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Lots of people like the idea of some kind of side hustle, but what does that really mean? What are the choices you face?
I would suggest that there are three kinds of side hustle that you could consider.
- Take a hobby and start to turn it into generating income.
- Start a business from scratch that you can do in your spare time.
- Get some new professional development which will prepare you for doing something that you haven’t done before.
Hobby to Business
Let’s start with taking a hobby and turning it into more of a business. Perhaps you have some interest in doing music, gardening or craft. I recently spoke to a top end software developer who wanted to turn his beekeeping hobby into a business.
Often, the first step is to think harder about what is the niche offer that you could take to market? Who are the people who already enjoy what you do and who could benefit from it?
The initial thought of the beekeeper was to build craft hives and sell them. But as we talked further, we explored how this could be converted into a full-service offer for time poor environmentally committed professionals. Now, for a monthly fee and a commitment to a three-year contract, you get training, a hive, a swarm, protective clothing, collection of honey, branded honey jars, loan of a honey extracting centrifuge and on-going support.
Here is another example: maybe you enjoy making furniture and you have made various bits of furniture in your own home. Now you want to turn this into a side hustle. It’s probably not going to work for you to just make odd bits of furniture and then see who would like to buy them. You probably need to find some specific niche that you can get passionate about. Now you can build a following on social media then people will come to you to buy this particular kind of furniture.
What could that be? Maybe you make focus on reclaimed wood, tables, cupboards or rocking chairs. You need to have some kind of niche for which you can develop a passion and theme that you can start to tell a story around. Now you use Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or some kind of reseller platform like Etsy. You will also have to think hard about pricing. It’s unlikely that in the first instance you’re going to get a useful hourly rate from your hobby. But as you start to develop and build your proposition, become more famous and more specialised, you can start to charge a premium for what you do.
Starting a Business from Scratch
There are a range of options out there. Many people will try to persuade you they have got a ready-made business for you to adopt. However, your side hustle should be something that will be enjoyable and energising for you.
Let me give you a few examples:
You could develop an online course. There are lots of tools out there. If you find a topic that you really care about you can start to build up interest around your topic and then start to promote your course. There are many alternative platforms to help you: check out Udemy and Thinkific to start to get a feel about the options.
You could become a trader, whether it’s trading in stocks and shares, whether it’s trading in cryptocurrency, whether it’s buying things from China and selling them through an Amazon shop or eBay – there’s lots of opportunities to be a trader. You will have to develop your craft to be successful and you need to control the risks that you take. If you’re going buy stuff from China and sell it as a reseller on Amazon, understand that your investments in stock and advertising may not give you the profit you hope for.
You could build a business which involves using somebody else’s platform. The most common is some kind of multi-level marketing business. You build a community of people who become salespeople under your umbrella to sell somebody else’s product. There’s a whole range of these multi-level marketing opportunities from cosmetics to travel agency, fitness to supplements. Often, they have a strong component of personal development. Often you learn new skills like sales that you wouldn’t otherwise adopt. Usually, the initial investment is small so it can be a very low risk way of starting a side hustle.
Training in a new Profession
Perhaps you are ready to train for a new profession. Often these are lifestyle services that you can offer from your home, or on the Internet. You could train as a coach or a mentor, an alternative medical practitioner such as a hypnotherapist, aromatherapist or liftestyle services such as hairdresser, dog trainer or garden designer. This can be great for you if you are a lifelong learner and you love learning new things. But remember that stage one is investing in the qualifications. Stage two is going out and winning the clients. Don’t assume people will come to you, just because you have got the necessary qualifications. I have talked to too many coaches and alternative health practitioners who believe having the qualification is enough to have a business. You are also going to have do the work to find clients.
Side hustles can be a great way of bringing a little bit more income, pursuing a hobby, developing a trading capability or going to market with some kind of professional skill. Any one of those could be a great way of enabling you to get more life while staying with your current employer, until you are ready to move on.