If anybody should know more about side businesses, hustling, and juggling multiple jobs, it would be Jamaicans and Caribbean people. We definitely know how to do that. Things have always been tough, rough, and unbearable; but as true soldiers, we always find a way to push on through.
I know about it – I’ve heard about it, done it, and seen it done, and it can be a good feeling to see the income coming in from multiple sources. But the challenge in getting those areas of income growing are always great – very challenging. The prospect of earning from multiple sources always look great, but the challenge of getting them started help us to realize its not as easy as it seems. Which is why many of us easily give up.
First, The Good Part – The Possibilities
However, let me start off by encouraging you. It is absolutely possible to establish a thriving side business in this 21st century. One of the things I have come to believe more and more each day is that, there is a buyer for almost any product that somebody makes. I’ve seen people buy some of the crappiest, overpriced or even outdated products – and not because they didn’t know, but in their estimation, that was just what they needed at the time.
Here’s a real life story, published in the New York Times this week of a mother who saw that based on where her life was headed something had to change – she needed some extra income. Kimberly, for about US$400 (but it doesn’t have to cost that much) set up an online business and is now generating income while she sleeps. Sounds good right? She writes
My side business now brings in around US$5,000 a year, and I figure I could double that if I carved out more time to work on it each week, to add more planners and do more marketing.
Note: While this side business story is about an online store, there are many opportunities that do not have to be online or online only. While the internet allows you to quickly and freely access a big market place, do not neglect obvious business opportunities that may be present right there in front of you offline and in your community.
Now The Reality – Slow Sales, Disappointment and Discouragement
If there’s one thing that I’ve seen in my many, many years of speaking with my friends filled with passion and excitement, about their business ideas, is the reality of knowing that they will face some serious challenges; some that will make them seriously come to doubt and even second guess wanting to make extra money. Here’s Kimberly;
As soon as I listed that first product, I felt more in control of my life. I was an entrepreneur, not just an office worker. I felt a rush of pride every time I pulled up my shopfront on my computer screen.
Those good feelings were soon clouded by my lack of sales. My number of visitors hovered around 10 people a day, and none were buying. That’s when I decided I had to spend some serious time on marketing, and I started studying the advice of other creative entrepreneurs who sell on Etsy. I began pitching my shop to bloggers who write about motherhood, family life and money — my target audience. I hosted giveaways and wrote guest posts for those sites. My number of visitors slowly climbed, and so did my sales. I started earning about $200 a month from my shop.
And as she explains, her plans were not without hiccups. Her physical books did not sell and I’m sure she had much more problems. To compound that, even while you try to get things started, life goes on – bills still need to be paid, and you need to still maintain all your existing commitments (at school, work and home). Additionally, one of the things I know about online businesses is that many people may think they are easy – and that is how a lot of people make them seem as well. However kudos to those who hit it off – that’s far from reality. Kimberly writes;
As my business grew, so did my stress level. I was suddenly juggling my young daughter, a full-time job and my online shop. I worked on my planners whenever I could, which was primarily during nap time on the weekends and in the evenings after my daughter went to bed. The kind of business that it is — requiring a lot of upfront work creating the products but then very little as sales are made, since Etsy handles the payment collection and file downloads — made it possible for me to continue to fit the shop into my life.
Stay Focused. This is What The New Economy Demands
Despite all the difficulties, as Kim writes, this is what the new economy demands. Jobs are uncertain. The exchange rate in Jamaica worse. Foreign exchange is what we need and the world is a big place. Make the most of it. Build a side business. Something sustainable and predictable. You would be very surprised to see some of the things people are willing to spend money to buy – probably something that you can already do well.