You can start a small business doing odd jobs for people, even in a slumping economy. As long as there are people who need things done for them, you can make money. Simply provide a service that people need. Many multimillion-dollar businesses started this way. For example, Starving Students Moving started with a reclaimed Army truck they dragged out of a ditch; they painted their logo and phone number on the side and parked it on a busy highway. More than 35 years and 9 states later, the phone has never stopped ringing. There are always people out there who need something done. Not everybody is handy, and some people don't have the time, knowledge or physical ability to do a job. There's no need to go hungry or lose your good credit. If you have drive and determination, you can make great money doing odd jobs for people.
Know your skills. Make a list of jobs you are skilled at and are willing to tackle. Lots of jobs don't require any special knowledge or skill. Most people can mow a lawn, clean a house, clear out a garage or paint a wall. The more jobs you are willing to do, the easier it will be to get hired. If you have special skills or attributes, you could charge a little more for special jobs, such as fixing cars, building websites or tutoring math.
Know your market. Is there a population of senior citizens in your area? They often need help with odd jobs around the house. Anyone who is trustworthy and reliable can make a great living helping seniors. Are there lots of young families in your area? Parents need childcare and tutoring for their children. Is your area filled with busy professionals? They may need yard care or home maintenance done.
Promote yourself. Make up some fliers and business cards. You can use programs like Microsoft Word and Publisher or freeware like Open Office Writer. Include your name or the name of your business and your phone number, and list the jobs you are willing to do, any special skills you have and the cities you are willing to travel to. If you are going to charge an hourly rate, you can put your rate on there, too, or leave it off so that it's negotiable. Pass the fliers out around the neighborhood, at the mall, everywhere you go. Ask businesses you know if you can post fliers on their bulletin boards.
Advertise online. One of the best places to get the word out is online. Many websites, like Craigslist, allow you to post ads for free. Post your ad and respond to inquiries promptly. You can also look for jobs on Craigslist.
Knock on doors. Go out there and introduce yourself to members of the community. Don't do a hard sell; just say hello, tell them your name and what you do, give them a flier or business card and thank them for their time. People appreciate someone who is friendly and informative. They won't appreciate someone who is pushy and will be inclined to mistrust a hard sell.
Build your business on your reputation. Ask people you have worked for if you can use them for recommendations and to spread the word about your services and reliability. Word of mouth is often the very best form of advertisement. People tend to trust the word of someone they know more than someone they don't know. Most importantly, be honest and reliable.
Keep good records. Keep a client record of names, addresses and jobs you have done. Give honest, accurate estimates, and give receipts when you get paid. It is also a good idea to write up a simple contract, even if the job is small. This tells people you are a legitimate business person they can rely on. It will also save you a ton of headaches if there is ever a dispute over a job.