The cost of living is forever creeping up, and pay rises, if you're lucky enough to get one at all, are typically underwhelming. So how can you get some extra dollars coming in the door? Perhaps a side hustle is your solution.
What we are talking about here is something that you do outside of your normal method of earning a living, and which produces additional income.
Research undertaken by Manpower Group highlighted how the side hustle concept linked to the idea of the 'gig economy', finding that two out of five Australian Millennials preferred to work a number of part-time jobs, rather a single, Monday to Friday, 9-5 job. A study in the US found that 28 per cent of those aged between 18 and 26 were working on an income-generating side project - or side hustle. Of those, almost all worked in the side hustle at least once a month, and one in four said they earned more than $US500 ($646) a month.
One aspect of the side hustle concept that I really like is that it enables you to give things a try, to experiment. To test ideas and see if real people are willing to part with their hard-earned cash for your idea.
A popular entrepreneurial process is the Lean Start-Up methodology. A key concept in this process is how many cycles you can go through of putting an idea out in the world, obtaining real customer feedback, tweaking your offer based on that feedback, and going back out to market again. The more times you can run through that cycle, the greater the likelihood you will find a sustainable business that you can grow. Working through those iterations as a side hustle can be fantastic, because you're not relying on the new venture to put food on the table or a roof over your head. You can experiment and discover, and if those experiments don't play out as you'd hope, you can live to fight another day.
So how might you get started on your side hustle journey?
There are two mostly likely paths you could go down to find a side hustle that works for you. One is to think about your hobbies and passions. Is there scope to turn a dollar doing something in that space?
The other avenue is to consider what skills you have, and whether you can monetise those skills outside of your regular job.
So on the hobbies front, let's say you love playing the guitar. Could you pick up some work in a cover band on the weekend? Or provide guitar lessons? Maybe you could create an online course on learning the guitar, or tuning a guitar, or whatever. Perhaps you could import guitars and sell them on eBay or Amazon.
Earning money in a space that you love and are passionate about might be fantastically liberating. Chances are you have a community already around you who share your interest that could be an incredibly useful sounding board for your plans, and perhaps even customers one day.
Then what about turning your skills into some extra cash? This is perhaps where the internet has provided the most liberation. If you have design skills, for instance, you could pick up work at 99 designs, AirTasker, Freelancer and no doubt plenty more. Of course, in the case of AirTasker and Freelancer, there are opportunities for those with plenty of other skills too - from cleaning to web site design, there will be an avenue for you turn those skills you've acquired into extra money in your pocket.
Perhaps your skills point to selling a particular product that you know a lot about. Market-places such as Amazon and Ebay can open up enormous opportunities. Fulfilment by Amazon is an opportunity of enormous magnitude. I know of someone who designed a bag to hold medical items for children, such as EpiPens, for instance. These bags could then be put in their school bag, or wherever they needed to go, and the parent could be confident everything that was needed was there, and there were instructions for carers, if required.
She gets these manufactured in China and ships them to the Amazon warehouse in the UK. She can then market the product throughout Europe on Amazon - more than 300 million potential customers - and anytime someone orders, Amazon takes care of the process from that point forward - picking the item, packaging it and getting it delivered. And she can manage the entire thing from her study at home in Melbourne. What an incredible age we live in!
A final point to note. It might be wise to consider whether what you are planning to do could conflict with your current employment. It may be a good idea to simply ask your employer, "do you see any problems with what I'm planning to do?" Who knows, they may even be able to flick some opportunities your way.