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How to start a side hustle

7 min read

Veronica Ott
#side hustle#how to#finances#money
How to start a side hustle

Rounding it up

  • Many Canadians are currently interested in side hustles for some extra cash and new career opportunities.

  • If you’re one of them, begin your venture by defining why you want to start a side hustle and what you want it to be.

  • Then, consider your time and financial boundaries and conduct some market research.

  • Make sure to establish an online presence and pay attention to your finances to ensure longevity.

Did you know the average Canadian earns $1,451 per week? That works out to be $69,648 per year. This could be more than enough to live comfortably, or barely enough to put a dent in the bills depending on where you live and what your lifestyle looks like.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the job market have caused huge impacts on personal finances. The Canadian economic playing field has also drastically changed, further affecting employment.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, the idea of starting a side hustle in Canada may have crossed your mind. Or maybe you just want to earn some extra cash while enjoying a hobby. Regardless of your motive, a side hustle can be an alluring way to increase your bottom line every month.

Side hustle ideas in Canada

Virtual assistant

If you have top-notch organizational skills and are comfortable navigating various technology and software, you could consider taking on a virtual assistant side hustle in Canada. Although taking calls, scheduling calendars, and managing clients’ emails are common responsibilities for a virtual assistant, some virtual assistants do much more. You could offer remote graphic design, writing, bookkeeping services, and more.

Rideshare driver

Becoming a rideshare driver with companies like Uber and Lyft is another convenient way to increase your income. The great thing about being a rideshare driver is you get to control your own hours. If you have a few hours to spare in the evenings and on weekends, and happen to find driving calming or even therapeutic, becoming a rideshare driver might be a good way to earn extra money. Remember to check your city’s driver requirements — you will need a valid driver’s license, proper insurance documents, etc.

Rent spare rooms or properties

Another side hustle idea in Canada is to rent rooms or property. Do you own your own home and have a room or two to spare? You could earn extra cash by renting them out. Apps like Airbnb are a great way to list your property and ensure renters are vetted before welcoming them into your space. You could also consider renting your space out when going on extended vacations, or if you’ll be out-of-town for a long time.

Freelance writer

Chances are you are already an expert in your field, and have valuable ideas to share. Becoming a freelance writer in Canada is another popular side hustle. The possibilities are endless and different freelance writers have their own niches. For example, if you’re a lawyer, you could become a freelance legal writer. Or if you are in the medical technology field and have some time to spare, becoming a freelance medical tech writer could be a lucrative side hustle.

Dog walker or boarder

In recent years, dog ownership in Canada has increased significantly. Most pet owners require some help with walking and caring for their furry loved ones, especially when they’re at work or on vacation. If you love animals and have some experience caring for dogs, sites like Rover are a great way to offer dog walking and boarding services. You can even specify what type of dogs you can care for, and what special services you can offer — like dog bathing, administering medication, and overnight boarding.

Online course content creator

Platforms like Udemy, Thinkific, and Skillshare have made it much easier for industry experts to create and offer courses online. Online course creation is a great way to earn passive income — once you create and upload your course, you can let it do the work for you. If you have a hobby you’re passionate about, you could also share your knowledge and skills by creating an online course.

Craft-making

Do you love creating your own jewelry or crafts? You could consider creating a crafting side business and selling on platforms like Etsy. With consumers getting increasingly interested in supporting local makers, the demand for well-made crafts is higher than ever. You could also consider starting even smaller and selling on platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Instagram instead.

Personal trainer

If you’re passionate about exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, you could take a personal trainer course so you could start a personal trainer side hustle. Although not all clients might require you to have personal training certification, if you are thinking of working part-time in a gym, you might need to get certified. Also, make sure you look into liability insurance.

How to start a side hustle in Canada

1. Define your boundaries

Below are common boundaries to consider in relation to your side hustle. There may be others that are unique to you, so be sure to write them down as you plan your exciting new endeavour.

Time

We call them “side” hustles because they are often done in conjunction with regular employment. In addition, you may have to consider other obligations that occupy your time, such as family, school, or volunteer work. It’s useful to determine how much time you can realistically dedicate to your side hustle before making the commitment.

Investment

In many ways, a side hustle is a startup venture, and many startups require monetary investment. Before moving forward with a side hustle, you should outline the amount you’re willing to invest. If that amount is $0, that’s okay too.

Education

Depending on your existing skills and the skills required for the side hustle you wish to pursue, education may be necessary. However, going to school takes up time and money — resources not everyone is willing to expend. Determine if supplementary education is something you need or want, and whether you’d like to commit to it.

2. Find a passion or skill set to monetize

Now that you’ve established your objectives and boundaries, the fun part starts! You can begin to think about what your side hustle will be. There are a few things to consider. To start, you should assess your existing skill sets. Perhaps there’s a skill from your current job that you could apply in a side hustle. Or, maybe you took a course in school that you loved, but never got a chance to apply in the real world. Don’t underestimate yourself here, because even the simplest of skills could turn a profit.

On the other hand, you may find that you don’t have a relevant skill set, or maybe you want to break into an entirely new industry. Think of hobbies, areas of interest, and other things you’re passionate about, but never had an opportunity to pursue. Many claim that your passion will never earn you money, but that’s not always true. More than ever, now is an opportune time to put your passion to the test.

If you’re having trouble finding something that suits you, check out this list of popular side hustles in Canada.

3. Research the market

After pinpointing a few ideas for your side hustle, it’s time to research the market for your product or service. Be sure to consider the difference in customer behaviour based on demographics like age, culture, gender identity, geography (like exactly where in Canada, or perhaps you can service customers all over the country), etc. While not the most exciting, research is a crucial step of the side hustle journey. In 2022, 35% of businesses failed due to lack of market need.

With that in mind, market research is essential for side hustle longevity. For some, this process could be as simple as researching available job opportunities. For others, it could become as complex as deep market research and preparing a business plan. Either way, it’s worth researching the market because you don’t want to put a lot of effort into something that may amount to nothing.

4. Get your side hustle off the ground

At this stage, you’ve honed in on a lucrative side hustle and finally, it’s time to launch! We realize this is easier said than done, so here are some pointers to help make that launch as seamless as possible.

Set achievable goals

The first step is clearly defining your business goals. Why? The process of setting goals gives you direction and contributes to job satisfaction. Your side hustle goals could be quantitative like finding your first client, or qualitative like creating your own website.

If you’re having trouble setting goals, use the SMART tactic created by management guru, Peter Drucker. SMART is an acronym that states all goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Remind yourself that some of your side hustle goals will be dynamic. A goal that makes sense today might not make sense tomorrow. Being a side hustler means constantly adapting and changing for the benefit of your business.

Establish an online presence

Creating an online presence is important, especially in today’s world. Specifically, 33% of Canadian businesses received e-commerce sales last year, up from 25% before the pandemic. If you’re thinking of starting your own side hustle business in Canada, running an e-commerce business or providing your services and products online will be beneficial in the long run.

So, how should you create this online presence? The method you choose ultimately depends on your target client. Social media, customized websites, and LinkedIn are good starting points to build your online customer base. You can also consider using specialized sites and apps such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Taskrabbit. Sites like Shopify also make it a lot easier to create e-commerce stores.

5. Perfect your side hustle

Within the first year, 20% of businesses fail. And within the first three years, that number escalates to 60%. For these unfortunate startups, 29% failed because they ran out of cash, 19% because they were outcompeted, 17% because of poor product offerings, and 14% because they ignored their customers. If longevity is an objective, continuous improvement is key.

To do so, you should ask for customer feedback while paying especially close attention to your finances. Customer feedback, particularly in the early stages, is extremely valuable. Not only will it improve the quality of your product or service, it can also help you differentiate yourself from competitors.

Of course, money is the bloodline of all businesses. Without it, your side hustle will eventually fade. Being mindful of your finances and related strategies is an important factor in the long run. Once your operations (costs, revenue, etc.) have stabilized, consider setting up an emergency fund, reinvesting profits, and paying closer attention to cash flow and tax management. We know this doesn’t sound like the most fun part of your side hustle journey, but it is crucial to ongoing success.

Put yourself out there

Starting anything new is intimidating, daunting, and maybe even gut wrenching. You might think, will anyone buy what I’m selling? What if my side hustle is a failure? Can I really do this on my own? If this is how you feel, you’re not alone. Every side hustler has to come to terms with the fear of putting themselves out there and taking chances.

Pushing past fears is a challenge, but once you get there, you will be rewarded. Catherine O’Hara of CBC’s Schitt’s Creek once said, “Even before you’ve earned it, treat yourself and your career with the level of respect that you hope to one day deserve.” Ultimately, a side hustle is about you, not others. Put yourself out there, have confidence in what you can do, and watch the magic happen!

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our Subscription Plans page for our most up to date account information!

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