You want to make a few extra bucks right?
Well, running errands for people is one of the simplest businesses you could start.
It doesn’t require any special skills, the startup cost is super low and you probably already have everything you need to get started.
There are a few basic steps to launch your business successfully though, and in this article I’ll show you what you need to know.
Step 1: Research The Market
The very first step to starting any worthwhile business is doing some research and coming up with a basic plan. You don’t need to go all out and draft up an elaborate 50 page business plan though, something simple and to the point will do.
This can make a huge difference as to how much money you make with a venture like this, so it’s well worth your time.
Here are some of the fundamentals to get started…
Who Is Your Target Audience?
There are different types of customers out there and, while they all want you to run errands for them, each have specific needs and wants. Instead of trying to help ‘everybody’ you want to help a ‘target audience’ so you can differentiate your service from the pack and help these people better. You will make way more money this way.
The following are some ideas of different target audiences you could go for in this space.
Small Business Owners: People who run small businesses are typically very busy people. If you can lighten their load by running a few errands, they are going to be more than happy to pay you for it. This could be anything from restaurant owners wanting people to get ’emergency groceries’ or delivering food to their customers, right through to tradespeople who need materials delivered to a job. Local firms need office supplies, packages delivered, dry cleaning picked up, or even lunch taken to the office.
There really are 100’s of possibilities here.
Write a list of at least 10 different types of businesses in your local area and a few bullet points under each as to what they would need you for to come up with ideas. Think about how you can help them, why would they want your service?
Seniors: With an ever increasing number of elderly people in the population, this is perhaps the biggest opportunity going right now. Whether it’s because they prefer to stay at home more as they age, or they are physically not able to get out and about or drive a vehicle, there is a clear demand here. Jobs range from taking elderly folks to do their weekly shopping, banking, doctors appointments, to and from social activities and more.
This can be a real ‘staple’ in the errand running game as it is very predictable once you establish some clients. Some also do ‘fill in’ jobs for elderly while they are at it such as odd jobs around the home, cleaning and pet minding while they are out and about.
If all you did was work with the elderly, you could quite literally create a full time income over time.
Busy People: Let’s face it, people are just plain busy these days. Especially in the city areas. This opens up a need for errand runners with jobs such as delivering items to their home and taking care of everyday tasks while they are stuck at work. You could even branch out into dog walking, and various other tasks around the home if you wanted to, it’s an easy way to increase your income since you’ve already won the client.
Disabled People: Some people are temporarily or permanently disabled, and like everyone else, they have stuff that needs doing.
Pregnant Women: It is difficult for heavily pregnant women to get around in a vehicle, and those who have recently given birth can’t leave their child. So, this presents you with an opportunity to specialise in helping these folks with whatever they may need. They may be out of action, but they still need groceries, packages delivered and picked up, and all kinds of errands run. Perhaps they need more baby formula or nappies for example.
What Makes Your Service Unique?
The actual jobs you perform for the above target audiences are going to be somewhat similar overall, yes. But knowing the primary differences within these groups will help you craft a unique service.
Ask yourself… if you were searching for someone to run errands for you, would you choose the business that caters to your specific needs, or the business that ‘might’ be able to help you? I know which I would choose.
The point being, know your customer, and know them well. This allows you to create a unique value proposition to suite them.
For example, if you are targeting businesses in the city such as a legal firm, make sure they know you are VERY prompt, on time and get the job done. If you are working with the elderly, make sure you point out you are patient, compassionate, and take the time to really help them with their tasks.
You don’t need to go all here, but understanding the key differences is going to help you establish a much better business.
Where Will You Operate?
Running an errand business in the country is going to be a lot different to how you run things in the city. The people are different, how you will reach these folks is different and the types of tasks they need doing will differ. Think about your location and the impact this could have on your business.
Also, get familiar with Google Maps so you can get a very good understanding of the area you will be operating in. The better you know your area, the quicker you are going to be able to get from A to B and the better routes you can take. This means lower fuel costs and less time spent stuck in traffic!
Google Maps works quite well on a handheld device, and it’s free, so you could easily get away with this as your primary GPS system. Although it may be worth investing in a holder to prop your phone in place so you aren’t taking your eyes off the road while on the job. Just an idea.
How Much Will You Charge?
The going rate is actually pretty good for this industry considering how easy it is to get into. Most errand runners charge anywhere between $20-$40 per hour and extra for tolls and fuel if this hasn’t been factored into your hourly rate.
Some will also create ‘package deals’ whereby you agree with the client on specific weekly/ monthly tasks for a set amount of money. I only recommend doing this if you know exactly how long the task will take though, as you could end up working more than you intended, meaning less money than if you had been on a standard hourly rate agreement. If you do go this route, make sure to have a clear agreement in place to avoid misunderstanding and allow for unforeseen circumstances.
Step 2: Setup Your Errand Running Business
The core ingredients you need to start your business are very simple. Decide on your business structure (sole proprietor, partnership, company etc), your business name, check out licensing requirements and get some basic insurance.
Structure and Business Name: The most common structure, and by far the easiest, is running a simple sole proprietorship. There is nothing to do in order to set this up formally, since there is no distinction between yourself and your business. You are the business. In this case, a business name is just your ‘trading name’ and you can use this to identify your business to people.
Licensing and Insurances: Once you have decided on your structure, you absolutely must have the right licensing and insurances in place according to your country/ state. I’m pretty sure you don’t need a licenses to run errands, but if you are transporting people you may need to research licensing requirements. It may also be worth letting your vehicle insurance company know, as well as the transport authorities that you are using your vehicle as a means of income.
Since you are going to be conducting business, you will need to get some general liability insurance to cover unforeseen events such as injury or an accident in connection with you services. If you don’t you risk losing BIG money in a lawsuit if something were to happen. Basically, this covers you if you get sued for some reason and the cost is generally quite low.
Step 3: Marketing Your Business
Now that you’ve done your homework and got the basics in place, it’s time to get the word out so you can start getting customers and making money. You can have the best business idea in the world, but without customers, it’s worth nothing.
Here are some of the best ways you can get customers into your business…
The most basic and common way to get the word out, is to knock a few business cards and flyers up and start handing them out to the places your target audience are located. For example, hand out flyers to those in an elderly housing community, or places they visit regularly if you are targeting the elderly segment. You could run an ad in a publication they specifically read, such as a newsletter for their demographic. If you are targeting small business owners, go where they go, or even visit their business and politely ask them if they need an errand runner during a slower part of the day. If they say no, ask if you could leave your card with them.
This is a much better approach in my opinion. More and more people go online to find the products and services they need so you want to get in on this action yourself and position your business in front of people.
The idea is to create a simple website so you can showcase your services, the benefit here is you can learn how to get that site ranking in Google so when people search for “errand runner (location)” your website shows up, and they call you.
These days, absolutely anyone can build a website and get customers to it for free, so this is not difficult by any means. In fact, this is a sure way to beat the competition and create a winning business so it is well worth your time doing.
There are also some websites that can align you with customers on their database that have already posted jobs. These act as a sort of ‘middle man’ and can make your life easier. For example, some help you with things such as insurance and payments and you only choose the jobs you want.
The upside is that it’s easier and you can get customers quicker, the downside is you are governed by their system and their rules.
Here are a few worthwhile websites to consider:
- Air Tasker
- Agent Anything
- Door Dash
- Task Rabbit
These could be a great way to start off and get your feet wet. Then, if you like the way things are going, you could venture off into getting your own clients.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth can be very powerful also, by providing a value packed service, more people are going to use your service and more people are going to tell their friends about their experience. Start with some low cost advertising, and do an amazing job for people, pretty soon you advertising costs will be very low, and your customer base will grow organically. Not to mention, you will get a steady flow of repeat business this way.
In this article we covered some of the important elements of making money as an errand runner to get you started, along with some useful tips on marketing your business to get plenty of paying customers.
There is definitely an opportunity to make money running errands, especially for those who are motivated to succeed. By doing some research, setting up the basics and getting the word out, you will be running around town in no time.
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