The Beginners Guide to the Side Hustle
Unless you're balls deep in your own business already, you'd be a fool to not be pursuing a side hustle. The side hustle is your passion. Perhaps you love your job, but part of the beauty of the side hustle is that since you can do whatever you want and make money doing it, you might as well be having the most fun you can possibly have at it. Maybe your side hustle isn't particularly lucrative. Then again, I've seen some bracelets made out of ocean trash sell for $20 a piece. It's all about finding the right audience and market, and the rest falls into place.
Common skills such as fixing cars, which you will find an entire section dedicated to on this blog, can be quite handy for scraping up extra cash when you need to. Perhaps you have fun taking things apart and electrocuting yourself. See if you can advertise your skills as an on-the-cheap electrician. Start with friends and family, and then move onto Craigslist or put an ad in the paper.
Steps to Kicking Off Your First Side Hustle
1.) Find the time. If you can't find time, make it.
It's easy to get wrapped up in life. The problem, of course, is that there is only 24 hours a day, and unless you're superhuman, you're probably only awake and functional for 16 of those hours. We can all go on some benders with only a few hours of sleep once in a while, but by and large adults in America don't get enough sleep - with 6.8 hours being the average figure according to a Gallup poll. There is no glory without sacrifice. If you can't obtain any more time in the margins between scheduled tasks, then you need to reduce the frequency or sacrifice the task altogether. People that don't have any side hustles that aren't already working 60+ hours a week might be spending a lot of time on leisure activities. Hanging out with friends, drinking, dining out, etc. Your side hustle will never work unless you do. Even Tim Ferriss' famous book "The Four Hour Workweek" doesn't suggest that you can ever spend zero time working.
Both the easiest and the most difficult thing to sacrifice is leisure time. It’s an easy justification to make when you decide that your focal point is to live financially free. Leisure time can wait until you don’t have to depend on anyone for a paycheck each week (other than yourself). At the same time, it can take a heavy toll on your well being if you are used to a certain lifestyle that involves a lot of social activities and going out. You will probably experience some social withdrawal symptoms if you quit “cold turkey” and instead drop in the pursuit of a side hustle where you once chatted happily into the night with friends.
2.) Find and learn something that you can do competently, quickly, and alone.
The alone part is critical in the beginning. As with any business, your objective is to eventually outsource all of the activities that you once performed yourself. This second point isn't straightforward at all. I could ramble on for days about potential skills that you could hone to eventually bring in a regular source of extra income, but that wouldn't serve an end that a google search couldn't resolve faster. The key is to find something that you enjoy, for the explicit purpose of motivation. It's difficult to make sacrifices and spend time both before and after your day job doing something that you hate just as much or more than the work that you do for someone else. You may find, if you follow the simple instruction to find something you enjoy, that you actually look forward to coming home at the end of the day and throwing a few hours into that side hustle.
I have personally found a kind of zen in the side hustles I participate in - as a remote draftsman for CAD, fixing cars, and of course writing for this blog. Although I don't rely on the income for anything, I expect it as a result from everything I put my time and effort into - perhaps it won't pan out for 3, 4, 5 years down the line, or longer. As my writing becomes more refined, critiqued, and I educate myself more about overcoming the financial burdens in the 21st century, I expect I will pick up more and more people that come to this site. The point is that I enjoy it, and it can be monetized if I stick with it long enough and hone my skills.
3.) Find start-up capital (if you need it).
Almost everything requires capital. The lowest end of that spectrum would be starting a free blog, through a service like wordpress or blogspot. You may be able to obtain a healthy following after which case you can spend some earned income from the source and move to a professional and standalone domain name. Other skills, such as working on cars, requires space and tools. Perhaps service manuals. It also requires the upfront expense of buying something you can fix, which in and of itself sounds cheap, but often times can have hidden costs. If you buy something that doesn't run, there's a good chance there is more wrong with it than a seller lets on. For this reason it is always good to project more funds into fixing something than it would appear on the surface (or the seller would lead you to believe).
I needed software for my ability to do remote CAD work. Based on the amount of work I obtain through that particular side hustle, it will take me about a year to break even. Not awesome up front, but I also have the software forever, with company phone and email support when I need it. It's important to look at the bigger picture when doing side hustles. I had no struggle at all spending the $6,000 for SolidWorks 2017 Professional, because it is something that (see #2) I'm already competent in because of other work experience, I'm quick, and I can do it exclusively alone. It also gives me the ability to engineer my own products and ideas that I can share with potential investors or other engineers if I come up a patentable concept or an improvement on existing technology. My next major expense is a 3D printer, so I can take said models and produce them in reality for cheap.
Start up capital is most easily obtained through a day job and a small savings, but I wouldn't be afraid to use a credit card in this situation, especially if it facilitates your ability to start generating additional revenue right away. A dollar earned today is worth more than a dollar is three months from now. Best to earn it as soon as possible.
4.) Give It Honest Effort For Twice As Long As You Think It'll Take
How long do you think it will take you to obtain your first client? Fix your first car? Build the first machine, the first dinner table, the first electric unicycle? Expect it to take twice that long. There are no quick fixes, no instant dollars. Our millennial generation has a tough time with that one. Blah blah, instant gratification, etc etc. Putting the time into something you suck at is where it all begins. Geniuses exist, certainly. The Beethovens of the world that can pick up a piano and crush like they're buttering bread are the competition, and you just have to work twice as hard and twice as long. Hold out longer than you think you can - and this is easier if you love what you do.
The target objective in any side hustle is of course to obtain additional income in the short term. The long term, of course, is for the side hustle to take off and become the main hustle. If you are debt free and have implemented the 50% fix, then you should only have to obtain 50% of your previous income through your new side hustle to quit your day job and do it full time. You will find that as you dedicate 40 hours a week to it instead of 10, it will become quite easy to earn half of what you did before. The best thing? Now you're doing what you love, and your lifestyle hasn't changed at all relative to the income you used to bring home.