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Do you have an amazing home-based business idea that you haven’t yet made into a reality?
Or maybe you have some extra time on your hands and you’re looking for ways to make some money on the side?
Me too – for both of these things.
That’s why this month I’m working through a new book called Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau. During the course of this series, I will keep a log as I work through the steps outlined in the book.
So, what is a side hustle?
Good question. It’s a small business or project that you create and run alongside your full-time job.
Even better, if you have enough profitable side hustles, or if you have one that grows enough, you may not need a full-time job at all.
What if the side hustle doesn’t work out? Well, that’s easy – start again.
Ideas fail all the time. Businesses do too. And in the end, it’s only 27 days.
During these first 6 days of my personal side hustle journey, I will:
- set my goals and learn about high potential ideas,
- brainstorm 3 hustles,
- consider their obstacles and opportunities,
- analyze the hustles honestly,
- figure out their projected profits, and…
- finally pick a hustle.
Day 1: Set your goals
The first thing you need to figure out is what your goals are.
This was simple for me: My goal is to create a project that will earn a small amount of money, that I can use for investment capital.
And if all goes well, I hope to earn enough to fund my RRSP.
Next, we learn about high potential ideas – business plans that are feasible, profitable, and persuasive.
Guillebeau lists the following criteria:
- Can you describe how to do it in a sentence?
- Is there an obvious way to make money?
- Does it solve a problem for someone?
- Can you get paid more than once?
- Can you start it quickly?
- Is it low maintenance?
My first potential hustle - does it fit the bill?
As soon as I started this process, I was approached by a friend with a new blog idea – the first idea I wanted to commit to.
The blog would be called "Geeks With Gains" (his concept, not mine) and his pitch was good. A social media concept where we link video gaming to fitness and nutrition
Let’s revisit the criteria for "high potential ideas" to see how it actually stacks up as a side hustle:
- Can you describe how to do it in a sentence? Yes: "Geeks With Gains" would be a niche blog for video gamers who like to stay fit, focusing on fitness tips and nutrition.
- Is there an obvious way to make money? Sort of...
- Does it solve a problem for someone? Yes! I think…
- Can get paid more than once? YES!
- Can you start it quickly? No, there is a lot of content generation and audience building.
- Is it low maintenance? No, at the beginning it would be very high maintenance. Though it could become low maintenance over time.
Because it only fits some of the criteria, the plan is to keep it as a passion project for now and chip away at it over time.
Plus a travel bonus worth another $150.
Quantities are limited.
Day 2: Brainstorm at least 3 side hustle ideas
With the blog pushed to the side for now, it’s back to brainstorming new ideas.
Idea 1: Sell my basement junk on online platforms, such as eBay, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, and any other format I could find.
Idea 2: Play in a band – Admittedly I already do this, so I am cheating a bit, but I wanted to see if I could improve the business side of playing in a band to increase revenue.
Idea 3: Screen print custom-designed T-shirts.
Day 3: What obstacles and opportunities do your ideas present?
On day 3, I need to review my ideas and decide which are even possible.
Some are only good as starter ideas because they take little effort to start, but aren’t sustainable.
Example: Selling the stuff in my basement isn’t sustainable because someday I will run out of stuff. It isn’t a great side hustle, but it will give me some cash in the short-term.
On the other hand, although playing in a band and the t-shirt business are harder to get going, there could be potential for huge growth.
These would be considered Next-Level Ideas – ones that are reproducible and will grow over time.
When you look at your side hustle ideas, you need to look at the pros and cons. In other words, look at what opportunities they present and what obstacles they may place in front of you.
Let’s look at how my 3 ideas do when divided into their pros and cons:
Side hustle idea 1: (Starter) Sell the stuff in my basement
Side hustle idea 2: (Next-Level) Play in a band
Side hustle idea 3: (Next-Level) Screen-print single colour T-shirts
Day 4: Honestly re-evaluate your hustles
At this point, you have to admit something to yourself: Some hustles just aren’t possible for you!
Most of them will be out of your wheelhouse for any number of reasons. Maybe you don’t have the skills, or maybe you don’t have the money.
You won’t be able to make just any side hustle work. It depends on your situation and your talent.
If you can combine a passion with demand, then you have a hustle. Find something you love and find people who want to buy what you’re selling.
The last ingredient you need is the money or other resources to start the business – if you can’t afford to start, you don’t have a hustle.
This is where you need to be honest with yourself. Use the obstacles and opportunities you outlined yesterday and see which options are really best for you.
In my case:
- Selling my basement junk is not a big enough project. It isn’t sustainable, and it would feel like I was taking a shortcut in this experiment. I need something more complex.
- Playing in a band is something I’m already doing and it doesn’t pay well. It’s more of a passion project than a side hustle.
- Honestly, screen printing t-shirts seems to have the most promise. Even if I don’t make many sales, the start-up cost is small and so is the time commitment.
Day 5: Figure out your projected profits
One idea seems to be in the lead!
Let’s see if the t-shirt side hustle is worthwhile by calculating the projected profits:
Expected Income - Expected Expenses = Projected Profits
Remember, a side hustle must be easy to start, it has to give repeatable results, and it has to be profitable.
You want your costs to be much less than the projected profits.
The first month of my t-shirt printing hustle will look something like this:
The T-Shirts - Month 1
|Item||Income or Expense|
|Projected Sales Income||20 Shirts @ $8/shirt + $25 setup fee = $185|
|Screen Printing Kit Expense||$75 @ Michael’s w/ 40% off coupon, taxes in|
|T-Shirt Purchase Expense||$3.99 x 20 Hanes at Walmart = $92 taxes in|
This isn’t too great of a profit, but I am just starting out.
Let’s see if the next month will be any better...
The T-Shirts - Month 2
|Item||Income or Expense|
|Projected Sales Income||50 shirts @ $8/shirt + 2x$25 setup fees = $450|
|Screen Printing Kit Expense||None|
|T-Shirt Purchase Expense||$2.39 x 100 = $239 from wholesaler|
|Fabric Ink Expense||None, with leftover supply from last month|
|Photo Emulsion Expense||$42|
This is a much better profit, and I’ll have 50 shirts left over to help with next month.
Overall, it seems pretty promising.
Day 6: Let’s pick a side hustle
Okay, enough thinking...It's time to choose an idea and stick to it.
To do this, I'll need to gather all the info I’ve learned about my hustle and see if it makes the cut.
To do so rationally and efficiently, I need to think about it in terms of:
- Feasibility: Is it easy to do?
- Profitability: Can I make money doing it?
- Persuasion: Do people want it?
- Efficiency: How quickly can I put it into action?
- Motivation: How much do I want to do it?
In order to better answer these questions, it’s best to answer in list form like this:
Screen printing assessment
- Feasibility: High
- Profitability: High
- Persuasion: Medium
- Efficiency: High
- Motivation: Medium
This step really helped me see that I made the right decision in choosing the t-shirt project.
With low start-up costs, and the fact that I could act quickly, it just made sense.
The first 6 days: A reflection
Frankly, I did this first section of the book in a couple of days – I wanted to dive in and I had some great ideas.
Now I’ve managed to whittle all my ideas down and I feel good about it.
That being said, it may take you longer to pick a side hustle. Everything kind of fell into place for me.
I might not make any money, but it’s worth a shot.
I keep telling myself it’s only 27 days. And if it fails, I can always sell the stuff in my basement until I come up with another idea.
Hey, I may do that anyway!
What about you? Are you working on a side hustle of your own?
Let me know in the comments how your own hustle is going, how a past hustle has gone, or if you have any ideas you’ve been meaning to get to.