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10 Side Hustle Tips

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For the uninitiated, a side hustle is an extra money-earning job taken on in addition to someone’s day job. It might include doing freelance work, selling items online, dog walking, doing odd jobs, etc. And with the cost-of-living crisis still impacting people’s everyday lives, it is perhaps no wonder that so many of us are looking to boost our incomes. The survey reports that around half of all UK men make money from side hustles compared to 37% of women and that the average income per hustle is around £900 per month, or just under £11,000 per year. Given that the average wage in the UK is around £35,000, an average side hustle would equate to a pay rise of over 30% – nice work if you can get it.

Now, it’s not a competition, but one group is setting the gold standard for side hustle, and that’s the good (not so) old Gen Z’s. The number of people who are actively hustling is over two-thirds, with millennials coming in second at 65%. In fact, the older you are, the less likely you are to bring home any extra bacon, with Gen X at 40% and Baby Boomers at just 23%. Part of this is due to the younger generations having lower incomes; therefore, a side hustle’s financial impact is much more significant. But it’s also down to technology; this group makes much greater use of the internet and knows their way around apps such as Vinted, TikTok, and the like. For those of you who think it IS a competition, I can share that the Millennials make the most money from their hustles, racking up an impressive average annual income of almost £15,000. So, if you’re currently aged between 28 and 43, many congrats – you just taught those cheeky whippersnappers a thing or two.

This is all very interesting, but is everything rosy on Side Hustle Island, or are there some nasties lurking in the woodshed? Overall, most things are positive, but there are few things that most side hustlers could be doing a little better. So, if you’re interested in sharpening up your A-game, here are my top ten tips for optimising your hustle:

1. Just get started

There’s one thing that every side hustler in the country has in common: they somehow managed to get started. So, if you want to start a side hustle but feel anxious about jumping in, please don’t worry. If nearly half the population have already done it, you’re in good company. The best advice is to realise that almost everyone else had those doubts before they started and that it’s perfectly natural. 

One way to build confidence is to connect with communities in the same niche you’re looking to get into. Connecting with others on the same journey as you can be incredibly empowering and may help remove some of those fears. Plus, you may also glean some good advice. Accountability can also help, albeit it’s more like a stick than carrot. Tell everyone you know you’re going to do it, and you won’t dare back out due to the loss of face. It’s crude but very effective. Either way, take a leaf out of Nike’s book and just do it.

2. Avoid perfectionism

We all want to do a good job, but the old 80/20 rule usually bites perfectionists on the backside; they spend 80% of their time perfecting the last 20% of their work. This problem can particularly affect those just starting who want to make their product or service as perfect as possible when they launch. The reality is that it’s far better to aim for good rather than great and get your productivity rate up – or even just get the business launched in the first place. 

The other problem is that you’ll only truly learn from experience, so you should embrace the Lean Start-up approach, where you learn as you go. Just get started, learn from what happens next and then pivot accordingly. Too many people aim for perfection at the outset and never get out of the blocks. Or, as General Patton famously said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

3. Avoid burnout

Do you have any plans to be the wealthiest person in the graveyard? There’s no point in working all hours on your side hustle if you don’t enjoy the fruit of your labours. Be sure to set limits on how much time you spend on it, and carve out time to spend with family, friends and on good old R&R. Also, make sure that your side hustle doesn’t compromise your day job. You might enjoy it more, but don’t forget which one pays the bills, at least initially.

4. Systematise and outsource

Brands such as McDonald’s are fundamentally built on systems; if it works for them, it can work for you. Depending on your side hustle, there will be limits to how far you can go here. But always think about whether there’s any part of what you do that can be automated, delegated, or outsourced. Take a detailed look at what you physically do to deliver your product or service and see if you can remove or automate any of the steps. 

Outsourcing can seem like a false economy since you’ll presumably have to pay someone else, but the reality is that it can often make good financial sense. Websites such as fiverr.com, upwork.com, and peopleperhour.com allow you to tap into the global gig economy. If there is a portion of what you do that someone else could complete for a much lower price, it frees up your time and boosts your overall productivity. I’ve come across several people who have outsourced their entire business; they merely handle the marketing and sell goods made or delivered by workers in the Philippines or India.

5. Know your market

A little research can go a long way. Make sure you understand who your competitors are and what they’re offering. How will your offer be different? Also, make sure that there’s a market for your product or service. Depending on your hustle, consider running some dummy ads before you start to check out demand. Also, if you’re going to be working with organisations that will help you earn money, make sure you check them out thoroughly first. There are plenty of rogues out there whose advertised returns can be unbelievable, so see if you can google other customers to find first-hand experience.

6. Don’t sell yourself short

It can be tempting to use low prices to make your service appear more attractive. But this can undervalue your work and mean working long hours before you make a meaningful profit. Instead, price yourself in the mid-range and provide better-than-average service. That way, you’ll be offering good value and can always move to charging premium prices as your experience and testimonials grow.

7. Separate your personal and business finances

Set up a business bank account and ensure that all the transactions relating to your side hustle go through it, not through your personal bank account. This applies to both your income and expenses. Ultimately, you’ll pay yourself the profits, but make sure the money goes into your business account first. This will make it far easier to manage your business effectively in the long run. Also, make sure you have a rainy-day fund for emergencies, and take advantage of the many online software tools that are available for managing your finances; they will make life a lot easier for you.

8. Pay your taxes

Depending on how much money you currently earn, you will likely owe taxes on any side hustle profits. While some may be tempted to “forget” to declare it, the last thing you want is an unexpected tax bill. Automatically set aside some of your profits to pay tax and do your research to understand what tax is payable. Ideally, speak to an accountant to get a professional opinion; it won’t cost a fortune and they may even be able to save you tax.

9. Set realistic goals

Set annual and quarterly targets for your business and let these guide your weekly activity and goals. Track your progress and be realistic about your expectations – it can take time to build a sustainable business. Also, celebrate your successes as you go, as this will keep you motivated. You’ll invariably have bumps in the road on your journey but don’t let that put you off, they happen to everyone.

10. Don’t overcommit

For many, giving up the day job is the ultimate dream, and a side hustle can help make that dream a reality. Just don’t be too quick to hand in your notice. Many people see the money start to roll in and they mistake revenue for profit. They can also be overly optimistic about growth and assume that a few good months will automatically mean every month thereafter will be great too. Instead, ensure that your side hustle is producing 1.5 or 2 times your job income before you leave and that it’s been doing so reliably for a while. After all, you only want to give up your day job once.

The final thing to say is that your side hustle will only ever fail if you give up. Learning from pitfalls and mistakes is part of every successful business’s history; you only need to look at the failed early endeavours of some of today’s billionaires. Not only did they manage to get started, but they also learned from their mistakes and moved onward and upward. You may not reach their dizzy heights with your own side hustle, but you can still learn from their journey. 

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For those interested in learning whether small-scale property development could be their perfect side hustle, click here.




Ritchie Clapson, CEng is an established developer, author, industry commentator, and co-founder of the leading property development training company, propertyCEO.

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