Vera: Congratulations on your latest book ‘Buy Buttons’ which taps into your core expertise of successful side hustling. What is a Side Hustle and how is it a viable route to financial freedom?
Nick: A side hustle is simply something you’re doing to earn money outside of your day job. Many people dream of starting a business and one day being their own boss, but just jumping off the cliff into the entrepreneurial unknown isn’t realistic. That’s why I advocate starting something on the side as a lower-risk way to begin earning your way out of your job.
Vera: You indicate that there are no pre-requisites for launching a side business. There are ups and downs though- so what’s the best way to prepare to have an effective journey with a side business?
Nick: The best way to prepare is to first figure out WHY you want to start a business, and then just figure out the next first step. The WHY is important because that’s what will keep you going when times are tough and the work gets hard. It has to be a powerfully motivating factor. Then it’s just a matter of taking one step at a time and making consistent progress each day and each week. Too many of my own projects have sat on the back burner for weeks or months or even years at a time because I didn’t go through the process of actually figuring out WHY I wanted to tackle that project and WHAT the realistic first step would be. I think once you have that momentum going of taking the tiny necessary actions, the rest gets easier.
Vera: Entrepreneurship is generally considered to be not for the faint-hearted for many reasons but you say lack of customers is a big one. In what way and how can the side hustler find a regular flow of customers?
Nick: This is the million dollar question every company on earth wants to be able to answer. One method I propose in “Buy Buttons” is to go where the customers already are. You can easily set up shop on one of the 300+ platforms listed in the book, and while it’s still competitive, you’re at least giving yourself the chance of being discovered in the mini-search engine of that marketplace.
Vera: One of the chapters in Buy buttons is how powerful the marketplace is for sellers. What are the different forms of marketplace and how does one determine a good marketplace for their services?
Nick: A good marketplace is an active one, where buyers are used to spending money or know that’s where they should go to find help in a particular area. For cool handmade items, that might be a place like Etsy. For help around the house, perhaps TaskRabbit. For a place to stay, maybe Airbnb is the market for you.
Vera: Another interesting concept you share is the “sharing economy” platform. What’s the thrust of that platform and how does it generate money?
Nick: I look at the sharing economy as a way to do business with our peers and neighbors just like the old days, but powered by a new army of apps. The posterchild for the sharing economy is Uber, which allows drivers to make money in their spare time using assets they already have (their car and driving skills) and allows customers to save money time and money on transportation. For facilitating the ride, Uber takes a cut of every fare. Other sharing economy platforms work similarly, taking a transaction fee on every purchase that goes through their site or app.
Vera: Staying with this concept, the idea of sharing cars, sharing opinions and sharing an office is straightforward. But you also speak about other forms of sharing. Talk me through what sharing receipts and sharing clothes, sharing snooping is and how that brings money?
Nick: Haha well there’s an app for just about everything these days, right? Whenever money is changing hands it all comes down to serving a customer need, and those customers — businesses or individuals — have found some unique ways of leveraging technology to get what they want.
Vera: What does the full time entrepreneur do that the side hustler doesn’t need to and is there a model for side-hustling that guarantees a degree of success?
Nick: There’s definitely no guarantee of success but the people I see having the most success share a couple traits. First, they learn to love the journey. Each step of the way is unlikely to make you a millionaire, but there’s excitement in learning new skills, taking on new projects, and looking at the world all of a sudden as a CEO instead of an employee. The next thing is that they take action, even if they don’t have everything figured out. A podcast guest told me once, “The best opportunities aren’t visible until you’re already in motion,” and I’ve found that to be true.
Nick Loper is Founder of Side Hustle Nation where he offers information and actionable lessons from side hustle entrepreneurs including himself to help people steer their own financial freedom. He’s author of several books including Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle path, Work Smarter and the Treadmill Desk Revolution. More on Nick’s work at sidehustlenation.com
For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.