Find the Hidden Money in Your Next Side-Hustle
I don’t know about you, but if I’m about to invest the time it takes to start a new business (no matter how small), I want some assurance I’m on the right path.
While there are no guarantees in any business venture, you can get a little closer with this strategy I’m about to share.
Whether you work from a dorm room, basement, or ivory tower, you can uncover some new sources of hidden side-hustle income with tasks hidden in plain sight.
I’ll share this method in a minute.
But before we get there, I’d like to tell you a quick story:
When I was younger I built a little year-round landscaping business. In the winter I shoveled city sidewalks. In the summer I mowed lawns for the same customers.
Not only was it easy to sell these services, but my customers were happy to pay me repeatedly, for the work. I didn’t have to do any marketing. I got new customers by word of mouth.
I did the job with a high-quality work ethic and I made sure to collect the money on a regular basis, training my customers to pay me on time. Instead of looking for a new, exciting side-hustle, I stuck with what worked.
I chose a little business where the customer had a problem. I had the solution. My landscaping business did work that my customers didn’t find fun.
It’s time to get uncomfortable
We pay more for solutions to uncomfortable problems. We pay less for the things we love to do ourselves. Try getting a painter to hire a painter.
Think about the last time you had to perform a task you hated.
The task probably took you longer than you wanted. You probably didn’t try as hard as you should. If you hated the task, maybe the quality of your work wasn’t as good as it could’ve been had you enjoyed it.
When you have a comfortable solution (someone pays you to do the work for them) to an unfun or uncomfortable problem, it’s easy to sell the work.
Entrepreneurs get wrapped-up in the new, exciting, and different, when there are plenty of proven businesses available every day.
There’s a lot of money in things your customers don’t find fun.
But try charging people money for tasks they love. You can race a car for a famous driver or play basketball for a pro NBA player. Trying sculpting for an artist, or singing for a singer.
…not going to happen.
Yet, I see so many start-ups try to take the fun approach. The problem they solve isn’t unfun-enough. The pain isn’t there. These folks are trying to sculpt for the sculptor.
Pay attention to the non-fun parts
This is where the money is. When a customer doesn’t want to perform a job–when that task feels painful to complete–this is where the money is.
Look at all the great side-hustles entrepreneurs do because their customers don’t think the tasks are fun:
- Lawn mowing
- Snow plowing
- Social media marketing
- Office cleaning
- Trash hauling
The money is baked-in to the unfun tasks. These are the side-hustles where you’ll find the instant money.
When you can take a step back and uncover any task that a customer might despise doing, you’ve got a goldmine of opportunity before you.
How to find an unfun side-hustle
You don’t have to love your side-hustle, but you do have to like it enough to turn the work into a business. The junk haulers and office cleaners probably didn’t want to own those businesses as kids, but they learned to enjoy the process.
This is how you’ll find your unfun side-hustle.
Look for types of tasks you enjoy doing. Maybe you like to organize your living space. You could turn that into a garage organizing business. While the work might not be as clean as you’d like, the ‘unfun meter’ is higher for your customer.
She doesn’t want to look at the filthy garage every time she parks her car. Or worse, she can’t park her car. The mess has gone on too long. But there’s too much pain in cleaning it now.
Here you come with your organizing business.
You’ve got before and after photos of previous jobs. The results sell themselves. You found a way to take the pain off your customer’s burden. She pays you. You make the unfun disappear.
There are thousands of side-hustle opportunities like these.
You can start many of these businesses with less than a hundred dollars in supplies.
Look and listen
Next time you overhear a friend say “I really hate when I have to…” or your in line at the store and two people are talking about “I’m so tired of doing…”
These are your green flags.
Turn those “I hate” comments into ideas for your business. Every time you hear comments like this, write them down. This is the brainstorming phase of your side-hustle. Not every idea will be good. Most won’t.
You’ll find plenty of these ideas less-than-fun too.
Any time you uncover an opportunity someone might dread, you can turn that into a small business idea.
Mesh the unfun project with our talents, likes, and abilities. Maybe you learned a certain talent in school and you can apply this knowledge to a simple solution to some unfun task.
Look for unfun tasks that intersect with the person you are, your natural talents, and bigger ideas that you love to do. There are side-hustles hiding everywhere, but most entrepreneurs are too busy looking for the next vanity project to see the multitude of unfun business opportunities before them.
Start with a single idea
The problem with seeking unfun business ideas, is that you’ll find them. Too many of them. It’s important to start with one tribe of customers and one idea.
Prove your first business model before you start the next one.
Once you have your unfun side-hustle running, it’s easier to sell ancillary tasks or products to your existing customers.
Let’s say you start by organizing garages. Later, you branch out to home-offices, laundry rooms, even entire homes. Maybe you create an additional cleaning company off the back of your organization business.
But it all starts with the first business.
Don’t jump after a second (or fifth) ideas before you prove your first concept. Collect a tight tribe of happy customers and you’ll pay a lot less to sell them more services.
If you start a second side-hustle too soon, it’s like creating an entirely different second business before you prove the first. This the curse of being an entrepreneur. Novel ideas are everywhere, but it’s your job to see one project to completion at a time.
Not every idea will work.
But if you don’t start your business, serve a few customers, and evaluate the viability, you’ll end up in an idea spiral that won’t lead to any business.
Make sure you keep a customer email list
I prefer email. With email marketing you can keep in touch with your best customers without having to pay for advertising to reach them.
When you build your business on a social media platform you don’t own your traffic.
If you don’t own your traffic you don’t own your business.
No matter how small your side-hustle it’s important to start building an email list before you need it. Email is an insurance policy against invisibility.
If you grow your unfun side-hustle on social media they can take your traffic away any time they want. They can shut down your account with no recourse.
When you own your email list, you can take all your customers with you, no matter what happens on your social platforms. Plus, social media will come and go.
Maybe that platform you use today will be out of business next year. Not so with email marketing. Email is one of the most-lucrative apps in your pocket. Email has been around longer than the internet itself.
Email is not going anywhere and it’s the perfect compliment to keep your unfun side-hustle customers engaged with your business.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.