By: Chris Guillebeau
36 MINUTE AUDIO / 5,550 WORDS (22 PAGES)
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Everyone should have a side hustle; even if you love your current job, more income means more options.
Perhaps you want to make some extra cash on the side, while working on a project that you really enjoy and boosting your self-confidence. Perhaps you need some additional financial security in today’s uncertain world. More and more people are developing side hustles, projects launched with minimal time and effort that turn into steady money-earners.
This book gives you a detailed roadmap to create your own side hustle in just 27 days—how to brainstorm and select the best idea, gather the tools you will need, launch and sell your offering, and evaluate its progress.
A side hustle can be a stepping stone toward a new, full-time career as an entrepreneur; a temporary solution to a near-term financial problem; or, a steady money earner that supplements your day job. A side hustle is not a hobby, it’s a way to make some extra cash; but, it is also much more than that. Building something for yourself can really change your life, giving you more confidence along with more financial security.
Whatever the reason, anyone can create a side hustle that increases their income and brings a new level of financial freedom. Best of all, anyone can learn to do this without having to commit a lot of time, money, or effort.
You can learn to build a side hustle in just five weeks. In the first week you learn how to build an arsenal of ideas. In the second week you compare ideas, study what others are doing, create an image of your ideal customer, and transform your idea into an offer with a compelling origins story. Week three is for preparing for the launch, assembling the tools you will need, figuring out pricing and how to get paid, and creating workflows. In week four you launch your idea, learn how to sell and test your offering, and how to ask for help. In the final week, you learn how to track your progress, grow what works, systematize your processes—and, finally, decide what comes next.
A side hustle is a small project, launched on a weekend, that ends up making you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. It’s something you start on the side, usually while still working a day job, as a way to get additional income without taking the plunge into working fulltime for yourself. Even if you love your job, you should still have a side hustle; more income means more options.
Launching a side hustle is not hard—you don’t need a lot of money or time, and you certainly don’t need a business degree or a special education. You work on a side hustle on your own schedule. All you need is the right frame of mind and the willingness to act.
The first week will be spent generating ideas for your hustle.
Day one: where will you go
A side hustle is not a hobby, it’s a way to make some extra cash; but, it is also much more than that. Building something for yourself can really change your life, giving you more confidence along with more financial security.
So, the first step in building your side hustle is to ask yourself: what will my life look like, 27 days from now? Imagine where your hustle will take you. Will you have the money to make a big purchase, pay off a loan, or go on the trip of a lifetime? Will you have a sustainable source of income that will really make a difference to your daily life? Or, will you be able to replace, even exceed, the income from your daily job? Decide what your goal is.
Day two: generate ideas
The next step is discovering what makes for a good side hustle: a great idea. The three essential qualities for a great idea are that it be feasible; that it be profitable; and, that it be persuasive.
A feasible idea is one that you feel excited about, that can make you money, and that you can set up in a short period of time. You should be able to turn your idea into reality using the skills and resources that you already have—no major investments, no extra classes, no months of planning. You must also be able to envisage how this idea will make you money; if you can’t, think of something else. To be persuasive, your idea must be something that people will find hard to refuse.
Stay away from a grand vision that’s hard to explain in simple terms; something requiring skills you don’t have; or something that takes a lot of time. Look for something high potential, that is: that you can easily turn into reality; that you already know how to do (or, can figure out very easily); that is low maintenance to set up and run; and that will bring in recurring income. Your idea should also be something that solves a problem or makes a person’s life easier in some way.
Day three: brainstorm
Day three is for brainstorming. Imagine driving down the street; pay attention to everyone you see and what they are doing. Think about what they might need. Do the same thought experiment wherever you go. Are there opportunities here that someone can profit from?
There are three general types of side hustle: selling a product, which can be an object like gourmet coffee or something intangible like traffic information; providing a service, like coaching people or filling out tax returns; or, being a middleman, improving an existing process without actually creating a product or directly serving customers, like being a reseller.
There are starter ideas, which are perfectly fine if you’re just starting out, or you just need to make some near-term cash. But, these will quickly run into limitations. Eventually you may want a next-level idea, something with long-term potential. A starter idea is being a driver for Lyft or Uber; a next-level idea is coaching other Lyft drivers and being an expert commentator on the rideshare industry. You could sell your arts or crafts on etsy.com; offer online tutoring or create a course in your field of expertise; or start a podcast and sell sponsorship. You could resell things you find in yard sales; publish a blog; or become a home- or life-organizer.
Brainstorm a list of ideas that sound promising and narrow your list to three high-potential ideas that are feasible, profitable, and persuasive.
Day four: evaluate
The next step is to evaluate your three high-potential ideas and decide which one has the fewest barriers to getting started and the most potential for making money. Ask yourself what would be uniquely good, and uniquely challenging, about each idea (you should be able to figure this out using your own intuition and just a small amount of research). What will you need to get started, what are the potential obstacles, and how hard will it be to make your first sale? Has anyone else done something like this before? What are the best- and worst-case scenarios if you do this?
For example: helping wedding photographers to process their photos requires expertise and manual effort but is a recurring market. Coordinating a network of neighborhood dog sitters is constrained by the number of dogs in the area but you don’t actually have to do any of the walking.
Day five: find the profits
Round out your first week by investigating the profit potential in each of your three high-potential ideas. This is a key step: your side hustle must have a clear plan for making money. The formula for this is very simple:
expected income – expected expenses = expected profit
However, to fill in the formula for your three ideas you’ll have to make some estimates. Use your best guess for monthly expenses and what people are likely to pay for what you are offering. If there’s a lot you don’t know—for example, how many people will really be willing to sign up for your class on bird-watching—then make an optimistic projection, say a full class of 20, and a conservative one. Jot down what the return would be for five students, each paying just $20, versus five students paying $50; and 20 students at each rate. Think about the minimum number of students and the minimum fee that will make it worthwhile to offer the class.
Compare the profit potential for each idea to decide which is the most feasible one.
In the second week you will learn how to identify your best side hustle, figure out who is your ideal customer, and create your origins story.
Day six: rank your ideas
The next step is to rank and compare your three high-potential ideas. Rank each one on the three qualities of feasibility, persuasion, and profit potential, along with two additional qualities: efficiency (how fast can this idea be executed) and motivation (how excited are you about it). The easiest way to do this is to give each quality a score of high, medium, or low, then compare the scores for your three ideas.
If you want to get more detailed, weigh the qualities based on what is most important to you right now—say, making money or getting started quickly. You could also add more categories of scoring, perhaps a scale of 1-5 or even 1-10.
The important thing at this point is to remember that you’re not making a life-time choice, you’re just looking for the best idea right now. Just make sure you can explain it in simple language; it is feasible, profitable, and persuasive; it is clear how it will make you money; and, the idea makes you excited. You can always come back to the other ideas at a later date.
Day seven: evaluate the competition
On day seven you’re going to play detective by doing some reconnaissance of the landscape to figure out the competition. This stage is like studying a neighborhood before opening a coffee shop there—you don’t want to be the fourth coffee shop on the block, but you also may not want to be the first one if there are no customers in the area. On day seven, learn who else is offering the same thing (or something similar) and figure out how your idea will be better. Your idea doesn’t have to be better in every way, just in a few ways that the competition doesn’t offer.
Check out the competition’s websites and social media postings; check any customer reviews. Try to find out how much it cost the competition to get launched and how much money they are making. Figure out how you can take their strategy and make it better.
If your side hustle is something that’s entirely new, this is the time to make sure you can explain it in a way that is crystal clear and compelling.
Day eight: the ideal customer
Now it’s time to create a profile of your target customer. The better you understand your customers, the better you’ll be able to serve them. Make notes on the one person you imagine really, desperately needs what you have to offer. Write this person a letter, making it clear you understand their pain and proposing a clear solution.
Your product or service may be intended for people from a variety of backgrounds; still, having an imaginary conversation with this one, ideal customer will help you to hone the idea for your side hustle.
Day nine: create the offer
The next step is to transform your idea into an offer—something that has a promise, a pitch, and a price.
The promise focuses on the benefit someone will get from whatever you are selling. Make it clear how your idea will change someone’s life, in one short, snappy sentence. The pitch is all the basics someone needs to know; the information on why they should purchase now. The price is just that; what it costs and also exactly how to get it.
Write your offer to your ideal customer from day eight. Use words like “now” and “today” to create a sense of urgency. Keep the whole thing fun and lively. Where possible, use numbers—they grab attention faster than words. Finally, keep it pithy—every word should serve a purpose.
Day ten: tell the story
Now it’s time to create your origin story. As in the world of comic books, having a good origins story shows the moment of transformation when the character evolves in an essential way. Think about how you got into this, what inspired you. Use some personal anecdote to forge an emotional connection with your customer:
“I’ve always been interested in ... so I decided to try ...”
“I was frustrated by ... and knew there had to be a better way. So, I made ...”
Inspire your potential customers to root for you and your mission; it will turn them into paying customers.
In week three, you’ll pull together everything you need to…