In 2009, I bought a domain name: www.chic-ceo.com. I wasn’t quite sure how I would use it, but I knew I wanted to build a place on the internet where people could learn how to start a business.
At the time, we were fully in a recession and I was finishing up my MBA. When over a dozen of my girlfriends were asking me how to start a business, I was super confused. Why are they asking me this? I wondered.
Because I was in business school. Certainly, I was learning how to start a business.
The truth is – I wasn’t. I was learning complex business applications, but no where in my program was I learning how to get started. What legal entity should I be? What’s an EIN and why do I need one? How much should I be paying in for taxes? All of the startup questions that an entrepreneur needs to know – I wasn’t learning.
So I set out to create something that would give my friends the answers they were searching for. What I didn’t realize was how much Chic CEO was needed.
Fast forward to 2020, and we are staring a recession directly in the eye. Due to COVID-19, unemployment has skyrocketed and people are doing their best to stay afloat. Again, I am seeing swarms of people looking to entrepreneurship to save their families, homes and livelihood the way they did 11 years ago. And again, I’m getting asked the same question, “How do I start a business?” And again, I’m eager to help.
Enter, the side hustle.
Starting a business on the side can dramatically change the trajectory of your life. An extra $500 a month could mean your kiddo gets braces. An extra $1,000 a month could mean rent is paid. An extra $2,500 a month could mean you can go down to part time at your 9-5 job. An extra $5,000 a month could mean you can say sayonara to your day job altogether.
The reason networking marketing (think Avon, Mary Kay, Amway) is so popular is because they know that a little extra income a month could mean a lot to you or your family. They also know that you might not necessarily be super passionate about shampoo, oils, supplements, makeup, cleaning products, etc., but that if they sell you the dream of making some extra money, spending more time with your loved ones, or paying off some crippling debt could do wonders for your life.
You have probably been told over and over again that in order to be successful in business, you must be passionate about what you’re doing.
I have to disagree.
I think you have to be passionate about WHY you are doing.
In this seven part “Ultimate Guide To Starting A Side Hustle” series, I’m going to delve into all of the areas you need to have in order for your side hustle to benefit your life and add value to it.
And part one is this: Passion Is Not The Way.
Put in another way – you don’t have to start a side hustle around something you’re passionate about. (I’ll pause for reaction.) There are thousands of people who have lucrative, successful businesses that are quite unsexy – but what drives them isn’t the work. What drives them is what it does for their life.
A mom who was laid off can now pick her kids up from school because she has started building websites at night. A recent college grad who does virtual assistant work in her spare time is able to make extra payments on her student loan. A software engineer who builds small apps on the side can save up for a down payment on a house.
All of these things: picking up your children, paying off your debt or buying a home are what we’re passionate about. The means to getting there doesn’t always have to be the thing we’re passionate about. When we believe that we have to be uber passionate about our side hustle, we can get quite paralyzed in our thinking and end up not starting at all. That’s not what a side hustle is for. A side hustle can be a bridge to helping you achieve your goals, fund your dream business or turn into your main hustle. It’s totally up to you.
I give you permission to let the “passion” speech go.
So how do you find a side hustle that’s perfect for you? Let’s dig in.
1. Inventory Your Skill Set
When thinking about starting up a side hustle, it’s good to take inventory of your skill set and other assets you have. If you have a trailer taking up space in your driveway, you may have a small hauling business on your hands. If you are a whiz at writing, freelance copywriting could be good for you. If you have always loved taking pictures, you might have a small photography business on your hands.
Think of the things that you are good at and/or are available to you. In addition, what can be done seasonally? Lawn care, holiday light hanging, snow shoveling – all great little side hustles.
Nothing is off the table here, brainstorm all of the skills you have and all of the assets you have.
2. Identify A Problem And Define A Solution
Now that you know what you can offer – it will be much easier for you to pinpoint a problem you can solve. You can certainly do this the other way around (identify a problem, then inventory your skill set) but I don’t recommend it. Knowing what you can offer up will allow you to clearly see problems you can actually solve and you’ll ultimately be able to get to work faster.
No matter which way you approach it, the key here is to always solve a problem.
3. Is There A Market Need?
Now that you’ve identified a skill or asset you have available to you, and you have figured out what problem you can solve with it – let’s look to see if the market really needs it. At the time of this writing, what’s in demand now (let’s say masks) weren’t so in demand this time last year. Take a good look at the macro environment around you to see if your solution has merit.
A holiday lights hanging business isn’t relevant in July, and anything that requires large crowds of people aren’t either. You’ll want to be very honest about what’s happening in your community, country, and globally to see if the problem you can solve is a big enough problem to make a business out of it.
4. Finally, Is It Feasible?
Run some numbers to decide if your potential side hustle idea could actually make money. If you aren’t making money, you are not in business – you have a hobby.
If you can charge $2,500 for a website design and you do two a month, that’s a $60,000 a year side hustle. Pretty good. If you charge $20 to mow a lawn and it takes you 4 hours ($5 an hour) – that’s bad. If you already own your little trailer outright and charge people a minimum of $100 to haul something away, you most likely will make around $50 an hour doing so – that’s good. If you make custom cakes and sell them for $20 a piece, but it costs you $17 to make it – that’s bad.
Reverse engineer the numbers to see if you can actually make a go of it. You certainly don’t want to spend a lot of time on something and charge too little for it – you could actually be working less than minimum wage. Getting a part-time job at Starbucks would be a better option. So really dig in to what you can charge, how long it will take, the flexibility of getting the work done and if it fits into your life.
And remember, you don’t have to build a side hustle around your passion. You have full permission to be passionate about the life you are creating for yourself and the people in it to fuel your fire.
In part two, we’ll be covering the people you serve – your niche.
The Ultimate Guide To Starting A Side Hustle – 7 Part Series:
Part 1: Passion Is Not The Way
Part 2: Narrow Your Niche
Part 3: Managing Your Time
Part 4: Automation and Systems
Part 5: Making Money
Part 6: Marketing
Part 7: Recommended Reading