“Necessity,” Plato said, “is the mother of invention.” In the era of Covid-19, we see invention underway in the expansion of the so-called “Gig Economy.” Furloughed seamstresses are crafting inexpensive, reusable facemasks from fabric swatches. In the absence of customers needing lifts to one location or another, Uber drivers are now shuttling groceries and takeout meals to grateful homes and businesses. Machinists and medical students are manufacturing 3D-printed respirator valves to meet the spiking demand in hospitals and clinics. Several teachers I know are shifting to construction while schools move to the digital space, helping contractors finish house projects in the hours these educators are not directly interacting with their students. While the disease continues to bring turmoil to our way of life, “gigs” are keeping people employed and helping to combat the advance of the virus.
Gigs, also known as “side hustles,” are not new phenomena. In the “old days,” we might have called a gig a moonlighting job. My own dad moonlighted as an electrician on some of the weekends he was not fully engrossed in his day job, police work. Gigs took a step into the spotlight with the economy soured a little over a decade ago. As the Great Recession gained steam in 2007/2008, many who were suddenly unemployed and underemployed turned to “gigs” to keep the bills paid (Maybe you were among them; I was). The stockbroker moonlighting as a business coach and the attorney offering estate planning services “on the side,” are but two iterations of the extra income streams fueled by the Gig Economy.
Seeking to cut back on benefits costs and other fringe, larger businesses tapped into the gig frenzy by hiring contract employees to cover tasks like shipping, back office accounting, and customer support. Here’s the crazy thing… As the economy rebounded after the recession, a lot of gig entrepreneurs not only kept their gigs, but many businesses turned to gig workers to permanently fill their workforce needs. In the US market alone, it’s estimated that 1/3 of workers have primary or secondary side hustles.
What about you, dad? Are you ready to take on a side hustle to boost income, profitize a hobby, or teach your kids some great lessons about work and personal finance? Let me suggest a couple steps to consider if you are serious about making your entry into the Gig Economy.
Assess Your Time
Before you begin your foray into the world of side hustles, make sure you have the time to commit to the additional work. Do you have discretionary hours that can be moved to a gig without compromising important commitments that are already in place? Will a gig diminish your physical, spiritual, and psychological wellbeing or significantly reduce your together time with the members of the family? Even if you feel compelled to earn extra money because of employment concerns or the immediate need for additional income, the benefits of the gig must be weighed against the downside pressures of working additional hours. If more money means a lower quality of life – and it could – choose quality of life. Feel like you have the time to make a successful “go” of a gig? Read on.
Determine What You Bring to the Table
It’s quite amazing to see the creativity individuals and families deploy when they are developing a gig to bring extra revenue into the home. For example, more and more families are renting their properties to vacationers, students, and business travelers who seek a cozy property for their time away from home. This gig provides a great return on what is undoubtedly your largest investment, your property.
Perhaps you have some great lawn equipment that’s sitting dormant on all those days you’re not using it on your own property. A great way to get your kids involved in a gig and bring a little more revenue into your household, is to open a small lawn service to take care of the yards in your neighborhood. Let’s be honest: some homeowners absolutely loathe working on their property. That’s your opportunity. A simple lawn service that includes basics like mowing, weeding, and debris removal, will keep you busy, teach your children valuable skills, and put extra money in your pocket.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs realize that their day job – their specific talent area – is a good place to start when considering the launch of a gig. Are you a finance guy, construction worker, writer, mechanic, etc.? When your day job is over, can you spend a few more hours “doing what you do” for your own private customers? If you do fantastic work within your talent area, consider becoming your own boss during the evenings and weekends to capitalize on what you do well. Who knows, your gig may become your full-time business.
Remember, successful gigs depend on the quality of work you bring to the side hustle. If you put your name out there as a talented carpenter, but your skill set doesn’t reach beyond basic skills with basic tools, you’re not going to make it. The most successful gig entrepreneurs can offer a specific skill or product with outstanding quality. If you don’t stand out from the crowd, you’re less likely to be hired.
A Little Bit of Marketing Goes a Long Way
If you have established that you have the time and skills to embark on a successful side hustle, you’ll need to spend some intentional time marketing the products or services you offer. While an inexpensive box of business cards will go a long way toward getting your name out there in the public, the best approach will be digital marketing. Start with your social media accounts. Facebook, especially, provides a lot of tools for those interesting in telling their brand/business story in the public space.
As your “gig” expands, spend a little money and develop a website presence. For less than $200 per year, you can create an exquisite website that has the potential of advancing your entrepreneurialism skyward. At the end of the day, referrals will make or break your side hustle. If you consistently satisfy your customers, they will share their satisfaction with others and your revenue will grow.
As a dad, you want to be a great provider for your family. Necessity may dictate that you develop a creative approach to raising revenue for your household. A gig has the potential of generating extra money for you and your family while teaching your children about the importance of having a strong work ethic. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice the quality of your relationships on the altar of additional income.