What is a Side Hustle? Unlocking Potential and Earning Extra!

What is a side hustle? A lot of people wonder about that or haven’t found out what it is yet. You’ve come to the right place to find out what it is, though. A side hustle is essentially a way of making money outside of a regular job or running your own business. It allows you to earn an additional income with the freedom and flexibility to be your own boss and pursue your passions.

Embarking on one can also be a good way for small business owners to generate additional cashflow and earn an income on top of operating their own business.

Small business owners can also use one to develop additional skills and experiences they can use to improve the productivity and even profitability of their own ‘primary’ business.

The Rise of Side Hustles

what is a side hustle - woman dropshipping

Today, there are more Americans working a side hustle than at any point in the last two decades.

Research shows that generating additional cash is the main motivator for doing so.

Paying off debt and building up savings are also among the key motivators for taking one on as a second business or as another job.

Other leading reasons people have a side hustle is to learn new skills and to start a business of their own.

Younger generations are particularly prone to work a side hustle. Data from Bankrate shows that one in four millennials, those aged between 18 and 26, are working on their own with a side hustle to generate an additional income.

A quarter of millennials say their efforts earn them $500 or more a month.

Most Common Types

what is a side hustle - copywriter working on their computer

When considering a side hustle, the world is literally your oyster. What’s great is, no matter what small business you currently operate, you can start a side hustle that isn’t relevant to your primary business but is rather akin to your passions and hobbies.

Some of the most common side hustles include:

  • Driving (for example for Uber or Lyft)
  • Delivering Food
  • Renting Your Car
  • Renting Vacation Properties
  • Blogging
  • Podcasting
  • YouTube Posting
  • Ecommerce Reselling
  • Virtual Assistant Service
  • Bookkeeping
  • Preparing Taxes
  • Business Consulting
  • Copywriting
  • Social Media Managing
  • Photographing Events
  • Catering
  • Operating a Food Truck
  • Event Planning
  • Personal Training
  • Teaching Online Courses

Planning for a Side Hustle

what is a side hustle - woman planning her side hustle on a notepad and computer

Running your own business is naturally time-consuming, so the thought of running two businesses side-by-side can be daunting.

However, if you’re determined to give a side hustle a go, like starting any business venture, planning is the key to success.

Firstly, think about what it’s to be. More often than not, if it’s something you enjoy and are passionate about, the more likely you are to succeed.

You should ideally devote a regular time slot to work on your side hustle. Work out how much time you can realistically devote to without it impinging too much on your current business.

If, for example, a day a week is too much time to spend away from your principle business, make it one morning or afternoon a week instead.

The more realistic amount of time you set yourself to work on your new business venture, the more sustainable it is likely to be and the more success it is likely to generate.

Seasonal Side Hustles

what is a side hustle - person making christmas wreaths

If you don’t feel ready to commit to a full-time side hustle, you could always choose one that comes and goes with certain seasons.

For example, making and selling cards for Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations or chocolates at Easter, can be an enjoyable way to fulfill your arty passion and earn some more money during festive times of the year, whilst working on your main business for the rest of the year.

Steps for Starting a Side Hustle

what is a side hustle - start on a rug under person's shoes

Starting a successful side hustle requires careful planning and execution. Here are the essential steps to get your side hustle off the ground:

Identify Your Skills and Interests

The foundation of a successful side hustle lies in leveraging your unique skills and passions. Start by conducting a personal inventory—list down your skills, talents, and what you genuinely enjoy doing. Perhaps you’re a natural at graphic design, have a knack for writing, or can teach yoga.

Aligning your side hustle with these intrinsic strengths and interests not only makes the work more fulfilling but also increases the likelihood of perseverance and success. When your work resonates with your personal identity, motivation tends to be higher, making it easier to overcome challenges.

Market Research

Thorough market research is the compass that guides the direction of your side hustle. It involves identifying and understanding the needs of your potential customers, the scope of the market, and the existing competition.

This step is crucial to uncovering untapped opportunities or niches that your side hustle can fill. Look for trends, read industry reports, and engage with your target audience on social media to gather insights.

Knowing your market well can help you tailor your offerings to the specific demands and preferences of your audience, setting you apart from competitors.

Choose Your Side Hustle

Choosing the right side hustle is a balancing act between your skills, market demand, and potential for profitability. It should be something you’re passionate about, yet also viable and sustainable in the long term.

Consider the scalability of your idea and the level of demand in the market. Some side hustles may start as passion projects but have the potential to grow into full-time businesses. It’s also wise to consider the initial investment required and the time to profitability.

This decision will significantly influence your dedication and the strategic direction of your side hustle.

Business Planning

A detailed business plan acts as a roadmap for your side hustle, outlining your objectives, strategies, and financial projections. This plan should include a clear definition of your target market, a comprehensive marketing strategy, and a realistic financial forecast.

Detailing your goals and how you plan to achieve them can provide clarity and direction, making it easier to navigate the complexities of starting and growing your side hustle.

A business plan is also essential if you’re seeking external financing or partnerships, as it demonstrates the seriousness and potential of your endeavor.

Legal and Financial Considerations

Navigating the legal and financial aspects is critical to ensuring your side hustle is compliant and financially sound. This might include registering your business, obtaining necessary permits or licenses, and understanding tax obligations.

Consider setting up a separate bank account for your side hustle to simplify financial management and tax preparation. Consulting with a legal or financial professional can provide valuable insights into the specific requirements for your side hustle, helping you avoid potential pitfalls.

Set Up Your Workspace

Creating a dedicated workspace for your side hustle can significantly enhance productivity and help establish a professional work environment.

Whether it’s a quiet corner in your home, a rented office space, or a virtual setup, ensure your workspace is organized, free from distractions, and equipped with the necessary tools and resources. A well-designed workspace can also inspire creativity and professionalism, contributing to the overall success of your side hustle.

Build an Online Presence

In today’s digital world, an online presence is indispensable for reaching and engaging with your target audience. Start by creating a professional website that showcases your products or services and reflects your brand identity.

Utilize social media platforms to connect with potential customers, share valuable content, and build a community around your side hustle. Consistently engaging with your audience online can increase visibility, drive traffic to your website, and ultimately, boost sales.

Acquire Necessary Tools and Resources

Investing in the right tools, equipment, software, or materials is essential for delivering high-quality products or services.

Whether it’s state-of-the-art design software, high-quality raw materials, or efficient business management tools, having the right resources can streamline operations, improve the quality of your offerings, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Research and invest wisely, focusing on tools that offer the best value and contribute to the efficiency and scalability of your side hustle.

Set Clear Goals and Milestones

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your side hustle provides focus and direction. Break these goals down into smaller, actionable milestones to track your progress and maintain motivation.

Regularly reviewing and celebrating these milestones can keep you motivated and focused on the bigger picture, helping you navigate challenges and adjust your strategies as needed.

Market and Promote

Developing an effective marketing strategy is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. Identify the most effective channels to reach your target audience, whether through social media, email marketing, content marketing, or networking events.

Consistency in your marketing efforts is key to building brand awareness and driving engagement. Tailor your messaging to resonate with your audience, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different tactics to see what works best.

Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Exceptional customer service can differentiate your side hustle from competitors and build a loyal customer base. Ensure every interaction with your customers is positive, helpful, and professional.

Promptly address concerns, go above and beyond to meet their needs, and actively seek feedback to improve your offerings. Satisfied customers are more likely to return and recommend your side hustle to others, driving growth and success.

Track Finances and Taxes

Effective financial management is critical to the sustainability of your side hustle. Keep detailed records of all income and expenses to monitor your financial health and prepare for tax season.

Consider using accounting software to simplify this process and provide valuable insights into your financial performance. Staying on top of your finances can help you make informed decisions, identify opportunities for cost savings, and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Evaluate and Adapt

The business landscape is constantly evolving, and so should your side hustle. Regularly evaluate your performance against your goals, and be open to adapting your strategies based on feedback and market changes.

Stay informed about industry trends, listen to your customers, and be willing to pivot or introduce new offerings to meet their changing needs. Flexibility and a willingness to learn from experiences can drive innovation and keep your side hustle relevant.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Balancing a side hustle with other commitments requires effective time management. Prioritize tasks, set aside dedicated time for your side hustle, and use tools or techniques to stay organized and productive.

Avoid overcommitting, and be mindful of burnout. Remember, the quality of your work and your well-being are paramount to the long-term success of your side hustle.

Scale and Expand

As your side hustle grows, consider opportunities for scaling and expansion. This might involve hiring additional help, diversifying your product or service offerings, or entering new markets.

Scaling your side hustle requires careful planning and investment but can lead to increased revenue and broader impact. Always assess the feasibility and risks associated with expansion to ensure it aligns with your overall goals and capabilities.

Starting a side hustle can be a rewarding endeavor, both financially and personally. It requires dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. By following these steps and staying committed to your goals, you can increase your chances of building a successful and profitable side hustle.

Steps for Starting a Side Hustle Comparison Table

This comparison table is a practical tool that offers a structured roadmap for launching a successful side business. It simplifies the process by breaking it down into distinct steps, making it easier to plan, execute, and track progress.

1. Identify Your Skills and InterestsAssess your strengths and passions to align your side hustle with what you're good at.
2. Market ResearchResearch the market, audience, competition, and unique selling points for your idea.
3. Choose Your Side HustleSelect a profitable and suitable side hustle based on your skills and market analysis.
4. Business PlanningCreate a detailed plan outlining goals, pricing, marketing, and strategies for growth.
5. Legal and Financial ConsiderationsEnsure you meet legal requirements and consider financial aspects like budget and funding.
6. Set Up Your WorkspaceCreate an organized and productive workspace, whether physical or digital.
7. Build an Online PresenceEstablish a professional online presence through a website or social media platforms.
8. Acquire Necessary Tools and ResourcesInvest in the tools, equipment, or materials required for your side hustle.
9. Set Clear Goals and MilestonesDefine specific goals and track progress through achievable milestones.
10. Market and PromoteDevelop a marketing strategy to reach your target audience effectively.
11. Provide Exceptional Customer ServiceFocus on delivering great service to build a loyal customer base.
12. Track Finances and TaxesKeep accurate financial records and manage taxes efficiently.
13. Evaluate and AdaptRegularly review performance and make adjustments based on feedback and data.
14. Manage Your Time WiselyPrioritize tasks and use time management techniques to stay efficient.
15. Scale and ExpandExplore growth opportunities as your side hustle succeeds, like hiring or diversifying.

Embracing Digital Tools for Side Hustle Success

In the digital era, technology plays a pivotal role in the success of any side hustle. Embracing digital tools can significantly streamline operations, enhance productivity, and increase visibility.

From project management software to social media platforms, the right tools can help you manage your side hustle more efficiently while reaching a broader audience.

  • Project Management Tools: Platforms like Trello, Asana, or Monday.com offer excellent ways to organize tasks, set deadlines, and collaborate with any team members or partners. They can keep your side hustle on track and ensure that no detail is overlooked.
  • Financial Management Software: Tools such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Wave simplify the tracking of income and expenses, making it easier to manage finances and prepare for tax season. They can also automate invoicing and payments, saving valuable time.
  • Digital Marketing Platforms: Utilize social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts and engage with your audience across multiple platforms. Email marketing software, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, can help you create professional newsletters and email campaigns to keep your audience informed and engaged.

Here’s a word from Graham Stephan about some of the top moneymaking side hustles you’ll come across:


Image: Depositphotos.com

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".