The following post is contributed by Martin of Studenomics, where he tries to make personal finance fun since you have enough to stress about. You can click here to check out the wide range of content on everything from student loans to getting paid to drink coffee.
“I’m hoping to make some money from this business soon.”
That was my friend’s response when I asked how a new business opportunity was doing. I was a bit disappointed to hear this. He’s the kind of person who loves entrepreneurship and side hustles, but never seems to make any money from them.
While I’m all for side hustles, I realize that there are many issues with trying to make money on your own. We’re going to look at what you need to know before deciding on a side hustle and how to pick a side hustle that makes sense…
Social media is filled with empty motivational quotes about working for yourself.
You know what I’m talking about. You can’t scroll for too long without seeing something like one of these quotes:
- “Become the CEO of your own life.”
- “True wealth comes from working for yourself.”
- “When you work for someone else, you make them rich. When you work for yourself, you get yourself rich.”
You get the point. These quotes are great but they don’t really mean anything. Entrepreneurship and side hustles are glorified without any sense of reality when discussed. Many folks flock towards entrepreneurship thinking that it will solve all of their problems. They end up with more problems because there are so many false expectations about working for yourself.
It’s time for a reality check.
Here’s what you need to know before deciding on a side hustle…
There are many scams out there when it comes to making money.
You can’t go through a few posts on social media without seeing some ads about working for yourself.
- “Guaranteed 10k per month.”
- “Work from anywhere.”
- “Be your own boss.”
The marketing is usually brilliant since most people don’t make enough money and they hate their jobs. The advertising preys on people who want to quit their jobs to be self-employed.
How do you spot a scam?
- They promise you easy money. Do you really think that easy money exists and nobody else is going after it?
- They tell you that it’s easy work. You should expect to put some effort in. There are very few low-effort options out there for getting rich (unless you’re already rich).
- You’re not actually sure of how you’re going to make money. Where will the money come from? How exactly will the money come in?
I understand that it’s tempting to want to work for yourself. I just don’t want to see you get scammed.
You should know someone who’s involved in a similar venture.
“This has never been done before.”
Being unique in business isn’t always a good thing. There’s often a reason why something hasn’t been done before. It’s critical that you meet people who have done what you want to do.
Why should you know someone who’s involved in a similar venture?
- It’s proof that this venture works.
- You could potentially have a mentor.
- The industry has a track record.
You’re going to need some training time.
You should also assume some training time to actually learn your craft. Most profitable side hustles have a learning curve. You don’t have to spend 5 years mastering your craft, but you should expect some time to learn what goes into making money.
It’s okay to follow a side hustle that’s more of a hobby.
Your side hustle doesn’t always have to be about trying to get as rich as possible. It’s okay to have a profitable hobby. I have a friend who fixes bikes as a side hustle/hobby. He makes enough money to fuel his biking addiction and he’s surrounded by his passions when he’s at home.
So, what are the best side hustles then?
It’s time to look at the best side hustles just so that you have a starting point.
Something on an established platform.
There are many established platforms out there. If you can set up shop on an established platform then you’re on the right track.
What do I mean by this?
- Selling items on Etsy. There will always be a need for more arts and crafts on Etsy. If you’re artistic, you can make some decent money here.
- Writing books for Amazon. If you’re looking to write, you can self-publish your work on Amazon.
- Offering services on Fiverr/Freelancer/Kijiji. If you’re looking to offer a service, it’s important that you find the ideal marketplace for your situation.
- Renting your place/spare bedroom on Airbnb. Your side hustle can be something passive like putting up your extra bedroom for rent.
The point here is to use an established marketplace to promote your offer so that you’re not starting from scratch.
A service that will always be needed.
“I’m thinking of an idea that has never been done before.”
I get this comment a lot and I have absolutely no clue as to why folks think that they have to think of some Earth-shattering concept to make some money.
There are certain services that will always be needed. The world will always need someone to set up their Ikea furniture over someone who will sell them a course on visualization.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to side hustles. You can become the best barber in town or start the best Instagram page for local food.
What are other examples of established services?
- Being a barber/any personal grooming related services. If you can learn how to cut hair, you’ll always have a job.
- Personal training. You can train people since the world will never have enough personal trainers.
- Wedding planning/Event planning. Another service that the world will always need.
- Social media services. If you can master social media, you can offer your services to local businesses that need help.
You don’t have to think of the most unique idea. You can put a unique spin on a popular concept.
How do you start with a side hustle?
Here are the exact steps that I would follow if I wanted to start a brand new side hustle today.
Step 1: Think of where your skills match market demand.
What could you offer? It’s important that you be realistic at this stage. I would love to give guitar lessons, but I can’t play the guitar. I’m much better suited for writing articles about personal finance as a freelance writer.
Here are 3 questions to think about here:
- What are you good at?
- What could you do differently?
- What does the market need right now?
Step 2: Write down a few ideas and research them.
This where most people get stuck. They have an information overload and then do nothing. They end up researching for hours, days, weeks, months, and even years.
I want you to brainstorm and to research as quickly as possible.
Here’s how I research an idea for a business:
- I find people who are doing this.
- I look at the demand.
- I think of how I could do this differently.
- I either launch or move on to the next idea.
The goal should be to move fast because success loves speed. I don’t want you to get stuck at day one with your side hustle.
Step 3: Launch and learn as you go.
You have to launch. Your first draft will likely be embarrassing and that’s okay. I would much rather laugh at my starting point than to never start anything.
The goal is to launch your side hustle and then tweak. You’re always going to be working on your offer, marketing, and everything else related to this business.
Step 4: Re-evaluate after 6 months.
Once you launch, you have to actively try to grow this side hustle for at least six months. You shouldn’t expect to see instant results.
There are some side hustles that will immediately bring in money (hosting on Airbnb or offering services on Fiverr) and there are also some side hustles that will take longer to bring in money (personal training and most services where you have to establish yourself).
I want you to put in a concentrated effort into making this side hustle grow. The results will take time to arrive, but it’s going to be worth it.
Starting a profitable side hustle can be the best thing for you. The tips here will help you get started with that new business venture. Good luck and let us know if you have any questions about starting.
“What’s the ROI of a piano? To me, it’s zero. For Billy Joel and Elton John, it has been substantial.” — Gary Vaynerchuk