Do the (Side) Hustle…Tips for Starting a Side Gig

COVID Cash Crunch Series, Part 3

Side hustle equals extra income graphic

Pandemic finances have put a squeeze on household savings, yet every entrepreneur knows that with adversity comes opportunity. If you are crafty, organized, or ever wanted to start your own business, here’s how to place your bets on your own talents, even in the worst of economic times.

First, ask yourself, “What are you good at and what do you like doing?” Walking? Taking care of animals? Gardening? New business start-ups owners will tell you they often begin when they see a need and fill that need — whether it’s offering to sit or walk pets, cleaning homes, weeding and mulching for the elderly, or becoming a virtual assistant to someone who isn’t as organized as you — the only limit on ideas is your imagination.

Do you have the talent? If you are crafty, like to sew, build, fix, design, or carve things, chances are someone will appreciate your skills! Seamstresses and quilters hem prom dresses or sew pandemic face masks for extra cash; many gardeners love to mow or mulch; and the best bakers can become word-of-mouth success stories. If you play an instrument, someone needs lessons. If you can type or proofread, put your skills to work for professional firms, grant-writing projects, or other large text-based projects (like manuals or web content) that can benefit from a second set of eyes or hands.

Think “low overhead.” If you don’t have the money for a storefront or extra equipment, the key is to add value without a lot of investment. Decide on how much you need and whether you can get by with the tools that you have. The most important tool is the one between your ears. You are smart if have identified a service or product that is convenient and affordable to those in your community or network or that can easily be sold online.

What’s your inventory of time? Side hustlers will tell you that it’s easy for their fledgling business to take over their “real” lives. If your car no longer fits in your garage, your family says they never see you, or sleep is suffering, those are red flags. As much as we love our hobbies or passions, think about what you are investing to do in that hour or how much time it takes to make the product/craft/item you are selling. If it costs more than your time, it may not be worth it. Only you know the answer.

Know the biz of your business. Doing what you love and getting paid for it is the holy grail of working for many. However, remember that side hustle income can be taxed and there are other budgetary, health department, or insurance considerations (as well as tax breaks for home-based businesses) you need to know. Be prepared to pick up some bookkeeping skills or a competent accountant to keep you from shelling out money later.

Beware of conflicts with your current job. If you are considering, say, a freelance writing side hustle to help others promote their businesses online, but you write for an organization like a marketing agency or competing business, you may have a conflict of interest. Be careful. Many employers require that you agree not to “farm out” the skills they are paying you

Have faith in YOU. If you’ve considered the above and are still on the fence, start-up experts say starting small is better than not starting at all. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that if they didn’t make the “toe dip” or “take the plunge,” they wouldn’t be enjoying their incomes today. And, there is no gain without failure. You get to decide what is successful, and failure is the best teacher. Most successful ventures started with an idea that others thought was crazy or impractical. But whether you need or want to make $50, $500, or more a month, or just to create something that lifts the spirit of another, remember, no one gets to define success but you!


This article is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any information provided as legal, tax, investment, or financial advice. No reader should make any investment decision without first consulting his or her own financial advisor and conducting his or her own research and due diligence.

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