Finding a job in the current market is no easy task — and it’s often hindered by limited education and experience, particularly for recent grads or job seekers in the midst of a career shift.
Four-year universities often train students to focus on one — or at most two— paths, and once you start developing skills in a career, it’s easy to start to feel stuck. Suddenly, you find yourself several years down the road and heading down a path with seemingly no return. How can you avoid getting stuck in an industry silo? Enter: the side hustle.
Side hustles come in many shapes and sizes, varying from mere hobbies to very profitable companies. The idea is simple: When you have some free time, take on a new task. Then evolve the idea and iterate.
In today’s work world, you never know when your job may change dramatically or vanish. That’s why I believe you should always try to have at least one side hustle.
What Is a Side Hustle?
So what’s a side hustle? It’s a tiny, independent venture you do during your free time when you’re not at your full-time job. Think of it as a part-time job with powerful potential.
People with an eye toward eventual full-time entrepreneurship use a side hustle as a way to slowly grow revenue until they’re able to earn the equivalent of a full-time salary.
Others simply like to have something fun and different to do, which just happens to bring in extra income. Examples of side businesses could be a lawyer who bakes cakes in her spare time or an accountant who moonlights as a professional wardrobe organizer.
A Form of Career insurance
Even if you’re happy in your career, it’s smart to start a side hustle for three reasons:
- You want to have a backup plan in case you get laid off.
- It’s a way to experiment with new ideas and fields, keeping your brain fresh and active.
- It can provide a financial cushion, bringing in extra revenue for whatever goal you deem important, from paying down debt to saving for a vacation or bolstering your retirement account.
How to Prepare for a Side Hustle
From a sales perspective, all you need to kickstart your side hustle is a clear description of your product or service, a place where people can buy what you’re selling (like a website) and a way to get paid (like PayPal or Square).
You’ll want to be sure not to run afoul of state and local laws for small businesses where you live. Most local government small business associations can help you avoid such problems.
Steps to Launch a Side Hustle
These are among the most important things you’ll need to do to set up a side hustle:
Choose a legal structure for your business: Most people with side hustles operate them as unregistered sole proprietors, but this can sometimes limit the scope of what might turn out to be a major business. So it is advisable to get any necessary business licenses and permits and/or register a business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission
Set up a business bank account: Even if you have a tiny side business, it is best to keep that money separate from your personal bank account.
Check with an accountant to learn the tax requirements. You’ll want to know which expenses are deductible as well as when and how to file your business taxes.
3 Potential Side Hustle Dangers
As much as side hustles are necessary in the current economic climate in Nigeria, it is necessary to watch out for these possible problems:
1. Violation of employment policies: If you’re a full-time employee, check with your employer before starting a side hustle to be sure you’re not prohibited from outside work. You don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize your job.
2. Overcommitment: Be careful not to take on so much side work that you become stressed and overwhelmed.
3. Planning too much, doing too little: A side hustle is a way to have fun trying something new. If you find yourself creating a 30-page business plan, you’re missing the point.
So, start small. Then, once you see real promise developing, you can invest more effort planning and expanding.
Wading into entrepreneurial waters with a side hustle can be exciting, invigorating and lucrative. Better still: If you wind up with the misfortune of being handed a cardboard box and 20 minutes to pack, you’ll breathe easier knowing that you have a backup plan ready to go.