BOOK REVIEW: Keep your job and hustle your way to an extra income

Side Hustle: Build a side business and make extra money - without quitting your day job, by Chris Guillebeau

ARE you one of those people who needs to earn more? Are you worried about jeopardising what you have for something that looks better, that may not be better? After all, you like your colleagues, the work and even your manager. The problem is that all that liking doesn’t pay the bills.

Author Chris Guillebeau’s book Side Hustle may be exactly what you should be reading. Finding a ‘side hustle’ sounds like the excellent advice you get from your gym partner or hairdresser. (Yes, you say to yourself, great idea, but now tell me how!)

“It’s not that hard to start a side hustle. You can do so in less than a month by following the lessons in this book,” the author promises. This book is a guide, broken down into a four-week programme with daily activities.

The process starts with generating a list of profitable ideas. Then choose from that list which is best for you at this point in your life. Then you must take action. The term “hustle” is a good one, because it has a sense of urgency. It includes starting even before you feel you are totally ready, and doing the correcting while you are in action.

Success is really a function of the right frame of mind and if your hustle is the right one for you, it won’t require much money. Some hustles cost hardly anything to start. You certainly don’t need a business degree or even expertise at starting a business. You also don’t need assistants, or business partners.

You do, however, need a clear goal. It may be as simple as making some extra money to pay off a debt, or to buy something you really want or need. The goal of your hustle could even be to create a continuous source of income which may even, as it has for some people described in this book, replace or exceed the income from your current job.

That said, where do you start?

How to get going

The first step is to draw up a list of business ideas that could work. Do this on a piece of paper, on your phone or on your computer - NOT in your head. And don’t stop until you have many more than one. When you start looking for ideas, you will be surprised how many there are all around you.

Then you can apply the criteria for selection. Great ideas have three qualities: they are feasible, profitable and persuasive.

A feasible idea is one you can start very soon, and that will earn you money in a short period of time. If it is a grand idea that will require great dedication and significant capital, it is not a side hustle.

It is useful to see the hustle as much like a hobby, but with one huge difference. Most hobbies cost money, but your side hustle makes money. If you would have difficulty explaining the idea in a sentence or two, you should rethink the idea.

“Everywhere you look, hustle ideas are all around you,” the author promises, so pay close attention to your surroundings - you never know when a good idea might show up.

Three side hustle categories

There are three broad categories of side hustles. You can sell a product, whether one of your own or someone else’s. You can provide a service, or you can be a ‘middleman’ of some kind.

The book has numerous ideas and while none may fit you exactly, they will get your creative spirit going. Below are a few.

Develop a travel concierge service to help people when they miss their flights. Become a home, office, or life organiser for busy or disorganised people. Buy and sell used textbooks to university students. Start an online course in some quirky subject you know a lot about.

Visit jumble sales and buy items to resell. Start an Airbnb, but for dogs, so their owners can travel and leave the dogs somewhere better than a kennel.

Is there an obvious way to make money from any of your ideas?  Does your idea solve a problem for someone? Can you make this idea happen quickly? Is it relatively low effort?  Can you get paid more than once for this idea? Is this idea for your side hustle no more than another part-time job? (It should make your life easier, not harder.)

“If your idea is to sell lunar golf carts to astronauts, you should understand right away that this idea comes with some major constraints: astronauts are a very small market, production costs are likely quite high, and it’s hard to get to the moon to open your shop.”  

If you answer yes to most of the questions above, then get to work right away!

Your side hustle can of course grow into something larger than your day job. Consider the Uber driver, Harry Campbell, who created an online community called ‘The Rideshare Guy’.

Instead of only driving people around, he now also earns money coaching other drivers. As a driver he can only do one lift at a time, but since new drivers are constantly signing on, Harry’s market demand is nearly inexhaustible.

To start though, remember that your side hustle must have a clear plan to make money. The expansion of the plan can come later. Much like dating, the author explains, look at a lot of ideas, reject most of them, flirt with a few, and then settle in for a trial phase with the most attractive and well-rounded option.

You probably don’t know how to do half the things you need to start this business, but everything is “figureoutable” (not English!) the author points out.

A side hustle isn’t only about money, as helpful as that can be. A side hustle really can change your life in a profound way – by building your resourcefulness. If this idea has relevance to you, read this book. Immediately.

Readability:    Light +---- Serious
Insights:         High -+--- Low
Practical:         High +---- Low

  • Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of Executive Update. Views expressed are his own.

Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'm not really directly affected
20% - 228 votes
I am taking a hit, but should be able to recover in the next year
26% - 297 votes
My finances have been devastated
29% - 340 votes
It's still too early to know what the full effect will be
26% - 299 votes