Would you like to give yourself a raise? You are not alone. Desire to add earnings to your life with a side gig has never been greater, and more people of all ages are looking to join Generation 1099.
Written by: Jessica DiLullo Herrin
CEO & Founder, Stella & Dot Family Brands,Best Selling Author of Find Your Extraordinary
According to a study from Bankrate, Nearly 4 in 10 (37%) of Americans have a side hustle. One in two millennials has a “side hustle”, outside of their main job, to boost cash or pursue a passion.
Most millennial hustlers – about 68 percent – are motivated to earn to pay for side expenses: home repairs, summer vacation, or date nights, etc. About 24 percent of baby boomers have a side hustle too. For boomers, the motivation is simple- 61 percent surveyed stated they need the money for ordinary expenses.
How much can you earn?
- For the gig economy in general, the median income is $200 per month while the average is $686. Some high-earners push up the average while more than half earn less than $200 a month.
- Nearly 75% of people consistently earn in a side hustle. Monthly income climbs to $300 and the average jumps to $836 if a person is earning every month of the year.
- Yes- you can work more and earn more. Some earn $100,000s a year on their own schedule. Just check the income disclosures of all opportunities so you are not basing your decision on anything but facts.
Stats reported by survey of over 1,000 participants by Bankrate.
If you are crafty, Etsy is an option. If not, you can earn commission when you promote other brands. Whether you are a certified influencer promoting health food products or selling accessories and apparel, you have options too. The following advice is to help you wade through the choices if you are curious about a turnkey flexible business without having to design, manufacturer, inventory and ship goods.
What factors should you consider to pick the best side hustle for you?
- Authentic Product Love, Quality & Value
- Innovation Matters: Seek Mobile Business Tools
- Great Pay & Perks: Demand Transparency with an Income Disclosure
- Company Reputation Check
AUTHENTIC PRODUCT LOVE, QUALITY & VALUE
Your success will be based on your confidence in the product or service you are sharing it. If you wouldn’t spend your own money on the retail price of that good or service, don’t ask other people to purchase.
PRICING PRACTICES. Seek companies that offer fair pricing and solid quality. If a company marks up a good by 2-3x over market so they can claim value at 50% off- the customer may fall for it once, but later, will they feel duped- by you? Treat your customer with the respect they deserve so you build a loyal customer base. Repeat customers are essential. Look for quality guarantees and no gotcha returns.
PRODUCT BREADTH AND TOTAL MARKET SIZE. One of the first questions a professional investor will ask is what is your total addressable market size and do you have a product advantage? This translates to how easy is it to get customers and keep ‘em coming back. Pick a business in a large and growing market space with a differentiated product or service. Avoid niche categories with ho-hum product.
You can choose to narrow your product focus, but, don’t pick a company that limits you. Look at the most valuable companies in the world. Apple, Google, Amazon. They made their core product the best out there. But then, they took on bold expansions! If Apple had not expanded beyond the personal computer and gone into music devices, services, and smartphones, would they be one of the most valuable companies in the world today? No. Product breadth is not the sign of problems or complexity, it’s the sign of opportunity and ambition.
PRODUCTS & PROGRAMS TO HELP YOU ATTRACT NEW & REPEAT CUSTOMERS. As a seller who earns commission, look for a company that makes that as easy as possible with a strong brand, customer perks and referral and loyalty programs. Gut check that the "offer" does not get coupled with overly marked up, low-quality goods. If people can see the ‘value’ is plainly overstated, you risk people buying out of obligation- just once.
PROVEN PARTNERS, WITH ORIGINAL IDEAS. Evaluate the credibility of the executive team. Look for prior, proven experience, awards, and credentials, not nepotism. Say no to companies that copy other people’s intellectual property. Selling knock-offs is stealing. Don't model that for your kids and community.This lack of integrity is likely to manifest in other parts of the business and offers no sustainable difference in the market. In the product line, look for originality, clinical results, strong and an ethical supply chain with clear and published standards. That’s socially conscious capitalism. Not only should this be important to you, it's becoming more and more important for your potential customers.
2. INNOVATION MATTERS: SEEK MOBILE TOOLS
You’re busy, right? And you always have your smartphone in hand? Find a company that gives you tools to work when and how you want to, during captured moments of your day. You can earn on your commute to your other job, watching Netflix with kids tucked into bed, or lounging by a pool.
- Look for proprietary tech that creates a great customer experience. It's not just about seller convenience. Ask, what is in it for the customer? You want to add value, not spam.
- Simplicity is smart business. Look for companies that offer tech tools to motivate you and save you time. Product recommendations and quizzes at your fingertips, customer relationship management prompts, and easy to share marketing.
- Avoid reliance on any one social media platform. An algorithm change or the decline of users are beyond your control. You want a company that invests to put the power of tech in your hands, not one that will make people de-friend you.
- Look for companies that change. All people don’t like change, but that doesn't mean it's not necessary to succeed in business. Change is also known as innovation and it is required to be relevant in a changing world. Think of companies that did not change, like old format toy stores, bookstores, and movie rental companies. Don’t fear change, embrace it. Be an eager participant.
3. SEEK GREAT PAY & PERKS, DEMAND TRANSPARENCY.
It’s called a hustle for a reason- it takes work. Go in with realistic expectations. Evaluate pay and perks for the hours of focused effort you put in, as well as how these efforts lead to future income and add joy to your life. Be smart, not susceptible to too good to be true promises.
You want reasonable and fair. Do comparisons. If 4 out of 5 companies offer one commission percentage, but the 5th company offers a higher commission, should you assume you will earn more with the highest paying commission percentage? No. If a company promises you endless rewards and deep customer deals - ask yourself, how is that actually possible?
- Is it because their product is overly marked up- in which case you’d have to be willing to say goodbye to integrity when offering it to customers?
- Is it because of a shoddy supply chain? Do you have to turn a blind eye to the conditions of those making the products you sell?
- Is it because they don’t invest money in other key areas such as authentic product design and marketing?
In the long run, will this help you earn more if you can't attract customers and compete in the market?
DEMAND TRANSPARENCY ON ACTUAL EARNINGS. You’re not after promises of income, greener grass, and grandeur. Don’t listen to promises alone or surface level percentages and perks.
If an income disclosure is not available on their website, that isn’t just a red flag, it's a hard stop.
FACTOR IN PERKS
- If you are enjoying a discount on something you would have bought anyway, it might be worth the hustle to earn a bit of cash, plus the cash you’d otherwise be spending.
- Consider the tax break on business expenses (internet service at home)
- If you get training, factor in what you would otherwise have to pay for leveling up your skills elsewhere. Internships don’t pay much in the short term, but they help you earn more in the long run by building your skills.
- Be wary though. Some companies have deceptive practices like 'drawings' for a trip to get attention on Facebook. If free trips are just so easy to earn so quickly, how is that a reasonable business practice?
TIME TO PAY BACK. Think about cash to startup and time to payback. Be realistic here. Most small businesses are not profitable within a week or a month, or even a year. You should be able to find a turnkey opportunity where the start up costs are much less and you are profitable much faster- but not without putting a little skin in the game and a little hustle. If a startup offer seems just too good to be true, common sense tells you that it very likely is.
TIERED COMMISSION PROGRAMS Most people are familiar with influencers earning through an affiliate program. Someone shares a recommendation in person or online and if a customer purchases from the shared link, the brand affiliate gets paid.
Sales commission isn’t just for certified Influencers signed up with LikeToKnowIt- Affiliate commission can be earned by everyone.
Are you curious about an affiliate plus model? This is a business in which you can earn personal commission as well as a commission for referring and coaching others to be affiliates. If the concept of a tiered commission system just sent off an alarm in your brain and you started thinking- wait- isn’t that multi-level marketing, and isn’t that a total a scam? I get it. Do you know long I was terrified of starting a business with a tiered commission program? YEARS! I was worried about bad reputation by false association.
Coming from a technology background, I knew nothing about the ‘direct sales’ space except for the case study I read on Mary Kay in business school. Some parts I admired, while other parts of the industry made me cringe. I love going back to guest lecture about the case on Stella & Dot Family of Brand's growth at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The case examines why we had to dramatically change all of these cringe-worthy factors in the existing market to create a new opportunity- which we call social selling. Ultimately, I realized bad actors were not the reason why I should not start a company to modernize flexible earnings for women (and a few good men!). They were the reasons why I had to. We've come a long way baby.
When you break down the idea of tiered commission, it's not that it is unusual for sales managers to get bonuses when their team does well. If a compensation plan requires no fixed hours or quotas, there is going to be no base compensation, leads or established territories. People want total flexibility so they can earn on demand. 100% pay for performance commission plan and tiered earnings is not the issue. The ick factor comes from other majorpitfalls, such as false income promises, no publicly available income disclosures, poor product quality with deceptive pricing practices, shady dealings where people are paid to recruit versus sell, backroom deals made without transparency, and inventory loading.
Sadly, some companies and people are unscrupulous. Some are wonderful people that have simply been sold a ticket to fantasy island and others are motivated more by personal greed than building something sustainable for all. This will always happen because the human spirit loves the idea of a lottery ticket and greener grass. As long as consumers seek a get rich quick scheme, these shady businesses will crop up to serve that demand.
Ask the person sharing the opportunity with you: Did you get a special deal with a guaranteed large payment? Do you disclose those details when you are promoting the company? If you suspect a backroom deal, explore if you have concerns that their special deal may bias them? If the core plan is so good, why are special deals necessary versus organic growth?
4. Company Reputation Check
If your new gig requires you to represent a brand, start with a basic reputation check easily done online.
Google: “company name” + lawsuit.
Sure, good companies have legal action and some angry online reviews. Negative people take it straight online, while those with positive experiences don’t tend to take the time. You also have to be wary that an anonymous negative review can actually be from a competitor seeking to wrongfully harm a company for their own gain and there could be a frivolous lawsuit. So if some negative reviews are normal, what am I cautioning you against? I’m talking about LOTS of news stories about personal harm caused by products, LOTS of inventory loading concerns, or a long pattern of lawsuits against one company by many other reputable companies. Look for obvious warning signs. If a company claims to have million dollar earners and decades upon decades of growth, do they have the social media following and the brand recognition with people you know that you would expect? You should ask yourself if where there's smoke, there is fire. Don’t associate your personal reputation with questionable integrity.
If you are looking at a commission based sales business- you will find people saying they didn’t earn enough money. You have to ask- is this the same as finding people that signed up for a gym membership that did not get fit? Many people simply don’t follow through on the effort they intended, or quit when it got a bit tough. Tenacity is required. At the end of the day, you will have to put in the work to market and sell anything. Look for something you love, that you can be proud of. Do not look for a unicorn farm. Truly, they do not exist.
Last tip- after you do research. GO FOR IT! Find the fun and challenge in it. Trust your gut and believe in yourself.
You don't need to be perfect to start, you need to start to perfect!
Written by: Jessica DiLullo Herrin
CEO & Founder, Stella & Dot Family Brands,Best Selling Author of Find Your Extraordinary