Today I’ve elected to write about a favorite topic area of mine. Have you ever wished you were the one in complete control of your work schedule; selecting the hours and days you wish to get the job done, and from where you do it – perhaps on a tropical island or at your ski lodge? Sounds too good to be true, right? But many are doing it, and so can you.
Do you have any interest in generating extra income outside of your primary employment? Perhaps you have dreamed of how you might launch a small business from a hobby you truly enjoy, and grow it until you can quit your other job to run your own personal business empire? Are you already retired and are excited by the idea of creating a small business you can run part time? If any of that sounds good please read on!
Generating passive income and growing “side hustles” into small or even huge businesses are common paths to achieve financial independence. Search YouTube and you’ll see exactly how true that statement is. If you have even the slightest of entrepreneurial streaks in you, this could be the accelerator you have been seeking! I don’t claim mastery of this area but I’ve studied it extensively. I am also fortunate to have learned a lot from several sources, including my Two Sides of FI creative partner, Eric. I have no step-by-step plan for world domination to give to you. Rather, my goal is to share a few resources and thoughts with you in the hopes they might inform and inspire you to do a bit of research, start brainstorming, and eventually launch your own next big thing!
Who wouldn’t want a four-hour workweek?
Sure, some among us truly love their jobs and wouldn’t trade them for the world. That’s really great! But I suspect even those lucky ones wouldn’t mind having greater control of their schedules, over the priorities that frame their days, and be able to take time off whenever they want. These are indeed some of the benefits of what I’m going to describe here. If you’ve never heard of Tim Ferris, let me enlighten you. He’s an entrepreneur, best-selling author, blogger, podcaster (the first to have a show exceed 200 million downloads), and to many, a sherpa who guided them to the lifestyle they always wanted. Enter, “The Four Hour Workweek”.
This is a remarkable book (Kindle and Audible versions also available) despite its seemingly fantastic title. On the surface, it fanciful indeed, but the concepts contained to help one realize that vision are rather straightforward and easily understood, yet very effective. I am among several people I know who cite this book as wildly influential – if not transformational towards how they think about work.
In short, this book and it’s D-E-A-L method guides the reader towards a variety of practices to modify your existing work to place it much more directly under your control, or even better, to create your own thing. Importantly in both cases, the methods aim to reduce the active time you spend performing “work” – trading your time for money, gaining leverage and efficiency via a variety of different means. The most effective of these aim to help you generate passive income – among the most powerful levers available to transform your ideas about the relationship between work and money. There is something in this book for everyone, irrespective of your age, field of work, or intended retirement age.
Passive income: make it once, benefit “forever”
The concept of passive income is simple on the surface: earn money without doing active work – or at least, not continuously doing active work as in a standard job. One easily relatable example of passive income comes from owning rental property. You buy a house, someone else rents it, and you get that monthly rent as income. Anyone who has been a landlord knows that it’s not entirely passive, even if you pay an agency to handle the day to day work. But you get the idea. You buy the house once, and it generates income as long as you have it. Once the mortgage is paid off, that rent is all profit minus the cost of upkeep for which you are responsible as the owner. However, in the internet age, there are myriad options to generate passive income without owning a bit of real estate!
Today, digital assets are a very common and powerful way to generate passive income. We touched on this in several episodes of my YouTube channel, including this one. Click that link to check it out, and hear the many ways in which Eric generates passive income. He’s a sole practitioner architect. But as he states on the show, his aim since realized, was to get to the point where >80% of his income came from passive sources. He has written several books, created internet-based courses, sells plans and software add-ons, has affiliate programs, and also runs a very popular YouTube channel. But isn’t there work required to write a book or develop a course? You bet! But you do that work once, and then make the material available for purchase. People purchase it and you earn income. You put in the work to film and edit a YouTube video, and earn ad revenue when people view it. You create the asset and it generates recurring revenue. If you choose wisely, your content might even age well and need minimal upkeep over time. Sounds great to me!
I’m not an architect and neither are most of you. But each of us certainly has expertise in one or more areas, gained over our lives and the course of our careers. Surely, there are ways to monetize that knowledge and experience – many of those means are largely passive in nature. How might you approach this given your own interests? Yes, I can hear some of your thoughts already: Not everyone wants to write a book, develop a course, or launch a YouTube channel. Of course those are only a few of the ideas you can undertake. The Four-Hour Work Week describes other paths well worth considering. But perhaps you’re still not sure where to start, or want something a bit more actively managed? There are some great resources out there for more information and inspiration!
“Tune in. Take Action. Make Money.”
Those few simple and well-chosen words are the defining tagline for “The Side Hustle Show”, a key resource site and incredibly popular podcast hosted by Nick Loper. I’ve learned tons from him and the many fascinating guests he has on the show. I highly recommend it – and I get no benefit from you checking it out.
Side hustles at their simplest can take the form of part-time gig work (things like driving for a rideshare app or Instacart shopper) that you never intend to grow to something bigger. You’re just supplementing your main income source(s) with some other work. But there are countless ideas out there for much more passive means to generate income as well.
My wife has generated a fun, small passive income stream from one of the ideas she learned from the show (Episode 339: Low content publishing). She designs and sells a variety of journals, yearly planners, password logbooks, etc. via Amazon KDP print-on-demand. With this approach, there is no inventory, order management, or customer service – Amazon does all that! Most importantly, there is effectively zero cash outlay required for this business. She uses free web-based software to do layout and design (something she enjoys even without any paycheck!), and uploads the PDFs to Amazon, who lists them on the site. People find her books via search, they order them, and she earns royalties on each copy sold. This is just one idea where with just a little effort and creativity, you can have a nice side business – or perhaps something much larger!
But side hustles don’t have to be passive if that’s not of interest. On the podcast I shared above, you’ll find countless examples of people who took a hobby or a passion (baking cookies is one that comes to mind) and grew it to a six-figure income personal business! Side hustles are great because they are a safe means to test the waters. Sure, there is effort involved in exploring an idea and testing it out. “Hustle” is in the title after all! But doing something as a side hustle means that you’ve got the security of your primary income while you investigate your new idea(s). I’m certain each of us has something they love doing and have wondered whether it could be a business. The answer is probably yes! And if you don’t have that “magic idea” just yet – check out the podcast and website I listed above and learn from the examples of others.
As stated, my intention was not that this post handed you a blueprint for your next business. Of course I have no idea what your interests are and what would fit you best! But this article will have been a success for me if it merely inspired you to check out one or more of the sources I mentioned, gets you thinking about ideas for your side hustle and/or future business. It’s so easy for any of us to get wrapped up in our daily grind at work, home, or otherwise. You’re all busy people! But I’d challenge you to give this some thought. Who knows what exciting development might come from it? I wish you all great success!