Making an extra $100 dollars a month may not sound like a particularly ambitious goal. One night of babysitting or an afternoon working as a mover and you can easily surpass the $100 mark. Add on a few extra days of side hustle and watch your income gains climb an extra $500 a month or $1,000 a month.
But I want to suggest a new approach. There are more than enough lists of extra money making ideas out there – mystery shopping, taking online surveys, dog sitting, selling your old stuff on Craigslist – all viable ways of boosting your income. But none of these are likely to grow into a revenue stream that net you more than a few hundred dollars per month.
While the prospect of earning an extra few hundred bucks is certainly worth celebrating, my challenge to you is to THINK BIGGER. An extra $100 a month is nice, but an extra few thousand is life changing. And an extra ten thousand, game changing. Before I get too far ahead of myself though, let’s dial back to the first $100.
Not just any extra $100 a month, but the first in what might someday grow into an extra $500 a month, $1,000 a month or $10,000 a month.
This approach will require a lot more work than your typical extra $100. We’re laying the groundwork for what will someday become an extra $500, $1,000 and so on. Rather than the $100 gig where you leave with $100 at the end of the day and nothing else, the objective here is to earn the first $100 with a game plan in place to earn the next.
The target isn’t short, quick money, but long-term, big money. It’s the difference between an easy $100 for a night of babysitting, and the more time consuming $100 that comes from connecting ten babysitters with ten people in need for a $10 commission per booking. The latter requires more up front time and energy, but it can scale far beyond $100 per night.
When you really need that extra $100 now, the long-term approach doesn’t sound quite so appealing, you want the shortcut to money in your pocket today – I totally get it. I’ve been there.
The good news is – you can do both. You can babysit or tutor or sell your stuff on craigslist to afford your rent today while also developing a scalable framework for the future.
The difference between what’s scalable and what’s not is where the shortcut lies.
In the case of your $100 day of dog walking or house cleaning, you put in the time for the service and get paid immediately – shortcut up front. In the case of creating a scalable model for that service, you put in time to develop a network and systems that can generate and manage the demands of the business, then you replicate sales of the service with minimal extra time or monetary effort – shortcut later.
Note that the focus here is scalable income, not necessarily passive income. In the case of coaching or consulting for example, your revenue stream isn’t passive, but you can still scale it by increasing your rate from $100 to several thousand dollars per project.
The objective is to build a model that can scale to the degree that you’re able to fulfill both your financial needs and your personal desires – making more money in fewer hours.
I recently scaled my business to the point where completing one big project per month is enough to cover my financial needs. That one project generally requires ten to twenty hours of work – the rest of the month I can either choose to pursue additional income, create free content on my blog or go on vacation. Essentially, beyond those ten to twenty hours, I can do whatever I want because I’ve already fulfilled my basic financial needs. That kind of freedom is why scale is so valuable.
Before we get too wrapped up in scaling though, we have to uncover what works. At the heart of any scalable revenue stream is a proven product or business model – which is why we start with the first $100, to prove that we can provide value that people are willing to pay for.
How do we do that? Sales and marketing 101- fulfill a need.
Ask yourself this question…
What Do People Need?
Make a list – not what you think people need, but what they actually need.
No need to get overly creative here. In fact, looking at products and services people (including you) already pay for is a great place to start.
For example, just a few weeks ago I was in the midst of hiring someone to manage my Pinterest account. In that moment it dawned on me just how many needs exist within the blogging community alone, all of which could potentially scale into full-blown businesses.
Related: The Best Way to Make Extra Money
Another way to build your list of needs is to ask. I posted this one question on facebook a few weeks ago, “What do you outsource?” and got a list of 30 business ideas within a matter of minutes.
Don’t be thrown by the simplicity of this approach, you’ll often find the best solutions that way.
What Are You Good At?
This list can be harder to compile, not because we’re not good at anything, but because we generally don’t give ourselves credit for the skills we have, and we tend to overlook things we do easily that are valuable to others.
Challenge yourself to recognize and appreciate the value you provide – even if it’s something you consider mundane. A carpenter for example, might think repairing a broken table leg is so simple anyone can do it. And while anyone probably can, most probably won’t, myself included. They’ll hire someone. There’s a reason why assembling IKEA furniture is the number one task on TaskRabbit. Just because it’s mundane, doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.
Beyond your skills, list your knowledge and experiences too. You never know where you’re going to uncover the value within yourself.
My experience of living in New York City on a minuscule salary is one I could have easily overlooked, but I would not have the business I do today if I hadn’t recognized the value in sharing that experience.
Where’s the Overlap?
Now that you’ve got your list of needs and your list of skills, identify the overlap.
This is where you can and should get creative. To tease out the best ideas, give yourself plenty of time to sit with your lists and come up with various ways to pair your skills with others’ needs.
People are always shocked to find out that I, millennial finance expert, come from a professional acting background. From my perspective though, the skill set I gained as an actor feeds perfectly into what I do with personal finance – I tell stories that make numbers meaningful and human and motivate people to improve their financial lives. I do this through writing, speaking, video and television appearances, all of which I’m able to execute well because of my acting background.
While the personal finance need and the professional acting skill set may seem disparate at first glance, finding the overlap in that unlikely pairing is what allowed me to create value in a unique and scalable way.
I challenge you to do the same with your own unlikely pairings. Uncovering the overlap of two seemingly disparate things can generate massive, unique value.
Will People Pay For It?
You’re almost there, I promise. With your overlaps identified and ideas generated the question becomes, will people pay for it?
There are a lot of things that provide value, but they’re not necessarily products or services people will pay for.
I, for example, will not bank somewhere that charges account fees or ATM fees. That’s not to say that I don’t get value out of having my money earning interest and accessing it wherever I want, but I’m not willing to pay for that value, because to me, it doesn’t make sense to pay for something in a market where there are free alternatives.
The same is true of services. Your scrapbook organizing business idea may be totally awesome, but if people aren’t willing to pay for it, it’s not going to do you much good.
Before you take the time to develop and test your idea in the real world, see if people are paying for it (or something like it) already.
And don’t worry if it’s not something that everyone is paying for, as long as someone is paying, chances are there’s a viable market out there for your idea.
Is It Scalable?
Finally, before you go out and start implementing your idea to generate that first $100, think back to scalability. You don’t have to have all the answers for how you’ll scale just yet, but you do need to identify whether or not there is potential for scale.
Do you have a product or service idea that could potentially serve a high-end market, scaling through higher rates? Is your idea something you can systematize to grow without constantly investing proportionate levels of time and money?
Again, the objective here isn’t to have it all figured out, but to assess whether there is a potential framework for your idea that could someday turn your first $100 into a five or six figure business. Inevitably, the framework will change as you dive in, but knowing the potential is there is what’s most important.
I didn’t know exactly how I’d be able to scale my blog into a six-figure business, but I knew the potential was there because other people were already doing it.
Speaking of other people, I thought I’d ask how they made their first extra $100 a month.
“While I now write full-time, freelancing was once a side hustle I did only in my spare time. It all started with my blog, which helped me land paid writing gigs on a variety of topics from parenting to budgeting. My first paid gig helped me earn $50, and the next one paid $65. This was amazing to me at the time since I was earning considerably less per hour at my full-time job. Years later, I am now earning well over six figures (over $150,000 in writing alone in 2015) doing something I love. It all started with a side hustle – a $50 then $100 jolt that helped me realize I could do so much more.”
- Holly Johnson, Club Thrifty
“My first $100 side hustle was a referral coaching client shortly after I “retired” in 1998. I found that I loved coaching so much that it eventually became a six-figure business as FinancialMentor.Com and is still growing rapidly 18 years later.”
- Todd Tresidder, Money coach at FinancialMentor.com
“So I just booked my first speaking gig at my local library. We use our library often, and I know they offer free classes to members, our entire family has attended some over the years. Each quarter the library sends out a newsletter to our local community, roughly 30K in size with the classes that are available. I inquired at the library about who was in charge of the program. I gave her a call to discuss a budgeting/ get out of debt class. After a few pitch calls and e-mails, I have successful scheduled the class for spring of next year. My plan was to offer it for free, but the library pays all teachers/lecturers. So my first speaking gig will be a paid one. I hope I’m on to something.”
- Brian at Debt Discipline
Taking the time to approach the first extra $100 a month in this way, proving potential for pay and scalability from the start, can make all the difference when you’re ready to move onto the bigger numbers – the extra $500 a month, $1,000 a month, and so on and so forth.
In that spirit, I’m going to take that journey with you. Each month, I’ll be publishing a piece on the next step to scale your first $100 to the next and the next and the next.
In the meantime, get to brainstorming your lists, putting together your unlikely pairings, generating your unique ideas, pay testing those ideas and assessing your potential for scale.
Then go out and do. Make your first extra $100 and prove that your model works. If it doesn’t, go back through the steps above until you find an idea that does. And when it does, come back for the next step … how to make an extra $500 a month, and then, how to make an extra $1000 per month.
Download the FREE Scale Your Income Starter Guide to work through the process step-by-step, from your first extra $100 to your first extra $1,000.