Earning Money Vs. Profit

There's an important difference between earning money and profit.

If you hand me a rake and pay me $25 an hour to rake leaves, and I rake for 2 hours and get paid $50... I can say I earned $50. Did I profit $50 though?

The definition of profit is: a financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, or producing something

How much did I spend to get the $50?

I spent at least 2 hours. I also spent some energy (maybe I gained energy if this is a good workout and I recover properly)... but I still spent 2 hours to get $50. Is that a profit?

To determine profitability requires judging the value of what's spent. An hour of my time could be worth $250. If I spend it doing something for $25, I could say I just lost $225. For this reason, I would say I earned $50, not I profited $50.

This idea is important if considering transitioning from a solo service to a business. If I had a client offer me $50 to have their lawn raked, and I had to pay someone else to rake the leaves, then how profitable would the venture be?

I can't pay someone $0 to rake leaves and pocket the $50. Maybe I have to pay $15 an hour or maybe even $20, and maybe the people aren't reliable so I need to spend time finding more people or sometimes they do something wrong etc... etc...

There's a time and place to consider one or the other. I think when starting out it's better to think about earning. What are you actually willing to do and capable of doing that will earn you money. There are many things you can do. Some things are harder to find customers for than others. Some things are faster to deliver and get paid than others. Some things take more time to train for than others. In my opinion, it's great to have multiple income streams or sources where the profitability or earnings vary drastically. So long as what you're doing is not hurting anyone and or decreasing the amount of money in your pocket, it could be worth pursuing.

There are tons of businesses that are very profitable/earn people involved a lot of money.

You might not think of raking lawns or walking dogs as high income earning as being an engineer or a doctor... but some people might find it much easier to scale a simple service into a sizable business than scaling a specialized service into a scaled business.

It's not as easy to delegate a super specialized service like a doctor's consult, but if you have five employees that rake lawns or walk dogs, or deliver pizzas... you can probably develop certainty that you can fulfill on your promises as a service provider.

Across all avenues where you do business, you can learn something. Whether you are selling a used couch, a service to paint a fence, or a consulting service... you can see the feedback from the market. You can see if customers or clients are satisfied. You can see if they repeat business.

There are certain services that are built in for repeat business. If you do dog walking or produce delivery (or something else food related), you can usually get a client for a very long time - provided you're doing a solid job. The profitability per hour might be lower, but the reliability might be higher and the opportunity to scale might either be greater or simply more likely to occur.

I walked dogs in the mornings while tutoring in the afternoon. This made sense! Students don't get tutoring while they're in school. They get tutoring after school. I need daily exercise. Dog walking is exercise. I got paid to exercise during a time when I would not have tutoring clients anyway.

I don't mind getting paid $30 for half an hour to walk with a dog. I could do it for less if the going rate was lower. Since the going rate where I am is around that, I shoot for that rate. I did something similar with tutoring. I saw what the going rate was, aimed to provide a better service than that, and I eventually started charging a rate commensurate with this. If you're thinking of offering a service, you can look at what the available market prices are, beat their quality, then offer a price that's similar enough. I think it's fine if your prices are a bit cheaper or more expensive. Whatever works for you.

The beauty of working directly with clients - especially clients that are local to you, is that the real cost to you is lower so then you can potentially charge less because of this.

My clients are often less than 1 mile from me. It doesn't cost me 30 minutes+ to travel to them so my prices need not integrate that inconvenience, therefor I can charge less than competitors and provide faster better service. Win win.

What services could you provide your neighbors? What services do they currently pay for? How many neighbors do you know that you could potentially provide a service to? Are you in communication with them? What if you were? What if you could talk to your neighbors and find out what they're looking for? What if you could pitch your services to your neighbors?