side hustle

How to Validate Your Side Hustle Ideas to Find the One that Best Suits You

Trying to pick the perfect side hustle can be a daunting task. There are so many options, and it’s difficult to know which ones you’re well suited to that have high profitability potential. By doing some research and introspection, you can be sure you’re on the right track.

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Here’s a process for choosing a side hustle that’s a good match with your strengths and desires — and that makes good money:

Find what fuels you

If you have a full-time job that doesn’t thrill you, the last thing you want is a side hustle that feels like drudgery. While many people start side hustles for financial reasons, it makes sense for your side hustle to be something you enjoy. When you’re trying to fit your side hustle around a full day of work, you need something that won’t drain your already limited energy.

Here’s how to find what fuels you:

First, identify the things you do that energize you, as well as the things that drain you. Keep a log throughout the day and note your energy levels after you complete various tasks or perform activities.

For example, after teaching a workshop, do you feel fired up and excited or drained and tired? Does organizing your projects make you feel empowered or exhausted?

Keep this log for a week, then look for patterns. Does your energy typically come from working with your hands, from being creative or from organizing things? Cross any side hustle off your list that involves a lot of the types of activities or tasks that drain you, and prioritize those that give you energy.

Create a list of your talents, skills and strengths

Many people talk about talents, skills and strengths interchangeably, but there’s value in approaching each separately.

Talents are those innate abilities you were born with — they didn’t require a lot of training to develop. Many people describe them by saying they “just have a knack” for the task or activity. It’s smart to take advantage of these talents in your side hustle because you excel at them and they probably don’t feel like a lot of work. Make a list of each talent you have, whether or not you can immediately see how they would be helpful in a side hustle.

Skills are things that you have trained to develop. These can include communication, computer skills, programming skills, graphic design, writing and many other activities. Your skills may or may not be something you want to use in your side hustle, but it’s helpful to have a visible list of your skills so you can see where your assets lie (and where you may need to get additional training).

Strengths are similar to talents in that you were born with them, but they’re more about how you work than what you’re doing when you work. Strengths include empathy, focus, adaptability and ideation, to name a few. Understanding your strengths will help you to see the roles you would do well in.

Related: How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Gig Economy (and How Freelancers Can Pivot)

Consider your experience

Experience is also a valuable asset when it comes to side hustles. If you have experience in a particular industry or working with a type of buyer, you can take this knowledge and put it to use in your side hustle. Using your experience will give you a head start since you won’t need to spend time researching a new industry. And you may have contacts from your past experiences who could help you network. In addition to looking at the experience you could bring to a side hustle, listing out all your existing experience may spark new ideas for possible side hustles.

Brainstorm ideas

You probably already have a list of ideas for side hustles, but the above exercises should have generated a lot of new ones. Go ahead and spend 30 minutes brainstorming new ideas based on what you learned about yourself. You may come up with something that’s an ideal fit that you hadn’t thought of before. Try mind mapping to generate as many ideas as possible.

Get a real-world perspective

So far, you’re assuming there’s a market for the ideas you’ve brainstormed. To be sure that your guesswork is accurate, you need to talk to people who are in the industries you’re interested in and people who are doing something similar to the type of business you’re planning to start.

Talk to people in your network or find connections on LinkedIn or in local business groups who are willing to spend 20 to 30 minutes with you answering questions via phone or Zoom. This real-world perspective will help you eliminate ideas that don’t have traction and give you a clearer picture of where the opportunities lie within particular industries.

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Verify that there’s a viable market for your idea

Talking to people in the industry will help you identify strong contenders for your perfect side hustle, but you’ll want to dig deeper to ensure that you can make the kind of money you want to make with your new business.

Conduct a survey or ask people who fit your ideal customer profile how badly they need a solution to the problem your business will solve. Ask them if they’d be willing to pay the prices you’ve identified for your product or service. Figure out what questions or concerns they would have if your product or service was available today.

Next, consider your financial priorities. Ask yourself:

  • How much money do you want to make with this side hustle?
  • Do you hope to grow your business to support yourself full-time at some point?
  • What is your idea’s capacity for scale?
  • Can the ideas you’re evaluating support your financial priorities?

Doing this research and spending this time in introspection will help you land on a side hustle idea with strong potential. You’ll be more aligned with your natural talents and strengths, and you’ll be more confident that you’re going in a direction that’s likely to result in success.

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