Side Hustles For Dummies
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A side hustle is usually a sort of business that you’re running in addition to whatever you do for your full-time job or career. Or, you can pull together two or more side hustles and, taken all together, that’s how you earn a living.

If you’re not sure whether a side hustle is right for you, getting clear on the reasons you may want to start one is a good place to start. You may also find it helpful to think about different categories of side hustles, in order to find the one that’s best for you.

Finally, if you’re trying to juggle a full-time job with a side hustle, you need to know how to keep all those balls in the air. This Cheat Sheet has you covered on all of these fronts.

Why you should start a side hustle

Hundreds of millions of people around the world have at least one side hustle going. Everyone has their own personal motivations, but in general, the reasons to start a side hustle include the following:

  • Making more money: This one’s a no-brainer! If you’re going to put the time and effort into a side business, you almost always want to make some money from what you’re doing.
  • Broadening your experience and knowledge beyond what you’re able to learn in your day job: Maybe you’re trying to pick up new skills in your chosen profession to make yourself more marketable or more likely to receive a promotion. Or maybe you’re trying to learn things outside your current industry and profession, with an eye toward changing careers.
  • Monetizing a hobby: You may want to try to make money from an activity you enjoy and that you’re already spending a lot of your time on anyway.
  • Preparing for possible job loss: Starting your own side business can help you save up some money just in case you find yourself laid off — and maybe it can even enable you to start on a totally new career path in which your fate is in your own hands!
  • Some of the most promising side hustles pick up momentum when you have multiple goals in mind, so if you find yourself thinking, “All of the above,” that’s great news! You’re more likely to stick with what you start.

5 categories of side hustles

You can find hundreds, if not thousands, of specific ideas for side hustles. But in general, side hustles fall into one of the following categories:

Selling products: Whether you do your side hustling online or take the plunge and open a physical store, many side hustles are really smaller-scale retail businesses.

Selling skill-based services: From building websites to offering financial advice to helping people write their résumés, you can sell something without actually selling something. No, that’s not doubletalk — many side hustles are built around offering services of various types, with those services requiring at least some specialized skill or knowledge.

Doing gig-economy work: From rideshare driving for Uber or Lyft to delivering packages for Amazon to delivering food for Grubhub or DoorDash, many side hustlers spend the majority of their time doing gig-economy work — providing contract-based services that usually don’t require any particular skills and are almost always enabled through sophisticated apps to match service providers with those looking for a ride or food or perhaps dog walking.

Promoting yourself: Many, if not most, “influencers” begin their influencing as a side hustle. Maybe you’re a teen demonstrating makeup techniques, or a retiree showing off your physique and sharing exercise tips for seniors, or somewhere in between those two age groups. Basically, your side hustle is all about promoting yourself and earning money either by selling a book or a course or maybe through advertising revenue.

Working in real estate: From buying, fixing up, and then leasing a second home to periodically renting out a property on Airbnb or Vrbo, many side hustles have a real estate flavor to them.

Avoiding conflict between your side hustle and day job

If you’re careful, you’ll be able to steer clear of conflicts between your side hustle and your day job. Make sure that you:

  • Never use a company-owned computer, tablet, or phone for anything related to your side hustle.
  • Never do any side-hustle work when you’re at your day job or at your company’s location. Definitely never do your side-hustle work connected to your company’s Wi-Fi or other Internet network!
  • Carefully read your employment agreement at your day job and be crystal clear about what rules govern conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment (basically, dropping the ball on your day job to do your side hustle).

As long as you keep your side hustle separate from your day job, you’ll be able to juggle all your responsibilities seamlessly.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Alan Simon began his first side hustle in 1982, doing consulting for small businesses and not-for-profits. He's been juggling a variety of side gigs ever since. Alan has been writing novels for 20 years and is currently the managing principal of Thinking Helmet, Inc., a boutique consulting firm.

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