As a firefighter, you risk your life to save the lives of others. Your work schedule is unique and there’s almost always a lot of downtime associated with the job. As such, most firefighters are in the perfect position to start a side business. The key is finding an entrepreneurial pursuit that works with your schedule and doesn’t distract from getting the job done when on call. Here are a few side business ideas worth pondering.
Invent or Perfect a Product
If you’re the sort of firefighter that likes to tinker, you should put your experience and know-how to good use by creating a product. A good example might be the FireAvert created by Peter Thorpe, an ingenious kitchen fire prevention gadget seen on the show Shark Tank. Thanks to simple circuit-prototyping systems such as Arduino, anyone can create surprisingly sophisticated appliances with little effort.
Launch a Fire-Related Blog
Without prior experience, but with hard work and dedication, blogging can be a money-maker consistently over the long haul. Naturally, a blog related to fire safety or the firefighting lifestyle would be a logical way to proceed. The key is approaching your niche from a unique angle. You can monetize the blog using product reviews or advice articles that feature affiliate links, AdSense ads and even sponsored posts.
Teach Fire Safety Courses
As a firefighter, your expertise is a valuable commodity in and of itself. Imparting that wisdom to others could be a lucrative proposition if you’re good with people and have a knack for teaching. Come up with a fire safety course curriculum for a seminar and market your services to local schools, businesses and community organizations. Try to tailor your course for specific industries or groups to stand out.
Fire Safety and Prevention Consulting
Many former military members parlay their experience in their field to security consulting. There’s no reason why firefighters can’t do the same. Drafting fire safety and prevention plans for local companies or governmental entities for a reasonable fee is a great way to profit on the side. If you have extensive experience with outdoor fires, companies with a lot of property in arid climates will be clamoring for your business.
Operate A Fire-Proofing Business
If you’re a firefighter, there’s a solid chance that you’re good with your hands and know how to adapt to challenging situations. Why not fire-proof homes and businesses that are more likely to go up in flames at some point in the future? Older structures may be one target. Pair up with a general contractor and act as their hired gun fire-proofing expert.
Fire and Water Restoration
The great thing about fire and water demolition and restoration is that scheduling is often quite flexible. If a home is already fairly gutted but not totaled, there’s usually some wiggle room on when you have to show up to work on it. If you’re like most firefighters, you probably already own must of the contractor-grade equipment necessary to excel as a freelancer in this line of work.
Real Estate Speculation
If you spend enough time looking at all manner of residential and commercial buildings, you get a sixth sense for value. With a little startup capital, any firefighter can jump into the house-flipping game and use their insider knowledge to find diamonds in the rough. Buying fire and water-damaged buildings that you know you can restore yourself for a song is a great way to break into the business.
Put Together a Landscaping Outfit
As long as you have the necessary equipment and a vehicle to carry them in, you could start a thriving landscaping business rather quickly. A little prior experience helps, but you will be able to rapidly improve your skills with every job. If have a background in forestry or lawn care, you can market your services more easily. Best of all, you can usually delegate the actual work to others when you’re not able to perform it yourself.
Start a Paid Fitness Training Group
Since you’re probably working out and doing cardio a fair amount anyway, a fitness business is a sensible sideline. You don’t even need to rent commercial space for a gym. Just organize runs, cross-training events and lifting sessions while coaching your clients for a small monthly fee. If you really want to make some money, market a homemade energy drink or protein bar that you’ve concocted at the same time.
Run a Small Engine Repair Concern
Most firefighters know their way around 2-stroke engines as well as the professionals that service them. Buy a few general small engine tools and some parts for the most common makes on the market like Husqvarna, Stihl, Toro and Poulan. You can usually find kits on eBay for bargain prices. Use a Google+ page targeted at your immediate area to advertise your small engine restoration services.
Detailing Commercial and Private Vehicles
Believe it or not, independent automotive-detailing entrepreneurs make a pretty penny after they’ve built a great reputation. If you have a steady schedule, you can set aside two or three days a week for visiting clients at home or at work and cleaning the living daylights out of their cars or trucks. An investment of less than $300 in gear and cleaning products could potentially earn you thousands per month.
Fix Up or Simply Flip Used Cars
There are thousands and thousands of people around the country that make money on cars without being a dealer. A few flipped cars per month can result in a few thousand in profits if you’re mechanically savvy and know your autos. Start small by purchasing a vehicle for a few grand, giving it a good detailing, changing the spark plugs and selling for a modest profit.
Flip Quality Merchandise on eBay
Ultimately, anyone can become an eBay titan if they’re good at keeping records and have the ability to spot a bargain. Due to the cost of shipping, it’s best to start with compact but valuable goods like stereos or antiques. Buy local when you can find undervalued items, make them presentable, ensure that they work as advertised and market them to the appropriate buyer niches on the web.
Caveats and Words of Advice
It goes without saying that you should clear side businesses with your chief beforehand to avoid conflicts of interest or contract violations. Furthermore, marketing new side businesses is the toughest nut to crack. Joining the CFP Network to market a side business is a prudent move. In any event, firefighters have a world of options available to them when it comes to banking extra money.