What a Great Home Based Business Looks Like

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Welcome to our week-long series on How to Earn Extra Dough with a Home Based Business. In this first of five articles, we look at some factors you should consider when deciding on your next side-income-earning adventure.

Finding the perfect Side Hustle isn’t easy. In my case, blogging is how I make my extra income from home. But it wasn’t by design.

As I’ve discussed here before, I started a blog fun, not fortune. The income was a byproduct.

But if you are focused on making money, then there are some important factors to consider. While there are always exceptions, here’s a list of the factors that make a side hustle a Great Home Side Hustle.

Requires Little Money to get Started

When considering a side hustle, a big factor is your initial investment. First, assess how much money you absolutely must have to get started. This isn’t the “nice to have” type of expense. Rather, we’re talking about costs that you simply cannot avoid if you want to pursue a specific side business.

Some opportunities may cost a lot, some not much at all. If you want to work on cars as a side job, you’ll need tools. Of course, if you are into cars, you may already have the tools.

In my case, I had to pay for website hosting when I started the Dough Roller. Total cost–about $10 a month. Today I use Hosting Sesame for many of my sites, and the cost is even less. I also had to register the domain, www.doughroller.net. Total cost–$10 a year. And that was all I absolutely had to spend. That’s one of the reasons that so many great side hustles come from online businesses. The internet has created a growing market for bloggers, writers, web designers and others that can provide assistance for bloggers.

Second, don’t get pulled into something that promises you BIG money if you purchase their “special program.” I see these scams about making money online all the time. There are certainly things to learn about any business, and some eBooks and other programs can help. I recently signed up for Corbett Barr’s How to Start a Blog that Matters. Yes, I’ve been blogging for nearly five years, and much of the content of the program is not new to me. But you can always learn something.

But here’s the key. Don’t go into debt. We just spent a week with articles to help folks get out of credit card debt. The last thing you want is to go into debt chasing a dream. Besides, funding your side hustle without debt will make you work harder and appreciate and use what you already have.

A low initial investment is what makes a home based business so appealing. You don’t have the cost of setting up a physical building or, in many cases, hiring employees. So do everything you can to keep costs to a minimum.

Use the Skills You Have

With the right skills, you could provide sewing and alterations, teach music lessons, offer tutoring services, provide tax services, groom animals, do minor home repairs (keep it small and let people know if you are not licensed and bonded), offer computer repair services, or design webpages and contract for graphic design services. Painting is a good one and can be done on weekends. These are just a few services that require little investment and take advantage of the skills you have already developed.

Services requiring no skills, just willingness, include things like dog sitting (your home or theirs), dog walking, dog cleanup (think seriously about that one), child care – weekends only, cutting grass, yard cleanup and hauling junk away (truck necessary of course) and selling items on Ebay. You probably know someone who could teach you. Hey, there’s another one – teaching others to sell on Ebay. How about driving people to appointments or offering assistance for someone who is homebound. You could even do personal shopping – anything from groceries to executive gift buying.

One final thought on skills. Remember above we talked about not going into debt. One of the advantages of a low cost side hustle is that if there are skills to learn, you can take your time learning them. When I started this blog, I had some of the skills needed. I already knew a lot about finance and investing. But I was also missing some important skills. For example, I had no idea how to start a blog. But because I didn’t have to worry about paying back debt (remember, it costs virtually nothing to start a blog), I could take my time and day by day learn how to build a website.

Allows You Work on Your Schedule

With some sacrifice you can mold your side hustle to fit your current employment situation. If you don’t already have high demand on your after-work time, you have more options concerning what will work for you. This allows you to make your schedule fit the needs of your clients.

However, if you have a full-time job, a family, and maybe some community involvement, you will be limited in what you can do. This is where sacrifice comes in, but you’ll find the time if it’s a priority. You can keep things simple initially and work into a heavier schedule as you are able.

In my case, I blogged from 5 am to 7 am (I’m typing this sentence at 6:22 am), on the train to work, during lunch, and late at night after the kids went to bed. Nobody said a side hustle would be easy.

Something You Enjoy Doing

Enjoying what you do is always a bonus. How many people do you know that love their work? Seeking a great side hustle means you can pick and choose a little. You could consider a spinoff from your current career (if it’s fulfilling) or consider something you are enthusiastic about. Do you love to rock climb? You could teach others . Do you love animals? Do you enjoy providing care for people in need? How about working with your hands or working outside. Organizing? These can be indicators of the type of side hustle you’ll enjoy.

But transforming a hobby into full-time work can be tricky. Sometimes we don’t think objectively about things we love. And what is fun as a hobby can be a real bore as a business. That being said, enjoying what you do is a critical success factor in most side hustles.

There’s A Market For The Product or Service

With any business it’s important to understand the demand for your product or service and the competition. The best example I can give is in the online world. Picking the topic for a blog or website is one of the most important steps in creating a successful business. You can enter a competitive niche and succeed, but it will be much harder.

I’ve created blogs around topics that have little competition and within 6 months have been earning four figures a month from the site. I don’t want this to sound easy, it’s not. I’ve had a lot of failures, too. But the point is that a great side hustle will have plenty of demand and moderate to no competition.

Ideally Can Generate Full-Time Income

So you have planned for a great side hustle and you have based your decision on something for which you have a passion, interest, skill, or timely opportunity. That’s a great start. The other great thing about a side hustle is that you can gain experience, clients, and income at a rate that is manageable with your current schedule.

But things change. You may be frustrated in your current career. Perhaps you would love the freedom to work from home and supervise the kids. Or you may have lost your full-time job.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn your side hustle into a full-time career? The potential for full-time employment from a side hustle is certainly there. And it’s a factor to consider when deciding on your side business. As an example, check out Crystal’s motivating story of success.

So now what? These factors for a great side hustle may be all fine and well, but how do you actually come up with a great idea? Tomorrow we start to answer that very question when we look at resources to help you find the perfect side hustle home business.

Published or Updated: February 7, 2012
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. WUN2 says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us ,this is my first time visiting your post, your writing style is very smooth flowing and easy to absorb , in other words for me, it’s very honest and over all it held my attention ,i could have kept reading ,
    however i know there’s more where this comes from. the content will be very useful for me and I’m sure other ,I will recommend this site to others that have similar interest
    best regards

  2. Ed Mayer says:

    Thanks for sharing. Great information and insight. Also a great looking and feeling with your Blog layout.. Keep up the Excellent work!

  3. Conrad Wysor says:

    Great article. So many people are lured into these get-rich-quick business opportunities doing something that’s out of their element – they would probably be better off buying lottery tickets in most cases. Just applying the talents and skills we already have can go a long way towards giving someone a leg up in starting a home business. And as you’ve demonstrated you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started.

  4. I love the phrase side-hustle. Did you ‘coin’ the phrase? I am a blogger myself and trying to make this side-hustle my main hustle. Glad to have a model of someone who has achieved success.

  5. Money Infant says:

    Great breakdown of the perfect attributes for a side hustle. I especially like the last one “Ideally Can Generate Full-Time Income”. After all, I think that is the ultimate best feature of getting your own side hustle started ASAP.

  6. Evan says:

    I love how you emphasized keeping expenses low. I see so many bloggers talking about going pro but am shocked when you take a look at Net income vs gross income

  7. Al McBride says:

    Great overview for people starting out Rob. Making your own website has never been more straightforward, both for the low cost of entry for the hosting but also with website building software like WordPress, which is completely free.

    Many people say WordPress has the most intuitive interface and controls so it’s perfect for people new to building sites and starting out. Because it’s the most popular in the world there are 10,000s of plugins, which are like apps for your smartphone, giving outstanding functionality that even a few years ago would have cost a fortune. Same with the themes, which are like design templates, there are 1000s of free ones but a premium design theme only costs between $25 and $75 and make your site look like you paid a pro designer $3000!

    So thanks again for the post Rob. There really has never been a better time for people to get moving with their side hussle!

  8. http://www.WarrenLittle.info – Rob, This is a great article!

    Love how you make the point about generating a Full Time Income. It’s been an exciting journey for my wife & I to successfully teach people step by step how to earn full time incomes from home working part time for the last 9yrs.

    Connecting with successful mentor’s who have done & become what it is you want to do & have really shortens the learning curve to profitability.

    reall enjoyed this article

  9. Rob, thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post! I would like to say that I fully agree with Warren about connecting with successful mentors. I believe that having someone that has been-there-done-that to guide you along the path to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish is the best way to learn the ropes. Once you become knowledgeable and later become an expert at what you do it should be your duty to help someone else do the same. Life would be a lot easier and more enjoyable if we commit to the saying “Each One, Teach One”.

    Thanks again for the post,

    Paul

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