According to a recent survey, side hustles are more popular than ever: 51 percent of millennials moonlight sometimes, and 38 percent of them make money from side hustles once a month. These side hustles also tend to pay pretty well — almost $700 a month for the average hustler.
Want in on this game? Then you’ll need to know the secret to side hustle success. Otherwise, you may fall prey to some common mistakes many first-time side hustlers make.
As a business expert, author, and international speaker, I believe side hustle success all comes down to scalability. The best side hustles are ones you can put on autopilot. They leverage your resources and abilities rather than your time.
For example, the popular peer-to-peer car sharing company, Turo, allows you to rent your car out to other drivers. Lodging and hospitality giant Airbnb allows you to rent a room or apartment you already own. A related hustle would be to develop a course, podcast, or other educational opportunity that leverages your specific knowledge or experiences. People are often willing to pay top dollar to gain valuable insights.
Proven Strategies for Your Side Hustle
Whether you are looking to increase your income, pay off debt, or boost your retirement savings, a side hustle can be exactly what you need. Here are three keys to success to keep in mind while launching your next side hustle:
1. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
You are not trying to quit your full-time job one day and launch a tech startup the next. Instead, you’re trying to create an opportunity that brings you more freedom and allows you to pursue your passions while also generating money.
2. Don’t Spend (Too Much) Money
Most people get derailed the minute they start thinking about side hustles — particularly when it comes to matters like budgeting and investments. It’s nice if you like to work with spreadsheets, but it’s more important to think about how your hustle will make money — not what you need to spend to achieve success.
Yes, it can be tempting to think ahead, to forecast business needs and invest money based on those predictions. Buying a specific piece of equipment might make you more efficient at performing a certain task, but if you don’t yet have enough customers who will pay you to perform that task, wait to buy it.
The bottom line: Most hustles can be launched for very little money up front.
3. Rely on Your Unique Qualities and Skills
When coming up with an idea for a side hustle, think about the skills you have that no one else can offer. Do you have any special talents? Is there a hobby you could teach others? What do you know that others would like to know?
For instance, if you’re good with numbers or copyediting, it may be easy for you to take on some type of virtual work. If you care about fitness and health, you might consider becoming a certified yoga instructor. Are you passionate about teaching? Think about tutoring local students in a topic you know a lot about.
Ultimately, the key is to make sure your side hustle is something you care about. That way, you will enjoy the extra work rather than dread it.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to making money via side hustles, it’s crucial to think with your head and not your heart.
If your primary goal is to make money — or you don’t have the capital required to sustain a passion project — consider investing in a side hustle that can quickly generate revenue and that you can eventually put on autopilot.
Rather than trying to find a way to make a million dollars overnight, it’s better to look for a way to serve a million customers. Start small and explore where you have the best chances to succeed. With this approach, you can learn along the way, build your skills, and most importantly, develop a customer base. Down the road, you can leverage that customer base to expand successfully.
Marcos Jacober is an investor, author, international speaker, and teacher.