Side hustles are a great way to earn extra income but, like all new ventures, they require a bit of legwork upfront in order to get traction. If you don’t choose an idea that fits your current lifestyle, it’s easy for this extra work to sink to the bottom of your to-do list and, eventually, fall by the wayside. For this reason, durable side hustles often feel less like a chore and more like a creative outlet that places craft and commerce on equal footing.
Although side hustles don’t always become full-time jobs, it’s common for side hustlers to gravitate towards this option once their venture becomes profitable enough. If you want a side hustle that could eventually become your career, here are some things to consider.
1. Does the idea fit your current schedule?
You’re going to be dedicating a meaningful amount of time to this side hustle, so it helps if that time fits into your schedule. A side hustle should be something you can do outside of your 9-5 job, but that won’t interfere with or keep you from that job.
Things will come up at your full-time job. Some days, you may have to pick up an extra shift, work overtime to finish up a project, or have obligations like meetings and team-building events.
If you want to make sure you put time into your side hustle, it helps to pick something that’s easy to re-schedule. Side gigs like dog-walking or babysitting might seem appealing, but remember these could be more difficult to arrange around your regular job.
2. Does the idea align with your passions and interests?
Working 40 hours a week is enough to take take most people’s creative energy by the time the day winds down. And after time well spent with family, friends, and personal responsibilities, it’s easy to see just how hard it can be to carve out additional headspace to work on a side project.
But it’s these hours tucked away in life’s margins that tend to be the best time to do the focused work needed to get something off the ground; the workday is done, the weekend is still a couple of days away, and since you’ve already watched all the true-crime documentaries on Netflix, your schedule is wide open.
The hours tucked away in life’s margins are often the best time to do focused work.
But, try as you might, sometimes you just won’t want to work.
That’s why it’s ideal if your side hustle closely pairs with what you’re passionate about, even if it’s not the end-product itself. That might mean some aspect of running things behind the scenes, or maybe it’s just immersing yourself in a new topic or field of interest.
3. Is the idea financially viable?
Although not every hobby should be burdened by the need for profitability, by our definition of a side hustle, we are looking to create some kind of return on time invested. That means your side hustle needs to be financially viable and, over the long term, relatively stable.
Most side hustles aren’t profitable right away since your primary focus is tweaking your product or service and finding how best to reach your first clients or customers. You want to keep costs low in the early stages and work exclusively on “ringing the cash register,” or proving out your idea with a sale so you can see what the numbers look like.
What does that mean exactly? Since the start of any project is completely lopsided in terms of time put in and revenue that comes back out, you don’t need to be as concerned with tracking your sweat equity.
But as you make progress and begin to make money, it’s important to understand how much it costs you, in time, to get a client, customer, or sale, and ultimately, turn your effort into profit. If your resulting margins or hourly wages put you in the red, your side hustle may not be sustainable.
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