By Mayumi Ishii
“Side Hustle” has become quite the buzzword as of late. Granted, people have had a lot of time in the last year and a half to sit inside, potentially sidelined from their 9-to-5 due to the pandemic. This time and freedom have helped people turn their hobbies into side hustles, and their side hustles into main hustles.
Maybe you’ve stumbled across this article while looking for inspiration for your foray into entrepreneurship. Maybe you already have your own business, but the question remains the same: How do you identify a lucrative side hustle that fits seamlessly into your life?
It should be something you’re good at.
If you’re a math geek, chances are, you might not be the obvious choice for a freelance copywriting editor. If you failed math while in school, you’re probably not going to be the best SAT math tutor. Your side hustle should be something that allows you to capitalize on what you are good at, love doing, and have expertise in.
Make it worth it.
If something is your hobby, and you love it with a passion, regardless of if you’re making money, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your product or service affordable. But if you are really looking for something that’s going to help with the bills, do not be afraid to charge people what you believe your product or service is worth.
Have fun with it.
Look back deep and wide at your life experiences. What makes you happy? When were you happiest? What work of yours, at work or at home, got you the most praise from colleagues, clients, and family?
With the power of the internet, the opportunities are infinite. Will there be other people doing something similar to you? Of course. You can reach out to and network with them to learn about their paths, and maybe even pick up a few tips. There’s no shame in inspiration, so long as you have your own original takes. You could even be their future collaborator.
If you’re not 120% sure about your strengths and weaknesses, take a StrengthFinder test. With this, you can identify and/or confirm your strongest traits and which specific line of work fits you the best. Consider it a “second opinion” in understanding what you are really good at and what makes you happy.
Now that you have some ground rules, your brain may be going a mile a minute with ideas for your new side hustle. Or you may be stuck. Luckily, I’ve put together some broad ideas and categories that will allow you to have a jumping off point to begin your brainstorming.
It’s helpful to decide if you intend to go the journey alone, or work with a team of like-minded professionals. You can always change this decision later on but understanding where you’re starting is always helpful.
1. Home Cooking
If you are an excellent cook, and constantly have your family and friends raving about your latest dish, you may want to put these skills to good use. In Japan, there is a whole industry of “Uber” home chefs. Amateurs, experts, moms, or professional chefs go to homes and cook up 7-12 meals for a family in a few hours. This is essentially a meal prep solution that solves the stress of healthy cooking of busy working families. Parents with full-time jobs are always pressed for time, and with children who may be picky or have allergies, fast food or takeout may not be a solution. Creating a custom menu from the food the family likes and can have for the week is a solution.
A Japanese company, Taskaji (“Home Helpers”) has a pool of 2,400 skilled staff in cooking and organizing for flexible part-time jobs for 71,000 clients. Their staff have published 14 cookbooks that collectively have sold 450,000 copies. You can start your own agency or go solo at it with platforms wherever you live. (ref. Article on household chore survey by Taskaji, December 2020. https://re-how.net/all/843602/)
You could also partner with local farmers and producers to use their produce to make baked goods to sell at a farmer’s market.
2. Entrepreneurial Tutoring/Coaching
If you are an expert in building Shopify ecommerce sites or running an Amazon store: Become a personal tutor for entrepreneurs who are about to launch their new businesses. Looking back to the early days when I launched Chrysmela’s (www.Chrysme.la) business in the U.S., I could have definitely used some help from an expert on how to build a Shopify site or run Amazon ads. Both Shopify and Amazon offer sufficient tools for a newly minted entrepreneur to start, but there is so much more to learn, and if you crack the code, you can do so much more, and do it better, faster. There is space for you to be a friendly “tutor” or a coach for entrepreneurs, especially boomers with some killer ideas.
3. Modern Handyman
If you are a tech expert: Become a “handyman” or “handyperson” of all tech support for entrepreneurs who face small but challenging issues for the not-so-tech savvy. In the professional networks and Facebook groups I belong to, I often see someone asking for recommendations for a tech helper or a good bookkeeper, which brings me to my next idea…
If you are excellent with QuickBooks: Entrepreneurs and small businesses know keeping accurate records is essential, but the bookkeeping may get pushed lower on the to-do list. Get certified and capitalize on your network and friends’ trust. You can help as a QuickBooks coach to set up and keep the files current. You may also want to join one of many online bookkeeping agencies.
Working Together with Others
You might have skills that people may want and need, but there is often strength in numbers. If you’re a web designer, do you know a graphic designer that can help make the physical collateral for your clients? The following ideas are for working alongside other professionals looking for their own side hustle or business, to deliver higher value, one-stop solutions for clients together.
5. Influential Photography
If you are a photographer and you have friends who are Instagram influencers (micro, aspirational, or big), organize a flexible Instagram “agency” targeted for up-and-coming brands or entrepreneurs. Create beautiful images with the influencers and products. Manage the brand’s Instagram feed and stories.
The brand or entrepreneur pays the agency (you) a monthly fee, and influencers receive photo files, as compensation for their time and work for the photo shoot. Everybody wins with desired outputs. A few years ago, I worked with a talented duo of a photographer and influencer to great success, and they beautified our Instagram feed, @Chrysmela.
6. Licensed Childcare Specialist
As our post-COVID world returns slowly to normal, people need childcare more than ever. Children have been spending so much time with parents and family, they likely have gotten used to extra attention. Parents may feel weary of large daycare facilities and may look for more personalized care. Going in as a team with other professionals, you can offer wider hourly coverage and personalized care to meet parents’ needs better with more flexibility.
7. Personal Assistant
So many entrepreneurs pile too much on their plates. But some have wised up to the idea of hiring remote help to organize their affairs. If you are in a different time zone, you can expand the team’s effective hours, executing faster, overnight literally. Since the pandemic, there has been a greater turnover of personal assistants for entrepreneurs and small businesses. This presents a lot of opportunity for capable assistants to pick up new accounts.
8. At-home Healthcare
I personally didn’t know about this until I received a random solicitation in my inbox in the past year and did a quick research. Senior-care franchises are one of the most profitable franchise businesses. You could imagine it’s hard, demanding, and critical work. But it’s very meaningful and much needed as baby boomers are nearing the stage of life where they will need additional care, and don’t want to sacrifice their independence. It could be as simple as checking in on an elderly neighbor to make sure he takes his medications or acting as an at-home nurse (which will require certifications). This option may present a higher barrier to entry than other side hustle ideas, but you can team up with a few families or friends. Building slowly as you learn, you could have a foundation for a future full-time endeavor.
Overall, there are a number of opportunities that can be side hustles that go beyond the typical craft-selling or babysitting. If you think outside the box, depending on the time and resource commitment you can afford, there is an opportunity for everyone. Now is a great time to start and test a new career that you’d enjoy doing for many years to come in the 100-year life. We’re entering a new era, as we come out of this pandemic, and new opportunities will emerge, especially as more people yearn for independence, happiness, and life on their own terms.