– Melinda F. Emerson, known as the SmallBizLady, is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, small business coach and the author of “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months“. This article originally appeared on SecondAct.com. The views expressed are her own. –

In today’s economy, even if you have a job, your money doesn’t go as far as it used to. You’re probably thinking a lot about how you can make some money on the side.

I am a firm believer that the only way to build wealth in America is to build a business, but getting started can be challenging for people who need a weekly paycheck. That’s why it’s best to stick your toes in the entrepreneurial waters with a moonlighting business. It usually takes 18 to 36 months for a new business venture to break even.

There are plenty of businesses you can develop after 5 p.m. each evening and on weekends while still working your day job. Some of these options may require you to work by appointment or find a partner, but all of these businesses are ideal side gigs.

Here are my top seven moonlighting businesses to start right now.

1. Grant and Proposal Writing

If you can help people find money, you will always have clients. As a grant writer, you can charge hourly or, once you are established, a flat fee of $1,000 to $1,500 and perhaps a percentage of any successful proposals. You can offer grant management and sustainability plans, as well. Some grant writers are generalists, and some focus on a niche, such as developing educational, social service or health research grants. “Grant writing is quite lucrative, but there’s a lot of pressure from clients,” says Anisha Robinson-Keeys, president of Lance-Lee Planning in Norristown, Pa.”The key is being an expert in your target area. Fundraising is a relationship business.” One of the best ways to get experience is to volunteer to write grants for a development department at a nonprofit. Be upfront about why you are volunteering so that you maintain the relationship. Richard Walsh, author of “The Start Your Own Business Bible: 501 New Ventures You Can Launch Today”, says grant writing businesses can make $75,000 to $100,000 a year.