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I was in a meeting when a startup founder mentioned that, “When you start a startup, you need a second job.” And I’m finding that a lot of folks who quit their jobs and go all-in with their startups have to find other sources of income so they can continue to fund their startups or help with their personal finances.
Given that running a startup is similar to working a full-time job – and sometimes even more demanding, here are some side hustles you can do in a couple of hours a day.
I have been doing this for a couple of months when I can and it’s been a fun source of income. You can normally earn $10 for 10-20 minutes of time. You are presented with a list of tasks and you do them while talking out loud through the process. This way you can give these companies feedback on their app or website and earn a little cash as well. For a lot of the tests you need to qualify and often you have to get in on them as soon as you get the email, but even if you can manage to do three a week, you have an extra $120 in your pocket every month. Here are some of my favorite sites:
The idea of getting cash back from things you are doing anyways is like free money. I love using Ebates when I’m shopping online. It sits in my Chrome extensions and alerts me to when I can activate a cashback percentage. I use Ibotta when I'm shopping physical stores like Target, Walgreen's and CVS. I search for things I'm buying that I can possibly get a rebate for and scan my receipt when I'm done.
You have skills you can share with someone. Even if you don’t feel like you are an expert, if you are the founder of a startup, you can share that expertise. You can coach someone to help them start their own business. One thing I’ve learned is that even if you know a little bit more than the next person, you have something to teach. And often the other person prefers that you are only a few steps ahead as you are more relatable. You can start coaching someone at $100 an hour. A good book for starting with this is The $100 Startup.
Focus groups are another great way to share your thoughts and earn some money. I participated in one where I was able to earn $100 for 45 minutes of my time. You can find them in your city by going to Craigslist and looking under the “et cetera” section or signing up at focusgroup.com. Similar to user testing, you need to complete surveys or screeners to qualify but if you are selected, you can share your opinion and impact a company’s next product or service, while putting some dollars in your pocket.
This is one avenue that I’ve been diving into the past year. There are probably tons of products and services that you recommend and share with other founders all of the time. Why not make a little bit of money from that? The key to successful affiliate marketing is sharing things with your audience that you love and use. That way it doesn’t come across as smarmy. You can start a blog sharing lessons learned and best practices on your startup journey and share products you’ve used along the way. You can sign up to be an affiliate on Amazon as a start but if you are curious if a product you are using has an affiliate program, I’ve found the best way to start is by googling the product name + affiliate. This course can help you get started with affiliate marketing.
There is no shame in having a second job whether you are a startup or working full-time. It’s all about diversifying your income. This way you are covered in case one source of income is no longer available. It also helps you make sure that your basic expenses are covered so that you are not selling services or products from a place of desperation but from a place of value.