Side hustles are a hashtag-able thing, these days. But why? Why are so many people cultivating multiple streams of income, starting small businesses from home and exploring passions and interests that carry them beyond the traditional 9-to-5? Because they can.
What does having multiple streams of income mean?
Side hustle, passive income, being a solopreneur, embracing being multi-talented — there are a lot of terms and phrases surrounding the idea of having multiple streams of income. But what does it all really mean? The barest definition is simply that you have money coming in from a number of directions. While you could, yes, have two traditional jobs, like one at an office and another at a restaurant, these days it's all about the image of that solo entrepreneur and not someone simply punching multiple time cards. It's about the pioneer spirit behind the endeavors that bring in the bucks.
The rise of social media and online marketplaces means there are more avenues than ever for building your multiple streams of income. And people everywhere are diving in headfirst. Again, because they can. You're now free to give your heart and your time over to that craft you love so much, the product idea you want to develop or the service you're dying to offer. Because you can make real money doing so. And while you could do this before the internet, it was so much harder to break through. The security offered by traditional jobs and careers made them the easier, safer bet by far. Today, you can try a little of this, some of that, adapt your approach and try again — all with relative ease and fairly low risk. You can also build up your savings account and your resume along the way.
How do you create multiple streams of income?
1. Don't give up your day job... yet.
The job you have now, the one with the steady paycheck, is your first and (for now) main source of cash flow. You have to pay the electric bill, after all. Finding work you like, with a schedule that doesn't drive you crazy or drain your side hustle energy is crucial.
2. Know thyself.
Borderline trite but eternally true: knowing yourself is the key to success, in business as in life. Before you jump into any particular side hustle, you need to know if it's even right for you. Because if you don't really dig it, you're just not going to have the energy to make it work. Besides, loving your side hustle is kind of the point.
3. Dream big, but start small.
Whatever direction you explore when initially developing your multiple streams of income, remember that it's okay to just start with what's in front of you, today. If you're more or less broke at the moment (happens), find a hustle that doesn't need a lot of seed money to feed it. Just start. Don't wait for "someday."
4. Start with a humble side.
Side hustles are usually gig-based, something you can do on an on-call or as-needed basis, like the writer who only takes on overflow assignments from a couple blogs or the Uber driver who only works Saturday nights. These let you find ways to make a little money here and there when you feel like it or as your schedule allows.
5. Explore side businesses.
Turn your side hustle into a side business by booking more and steadier clients or jobs and marketing yourself by more than just casual word of mouth. Try a couple of side hustles before you do this. Find one you really enjoy and that also seems to be in demand in your area. This could be the one to build into a business.
6. Explore passive income.
The "set it and forget it" of multiple streams of income, building a passive income is perfect for the woman with a hectic day job or who runs a few side businesses already. This still takes a fair amount of work in the beginning, be it actually writing the course you intend to sell as an e-book or setting up an online store via a drop-shipping website. Once it's done, though, that's really all the work you need to do.
7. Don't chase the money — let it come to you.
What do you have available in your home or on your property that someone would gladly pay for the right to use? The answer could be as simple as "space." Spare bedroom? List it on Airbnb. Sprawling property? Consider reaching out as a host to local events companies or even photographers.
8. Become a bed and breakfast (sometimes).
If you have a big home and love hostessing, explore turning your house into a bed and breakfast. You can totally do this part-time, booking guests only on weekends or during times of the year that suit you. This is an especially lucrative business idea to explore if you live in an area where tourism is a large part of the local economy.
9. Become a landlord.
If you have money to invest, consider buying available properties. House flipping is, of course, also a thing, but if you don't mind the responsibility that comes with being a landlord, you can also consider offering your properties as rentals. And then grow the business by investing profits into buying additional buildings.
Webinars and online courses are a huge market right now. Everyone in the world (or so it sometimes seems) is growing their own side hustles, developing multiple streams of income themselves. And there are so many of these folks willing to pay for a little help getting there. Monetizing what you already know and love to share is also a really cool way to create a resource for other hustlers.
Why you need multiple streams of income.
For a while now, a lot of people have been bemoaning the state of the traditional career path. After all, who gets a job in the mailroom and works their way up to the executive suite at the same company anymore? How many companies are actually around long enough for someone to try? It's a bit doom and gloom, ascribing to this notion that job security is a thing of the past and instability is the new norm.
Because you know what? There's hope to be had in this new gig economy and reason enough to embrace the idea of cultivating multiple streams of income. These days, it's easier than ever to make money and to do it in a way that allows you to set a work schedule around your life, rather than trying to squeeze in a life around your work schedule. And so there is freedom here, in a land of endless opportunities. You can grow your hobbies into hustles, explore your passions while building businesses and (gasp) actually feel good about what you do and how you do it. Taking the reins over where your money comes from can add so much to your life: confidence, independence and satisfaction. You know, happiness.
How many streams of income should you have?
Answer one: as many as it takes to make what you feel is an adequate living.
Answer two: not so many that you end up going crazy. Running yourself ragged is the very opposite of the entire point of having multiple streams of income.
So, the sweet spot here is where you're making enough money to pay your bills and grow the savings account without being so busy that you don't get to enjoy this more un-tethered and less restrictive lifestyle. After all, what's the point of us as a gigging society gaining the freedom to ditch the cubicle if we don't also get to experience the freedom that's supposed to come with breaking that 9-to-5 chain?
As ever, see step one above: Know thyself. Ask yourself: What do I want for me? What do I want life to look like on a daily basis? What kind of schedule do I want, and how do I want to feel? Then take those answers, build your hustles and make that personal idea of happiness a reality. Because you can.