Side hustles are popular and desirable. (Almost) everybody wants one. A recent USA Today article featured survey results on side hustles. It noted that 55% of Americans would like a side hustle. And, it’s no wonder. That same survey found that those who had one made nearly $15,000 extra a year on average. That’s make-a-difference money.
I love side hustles, especially ones that have the potential to become standalone businesses. A lot of people I meet and talk with ask me about side hustles. The most common question I hear is, “How can I find my ideal side hustle?”
Starting anything new usually seems pretty daunting at first. I’m better at just jumping in and starting new ventures, but it took me a while to get there.
What I learned along the way is that it’s important to ask the right questions, so that you can figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going. This is true for most things, and especially true for side hustles.
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If you have the burning desire to start a side hustle, but have no idea what that should be, check out these seven questions that will help point you in the right direction.
1. Is Your Side Hustle Possible?
So, maybe your side hustle dream is to have a catamaran charter boat business on Maui. You plan to run charters Tuesdays and Thursdays, whilst you soak up the beautiful Hawaii sunshine the other five days of the week.
But, you live in Ohio. (I picked Ohio because it’s where I live. And, no, this isn’t my dream side hustle. Really, it’s not.) And, you don’t know the first thing about catamarans, other than you rode in one once and it was really fun.
It’s important to make sure that your side hustle is actually possible, without becoming a sweepstakes winner first. Let’s assume that your side hustle is much more practical than
mine this example, and is actually possible. The next question to ask is . . .
2. Is it in demand?
You want to make sure that there is reasonable demand for your side hustle. Thankfully, technology makes it possible and easy to do a little research.
If your side hustle will be locally based, like a lawn mowing or dog walking business, check to see how many people in your area are offering these services. How well established are they? Is there a lot of competition? Is there room for more people offering these services? These additional questions are important because your potential customer base may be somewhat more limited if you are locally based.
If you’ll be offering your services virtually, you have a larger potential customer base to tap into. However, you should still conduct research to make sure there is sufficient demand for what you’re offering. Your time is valuable, and you want to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
3. Are you doing anything currently that can become a side hustle?
Maybe you enjoy knitting scarves while binge watching your favorite TV program. Could you turn this into a business? Would you want to? Just because you enjoy doing something as a hobby may not mean that you want to turn it into a job.
Take an inventory of your skills, hobbies and interests to really uncover where all of these intersect. That’s where you’ll find the foundation for your side hustle.
4. How much can you expect to earn?
Once you’ve determined that your side hustle is possible, in demand and have a solid idea of what it will be, it’s time to determine how much you can expect to earn.
Again, technology makes it so easy to research this type of information. Be sure to get a good cross section of earnings. What do people in your area typically earn? What about nationally? How does your skill set compare to those that earn more in your chosen field? This type of research will also help you determine how much you can reasonably charge.
5. What are your estimated operating costs?
How much will you need to spend to get started with your side hustle? What about any costs to run your business? Your earnings should offset your costs, because your goal is to actually make money with your side hustle.
Make sure you’ve considered all of your estimated expenses it will take to start and run your business. If you need to spend money to get your business started, can you do this comfortably with your current finances?
6. What’s the ramp up time?
In other words, how long will you have to work at it before you’ll make money. If you want to make money right away, does your chosen side hustle offer that possibility?
For example, if you’re thinking about starting a pet sitting business, you can reasonably expect to be paid at the time you complete the pet sitting for a client.
On the other hand, if you want to make lots of money as a blogger, it can take time to build up to that. You’ll be putting in a lot of unpaid hours and effort before you start seeing the payoff. If that’s okay, then go for it. But, if it isn’t, consider a side hustle with a shorter ramp up time.
7. Do you want it to become your full-time business?
If you’re looking for something that offers a little side income or seasonal work, then this question isn’t really relevant. But, if you’ve got big hopes for your side hustle, be sure to choose one that has the potential to become a full-time business.
I think it’s always good to have that option. If things go really well, it’s a great thing to be able to parlay a part-time side hustle that you enjoy into a full-time job that’s all yours. Plan for growth and you’ll be ready when it comes.
Figuring out what type of side hustle you should choose really can be challenging. But, with a little thought, these questions should make the process easier.
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