Side hustles are increasingly bridging the income gap

- August 4, 2023 4 MIN READ
Side hustles are growing

More entrepreneurial Aussies than ever are starting side hustles to plug the income gap.

The combined impact of high inflation and rising mortgage repayments is playing havoc with the household budget of average Aussie families. There are two solutions… cut your expenses or boost your income.

It seems boosting income is the answer for many with a record number of people – almost a million – holding down multiple jobs in March.

In March 2023, there were 947,300 Australians holding down two or more jobs, compared to just over 13 million single jobholders. This was up 2.1 per cent from December 2022 when there were 927,900 multiple jobholders, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Overall, 6.6 per cent of all working Australians have multiple jobs… 7.7 per cent of women and 5.7 per cent of men.

Australians are great at building businesses

Australians have always been entrepreneurial. From the Hills Hoist and Victa lawnmower to the ultrasound, cochlear implant, wireless internet and black box flight recorder, Australians have been building great businesses from scratch.

But it seems that entrepreneurial spirit is getting even more passionate as average Aussies are increasingly starting money-making ventures on the side to plug the income gap.

Side-hustles are also called “moonlighting”. Operating a part-time business while holding down a full-time job. And technology is helping in a big way.

Employee by day, entrepreneur by night

That extra income side hustles bring in is not only invaluable to balancing the family budget but also provides a great training ground to establish a full-time business in the future.

Starting a business part-time is the first and most secure route to turning that dream of becoming your own boss into a reality. It means entrepreneurs can get a taste without the sink-or-swim risks of diving in with big upfront costs to sustain.

In effect, moonlighting in a part-time venture is providing the business with seed funding to get started. It is a difficult balancing act, although today’s technology certainly helps.

The secret is to become a time-management expert. Family life can suffer and the risk of divorce increases. Weigh up these sacrifices before making your decision.

Simple rules for sustainable side-hustles:

It isn’t easy, but it can be done if you follow some simple rules:

  • Talk to the family. Discuss the idea with them and explain the pressures it will create on family life and free time. Get them involved.
  • Be a time manager. Take advantage of every minute of the day. Use lunch hours and free time to work on the business, but do it in a disciplined way.
  • Confine business to one room. Try and limit your office equipment and storage to just one room, otherwise you’ll be constantly in turmoil and unable to escape the pressures.
  • Don’t let the day job slip. The performance at your full-time job is critical. It must not deteriorate. Remember the job is providing that all-important financial security to try a new business.
  • Don’t make business calls during your day job. The risk is you will get fired.
  • Never compete with the boss. Apart from being unethical, you can be accused of fraud by pinching ideas and systems. Start a totally different business or a completely separate niche.
  • Don’t use company equipment. Unless you have permission from your employer and offer to pay for anything used, do not use the boss’s photocopier or PCs for your business.

From idea to reality

Once you’ve set the rules, it’s then about turning that idea into a reality. Again, take it one step at a time.

1. Stop talking about it

People who talk about their ideas before acting are usually the same ones who don’t do anything about them. So just give it a go.

2. Think through all the angles

Look at the idea through an investor’s eyes. Who’s the target market? What problem is being solved? Are there any resources you’ll need to get it off the ground? What does the business roughly look like?

Use one of the many business plan templates online.

3. Test it

Ask a sample of your target market whether they would pay for the privilege of your product or service. Whether people will pay for it is the real test.

4. Assess feedback

After testing, respond to the feedback by making any necessary changes to the business plan, product and plan of attack.

5. Find some support

Business partners are a hugely beneficial source of support, from acting as sounding boards to proving your product to others. Forge a support network of entrepreneurs who will help you along the way. Pick their brains and learn from their successes and failures.

6. Figure out finances

Look at all the options… self-funding, family loans, bank borrowing, government grants, credit cards or even angel investors. Weigh up the best alternative.

7. Make the minimum product

Get the minimum viable product together and get it to market. If there’s appetite for the basic version of whatever it is, you can improve on it in the next batch.

Growing a side hustle is the ultimate act of investing in yourself, but starting anything new requires a huge time commitment. You need to weigh up the sacrifices before making your decision. It’s also important to consider the impact that turning a hobby or passion into a job can have on your mental health. What was once a joy can quickly become a chore. If you rely on your hobby to destress or take time out, that may be something you miss dearly when it’s your second job.

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