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Getting Started with a Side-Hustle: What You Need to Know

Leaving your job, starting a business, and being an entrepreneur can be a scary thought.  What reasonable, rational person would ever want to leave the comfort and security of a steady paycheck that a W2 job brings us?

At the same time, how many of us have had the entrepreneurial moment, you know the one where we come up with a unique product or service idea, or those daydreaming moments where we think about how cool it would be if we could follow our passions, or we know we aren’t utilizing our unique skills, talents, and gifts to their full potential because they don’t fit nicely into a conventional employer-employee relationship. This is the beauty of the Side Hustle.

A side hustle allows you to tap into your creativity and entrepreneurial spirit while maintaining your day job. Even better, a Side Hustle can be a step towards financial freedom allowing you to save for unforeseen expenses, invest in the future, or splurge on something like a dream vacation.

My Principles for a Side Hustle

For me, when I teach side-hustling to my students or consider a side-hustle of my own I utilize these four key principles:

  1. It is a project that I am excited, passionate, and motivated to start and keep with for at least a year.
  2. It involves little money to get started, as I strive to cap my downside, i.e. lose money.
  3. Has the potential to generate at least a few hundred dollars in monthly cash-flow.
  4. It is not going to involve a ton of time or the time involved ignites my creativity, improves my skills, and fills me up with joy and excitement.

BONUS: if a side-hustle can be scalable (aka can become a business) or generate consistent passive income even better!

Areas to Build a Side Hustle:

Offer a Value-Added Product or Service

If you have the opportunity to develop or create a product or service that people are willing to pay for and it meets your side-hustle goals, then you have yourself a legitimate first step toward your side hustle.  For many people, they get stuck here because they think that whatever they do needs to be “the next big thing”. But that’s not true! A good side hustle could simply be a niche product/service that solves a problem, a product/service that makes an impact, or something that people enjoy.

The great thing about today’s business environment is you have a number of tools to quickly launch your product or service. You can get a website up in less than a day with companies like WordPressShopify, or Wix.  You can, take payments immediately with services like PayPal or Square.  You can have access to a wide array of customers through platforms like AmazonEtsy, or Ebay. You can also go old-school and take advantage of local events like farmer’s markets.


If you’ve ever watched some of the flipping shows on channels like HGTV, this is a perfect example of re-selling. While flipping real-estate can be a more expensive side-hustle (one that I’m actively involved in) its principle is a good illustration of re-selling and can be done with a wide variety of goods.  In re-selling, we are simply acquiring a product at one price and selling to a customer for a higher price.

  • Use Your Skills

This can be accomplished by flexing your creative, artsy, or mechanical side. For example, go to a garage sale or estate sale and pick-up an old-desk, refurbish it, then post it for sale after fixing it up. If your skills land more on the artsy side of things, try creating or designing something from scratch.

  • Branding Is Important

No matter what your product or service might be, building a brand around your side-hustle, especially when re-selling can be key. It is easier than ever to go online and buy any kind of item; put your own spin on your side hustle to distinguish yourself and your re-sold product.

  • Make Sure to Add Value

Most people prefer a simple search to acquire and purchase an item and make the purchase. If you have the finished product and made it simple to acquire, customers are willing to pay for the value of that convenience.

Content Creation and Sharing with Your Audience

Another form of a side hustle is to take your experiences, passions, and knowledge and create content then share them with an audience of customers. This can come in a number of forms including:

  • Write a Book

Create an e-book on a particular topic, this is a onetime creation and that can be sold directly to customers through a website or can be self-published through a variety of companies such as Amazon.

  • Create a Blog

Start a blog or share content on a topic of interest. While building an audience takes time, discipline, and effort once you build trust with your audience you can generate income through advertising, affiliate links, and selling direct to consumer.

  • Be an Influencer

If you have a strong social media presence you can leverage this to become an influencer sharing the products and services you utilize, this can lead to relationships with companies, brands, and products where you get paid to post content. Amazon has a specific program just for influencers.

  • Offer Advice or Guidance

Build an offering around your expertise or advice. Whether it’s a recipe, a how-to, or knowledge that helps others get better. There are numerous sites such as UdemySkillshare, and Coursera where you post courses and then get paid for users.

Deploy Your Knowledge and Skill

You have the opportunity to deploy what you already do well and contribute to other individuals and businesses.

  • Coaching/Consulting/Advising

Here you can provide your acumen and expertise to help others get better. In this model, you could exchange your time for money or perhaps use it as an investment for a small piece of equity in the firm.

  • Freelance

An employer typically puts a value on your services as part of their business operations. However, as a freelancer, you can offer your skills or services to business and typically command a higher price for your hourly wage. There are a number of sites such as FreelancerGuruUpWork, and Fiverr that allow you to promote your skills and connect potential customers.

More Resources About Side-Hustling

Side hustling can take many forms and there’s a lot of ideas out there. Before investing your time or money it’s important to do your research.  A few of my highly recommended resources include:

Author, Podcast host, and Side Hustle Guru Chris Guillebeau. His content will not only motivate and inspire you. He provides a literal how-to book on Side Hustling.

  • Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days
  • The $100 Startup Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
  • His daily 10-minute podcast called Side Hustle School features a different side-hustle every day.

Two additional books by different authors are The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job by Patrick McGinnis and Elaine Pofeldt’s The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want.

Lastly, I’d like to share a mantra that I give to my students: your competition is going to try to knock you out, the haters are going to try to knock you down, but don’t ever let anyone knock your hustle!

About the Author

For many learners, their business education journey begins with Introduction to Business. Tim has had the pleasure of educating numerous unique students in this course. His innovative teaching methods, applications of learning science, and educational technology have taken this foundational course to the next level. He arms students with the skills needed to perform like pros in the world of work, excel in future college courses, build wealth, and become savvy consumers. Tim has been teaching marketing, management, and entrepreneurship courses at Green River College in Auburn, Washington, since 2010. He was tenured in 2015 and is best known for co-creating and then leading the country's first Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Tim also developed an Applied Management BAS program. Affordable has recognized the Marketing & Entrepreneurship program as the #1 most affordable entrepreneurship program in the country and the #7 most affordable entrepreneurship program by UniversityHQ. Tim is a recipient of Green River College's Distinguished Faculty Award. In addition to teaching and authoring, Tim works in the technology industry as a Senior Manager at Microsoft, which provides him the ability to bridge the divide between today's higher education curriculum and the rapidly changing needs of today's employers. While Tim serves in many roles, his most important role is as husband to his wife, Danielle, and dad to his sons, Raymond and Joey.

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