Don’t quit your day job just yet. Here are tried-and-tested tips on starting a side hustle so you can supplement your main income with extra cash.
If you’re still wondering if a side job is right for you, just ask today’s Millenials. Around 50% of them work on the side to supplement their main income, and with good reason.
In today’s volatile economy, working on the side has never made so much sense.
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Why should you start a side hustle?
Starting a side hustle not only offers you extra day-to-day cash but also opens a plethora of career-changing opportunities that you wouldn’t have encountered from a full-time job.
People who try side jobs gain useful job-advancing relationships and lifelong friends while developing skills they wouldn’t have learned within the four walls of an office.
Whether you plan to dog-sit, build websites, teach piano, moonlight as a wedding singer, or build your own business from the ground up, starting a side job can be very challenging.
Side hustles require intensive prioritization and scheduling, especially if you’ve got multiple responsibilities aside from your day job.
The side hustle flow chart
Want to understand what side hustle is best for you? I’ve created a side hustle flowchart infographic that will help you determine an appropriate side job.
If you’re asking yourself, “What is the best side hustle for me?”
Check out the above infographic to quickly determine which side hustle is best for you, then read our step-by-step tips for starting a side hustle.
How to start a side hustle
1. Determine your motivations
What are your motivations for starting a side hustle? Knowing why you need a job on the side is essential before taking the next steps. People work on the side for a variety of reasons, but today’s new generation is fueled by a change in the current job climate. Here’s why most people today seek side jobs.
Job stability is declining.
No matter what state you live in, job stability is becoming a problem. Job security is falling substantially for those in minority groups and those without college degrees.
Having a side gig gives workers something to fall back on when circumstances turn sour.
Side hustles can open new doors.
Starting a side job can pave the way to new career opportunities as it widens your network and encourages you to learn new skills.
Some nine-to-fivers take side jobs for precisely this reason: they have worked in the same job for years and they’re starting to feel stagnant. Side jobs can be a source of novelty as it fuels personal growth and opens new doors to advance your career.
The need for money.
The biggest chunk of workers looking for side jobs is those with an undeniable need for even more cash than their main jobs can provide. They need more money to pay bills and cover their day to day expenses.
When economies run through challenges, people become more and more creative with ways to earn money.
Most side jobs don’t require much experience.
The beauty of most side jobs is that they don’t require as much skill or experience compared to a corporate setting.
As long as you have the muscle to move and the time to spare, you’ll find a plethora of side gigs available to you, even if you don’t have a high-value skill.
2. Assess your time
Your available time dictates what side hustles are best for you. A side job could have you spending many hours each week, eating away from the moments you’d rather spend with your family and friends.
Some side hustles need effort to succeed, especially since most of your time is already invested in a full-time job.
If you have ample time to spare.
Some side hustles require more commitment and time than others. This includes side hustles like setting up your business, launching your own product, or in some cases, freelancing for a client.
If you don’t have enough time to spare.
Other times, starting a side job doesn’t require much commitment or scheduling. This includes driving for Uber or Lyft, delivering groceries with Instacart, answering paid online surveys, renting out your extra space through Airbnb or VRBO, and others.
With these jobs, you can work whenever you want, however you want. Seriously assess the sacrifices you’re willing to make to grow your side hustle before deciding if you have enough time to take on one.
3. Review your financial situation
One of the most common pitfalls in starting a side hustle is blindly diving right in. Don’t forget to assess your current situation first.
Figure out your finances.
Before taking the plunge, ask yourself the tough questions about your finances. How much money is currently coming in? How much cash have you saved? How much are your total expenses?
Determine your financial goals.
After crunching numbers, you should have a clear enough picture of your finances to direct you in selecting the right gig.
What are your goals in starting a side hustle? Is it to save more, or to cover your day to day expenses? The type of side hustle you should be doing depends on how much extra money you need.
See if you have the cash to invest.
Some side hustles like starting a business, investing in real estate, or dabbling in the stock market may require capital to begin. If you have enough money saved up, growing your cash through investments can be a solid side hustle.
See Related: 16 Highly Liquid Investments
4. List your skills and interests
The only way you’ll succeed in your side hustle is if you have enough skills and industry knowledge to back them up. Sometimes, even if you do have the skills required to make a certain business successful, you’ll simply lack the gusto to make it work.
Passion and interest can play a massive part. Here are some questions to ask yourself before starting a side hustle.
What do you well?
What are you currently good at? What ways can you apply the skills you use in your full-time job to earn on the side? If you’re working as a full-time accountant, you may consider bookkeeping on the side for freelance clients.
What are your hobbies?
If you have hidden talents that you’re not able to apply on your main job, a side hustle could be a great opportunity to pursue your creative interests.
You could be a veterinarian in the afternoon and a piano coach in the evening, or a writer moonlighting as a hairstylist.
When it comes to starting a side hustle, your interests can lead you in the right direction.
Do you have enough knowledge?
While you’re still comfortable in the security of a full-time job, you may want to consider taking some time to learn more about a certain skill or trade.
Thankfully, we live in a time when education is accessible to anyone who has access to the internet. You can check out courses on Google, Hubspot, Udemy, or Harvard & MIT.
Are you comfortable with manual labor jobs?
Some of us looking for a side hustle simply do not have enough time to learn a new skill. If you don’t have high-value skills, you can still generate considerable income through other means.
The gig economy has increased the demand for manual laborers with side-hustles like delivery, personal grocery shopping, ride-sharing, and other service-based jobs.
Try to see if these jobs are a good fit for you. These are some under the table jobs to consider.
5. Determine how much effort you’re willing to exert
While most of us take on a side job for more money, you’ll need to ask yourself a question.
How much effort are you willing to exert, and how much money do you intend to get from it?
Some side jobs require a lot of effort for pennies. Answering paid surveys can be a great way to earn extra cash, but most people who engage in this side hustle know that they probably won’t get as much from it no matter how hard they work.
If you’re okay with your effort being disproportionate to the amount of pay you receive, then there’s nothing wrong with answering paid surveys in your spare time.
If your answer is no, however, then you’re better off looking for jobs that are actually worth your time.
6. Get a green light from your main job
A common pitfall among workers who take on side jobs is failing to discuss their side gig idea with their current employers. They start a side job, and once their employer finds out about it, they run the risk of getting fired.
Ask your employer if the side hustle you intend to pursue runs into a conflict of interest, or if there may be a fear of passing trade secrets.
7. Validate your skills with paying customers
If you’re starting your own business as a side hustle, it’s best to take it slow. Your product or service may be groundbreaking for you, but this isn’t always the case for your customers.
A great way to test out if your side hustle actually amounts to something is through your first paying customers. Paying customers are proof that you’re not just creating a solution to a demand that doesn’t really exist.
Watch out for demand.
If no one wants your product or service, you may be wasting time, effort, and resources in starting a side hustle. Your first few paying customers, and the ease in which you acquire them, can be very telling if your product or service will gain traction in the real world.
Get objective feedback.
Without feedback from your first paying customers, there’s no way to determine if your product or service is subpar, or if it’s doing the best job at solving your customer’s problems.
Feedback allows you to improve your business as you progress.
8. Set yourself apart from your competitors
If your side hustle is a product or service that’s entirely your own, you’ll want to differentiate yourself from your competitors as much as possible.
Your competitors will do their best to outperform you while taking your share of customers, so you’ll need a strategy on how to succeed.
Study the market.
Unless your product or service is completely new and never before made, you’ll probably find a host of competitors all doing the same thing. Study their business, how they get clients, and what makes each of them special.
Find your unique selling point.
After your market research, you’ll have to secure your value proposition to get a serious advantage. You can do this by finding your competitive edge – an affordable price, higher profit margins, aggressive sales tactics, high-class features, better customer service, etc.
Your unique selling point is what will make your customers choose you above all others.
9. Explore freelancing
Freelancing is one of the best routes for workers with high-value skills. According to a LinkedIn study, around 70% of small businesses have sought the help of a freelancer in the past while around 81% of companies are poised to hire freelancers in the future.
Now has never been a more perfect time to apply for freelance work and contract projects.
Know what freelance work requires.
Before diving into the freelance industry, you’ll want to assess your time and your skills (see tip #1 and #3). Know that freelance work can be more demanding and time-consuming than alternative side hustles.
Most freelance jobs, especially those offered by companies, require you to sign a contract while demanding that you set aside a time per day to work on your assignments.
With higher-ups to deal with and deadlines to meet, freelance jobs demand more time and focus from you, and that’s something that you need to consider if you intend to keep your full-time job.
Sign up for a freelance marketplace.
Begin creating profiles for freelance listing sites like Fiverr, Upwork, or Hubstaff Talent. Check out our list of the 14 Best Freelance Apps.
It may take some time for you to secure your first project especially if you’re new to freelancing.
Without a solid portfolio to back your skills up, you’ll have to rely on your references and an impressive CV.
See Related: 17 Best Part-Time Jobs [High-Paying Extra Cash]
10. Prioritize your main job
This tip makes its way to this list for one particular reason – losing your day job will jeopardize your side job. Most people who take on side hustles are doing so to make extra income.
Without your main job, you have nothing but your side job to fall back on. This could have disastrous consequences on your overall finances especially if your side job doesn’t pay well.
Honor every term in your contract while delivering exceptional performance while your side hustle gains momentum.
My personal advice: if your side job doesn’t reach at least 75% of what your main job offers you, never put your side hustle at the top of your priority list. This tip is even more important for people who have a family to support.
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