. If you allow dehumanizing attacks against gender, well, you're allowing dehumanizing attacks against gender. And if you do that, how do you defend other "protected" groups from similar attacks?

DeBree and one of her colleagues, a China expert named David Caragliano, float a handful of fixes. Idea one: punish attacks against gender less harshly than, say, attacks against race. "Men are scum" would stay up. But so would "women are scum." This doesn't seem quite right.

Another idea is to treat the genders themselves differently. Caragliano cues up a slide deck. On it is a graph showing internal research that Facebook users are more upset by attacks against women than they are by attacks against men. Women would be protected against all hate speech, while men would be protected only against explicit calls for violence. "Women are scum" would be removed. "Men are scum" could stay.

Problem solved? Well … not quite. Bickert foresees another hurdle. "My instinct is not to treat the genders differently," she tells me. "We live in a world where we now acknowledge there are many genders, not just men and women. I suspect the attacks you see are disproportionately against those genders and women, but not men." If you create a policy based on that logic, though, "you end up in this space where it's like, 'Our hate-speech policy applies to everybody—except for men.' " Imagine how that would play.

To understand how Facebook polices hate speech is to understand how Facebook's brain works.

To anyone who followed the "men are scum" issue from afar, Facebook's inaction made it look aloof. In truth, "men are scum" is a well-known and much-debated topic in Menlo Park, with improbably large implications for the governing philosophy of the platform and, thus, the Internet. For philosophical and financial reasons, Facebook was established with one set of universally shared values. And in order to facilitate as much "sharing" as possible, no one group or individual would be treated differently from another. If you couldn't call women "scum," then you couldn't call men "scum," either.

If you take a step back, it's kind of an idealistic way to think about the world. It's also a classically Western, liberal way to think about the world. Give everyone an equal shot at free expression, and democracy and liberty will naturally flourish. Unfortunately, the more Facebook grows, the less democracy and liberty seem to be flourishing. Likewise, the more permissive Facebook's platform, the more prone it is to be corrupted by trolls, bots, fake news, propaganda, and bigotry. Yet the more Facebook cracks down on that stuff, the more it looks like the company's premise was compromised from the start.

That's the problem with running a shadow government that seeks to regulate the speech of 2.3 billion people. Governing, by its nature, demands trade-offs. But much of the world right now is not in the mood for trade-offs. People gravitate to Facebook, in part, to live in cocoons of their own making. If Facebook has created a parallel online society for a quarter of the world to live in, the question facing Monika Bickert and her team is: What kind of society is it going to be?

In the beginning there was no shadow government at Facebook. There was just Dave. Dave Willner, Facebook's very first rulemaker. When Willner arrived at the company, in 2008, Facebook had about 145 million monthly users. Prior to his arrival, the people deciding what was allowed on the platform were also the people answering customer-service e-mails. Mostly, users complained that they wanted embarrassing party pics taken down. The company's policy was essentially to take down "Hitler and naked people" plus "anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable." Willner started clicking through 15,000 photos a day, removing things that made him uncomfortable.

That wasn't ideal. So Willner wrote Facebook's first constitution, a set of laws called Community Standards. He and his small brain trust generally adhered to John Stuart Mill's seminal principle that speech should be banned only if used to stoke violence against others. This hands-off philosophy also aligned with Facebook's self-interest. More speech equals more users, and more users equals more ad revenue. Plus, by positioning itself as an open "platform" rather than a publisher, Facebook could not be sued for libel, like a newspaper could. False information would stay up. Only obviously toxic content like terrorist propaganda, bullying, and graphic violence—plus criminal activity, like child pornography and drug trafficking—would come down. As would hate speech.

By 2013, when Willner left Facebook, the company's user base had grown nearly tenfold, to 1.2 billion. The company, which was expanding to include the purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram, had gotten way too big for Community Standards 1.0. That year, Bickert took over as Facebook's content czar. A native of Southern California, Bickert spent the first phase of her career at the Justice Department in Chicago, prosecuting gang violence and public corruption. She spent the second phase at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, where she extradited child sex traffickers. While her primary focus was protecting kids, she also began to think more about freedom of speech, thanks to strict laws against criticizing the Thai monarchy. She was, in other words, already weighing versions of the fundamental tension—"safety" vs. "voice"—that undergirds all of Facebook's policy decisions.

When Bickert started the job, Facebook was in panic mode. The Boston Marathon bombing had just occurred, and moderators were flagging photojournalism as graphic violence. Images of blown-off limbs, which clearly violated the policy, were being removed. And yet they were clearly newsworthy. The images were ultimately restored.

A month later, the opposite problem. The Internet began protesting violent rape jokes that weren't being yanked from the platform. Facebook explained that its policies allowed for toxic speech that didn't seem likely to provoke physical harm. But after several companies pulled their ads, Facebook took down the jokes and pledged to re-write its policies. What had started as an anodyne platform for people to share photos and random musings was now a media giant that an increasing share of the world relied on for news. It wasn't so obvious anymore what content was or wasn't inappropriate.

The differences between policing the real world and policing the Internet became manifest. "The level of context you have when you're looking at criminal laws—there's fact-finding, you provide evidence on both sides, you actually look at the problem in a 360-degree way," Bickert says. "We don't. We have a snippet of something online. We don't know who's behind this. Or what they're like. So it's a system at maximum scale with very imperfect information."

Bickert started building out the policy team in her own image. Though she is trained as a litigator, her engaging manner and easy intellect are more redolent of a law professor. On Facebook's campus, she hired a high-school teacher, a rape crisis counselor, a West Point counterterrorism expert, a Defense Department researcher. "I was hiring people who weren't coming here because they cared about Facebook necessarily," she says, but because they believed they could exert more influence in Menlo Park than in academia or gridlocked Washington.

By 2015, Bickert had teamed up with two other Facebook executives, Ellen Silver and Guy Rosen, to police bad content in a more targeted way. Bickert would set the policies. Silver would work with content moderators to implement them. And Rosen would build proactive detection tools to get in front of them. They called themselves "the three-sided coin." (Leave it to Facebook to name its governing structure after money.)

Thanks to Rosen's efforts, the company got masterful at eradicating porn and terrorist propaganda, which were fairly easy for artificial intelligence to classify. The rest of the hard-to-look-at stuff—violent threats, sexual solicitation and trafficking, images of self-harm and suicide, harassment, doxing, and hate speech—was largely up to humans to catch. First, individual Facebook users had to flag content they didn't like. Then Facebook's moderators, working across three continents, would consult manuals prepared by Silver's team to see if it actually violated any of Bickert's policies.

After the 2016 election, however, this system began to feel inadequate to the enormity of the task. When I ask Bickert the biggest difference in her job now versus five years ago, she replies without hesitation. "Social climate," she says. "Immigration into Europe. Ethnic tension. Sharply contested elections. The rise of hot speech." Meanwhile, problems no one had anticipated, like fake news and misinformation, had also announced themselves on the platform. And that was all before the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook was revealed to have turned over the personal information of tens of millions of users to a Trump-linked political consultancy.

Facebook's reputation tanked. Many Silicon Valley elders, including some of the company's early backers, went full apostate and denounced the platform. Zuckerberg wrote a 5,700-word mea culpa in which he conceded that the company may have had a negative impact on our "social infrastructure." A bleak consensus emerged. To make money, observed former Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, Facebook had addicted us and sold our eyeballs to advertisers. In return, it made us "selfish, disagreeable, and lonely, while corroding democracy, truth, and economic equality."

In the midst of all the bad press, in 2017, ProPublica dropped a bombshell report that directly impugned the company's Community Standards. Sifting through troves of leaked content-moderation manuals, ProPublica discovered a number of strange and seemingly inexplicable policies. The most alarming: "white men" were protected by the company's hate-speech laws, while "black children" were not. After a year of damning headlines about Facebook, media coverage of the policy presumed the worst about the company's motivations.

Bickert decided she needed to re-write Facebook's hate-speech laws. Four years into her job, here was her moment to see if she could, in her own way, redeem the company. By fixing the problems the original "move fast and break things" generation didn't foresee—or created in the first place—maybe Facebook's hidden legislative body could finally make the world a better place.

Bickert, with policy managers Gaurav Upot, Mary deBree, and David Caragliano.

Photograph by Balazs Gardi.

It's a cliché of Silicon Valley that tech campuses are stocked with infantilizing perks and free food. The conventional wisdom is that these things keep employees from ever leaving the premises. Another reason becomes clear when you visit Facebook: there is absolutely nothing to do within a five-mile radius of campus. Step outside One Hacker Way, in Menlo Park, and you are met with highway on one side and pungent, marshy salt ponds on the other. The whole area feels strip-mined of natural beauty. All of which makes it both obscene and highly pleasant to sit in the shade of the redwood trees that were dug up and hauled to a woodsy outdoor gathering space on the grounds of Building 21. Facebook's campus exists, in other words, as a physical manifestation of its business model: a privatization of the public square. And that hybrid status raises novel questions about how an individual company can—or should—regulate the speech of billions.

Of all the prohibited content on the platform, hate speech is by far the hardest to adjudicate. First, there isn't an obvious way to define it. In the U.S., there's no legal category for hate speech; in Europe, it's delineated pretty specifically. Second, because people post hateful stuff for all kinds of personal and idiosyncratic reasons, there isn't a systemic way to disincentivize it. To understand how Facebook polices hate speech is to understand how Facebook's brain works.

I head to a small, pod-like room in Building 23 to meet with the two lead ar­chitects of the hate-speech revamp: Gaurav Upot, a seven-year veteran of the company, and David Caragliano, of the "men are scum" powwow. Caragliano begins, pulling up a slide deck. "The way I think about this is, we were in the worst of all worlds." In one way, the old hate-speech policy was too narrow. The way it was written, you couldn't say you wanted to "kill" a member of a protected group, like a Catholic or a Latina. But you could say you wanted to kill Catholic theologians or Latina actresses. The thinking was, if you're being that specific, you're almost certainly exaggerating, or joking, or maybe just upset about a crummy movie. The problem was that age, like "theologians" or "actresses," wasn't classified as a protected category. That's how attacks on "black children" slipped through the net, while hating on "white men" was banned.

In a different way, the policy was also too broad. In 2017, a lot of L.G.B.T.Q. people were posting the word "dyke" on Facebook. That was deemed a slur, and was duly removed. A blind spot was exposed. Facebook, it has been observed, is able to judge content—but not intent. Matt Katsaros, a Facebook researcher who worked extensively on hate speech, cites an unexpected problem with flagging slurs. "The policy had drawn a distinction between 'nigger' and 'nigga,' " he explains. The first was banned, the second was allowed. Makes sense. "But then we found that in Africa many use 'nigger' the same way people in America use 'nigga.' " Back to the drawing board.

Caragliano and Upot began writing a granular policy meant to solve both these problems. A matrix of hate-speech laws from across the European Union that Caragliano prepared highlights the complexity of their endeavor—and a tacit admission that Facebook's global standards aren't really feasible in practice. On the y-axis of the chart are a number of hypothetical hate-speech examples. On the x-axis are various E.U. nations' tolerance of the speech. So, for example, "Muslims are criminals" is clearly illegal in Belgium and France, likely legal in Denmark and Italy, and likely illegal in England and Germany. (And banned by Facebook.)

Caragliano and Upot pulled input from seven Facebook departments and more than 30 academics, NGOs, and activist groups. It took them four months to finish an initial revise of the policy. When they finished, in October 2017, it looked like this: Attacks would be divided into three categories of severity. The first included calls to violence ("kill"), dehumanizing words ("scum"), and offensive visual stereotypes (depicting a Jewish person as a rat). The second included "statements of inferiority." The third encompassed "calls for exclusion." Slurs, meanwhile, would be quarantined in their own context-dependent mini-category.

The revamp allowed Facebook to target problematic speech more specifically. Guy Rosen's team, for example, trained its automatic detection classifier to seek only the most severe tier of hate speech. Since then, Facebook has gone from flagging about a quarter of all hate speech before users do, to more than half, without accidentally removing proud uses of "dyke." The new rules also enabled Facebook to better classify overlooked categories like "Catholic theologians" or "black children," who were now protected from hateful attacks.

Here's how it works in practice: late last year, Facebook removed several posts by Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israel's prime minister. Netanyahu had called Palestinians "monsters" and advocated that "all the Muslims leave the land of Israel." Palestinians and Muslims are both protected groups. "Monster" is dehumanizing, "leave" is a call for exclusion, and both are classified as hate speech. The removal was consistent with the new policy. In response, Netanyahu called Facebook "the thought police."

All these changes, though, were happening in private. Last September, when Facebook C.O.O. Sheryl Sandberg testified before Congress about the threat of foreign interference in the upcoming midterm elections, Senator Kamala Harris took the occasion to grill her about the "black children" incident. Sandberg responded with a canned and confusing answer that reinforced the wide perception that Facebook is full of crap. "We care tremendously about civil rights," Sandberg said. "We have worked closely with civil-rights groups to find hate speech on our platform and take it down." Harris asked her to specify when the problematic policy had been changed. Sandberg couldn't answer.

If Bickert was watching back in Menlo Park, she must have been beside herself. The "black children" loophole, which was at its root an operational issue, had been closed more than a year earlier. The gap between the competence of the policy wonks who write Facebook's rules, and the high-profile executives who defend them in public, could hardly have seemed wider.

Not long after Sandberg's testimony, at a diner in Palo Alto, I ask Bickert who her John Stuart Mill is. Louis Brandeis, she tells me, the former Supreme Court justice who helped enshrine free speech as a bedrock of 20th-century American democracy. "The Brandeis idea that you need people to be able to have the conversation, that that's how they learn, that that's how we develop an informed society that can govern itself—that matters, I think."

In general, Bickert would rather not censor content that's part of the national discourse, even when it's blatantly hateful. A prime example: in 2017, just before Facebook began re-writing its hate-speech policies, U.S. representative Clay Higgins of Louisiana posted a message on his Facebook wall demanding that all "radicalized Islamic suspects" be executed. "Hunt them, identify them, and kill them," he wrote. "Kill them all." People were obviously outraged. But Facebook left the message up, as it didn't violate the company's hate-speech rules. ("Radicalized Islamic suspects" wasn't a protected category.) Post-revamp, that outburst would run afoul of the Community Standards. Yet Facebook has not taken the message down, citing an exemption for "newsworthy" content. "Wouldn't you want to be able to discuss that?" Bickert asks, when I point to Higgins's post. "We really do want to give people room to share their political views, even when they are distasteful."

Bickert is articulating not just the classic Facebookian position that sharing is good, but also what used to be a fairly uncontroversial idea, protected by the First Amendment, that a democratic society functions best when people have the right to say what they want, no matter how offensive. This Brandeisian principle, she fears, is eroding. "It's scary," she says. "When they talk to people on U.S. college campuses and ask how important freedom of speech is to you, something like 60 percent say it's not important at all. The outrage about Facebook tends to push in the direction of taking down more speech. Fewer groups are willing to stand up for unpopular speech."

Increasingly, real-world events are testing whether Facebook can cling to a vision of liberalism in which one set of laws applies to everyone, or whether it needs to transition to a social-justice-minded model in which certain groups warrant more protection than others. In the wake of the Syrian-refugee crisis, for instance, negative comments about Muslim migrants began flooding Facebook pages in Europe. Some advocated for tight borders. Some were straight-up racist. The goal, as Bickert saw it, was to find a middle ground, to avoid painting charged political speech with the same brush as legitimate hate speech. In 2016, Facebook devised a fix. Immigrants would be "quasi-protected." You couldn't call them "scum," but you could call for their exclusion from a country. Facebook was starting to draw lines it had never before drawn.

When the "men are scum" problem first landed on its radar, in late 2017, Facebook began to consider an even more radical step. Should some groups be protected more than others? Women more than men, say, or gay people more than straight people? "People recognize power dynamics and feel like we are tone-deaf not to address them," Caragliano says. After the policy meeting in Oh, Semantics last fall, Caragliano and deBree spun off four separate working groups to devise a fix for "men are scum." Over the course of the next four months, they studied 6,800 examples of gendered hate speech that had appeared on the platform. It was easy, deBree said, to find reasons to defend a statement like "men are disgusting." But it felt wrong to let users say "gay men are disgusting" or "Chinese men are disgusting." In the end, in late January of this year, Facebook arrived at a deflating consensus: nothing would change.

In the abstract, almost everyone on Bickert's team favored a hate-speech policy that took into account power imbalances between different groups. But for a user base of more than two billion people, such changes proved impossible to scale. On some level, there are no "fixes" to Facebook's problems. There are only trade-offs. Like an actual government, it seemed, the best Facebook could hope for was a bunch of half-decent compromises. And like a government, anything it did would still piss off at least half its constituents.

There is a wide assumption, not unfounded, that Facebook has a financial stake in leaving total garbage up on its site. Reams of evidence, anecdotal and scholarly, suggest that its News Feed algorithm rewards inflammatory and addictive content. Even as the company has vowed over the past year to prioritize "local," "meaningful," and "informative" content, a shameless British clickbait site called LadBible consistently ranks as its top publisher., which is basically the same thing, is rarely far behind. So are Breitbart, TMZ, and the Daily Mail. Facebook, as Wired editor Nicholas Thompson puts it, feeds us Cheetos rather than kale.

The problem with eradicating this sort of junk food is that the News Feed rewards stuff that people click on. Paternalistically replace it with high-minded content, and you'll lose customers. Writing in The New York Times Magazine a couple years ago, Farhad Manjoo implied that Facebook, other than making money off clicks, didn't really have a policy agenda at all. "The people who work on News Feed aren't making decisions that turn on fuzzy human ideas like ethics, judgment, intuition, or seniority," he wrote. "The News Feed team's ultimate mission is to figure out what users want [and] to give them more of that." And what people want, evidently, is Cheetos.

But hate speech, fascinatingly, doesn't work like this. If you give Facebook users too much of it, they actually do go away. On one of my visits to Facebook, I go out to dinner with Matt Katsaros, the hate-speech researcher. He lives in San Francisco's Outer Sunset, which sits on the lip of the Pacific, and is one of the last neighborhoods in the city not yet spoiled by tech zillionaires. The sleepiness of the place suits Katsaros, a 30-year-old who in his spare time works as a textile artist.

Having spent the last several years staring at hate speech on the Internet, Katsaros is probably one of the world's experts on disturbing social-media content. ("There's a lot of women being compared to kitchen appliances right now," he tells me.) The emotional toll of his job has significantly decreased his own appetite for ever posting anything on Facebook. "I spend my day talking to people who say, 'Oh, they took a picture of me and wrote faggot on top of it.' " That, he says, is exactly why the company has a strong interest in eradicating hate speech. Some amount of inflammatory speech revs people up. But crank the ugliness dial too far, the research shows, and people withdraw. "There's no incentive for us to have that stuff," he says. "People get silenced, they don't engage, and then they go off to do something else."

Bickert makes a similar argument. "People will say, 'Oh, your business interests are not aligned with the safety interests of the community.' I completely disagree with that," she says. Not only does hate speech turn others off, but the people who post it may not be ideal moneymakers for the company. "Those people are not likely to click on an ad for shoes, you know, in the middle of their hate. The person who is looking at puppy videos is a lot more likely."

Last year, Facebook finally started posting metrics about how much banned content it was taking down from the site. It's impossible to know exactly how much of the bad stuff they're removing, since many users don't report toxic content in the first place. (This is one reason it can be difficult to identify hate speech against persecuted minorities around the world: many users don't consider it hate speech at all.) Still, the numbers are encouraging. From October to December of 2017, Facebook purged about 1.6 million pieces of hate speech. From July to September of 2018, that number spiked to 2.9 million, or some 30,000 pieces a day.

Facebook presumably wouldn't be doing all this if it were actually invested in keeping its user base frothing at the mouth. Indeed, compared with early, failed social-media platforms like MySpace, Facebook is highly regulated. At the same time, it's disturbing that the platform hosts so much toxicity in the first place. Bickert's theory is that Facebook has gotten so big it's come to mirror the ugliness of the rest of the world. "I'm not crazy about the level of discourse that I see online in general," she concedes. At the same time, she resists laying all of that at the feet of Facebook's filter bubbles. "Since the early 70s, when you measure people based on their sentiments towards opposing political parties, it's been kind of going up like this"—her hands fly upward and outward. "So to the extent that that's a lot of the garbage that's on social media, that's reflecting what's in society."

Maybe Bickert has a point. But there's also a case to be made that Facebook, in trying to eradicate bad content, is locked in an unwinnable war with the world it helped create. After hastening the demise of the traditional news media by siphoning off much of its advertising revenue, then handing its platform over to whichever bottom-feeding blogs, shitposters, and fake-news profiteers could generate the most user outrage—well, of course, there's plenty of toxic speech for the company to remove. And while in the real world—or even on more rudimentary social-media platforms like Reddit—the power of robust counter-speech can do a lot to push back against noxious commentary, on Facebook, like-minded users are herded together by the self-sorting News Feed algorithm.

I float the argument to Katsaros that, at least in the short term, the company's financial incentives are misaligned. One way to beat back the trash on its platform would be to plow its profits into building active detection tools and hiring more content moderators. Facebook, for example, has just four full-time fact checkers in Nigeria, a country of 200 million.

"Didn't that happen?" Katsaros asks. "The stock price took a huge hit."

He's right. It did. Last summer, after Facebook said it would invest in expanding its safety net, investors revolted. Which suggests …

"Are you just saying that, like, capitalism is bad?" Katsaros asks. "Is that what you're getting at?" He stares at me deadpan for a couple seconds, before a gallows-humor smile spreads across his face. "Yeah. Definitely."

Next time I checked in with Katsaros, he had quit the company.

If Facebook has a commander in chief (Zuckerberg) and a legislative body (Bickert's team), it recently decided to add a third branch of government. In November, Zuckerberg wrote a post signaling his commitment to establishing an external, independent board with the power to evaluate and override the company's most controversial decisions. In other words, Facebook would create a Supreme Court.

The idea seemed gauzy and abstract—a Zuckerberg specialty. In fact, two people at Facebook have been planning the Supreme Court for more than a year. Andy O'Connell came to Facebook from the State Department, and Heather Moore joined from the Justice Department. Both work under Monika Bickert. O'Connell explains Zuckerberg's motivation. "His strong view is that all the content issues are issues for the community—that they are not motivated by business interests," he says. "But nobody believes that, of course." The court would improve not just Facebook's decision-making but also the "perception of legitimacy."

The task was daunting. Nobody has ever built a judicial system for a constituency of 2.3 billion people before. How many cases would it hear? Where would the judges come from? Would they be paid? Who pays them? Do deliberations take place over patchy Skype sessions? In a gargantuan mega-chamber, like the one used by the senate in the awful Star Wars prequels?

As we discuss the idea in Building 23, O'Connell starts off by narrowing the court's jurisdiction. "The way I'm thinking about it," he says, "it's either really hard calls—things of significant public interest—or places where a novel case could cause us to reconsider a long-established policy." That, in turn, leads to questions about how to choose the cases. Does Facebook pick? Do you let the public decide? "Then you get into all the, like, Boaty McBoatface public voting problems"—the unfortunate name Twitter users selected for a British research vessel.

Moore chimes in. "And then, should that be a public decision, the way the U.S. Supreme Court makes a public decision?" Only about 4 percent of Facebook's content is news. The rest is personal. So imagine a case involving bullying, or revenge porn. What implications would that have for the privacy of the users involved? Whether you find it heartening or terrifying that Facebook is happily working to improve its shadow government while the sclerotic real-world version in Washington does nothing, there is something thrilling about witnessing a society being built in real time.

The week we meet, in late October, O'Connell and Moore decide to test-drive an early iteration of the court featuring a couple dozen "judges" flown in from around the world, with backgrounds in human rights, privacy, and journalism. The session takes place in an airy conference room on a relatively secluded part of campus. The case I sit in on involves a piece of inflammatory content posted in Myanmar, where Facebook has been widely blamed for abetting the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, by failing to remove attacks against them. While Facebook won't allow me to report on the specifics of the case, I can say that the question before the judges is this: should the court overturn Facebook's decision not to remove the offending content, which did not technically violate the company's hate-speech rules?

The judges break off into small panels to debate the case. As Facebook staffers introduce contextual wrinkles that make the case harder to decide, the judges struggle to weigh two of Facebook's own stated principles. Should the platform defend the "voice" of an anti-Rohingya post? Or should it protect the "safety" of those who were threatened by it?

When the judges come together to issue a ruling, the vote is six to two to take the post down. Facebook's decision, in the abstract, has been overturned. But given the complications of the case, nobody looks particularly satisfied.

One of the ironies of Facebook's efforts to clean up its platform is inherent in the framing of the problem. If it's to be a benevolent government, why is it focused almost entirely on policing users? In addition to monitoring and punishing bad behavior, shouldn't it be incentivizing good behavior? In November, Facebook published a study by Matt Katsaros and three academics that sought to answer that question. Currently, when users post nudity or hate speech, they get a brief, automated message informing them of the violation and the removal of their content. Katsaros and his co-authors surveyed nearly 55,000 users who had received the message. Fifty-two percent felt they had not been treated fairly, while 57 percent said it was unlikely that Facebook understood their perspective. But among those who did feel fairly treated, the likelihood of repeat violations subsided.

Based on the findings, the paper argued, Facebook should focus less on punishing haters and more on creating a system of procedural justice that users could come to respect and trust. After all, Facebook's government may be a deliberative body, but it's by no means a democratic one. Last year, for the first time, the company began letting users file an appeal when Facebook removed their individual posts. But now Katsaros is gone. So is his co-author Sudhir Venkatesh, who has returned to his sociology post at Columbia University after a two-year stint at Facebook.

In late January, Facebook released a few more nuggets about the composition of its Supreme Court. The first iteration would likely feature 40 paid judges, serving on a part-time basis for three-year terms. The court would have the power to overrule Facebook's content moderators, but not to rewrite the company's Community Standards. Little was said about the role or rights of the individual users who would be bringing their appeals to the high court.

For now, the court is in Monika Bickert's hands. At the conclusion of the session I attend, Bickert is piped in via video conference. Several judges comment that it would be a lot easier to resolve cases if they understood the motivations behind them. Bickert nods sympathetically. Facebook's Supreme Court will be provided with plenty of context when it decides its cases. But there are only so many appeals it can hear. "The reality is, with billions of posts every day, and millions of reports from users every day," Bickert says, "it's just not something that we can operationalize at this scale."

It was an outcome that Justice Louis Brandeis, the free-speech advocate, might have predicted. Brandeis was also an outspoken anti-monopolist, and Facebook's critics often invoke him to justify breaking up the company. Even with an independent Supreme Court, it would seem, Facebook may be too big to succeed.

A couple weeks before the midterm elections, which Facebook is not accused of bungling, Bickert is playing a game. We are walking through a handsome Palo Alto neighborhood called Professorville, adjacent to Zuckerberg's home neighborhood of Crescent Park. It's almost Halloween, and I've never seen so many extravagantly creepy yard decorations in my life. Home after home, locked in a bourgeois arms race to rack up the most realistically undead ghouls and animatronic skeletons. Accompanying us is Ruchika Budhraja, my Facebook P.R. minder and one of Bickert's close friends at the company. The game is: How much does that house cost?

The house we're looking at is enormous: three stories tall, brownish with green trim, plus a wraparound veranda. Bickert appraises. "Hmmm," she says. "Nine million." I guess $8.25 million. Budhraja looks up the price on her phone. After a moment, the verdict. "It says four and a half," she informs us.

What? That can't be right. We're standing in the middle of the most expensive real-estate market in the country. Bickert consults Zillow. "This says 12.9." That's more like it. Budhraja pleads no contest. "I just googled on the Internet," she says. Bickert shakes her head. "Fake news."

This is a chancy parlor game to be playing with a journalist. A tech executive, playfully quantifying how her industry has turned an entire metro area unaffordable. But in the moment, it doesn't feel so tone-deaf. When Bickert marvels at the obscenity of Silicon Valley property values, you can tell it's from a place of anthropological remove. This isn't really her world. She may be at Facebook, but she isn't of it.

Because she's not a member of Facebook's founding generation, she's not defensive about the company's shortcomings. And because she's freed from delusions of tech-sector altruism, she isn't precious about trying to make all of Facebook's users happy. If the left wing of the Internet generally wants a safer and more sanitized Facebook, and the right wing wants a free-speech free-for-all, Bickert is clinging to an increasingly outmoded Obamian incrementalism. Lead from behind. Don't do stupid shit. Anything more ambitious would be utopian.

"The world is too diverse," she says. "And people see speech so differently, and safety so differently. I don't think we're ever going to craft the perfect set of policies where we're like, 'We've nailed it.' I don't think we ever will."

And one more thing: You still can't say, "Men are scum."

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7 Biblical Secrets to Business Success - Aish

Posted: 04 Jan 2014 12:00 AM PST

After graduating law school and practicing for two years, I launched an airline ticket business which was quickly profitable. I sold that business in 1991 and then launched Hotel Reservations Network which became I sold the balance of my interest in in 2003 and after a five year non-compete launched Recently during our weekly Friday night dinner discussion, I mentioned that is growing and profitable and reached some new milestones.

My mother asked me, "How did you know what to do at this company and the others to make them succeed? You didn't go to business school or work in a big company."

She was right. I didn't have any formal business training other than a basic course in accounting and finance. No work experience in a business. No internships. No mentors.

My answer surprised her. "I owe all of my business success to you and Dad for sending me to a Jewish Day School for 12 years. That's where I learned best guide book to running a successful business ever written – the Bible."

Here are the most important biblical principles that led to my success.

1. Do your homework.

I learned the principle of due diligence through Talmudic study. For years, I studied debates among rabbinical scholars on various topics. Nothing was taken for granted – all arguments were considered and debated. I learned to ask why and to make sure I understood the issues. Studying alone was not enough. We were paired with other students and spent much of our time discussing the issues with the classmate we were paired with before the next class. We learned to tear each other's arguments apart. We read every commentary on the topic we could find.

I approached business the same way. I did my homework. I researched the competition. I tested the market. I argued the other side. There is no shortcut for doing your homework in a business and understanding the competitive landscape. Major mistakes can often be avoided and opportunities found by speaking to experts and analysts, tearing apart business plans, doing market studies and focus groups, analyzing expenses and doing your homework – due diligence.

2. Treat your employees fairly.

One of the most difficult parts of running a business is dealing with employee issues. Employees can be demanding: raises, time off, expenses, conflicts and more. When confronted with these issues, I just thought about the principle of paying employees on time: "The wages of a worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning" (Lev 19:13). The Torah also commands us not to take advantage of your employees: "You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger" (Deut, 24:14). This taught me to always treat employees equally and fairly. I applied an absolute level of fairness among all our employees when it came to pay and all other issues. Race, age, gender, religion, color – these had no bearing. It is always difficult to say no, but when you develop a reputation for fairness to your employees, they respect you more and know that they were treated properly.

3. Have the highest level of customer service.

There is a high level of customer service issues in the travel business. Flight delays, lost luggage, noisy rooms, housekeeping issues and more. There are also many that try to take advantage of the system. I employed a very simple standard for customer care: "Love your neighbor like yourself" (Lev. 19:18) – put yourself in the shoes of the customer and treat them as you want to be treated. While many companies struggle with how to handle customer service, following this standard is the best way to build a long term loyal customer base.

We all prefer to patronize businesses that are fair on returns/exchanges and that treat us well. We refer our friends there. When we launched, top customer service was a great competitive advantage in a marketplace of foreign outsourcing and cost cutting. The high level of customer service has differentiated us in the marketplace and enabled us to build a loyal customer base. Treat your customers the way you'd want to be treated.

4. Be honest with customers.

I was constantly confronted with dilemmas: How much do we disclose to customers? Do we deliver exactly what was ordered or something inferior to make a higher profit? Do we put in slightly less weight than the amount the customer believes they are paying for? Do we charge the customer more than we agreed to charge? Do we refund them less? These answers are easy when you follow the Bible's guidance: "You shall have just balances and just weights" (Lev. 19:36).

Even if your customer won't find out – don't cheat them. "Do not… put a stumbling block before the blind" (Lev. 19:14) means do not take advantage when the other party doesn't know or see what you are doing to their disadvantage. We are often confronted with situations where we can increase profits by cutting corners or otherwise take advantage of the customer in a way that they won't know about. Why not increase profits by using a cheaper material or a second hand product? Use lower cost components even though the customer believes you are using high end components. When confronted with these dilemmas, the answer is easy when following the biblical principle of not putting a stumbling block before the blind. Don't cheat your customers, even if they don't know about it.

5. Always act as if you are being watched.

Your customer overpays you. You receive a refund twice. You are at the cash register and are given a $100 bill instead of a $10 bill. Do you keep the funds that were mistakenly given you or do you give it back? Who will know?

The Sages say, "Know what is above you: An eye that sees" (Ethics of the Fathers, 2:1). When you realize that someone above is always watching you, the answer is easy. You act differently and work under a higher standard. You run your business and personal life honestly all the time.

6. Build a reputation for integrity and honesty.

The Talmud discusses the questions one is asked in the heavenly court at the end of one's life (Shabbat 31a). The first question asked is: Were you honest in your business dealings? This is the first question because it's the true measure of one's success in life. There is no greater temptation to cheat than is a business setting where one can earn more profits. If you can overcome this great temptation, you will reach a high level of character that others esteem. Your customers, employees and those you do business with want to patronize your business. When you are honest, your business grows. You also have the right answer in the heavenly court. As the Medrash says, "If one is honest in his business dealings and people esteem him, it is accounted to him as though he had fulfilled the whole Torah" (Mechilta B'Shalach 1).

7. Be humble: accept and encourage criticism.

"He who loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid" (Proverbs 12:1). Judaism teaches us to be humble. Pride gets in the way of success. We all make mistakes. Never think you are always right. Accept and encourage criticism, especially from your employees that understand the business better than anyone. My best ideas came from customers and employees. We read every customer and employee suggestion carefully. I see so many managers and CEOs that don't listen to their employee suggestions. This is a big mistake. By creating an environment that allows suggestions and criticism, you can greatly improve your business and allow employees and customers to feel more part of the business.

What to do once you are profitable

The Torah teaches us not only how to build a successful business, but also what to do once it is successful. The Bible teaches us to be socially responsible and not forget about those that don't have food to eat. We have a social responsibility to our communities. We are obligated to donate a portion of our profits to the needy. Encourage your employees, partners and customers to also be charitable through incentive, matching and other programs. Donate a portion of your profits to charity. Run promotions that contribute a portion of every sale to charity. Match your employee charitable giving to encourage them to be charitable. Encourage your employees to do community service. Use your business as a vehicle for community improvement. "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Proverbs 11:24).

View your work as a means, not an end. When we help others, we feel fulfilled and accomplished. When you leverage your business to improve the community around you, you wake up every day and appreciate what you have accomplished for the community. As King Solomon said, "Our work is meaningless unless it is to do good" (Ecclesiastes 3:12–13). Let's use our success to be socially responsible and we will live much more meaningful lives.

20 of the Most Profitable Small Businesses - Small Business Trends

Posted: 15 May 2018 12:00 AM PDT

Some businesses are inherently more profitable than others. This can be due to expenses and overhead being low or the business charging a lot for its services or products. Still, all businesses, no matter how profitable they are, can be a challenge getting started.

Most Profitable Small Businesses

If you yearn to run a profitable business (don't we all), take a look at the following 20 most profitable small businesses.

Tax Preparation and Bookkeeping

Without needing fancy premises or expensive equipment, tax preparation and bookkeeping services come with low overheads. Furthermore, the standard rate for quality tax preparers and bookkeepers is a decent salary to live on.

That said, if you're not good with numbers, preparing people's tax and keeping their finances up-to-date, won't be the business for you.

Catering Services

You don't need expensive premises to run your own catering business and could even operate your service from home, keeping overhead to a minimum. People and businesses are willing to pay for quality caterers, making this business profitable for those who work hard and have determination to succeed.

Website Design

Websites have become the 'windows of every successful business', hence quality and creative website designers remain in high demand. Again, low expenses and high rates make web design a lucrative business to run, providing you have the creative and technical know-how that is!

Business Consulting

Businesses are willing to invest in quality business consultants who can help them achieve the results they are looking for. They're also willing to pay hefty amounts for the right advice, which, tied in with low overhead, makes business consulting a profitable business to embark on.

Of course effective business consultants do require sound business acumen and knowledge, so this isn't necessarily the right opportunity for everyone.

Courier Services

Other than the outlay of your vehicle to deliver the goods, self-employed couriers don't have large overhead. Getting lucrative contracts from the major courier firms can prove profitable. However, in a competitive market, being awarded lucrative contracts can be challenging.

Mobile Hairdresser Services

Granted, you can never charge a fortune to cut someone's hair but that doesn't take away from the fact that quality hairdressers will always be in demand. Furthermore, other than a quality pair of scissors and some hair dye, if you run a mobile hair dressing salon, your business expenses are surprisingly low, making mobile hairdressing a profitable business to run.

That said, mobile hairdressers are not difficult to find, so you'll probably need to spend some money marketing your services.

Cleaning Services

All you need to start your own cleaning business is a vacuum, polish floor cleaner and, preferably, a car. With comparatively low overhead, little in the way of training required and a service which is always in demand, cleaning can be a rewarding business to get into.

So why isn't everyone doing this? Well, if you're looking for a more creative way to make a living, cleaning might not be for you.

Online Tutoring

You might be a math genius, a native Spanish speaker or a nifty guitar player. Whatever your talent, offering tutoring online can be a great way to earn an income with exceptionally low expenses.

The only downside to online tutoring… You need to have a skill others will want to learn!

Real Estate Brokering

The profits associated with real estate remain high and if you want to enter this industry one of the most cost-effective ways to do so is to set up a real estate brokering firm.

Real estate brokers act as an intermediary between sellers and buyers and all you need to get started is a brokerage license. That said, finding your own clients can be challenging, given the number of real estate brokers there are.

Logo Design

Got an eye for a great logo? If so, you might be on your way to starting a business where you can charge a tidy sum while not having to fork out on expensive overhead. Though be warned, logo design is a competitive industry, and you'll have to come up with some unique and inspiring logos to remain at the top of your trade.

Warehouse Storage

Got a spare garage or building that's not being used? If so, you may want to think about offering warehouse storage services. Providing a place for businesses and individuals to store goods and items can provide a highly profitable and predominantly passive income. Though it must be said, the job isn't exactly stimulating and therefore isn't for everyone!

Property Maintenance

There will always be a demand for people who are willing to clean gutters, repair chimneys or pull out stubborn weeds. While the hourly rate for property maintenance might not be the highest, with low overhead and high demand, property maintenance can be a profitable business to enter — as long as you don't mind getting your hands dirty!

Technology Repair Services

Got a good eye for technology and how it works? If so, setting up your own technology repair business could see you in high demand as the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology.

Repairing people's much-loved gadgets can pay well and without much overhead, can prove to be a lucrative business. Naturally, those without a knack for technology will want to steer clear!

IT Support

As we become more reliant on IT to run businesses and go about our daily lives, those who offer IT help and support are extremely sought-after. Quality IT support technicians can charge a decent rate for their skills and don't require too much overhead or equipment to run their businesses. However, IT support is a competitive industry, so you'll need to efficiently market your services to get noticed.

Marketing Services

Businesses and organizations will always want a quality marketing team behind them to boost brand awareness and bring them results. Marketing agencies can charge a lot for their services and thanks to advancing remote technology and the internet, marketing efforts can be done remotely, keeping overhead low and profits high.

Still it must be said, marketing agencies are highly competitive and in order to be a success you'll have to show you can deliver results.

Personal Training

Those who want to be fitter, slimmer and healthier, insure there will always be demand for personal trainers (PTs). Earning a qualification in personal training is not overly expensive and once you're professionally qualified, you can offer your PT services. Overhead is inherently low in this industry, making personal training a profitable and sought-after business.

One of the biggest challenges PTs face is building up a network of clients in a competitive environment.

Food Truck

Providing quality food and drink will always be in high demand, though with expensive overhead, running a restaurant isn't always as profitable as you might think. Serving food from a food truck on the other hand requires much lower overhead and can be an extremely profitable business venture. The downside is you have to work out of a van day in, day out, which isn't everyone's idea of a rewarding business.

Legal Services

Quality legal advice and support comes at a price and therefore those with legal knowledge can earn a tidy sum for their experise. That said, becoming qualified to provide legal advice takes time and money and the amount of training and education required to be able to offer legal services can put many people off.

A Man with a Van

Got a van and some spare time? Well you've got your business already mapped out! With virtually no expenses other than keeping your van roadworthy, helping people move and deliver items in your van can be an effective way to earn an income.

The downside? There's a lot of competition, so make sure your delivery services stand out.


Gardening is healthy and fulfilling work requiring an element of creativity. People love their gardens and so decent gardeners will always be in demand. Although gardeners require several tools for their trade, overhead is comparatively low, making gardening a profitable business. Though again, to ensure you get the work, you may have to spend some money on advertising your services.

Photo via Shutterstock


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