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For Part-time Entrepreneurs, How To Find A Side Business And Make It Successful

The side hustle is perhaps the single best thing you can do for your finances and your career. But getting started is the hardest part. Advice on finding your muse and ensuring your side business goes the distance.

Advice for finding side business ideas and making your part-time business a success.Like most people, I’d be screwed if I lost my primary source of income. That’s one of the reasons why I write articles during my spare time. If I were to lose my main job, at least I’d still have something coming in.

Even better, I truly enjoy writing and can do it from the comfort of my own home, whenever I have the time.

Money Under 30 has written about the importance of having a side hustle and provided ideas for how to earn money on the side. But many of you might not find something you like in that list. So how can you figure out what you would actually like doing? And how much can you earn?

Coming up with a good idea for a side business

One way to figure out which side business to pursue is to think about what makes you mad, according to Jody Michaels, CEO and founder of Jody Michael Associates, a Chicago-based career coaching company.

“I would start by looking for what’s missing in the marketplace or what’s frustrating you as a consumer,” she says. “What can be done differently or better?

Can’t think of anything? Or, maybe you’re like me and can think of something (a product that keeps baby socks on their feet) but don’t have the energy to pursue it. So here’s another tip:

“Get training in a skill that is highly sought after and will offer you the freedom and flexibility to work on a contract basis and set your own hours,” she says.  “For example, taking a three-month course on the web site coding framework Ruby on Rails could provide you with incredible opportunities for subcontracting work, not to mention the potential for a $100,000 salary.”

According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 20 of the 25 most in-demand skills involve technology, including:

  • Social media marketing
  • Mobile development
  • Cloud computing
  • Data mining

Not in the mood to take classes to update your tech skills? No worries. Plenty of side gigs don’t require any more schooling.

Lynda Hammond, the CEO of Garage Sale Gal, says that anyone can start an eBay store and stock it with items you buy at yard sales. “Pick something you like, even Tupperware, and start a niche eBay market,” she says. “You can buy something at a garage sale for a few bucks then sell it online for $50.”

Run your side business like it’s your only business

Whatever you do, take some time to learn how to market and manage your business.

Jody recommends reading “The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company.”

Depending on your service, Jody suggests publicizing it on craigslist or Task Rabbit. And of course, use social media. “Search Twitter and use hashtags related to your product or service,” she says. “And never underestimate the power of word of mouth — be sure to let your friends, family and connections know exactly what products or services you offer.”

How much can you expect to make?

Like everything in life, you’ll get out what you put in. But here are some income numbers related to common side gigs:

How’s your side hustle going? How much do you earn or are you hoping to make?


Published or updated on August 12, 2014

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About Patty Lamberti

Patty Lamberti is a freelance writer and Professional-in-Residence at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches journalism and oversees the graduate program in digital media storytelling. If she doesn't know something about money, you can trust she'll track down the right people to find out. You can learn more about her at And if you have any story ideas, or questions about money etiquette that you'd like her or an expert to answer, email her at


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  1. Joanne D. says:

    Great post, thank you for sharing. I’m still struggling to find a good side hustle without resorting to becoming a barista at Starbucks after my 9 to 5. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I know I have skills that I can use somehow else.

    I’m trying to build a personal finance website but I haven’t treated it like “it’s my only business,” as you suggest. What a great tip…

  2. Nick says:

    Great follow-up article to the others, thanks for posting.
    Despite being able to help others with social and paid media, I just don’t think I could look at my computer any longer than the 10 hours I do each day. I’m hoping to discover a hidden talent like woodworking or landscaping that I could do as a side hustle :)

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