Deciding to become a full-time student has major benefits in that I can (in theory) spend more time on coursework, research, and other opportunities. However, the full-time student pay can be a little sad. Financial aid, for the most part, only comes in loans. Fellowships and the few scholarships available for graduate students are scarce and highly competitive. This can be frustrating and leave you searching for answers.
I’m sure you have also seen a lot on social media about people having side hustles to make some extra money to supplement their current income. Millions of posts and videos about how people are making 6 figures in one day and how you can work from anywhere and make tons of money. Sure, there are some people who have found a get rich quick scheme and for everyone else, that’s just not reality.
If you are thinking about starting a side hustle, then you have to be realistic in what you hope to accomplish. Having a side hustle can definitely help supplement your current income; it will also require a lot of time and effort on your part. It will not be easy and it is not for the faint of heart.
My first two years being the doctoral program, I was making less that $1,000 a month. Paying rent, utilities, food, and other basic needs could not be fully covered with that income. So I started looking for other ways to make some money.
I found A LOT of information; some useful but most of it trash. Many of the “business gurus” make most of their money from people like us searching for information about how to start a business. They give a few ideas, make them sound pretty, prey on your ignorance, and then leave you hanging more confused that when you started.
I even searched out other Black women who started their businesses thinking that they were more trustworthy. These women say all the right things, talk to you about how they know what it’s like to know that you are destined for more and that you just need someone to show you the right direction. The Business Guru tells you her story about how she was in a job she hated or how her supervisor did not appreciate her or EVEN how she was a graduate student. She did three simple steps and instantly gain financial independence overnight.
Truth: building a side hustle can be simple. Simple does not mean easy though. It takes time, patience, tears, and persistence.
However, if you’re still wanting to know more about how you can do it, then please keep reading.
What problem do you solve?
Business is all about identifying a problem and providing a solution(s) for that problem. What are you trying to solve for people? Do you help people fix their credit by helping them to manage money better? Do you know how to help people manage or eliminate their anxiety and depression through meditation? Once you figure out the problem you solve, decide how you can best solve that problem.
How can you solve their problem?
What is your gift? What will people pay you for? You could offer a service like a career consulting or transcription services. Maybe you make handmade items like blankets or t-shirts. Whatever you do, make sure that it can bring value by solving a problem. The problem does not need to be earth shattering. It just needs to help make someone else’s life easier.
Who do you want to help?
How would you describe the person who needs your help the most? Going back to the problem, how does your customer experience this problem? Is she having a hard time paying her rent every month because she likes to eat out instead of cooking at home? Do they need to find a new job but their resume needs updating? If you know WHO needs your services, then you know your customers. This doesn’t limit who can buy what you’re selling, it helps you to market to the right people who NEED what you’re offering.
Why should they choose you?
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” Simon Sinek. In short, people are more likely to come to you and buy from you if they feel a connection to you. A simple way to connect with you is to know WHY you are in this business. This goes back to the problem you are solving. Why does this problem need be solved by you?
These questions are the foundation of your business. Don’t get caught up in building websites, creating logos, or figuring out a business name. Those things do not matter. They help later once you actually have a business. If you focus on these things first, you will never get started or make money, which is the point right. Your website is pretty, shiny, and new but if I don’t know what you’re selling, how can I buy?
There is so much more I can tell you about starting a business. My goal with this column is to continue to share my knowledge with you. Building a business is hard enough without people trying to take advantage of you. Yes, I do believe people should be compensated for their work. However, I do not believe people should overcharge for trash effort. If you pay for help, then you should actually get help.
Building a side hustle does not have a magic formula to it. You just have to do the work and keep doing it over and over.
Until next time!