I have a list of side hustles about a mile long. I run two successful Instagram accounts where I sell shoutouts; I have two webshops that deliver profits. I’m trialling a content creation business. Plus, I also have a list of smaller past and future side hustles that goes on until infinity.
And what do I do with all my profits from these side hustles? I invest them, as I have for the entirety of my career. While I do invest in dividend-paying stocks and in swing trading, most of my investment comes in a form unrecognizable to many people: I invest in myself. I take profits from several side-hustles while working on my future income streams.
I make more than enough to live a normal, happy, fulfilled life. Anything I earn above that, I invest. I invest in stocks, any courses that look good, and anything else I think could be useful to help me grow later on.
This investment can be cheap. For instance, the main idea that fuelled my content creation side hustle came from a Dave Gerhardt podcast inside of his paid Patreon DGMG for marketers group. In this podcast, he said that the best content for a business should be generated by interviewing the founders. I built a little side-hustle on top of that concept. That cost me $10. I acquired my main side hustle, which is my Instagram account with over 1 million followers, after taking a $50 Roland Frasier course on buying businesses with no money of your own.
It wasn’t just money, either. I also had to invest my time wisely. I’ve taken several courses, invested in masterminds, and joined paid communities. But before I invested in any of those, I ensured they added value to me at a specific point in my career.
This is where so many entrepreneurs fall short on investments. Building wealth is impossible if you only focus on stocks. The majority of your investments, both time and money, should fuel you into being the best source of revenue you can be.
I hear you thinking: “How do you decide where to invest your time next? Where do I start?”
Here’s how I invested in myself to make my dream of owning my own business a reality.
It’s all about adding value.
When you’re deciding what skills to next invest in, think in terms of adding value.
A few years ago, I was working at an event venue owned by a friend of mine. I was his right hand, running his second business. We started from scratch, organizing different events ourselves from disco nights to rock concerts to dinner shows.
It was going great until I got tired of our designer. He was delivering flyers that just didn’t match our vision on the theme we were organizing. The back-and-forth absorbed so much time that I decided to just try to do it myself. This is where I found Envato, where you can buy entire freakin’ designs editable in Photoshop for pocket change, literally between $5-7.
Of course, I still needed to learn how to use Photoshop. But if you know exactly what you need to learn, as I did, you can just look for it on YouTube and learn it in a few minutes. Look up 100 little things you want to change and you pretty much learned a new skill to put on your resume.
I acted on the pain we felt. I picked this specific skill because I knew both the hassle of getting it done well and the cost to hire some fancy agency. Since we organized a different theme every week, we had a high demand for designs. The value was clear.
It was the same thought process that led me to learn advertising on Google. After deciding to just deal with it myself, I took some free courses by Google, I purchased a LinkedIn Learning membership to learn even more. Eventually, I learned about analytics, remarketing, web design, Adobe software programs, and countless other skills as well. I leverage these handy tools today while running my webshops.
Where can you ease the pain for your boss or for people running a business? What do you need to learn in order to be the solution to that problem?
The (modified 80/20 rule.
It takes effort to learn these skills. Instead of going all in, I act on one basic principle – my own version of the 80/20 rule. Remember, time investment matters just as much as monetary investment.
When acquiring a new skill, I look for the 20% investment that gets the job done. I don’t want a career as a designer, video editor, or Facebook marketing expert. I want to do the stuff I want myself, as cheap and as fast as possible, not perfect, but good enough. When my hustle earns enough money, I can always hire an expert for the details at that point.
I added value to my employer by learning skills that were beneficial to his business. I saved him money and generated additional revenue, which made me a more valuable asset for him. Even if you don’t have the ambition of building a side hustle, you can use this method to climb the corporate ladder. Sometimes working for yourself isn’t the right fit, and that’s okay. If you want the certainty of a job and raise your income, then consider adding value to your employer by saving them time, money or bringing them additional revenue.
Sell skills for stakes.
Invest in businesses you believe in.
That attitude is what made gave me the skills and confidence to start as a freelancer. I wanted to live life on my own terms, and I understood it was time to move on. My main thought driving me was that if my employer can benefit from my skill set, then so can ten others. And so I started my freelancing adventure.
I ran into an issue pretty quickly. I found tons of businesses that I loved, believed in, and wanted to work for. But they didn’t have the budget for my skillset.
Instead of insisting on instant profit, I took the long view and tested a new concept: instead of selling my skillset for money, I sold it for stakes. Whenever I encountered something I really liked but there wasn’t any budget available, I tried trading my services for a part of the business. And it worked.
Obviously, people are not just gonna hand you a part of their business without the presence of a certain degree of trust and credibility. I had a solid track record behind me, proving that I was good for what I said. If you are confident about your skills and struggling to find sales, try a risk reversal approach – if you don’t accomplish what you say you can, you don’t get paid.
It’s risky since there are factors affecting success outside your control, but the fastest way to build trust and credibility is by giving. It’s also risky because you run the risk of being used. I’ve had this discussion with my parents over and over again. “They are taking advantage of you,” my mom said at one family dinner. “You should ask for a raise, they have enough money, they won’t even feel it.”
Yet all the opportunities that were given to me were given by the people I’d served for a long time, always adding more value than I was being paid for.
I considered this investment as well, in my relationships and network. If you struggle to get a foot in the door, why not volunteer? Remember, we’re thinking long-term here. If you want to make money, get a job and clean busses. Take control over your spending. Then go out there and add value to the people you want to impress, for free at first if necessary.
Your investments represent your potential for success.
My stock market investments are an asset I’m proud of. But the reason for my success is the investments I made in myself. I looked for places to add value, developed the skillset to address those pain points, and ultimately used those and the network I built to launch my web of side hustles today. My income isn’t limited by the performance of anything other than myself.
To truly begin building wealth, wisely invest your time and your money into yourself and the businesses you love. This can lead you down the side hustle/entrepreneurship path, or it can make you a more valuable and promotable employee. Don’t be afraid to take the long view and put off instant profit in exchange for the chance to make future gains.
The worst that can happen is you learn a new skill. And the best? You’ll have built the foundation to live life on your own terms.