You’re probably not satisfied with the money you’re making now. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can make more. Whether you choose a side hustle or a micro business will depend on if your looking for short-term gains, or lasting wealth.
In early morning hours of a Wednesday in May, drivers on an Indiana highway experienced something incredible: hundreds of thousands of dollars blowing across the road. The backdoor of an armored Brinks truck malfunctioned and opened in transit, spewing bags of cash all over the road. Police quickly arrived to blockade the area, but those who experienced it later admitted how tempting it was to grab cash off the ground.
It’s easy to imagine why it was so tempting. Few people would turn down the opportunity to make more money. Only 19% of workers in the U.S. feel comfortable with how much they're making.
Instead of finding cash on the side of a highway or winning on a game show, 44 million Americans have turned to “side hustles.” A side hustle is extra work in addition to a full time job.
Most side hustlers make an additional $100-$1,000 per month. People side hustle for a variety of reasons. Some need to pay off debt, others are saving for a holiday splurge. Some just have an unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit.
Side Hustles Are Great
Side hustles are an effective and easy way to generate more income. A side hustle is income you generate by providing a service in your free time. Side hustlers usually have full time jobs and side hustle to supplement their income.
If you don’t have a side hustle, there’s a strong chance you know someone who does.
Common side hustles include:
- Social media posting
- Wedding photography
- Driving for Uber or Lyft
- Makeup consulting
- Custom art and jewelry
- Writing, editing, and blogging
According to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity 86% of side hustlers do it at least once a month. More than a third of side hustlers earn more than $500 per month. Side hustles are common because there is such a low barrier to entry. You can start a side hustle easily. You don’t need lots of money or other people to start.
For example, to become an Uber driver all you need is a driver's license, a car, a smartphone, and enough common sense to pass a simple online test.
Side hustles are great, but the problem with side hustles is you’re trading time for money. You’re time is limited, so your income is too. Your side hustle income will only go so far. If side hustles don’t sound appealing, try a micro business instead.
Micro Businesses Are Better
If you want lasting improvements to your wealth, you need a micro business.
Side hustles are great at generating cash to help you pay the bills or save for an upcoming vacation. But a side hustle isn’t going to help you achieve a financial breakthrough or move any closer to true “wealth” — the abundance of time, money and influence.
If you're going to invest time and energy in generating extra income, why not focus on something with a higher potential return on your investment? Stop trading time for money and instead focus on a business that can provide permanent passive income.
You need to level up your side hustle to a micro business.
Micro businesses are side hustles without the constant time loss. Micro businesses typically have one owner and 1-5 employees. They’re small, simple, and flexible. Micro businesses typically focus on a single product or service, and maximize its profitability.
Micro businesses can be scaled, systematized, and structured as passive income. If you structure a micro business correctly, the time commitment can eventually be minimized.
Like side hustles, micro businesses are easy to get off the ground. More than 77% of micro business owners start off using only personal savings, and only 10% use a bank business loan.
A micro business can bring you experience, capital, and connections. But the real benefit is leveraging those things into even greater opportunities.
Don’t confuse micro businesses with small businesses. Small businesses are larger and have different goals. They’re also more difficult to start.
A small business typically has more than five employees, depending on the industry and product. Like micro businesses, small businesses also can operate without you, be scaled, and don’t have an immediate limit on earning potential. But you need a lot more money to start a small business.
Passive income from a micro business is great but it gets even better. If you build a strong enough micro business, you can sell it for six-figures. It’s not uncommon for larger businesses to purchase well performing micro businesses.
If side hustling isn’t for you, micro businesses are a great alternative. Don’t be discouraged if this seems impossible. Starting a micro business doesn’t need to be more complicated than a side hustle. It can be simple.
Examples of Micro Businesses
Don’t feel overwhelmed, you can do this.
Here are a few stories of people who skipped the side hustle and created successful micro businesses. Their stories are fantastic but not uncommon. Let their stories encourage you to get started on your own micro business.
The Midas of Micro Business
In college Matt worked in a jewelry store. One day the jeweler told him a story of a friend who made huge profits going door to door buying gold in the 1980s (a time when the value of gold skyrocketed). Intrigued, Matt decided to give it a try. He netted $1,100 in his first week! He continued to side hustle gold, but eventually he quit his job at the jeweler and turned his side hustle into a micro business. Over the next 8 months he pulled in over $1M in gold and silver. He hired two employees turned his business into a course on buying gold called “Gold Rush Training.” This made his company scalable, and a true micro business.
A Company in the Corner of Starbucks
Andy had a full time job but he wanted financial freedom. He knew he’d have to put in time outside of his 9-5, and made a Starbucks corner his weekend office. He recruited a team and developed real estate software. Using affiliate marketing the team made $550K in the first year. They eventually sold the company and used what they learned to move on to other businesses.
Selling a Comfortable Squat
In his mid 20s, Isaia wasn’t just looking for a way to make extra income; he was looking to become an entrepreneur. Instead of starting a small business, he went after a micro business. He found an opportunity to sell a product on Amazon and got to work. Soon he started selling his Barbell Squat Pad. After only 11 months, he sold the whole micro business for $170K and — you guessed it — he moved on to his next venture.
Alternative Wedding Bands
In his late 20s Matthew had a full time job but like most people he wanted to increase his income. While still working full time, he spent all of his weekends and time off learning to create and sell products on Amazon. He eventually found a void in the wedding ring market. He developed the product himself and had it manufactured overseas. Then he got to work selling silicone wedding rings. Today, Matthew passively nets $8K per month from this micro business, and has time to focus on other entrepreneurial ventures.
Ready to Start a Micro Business?
It’s never been easier to start a micro business. The digital age provides so many tools and shortcuts. You can even sell your product before it’s ready. You can build landing pages just to test the demand. If you already have a full time commitment but want to increase your income, start a micro business, not a side hustle. A side hustle will increase your income at the expense of your time, a micro business will make you wealthy in both time and money. It’s an easy sell.
Cash Lambert is WealthFit's Managing Editor. He is the author of Waves of Healing: How Surfing Changes the Lives of Children with Autism.