In my spare time recently (which isn’t much), I’ve been reading Side Hustle, the new book from my friend Chris Guillebeau. Because CG is a friend, I’m not sure I can provide an objective review of the book, so I’m not going to try. Instead, I’ll give a brief summary and then share some of my own experiences earning money on the side.
Side Hustle Nation
Fundamentally, there are only two ways to improve your financial situation: You can earn more or you can spend less. Most money writers focus on the “spend less” side of the equation. That’s great, but there’s only so much you can cut. Eventually, if you really want to pursue your goals with passion, you’re going to have to earn more. “More income means more options,” Guillebeau writes. “More options mean more freedom.”
For many folks, a side hustle is a smart way to earn more. A side hustle, Guillebeau says, is “a moneymaking project you start on the side, usually while still working a day job. In other words, it’s a way to create additional income without taking on the risks of going full throttle into the world of working for yourself.”
The beauty of side hustles is that they can be started with little or no money. They’re most often passion projects, ways for a person to take something they already love and maybe earn a bit of extra cash.
Guillebeau says there are five core steps to starting a side hustle:
- Build an arsenal of ideas. The first step is to brainstorm a list of ways that you could earn money in your spare time. How could you match your skills and resources to a product or service that people would pay for? List as many as you can think of, then weigh the pros and cons of each.
- Select your best idea. You can’t do everything, of course, so you’re going to have to narrow your list to the single best idea — the one that excites you the most. “You’re not making a lifelong decision,” Guillebeau writes. “You’re looking for the right idea at the right time.” After you’ve picked a project, do some research. Learn how other people have done the same thing. Figure out who your ideal customer is. Decide what it is you’re going to sell.
- Prepare for liftoff. After you’ve chosen your product or service, it’s time to prepare for launch. Figure out the core logistics issues. Set a price. Create your workflow. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect, but do take the time to master the basics of your business.
- Launch before you’re ready. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. There is always more to be done before you start a big project. (Heck, I wasn’t ready to re-launch Get Rich Slowly last Sunday, but I did so anyhow.) When you have your logistics, workflow, and pricing roughly right, then go. Start your hustle.
- Regroup and refine. Naturally, not everything will be perfect — especially since you launched before you were ready. As you sell, as you interact with customers, learn from your experience. Enhance what is working, and discard what isn’t. If there are things you can’t handle, ask for help. If a process can be automated, automate it. Adjust pricing, if necessary.
But the most important ingredient to starting a successful side hustle is action. If you don’t take action, nothing else matters. [Read more…]