Side Hustles: Not Just About the Money

A side hustle is a concept that has gotten a lot more recognition over the past few years. And sure, it’s nice to be able to earn some extra bucks, especially in uncertain times. But money shouldn’t be the only reason that drives a side hustle, otherwise it’s just another form of a job.

The Gig Economy

But let’s talk about the money part first. If you are simply looking to earn some extra dough, whether that’s to build up savings, pay down some debt, or for a specific spending goal (like a vacation), an easy side hustle route is the gig economy. This includes options like:

  • sharing space on Airbnb
  • driving for Uber/Lyft or food delivery
  • package delivery for Amazon
  • freelance options on Fiverr or Upwork

All of these platforms are already set up and optimized for someone to come in with preexisting skills or assets who want to onboard and be making money within hours/days/weeks. You don’t need to create an LLC or open a bank account or come up with a brand or logo or figure out a marketing or content strategy. You earn money and when you don’t want to continue, there’s no obligation to continue.

Non-Financial Reasons for a Side Hustle

But a side hustle can offer a lot more than money. For one, it’s an opportunity for someone to experience a slice of business ownership, even if they aren’t interested in necessarily creating a full-time business. A side hustle requires a technical side — doing whatever it is you might be doing, a managerial side — ordering, backend management, and an entrepreneurial side — getting the word out, thinking about different products and services, etc.

Juggling those different sides of a side hustle may sound a little stressful, but it’s a lot of fun too, because it’s a chance to deploy your creativity and critical-thinking skills in a way that your job may not let you. Needless to say that juggling will force you to develop personally and professionally, if you have some self-awareness and a student’s mindset.

There’s also the possibility to just experiment and see where things go. This is something we enjoyed as children, as we made up games with our friends or narratives as our toy soldiers clashed with each other. A side hustle allows us to just see how something goes, without a burden of commitment or an expectation of an outcome.

Interestingly, a side hustle can also help you professionally. If it’s something that develops into something you feel comfortable sharing on a resume, it can give you an edge in your career. Employers like to see team members with their own interests and ways of expressing themselves outside of the office.

Where to Start

As we noted above, the gig economy offers ready-to-go options. If you’re thinking more along the lines of something unique to yourself, you can look at things you enjoy or things you’re already doing. Maybe you make a BBQ sauce or a rub that everyone loves. Or you do some woodworking just because you can. Or you love planning trips or working out. These are all products or services that people like and would be open to getting from someone they know and trust instead of a faceless, nameless multinational corporation.

That’s perhaps the most attractive thing about a side hustle: it reminds us that our free time is ours and while it can just as easily be used to just relax and watch some sports or play with the kids, it’s also something that can be used to fire our creativity, develop us personally, and oh yeah, make some money too.

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