We live in uncertain times. And it’s not just the political or environmental climate that causes our worry and anxiety. No, it’s at a much more personal level. That personal uncertainty/insecurity relates to our financial well-being. Here are just a few facts for you to think about:
- Companies, large and small, fail, and employees are suddenly out of work
- According to Forbes, the failure rate of startup businesses is 80-90%
- Corporations are ditching their pension and matched savings plans
- Wages are not increasing to keep pace with inflation
- Downsizing means termination, often without warning
In short, the times are gone when people would have lifelong employment with a single company and retire comfortably after 25-30 years of work.
With all of this uncertainty, individuals are going to have to make plans to secure their own financial stability.
What is Your Solution?
You have a choice. You can remain just as you are and hope for the best. But this is not really a plan.
If you want a plan, you need to think about how you can generate multiple streams of income that will sustain you if your primary source of income (usually your job) falls apart.
Exactly What Does This Term Mean?
We’ve all probably heard the term “multiple streams of income,” but for the sake of clarification, let’s define it.
In short, it means that you have diversified the sources of your income beyond your primary source. Depending on the amount of time you have to invest in these sources, they may be active or passive.
Active means you are directly involved in the work to create the income. Passive means you set up the source, others do the work, and you collect a percentage from the profits.
Your main goal is that, if any sources of income dry up (including your primary source), there are others to fall back upon. Let’s face it: living on unemployment and food stamps is not an ideal “fallback” income source.
Developing Your Plan
Again, you have two choices here. You may want to consider streams that are related to your primary income source. But that may be a bit risky. We live in an age when entire sectors of the economy can realize a fall-off, and these will not be profitable.
Your second choice is to diversify – move into sectors that are not related to your primary income source. And this will require some creative thinking on your part.
Start By Asking Yourself Some Questions
- What might I enjoy doing for a side income source? If it’s not something you would enjoy, then you won’t have much motivation to pursue it.
- Do I have skills or talents that are marketable? Dig deep into your background and make a list of those skills and talents.
- How much expendable cash do I have to invest in a side gig or two?
- How much time do I have to invest in a side gig or two?
- What is my tolerance for risk? If developing side gigs, including an investment of cash, will keep you up at night, those are not good options.
Once you answer these questions, you should be able to develop a list of potential side sources of income. What you want to do by answering these questions is to explore the options you may have to spread your wings into previously unchartered territory. Go through your list and choose the ones that are the most feasible for the time and money you have. Begin with these. And once they are up and running, move on to more.
Now It’s Time for Some Research
Once you have your list of side income sources, do you know how marketable they are? Do you know if there is a demand for those products or services in your locale or on the web? Making birdhouses is a nice hobby, but how will you sell them? And how much income will that hobby really generate?
Be realistic and do some research. If there is no demand for your product or service, then move on to other options.
Let’s suppose you are a talented photographer. What side gigs can you pursue? Can you develop a portfolio of portraits? Can you do the photography for friends’ weddings to display? How much money do you have to invest in marketing yourself, and how will you do that? Is the market overloaded or is there room for you? This is the information your research will provide.
Suppose you are a great cook and you have provided food for the events of your friends and family. Can you turn that into a local side gig? Can you use friends and family to provide references for other catering gigs? Word of mouth in a local market is a good way to build a local business. Is the competition heavy or is there room for you in that market?
Do you have expertise in an academic or vocational field? Are there opportunities to share this expertise for income? Maybe a community college or vocational school is looking for instructors. Perhaps you can develop some courses and market them on many of the online course platforms.
You can also look for investment opportunities that will bring in passive income. Again, you will need to do some careful research to determine the viability and the future of these economic sectors. You will also need to decide on your risk tolerance level. The best guideline here? Never invest money that you cannot afford to lose.
You Need to Get Creative in Your Thinking
This is often called “thinking outside the box.” Sometimes we are steeped in traditional means for extra income, and those can narrow our options.
You have a list of the skills and talents you have. How can you share them and make money while you do it?
- Create eBooks that will train others in those skills. This is a longer-range strategy, and you will have to develop a strategy for marketing them, but do some research on marketing and use those strategies.
- Create YouTube “how to” videos. Share links to those on all of your social media accounts. One thing that a lot of YouTubers don’t do is set up the ability for viewers to ask questions. Do this and reply to those ASAP. Again, this is a longer-term project. If you can accumulate enough followers, you can get advertisers.
- Freelance work. Take that list of skills you have and register on freelancer sites. Do you have IT, graphic design, or other skills? People look for these at reasonable prices. Over time, if you are good at what you do, you will establish a reputation and ever-increasing business.
- Freelance writing or blogging. Do you write well? Do you understand the difference between formal and “academic” writing and writing for web consumers? If you have a lot of expertise in a specific area, you can create your own blog. It takes a while to accumulate followers, and you will need to study how to do this. However, successful bloggers eventually monetize their blogs via advertisers and affiliates.
- How about gathering college kids looking to make extra income? If you have a community college or even a 4-yr. institution close by, put in some time thinking about all of the services they can offer that you can manage remotely. You’ll also have to spend some time marketing those services, but in a college town word can spread pretty quickly. Here are some sample services:
- Dog Walking. Working and busy people do have pets. And these services have become pretty popular in recent years. Students can walk multiple pets at a time.
- Concierge Services. Busy people do not like standing in line to get their cars registered and tagged; they may want their laundry dropped off and picked up; there are other errands they need to run that will simplify their lives.
- Lawn Care, Simple Home Repairs, Painting, Gutter Cleaning, etc. Professionals charge a lot for these services, and you can undercut them.
- IT services. Many college students are highly skilled in computer services and repairs. Again, pros charge a lot for this, and you can undercut them.
- House Sitting and Babysitting. This is a bit more complicated and you may need to bond students who do this. But this can be a lucrative service.
Your role will be the setup and the marketing. First, advertise on campus for students. Then create a database that specifies skills and available time frames, and use a program that will match them up with customer needs.
Begin to seek clients among those you know well. Then, of course, ask for references, reviews, and recommendations. Set up a website. These types of businesses grow gradually, but if you do it right you will ultimately be a remote manager, responsible for little more than collecting the money and payroll.
Consider Side Gigs Related to Your Primary Income Source
Every economic sector has sub-sectors. Sometimes, when that sector experiences a downturn, related sub-sectors may pick up. Here are a couple of examples:
- You are in the financial services industry and are a CPS by profession. During times of consumer distress, far fewer are investing, and the industry experiences a downturn. But people still have to pay their taxes. If you hang out your shingle as a tax preparer, you have a perfect side gig. You can even expand to doing taxes for commercial clients.
- You are in real estate. During times of inflation and high-interest rates, sales of new and existing homes experience a downturn. Realtors are in a “dry” period. But if you have side gigs in place for landscaping, remodeling and renovation for homeowners who are staying in place, you have other sources of income.
- You are in real estate. The market is great. What can you do on the side during these times? How about photography? How about staging homes and properties going on the market?
The Possibilities are Almost Limitless
As already stated, we live in uncertain financial times. Nothing is guaranteed related to your primary income source. Hopefully, this article has motivated you to explore the options that may be in front of you and to take steps to protect your financial security. No one else is going to look out for you – it’s time for you to take charge. You’ll sleep better at night.