Side gigs: How do you choose the right one for you?
We have all seen the social media posts by our friends promoting their home business… their “side gig.” In recent months, it’s become exceptionally prevalent as many people have been relying on the income they get from them due to stay-at-home orders – people like me, who, even as a self-employed court reporter, found myself out of work during the pandemic stay-at-home orders and social distancing mandates.
As jobs are put on hold or even terminated, we are looking for ways to earn an income that cannot be taken away from us. We want to work, but how and where and for whom?
Given the trend toward businesses having their employees work remotely, perhaps now would be a good time to look a little closer at some of these side gigs. If you’re going to be working at home anyhow, why not work from home for yourself? Not having to rely on a boss to keep the doors open to our place of employment would be nice, wouldn’t it?
I compiled a list of things I considered when I decided to pursue (what I used to think of as a hobby) side gig. Maybe it will help you sort through the options out there and choose the one that’s just right for you.
Things to consider when choosing a home-based business
Would you be a customer regardless of the business opportunity?
How long has your company been in business?
Does your company offer consumable products (things that consistently need replenished)?
Does your company offer multiple product lines so that you reach a broad demographic? (Does your company have at least one product that your child, spouse, brother, sister, mother, father, grandparent, or neighbor could benefit from?)
Does your company require a large buy-in?
Are you required to meet monthly sales quotas to remain active in your business?
Does your company offer free resources?
Does your company offer community that gives product support and testimonials?
How often are new products released – truly new products, not just a change in a pattern or color?
Does your company pressure you to sell?
Does your company require that you have inventory?
Does your company have a philanthropic aspect to it?
Is your company a fad?
I left the last line empty intentionally because there are so many things to consider that I’m sure I’ve missed something. I have looked at a few different companies in the last few years, each because I attended an online party, and those were the questions that came to mind for me. Each company I looked at had a buy-in kit of some kind, usually at various levels of investment. Each required that you find hostesses to invite their friends to a party in exchange for the potential to receive a discount incentive or some free item. At the conclusion of the party, the hostess’s benefits ended and the consultant had new leads to pursue to hopefully schedule yet another party.
Things to think about
When considering those different companies, I asked myself: How many of these products would I purchase over the next year? Do I reallyneed that product? Is it something that I will truly use on a routine basis? Is that product important enough that I would I be willing to cut something from my household budget to make that purchase month after month? Will this product improve my overall quality of life or is it just something handy to have around the house?
While I enjoyed the things I purchased at various hostess parties – some were just for fun and others met an immediate need – I did not really need to replenish them on any regular basis. The lesson I learned from that was that if I was going to invest my time and effort into a side gig, I wanted a company whose product lines included consumable products that suited a wide customer base and actually made a difference in customers’ lives. I knew I did not want to invest my efforts into one-and-done sales.
In my opinion, there are five key ingredients to choosing a side gig wisely:
I would be a customer regardless of the business side.
The company has a long history of being in business, is the leader in its industry, and offers global opportunity.
The company offers extensive product lines beneficial to a wide demographic.
I would not have to maintain inventory.
I would not be required to meet sales quotas to keep my membership.
As to that last item on my list, I understand that making sales is the key ingredient to choosing a side gig that will produce an income. However, we all know that Life happens… and sometimes we need to step away for a bit. I knew I did not want to be so locked into a business and quotas that if I had to step back for a bit, I would lose everything. I want the freedom to pursue my goals to whatever degree I choose.
I found my niche
I have found the niche that works for me. I began as a customer and, to this day, consider myself, first and foremost, a customer. I found products that have made a positive impact on my family’s daily life in so many ways – and that has always been my primary goal. The business developed on its own at the beginning, and I later chose to make something of it. It is as much or as little as I want it to be, but most importantly, it will be there if I need to step back should Life interrupt it.
I hope this gives you food for thought on choosing a side gig as you consider the various work-from-home opportunities out there. Given the state of things at the time I write this, working from home with a “side gig” is something more and more people are considering. My goal is simply to help you sort through the different choices so that when you land on one, it’s the one that’s best for you.
Let me know if you have tips to share as well in the comments below. I believe we are stronger together, and hearing others’ perspectives is helpful to us all! If you would like to learn more about what I do, reach out through the “Contact Me” tab and we’ll connect. A chat is just a chat and costs nothing but a moment of your time.
From columnist to blogger, Tina began writing in 2015. She blends the various bits of her life — professional, entrepreneurial, and personal — and shares her experiences with you.
Tina's Coffee Break became the means for her to express herself on seemingly random subjects, but subjects that are on her mind and in her heart at the moment — things we can all relate to many times.
Simply put, Tina writes about life’s moments.
Tina has managed her court reporting business for over 20 years. She owned her community newspaper for several years where she first discovered her love for writing through her weekly newspaper column, "Tina's Coffee Break." She was a member of her community's town council for six years, the last three presiding over it as president. Drawing from all facets of her life experience, Tina now provides business strategy guidance to others working to build their own success story.
A mother of two, wife for 32 years, and businesswoman of 25 years, a piece of Tina is in everything she writes.