Side hustles are fun ideas to think about for a lot of us who are not in love with our days jobs. Heck, I love what I do for a living and I still have pursued a side-hustle just to spice things up in terms of the variety of ways I can earn income. It always feels better to know you have something to fall back on if you needed to in terms of generating money.

Some side hustles are simply easier to get up and running than others. Blogging, for instance, is not a side hustle that anyone should expect to earn much income in the short term. It can be extremely lucrative long-term if you put in the time, energy and consistency required though. With few exceptions, blogs can take years of dedicated work and content production before they start to generate enough revenue to live off of full-time. When I think of a quick and dirty side hustle to get started with and make money on ASAP, I think of ways to generate paying customers within a month, maximum.

My Surprisingly Speedy Startup Side Hustle

When I was in my early 20’s I had a somewhat successful copywriting side-hustle which took me a long time to build. I had some natural talent as a writer, but getting my work out there and landing clients seemed to be a bit more long-tail work than was worth it with the rates I could get. I realized that I did not get paid for all those hours selling, I only got paid for what I was creating. I suppose it can be a good business model if you charge high enough rates and can scale your operations, but doing this kind of work along with consulting type jobs seemed like a good way to burn myself out without reaping adequate income.

Not to say that work should be easy. That’s certainly not the case! Some of the most worthwhile businesses are very hard to create and grow but can pay off massively in the long term. But again, that’s not what we’re talking about here. We want small scale side hustles that get going fast.

I want to give a big shout out to Matt over at The American Edge who has been my mentor on getting my latest and by-far most lucrative side-hustle going this past year. I heard Matt talk on the Side Hustle Nation podcast and got totally stoked on the idea of his side-hustle business of sharpening knives. I love knives and figured it would be fun to actually learn how to sharpen them effectively for people and make money at it.

I reached out to him and he was not only so kind as to offer me advice on the spot, he also invited Misses Cat, Baby Bear and myself up to his home in New Hampshire for an afternoon of permaculture and hands-on knife sharpening training. I did pay Matt to mentor me in this case and I was shocked when he told me that people balked at the idea of paying for this kind of coaching. As an early customer I got a truly great deal for the money and paid just $250 for not only step by step instructions on getting setup, purchasing equipment like the EdgePro Apex, which Matt himself uses, but long term support and check-in’s as well.  

After getting my website and Google Pages up and running I started receiving calls and emails almost immediately. We live in a medium/large city of over 600,000 people and there are no other knife sharpeners listed on Google, so clearly the demand is there. I’ve done no advertising whatsoever either! I just get a few calls every week which keeps me plenty busy and happy with the additional income. I quickly made back what I paid him within the first couple months and have already paid myself back for the equipment that I bought as well. Not bad for less than 6 months of work!

Qualities Of A Fast Start Side Hustle

I am no expert on side hustles, but I’ve created a few throughout my adult life. For a good read on the nitty gritty of side hustles and a ton of ideas on what might work for you, I recommend checking out “Buy Button” the creator of the Side Hustle Nation Podcast mentioned above. However, here are the top qualities I look for when evaluating side hustle ideas for myself or for others.

1. What Is The Demand?

Is this obvious? It’s hard to sell something if nobody wants it. You don’t want to go out and spend a bunch of time convincing someone they want something either unless the margins on what you’re selling are absolutely huge. I figured that everyone, including myself, uses knives on a daily basis to cook, at the very least. Most knives in most people’s kitchens I know are dull and so were mine up until last year. I had a hunch there was a good chance that there was some pent up demand for this work and with the encouragement of Matt, it turned out to be a good hunch!

2. Some Experience Required (But Not A Ton)

Fake it until you make it can work sometimes, but you really need to be able to at least provide a quality product or service from the start. Often times, people will say “But I don’t know how to ____” and they will either spend too much time stressing about their lack of experience, or will just talk themselves out of it before even starting. This can seem like a leap of faith, but the best teacher is experience and it’s hard to get experience without starting somewhere.

3. Get A Mentor

I always find a quality in a true master, with some exceptions, is that they want to pass their skills and knowledge on. I took a shot in the dark reaching out to Matt after I heard his story with no expectation I’d hear back. I knew I loved knives but had terrible experiences trying to learn how to sharpen before. Reaching out for mentorship can sometimes be as intimidating as trying to get your first customer, but don’t let it stop you! It could be what’s between you doubting yourself out of ever getting started and success!

Finding a suitable side hustle for yourself to try out is going to be a mix of analyzing what skills you have, what skills you want to learn and just trying out the market after some preliminary research on whether there’s money to be made. Whether it’s a local business, totally on the internet or a hybrid, don’t let stop yourself from trying to create a side business that could eventually turn into something greater than you imagine right now!