The Errand Runner
Mother of Aaron, 13, Taylor, 12, and Jonathan, 8
Business: Angel at Your Service (angelatyourservice.com)
Job description: Does shopping, returns videos, picks up dry cleaning, pet-sits -- even waits for the cable guy
Start-up costs: $300 for licenses, a sign for the car, and bonding (similar to liability insurance)
Annual income: $175,000 (after seven years in business)
Back story: Nine years ago, Wilder became a stay-at-home mom after the medical office she worked at closed down. Suddenly, working friends and relatives began asking her to run their errands. "I realized I could get paid for doing the things other people have no time for," she says. She networked at the iVillage.com errand-service message board, made her own cards and brochures, and left them at neighborhood establishments. She landed house- and pet-sitting clients by advertising at Pet-Sitters.biz and Housecarers.com, and she boosted exposure by donating errand-service gift certificates for prizes at school fairs. At first she worked alone, but her business grew quickly. Now she hires independent contractors and pockets a percentage of their fees. Her car sports a sign with her business name and phone number, and "people are always pulling up next to me and asking what I do," she says. "I tell them we can run any errand in Southern California."
Best advice: "Talk about your business everywhere you go. I was shy at first, but now I can insert the phrase 'errand runner' into any conversation."
Most unusual request: "I had a client who was getting married and wanted her two dogs, a male and a female, in her wedding. I picked up the pets, dressed them in a veil and tuxedo, and kept an eye on them while they participated in the ceremony."