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Santiago Esteva
Santiago Esteva

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In Search of My Side Hustle

I've had a thousand unmaterialized business ideas during my thirty-nine years on Earth. My wife has patiently listened to all of these during the last eleven years or so. From revolutionizing the food industry with chocolate filled grilled bananas - which made her chuckled - to a food delivery app back in 2013, a travel website where you could search by budget, reselling used kids' clothes in South America and many more.

Instead, I continued my career in Technology Leadership, achieving progress beyond what I certainly expected. Whenever one of these ideas tempted me to go full steam, it was simple to make a decision and resume my steady growth in the corporate world. Any of these ideas would require a great effort and a considerable amount of time to reach a comparable income level.

Today my family has expanded, and we have two amazing boys. So, instead of chasing big disrupting risky ideas, I've concluded I may be able to satisfy my business itch having a side hustle.

Like the ten years younger version of me, I have many ideas, but I don't have the time to go at all of them and see which one succeeds. I have also come to appreciate being methodical when approaching work or personal projects.

So this week, I'm commencing My Side Hustle. What is it? Well, I don't know. You will know as soon as I will. I am going to report my progress while following the below methodology:

  • Ideas Brainstorming
  • Selecting the best idea
  • Preparation and Setup
  • Beta Test
  • Reflect, Correct, Release

My commitment to myself is to launch while it still feels uncomfortable.

Ideas Brainstorming

In the last three days, I invested 30 minutes each day to come up with feasible, profitable ideas with a real demand/audience.

  • Feasible: I know how to do it. It does not require big money, and ideally, it does not depend on anybody else.
  • Profitable: I believe I can make money in the short term.
  • Real Audience: I know, or I'm able to confirm such demand exists.

Here is the result of such exercise:
Alt Text

There are a couple of ideas that did not meet more than one criteria element:

  • Rental Property: I have done this in the past. It is a great passive income resource. It works better when projected in the long term. Besides, the current - may 2020 - financial situation in the US is a question mark for me.
  • Peer to Peer Investment: I have done this in the past. Same as above, the country's financial uncertainty holds me back.
  • Ads/Sponsor revenue from a blog focused on Accessibility: I have the knowledge, but I believe it is - unfortunately - a very tiny niche

Next, let's dig deeper on the remaining ideas by adding:

  • Scalability: How easy it would be to grow the business
  • Excitement: This is my sentiment about the idea

Alt Text

Let's review the group of ideas that are not entirely green:

  • Amazon Fulfillment: logistics on how to purchase, transport are unknown to me. While I can learn it, it will take some time and money. Buy an online business: the price tag for an already profitable online business is around 50–100k USD. Money at risk, and I would have to learn about the new domain.
  • Corporate Consulting or Training: I have the knowledge and the understanding of its potential revenue. Given the current situation where companies are resourcing to furlough and reducing contractors, I believe the demand has shrunk.
  • Ads/Sponsor revenue from a blog About Strenght Training: I've started to do strength training about nine months ago, and I have suffered the complete outage of fitness equipment during the quarantine. The Audience is just growing. I could document my journey. Very soon, I will need others more knowledgeable to participate. The return might be more long-term than I would like.
  • Mgmt Dashboard: this is a fascinating idea I will not divulge all details since I genuinely believe there is a market gap I can attempt to cover. It would require a significant time investment, and its return would take some time to reach our pockets.

The candidates

Finally, we reach - in my opinion - the feasible, profitable with existing demand, scalable, and exciting ideas.

  • Publish an ebook
  • Publish a checklist (e.g. "New Manager first 30 days plan", "WebApp release production checklist", "Reusable Component Readiness checklist", etc. )
  • Publish training videos

While I would love to do all of these, time is always a constraint. It's time to review the profitability one level down.

I have the knowledge, software, and hardware to accomplish any of these. The fourth element is my time.

Which rate should I use?

I can't use the same rate based on my salary as Director of front-end. Neither the rate if I were consulting for a company on a multi-million dollar project. Instead, I'm going to reverse engineer it. In the first year, I would like my side hustle to produce fifty thousand dollars. If I allocate every business hour on twelve months, I would have to charge 25 dollars per hour. Given I'm only a beginner in doing any of these activities, I think it is a fair starting point.

How many hours do I need to invest?

To write the first release of a management or front-end development short ebook, I estimate it would take me between 320–500 hours. At a 25 dollar rate, that adds to 8000–12500 dollars.
For a checklist, I estimate 20–40 hours or 500–1000 dollars.
For a training video series, I estimate 160–320 hours or 4000–8000 dollars.

How many units do I need to sell to break even?

Ebook: at a selling price of 30 dollars, it would take 266–416 sold units to achieve the point of balance.

Checklist: at a selling price of 6 dollars, it would take 83–166 sold units.

Training Video series: at a selling price of 69 dollars, it would take 58–116 sold units.

And the Winner is

While the training video series has the best economics, the checklist has a shorter time to market. I can fail fast, really fast, as in a week from now.

I have made up my mind; a checklist will be my first project. Once I publish it, I can write another one or go into the second-best idea.
Let's review our progress and our next step:

  • I̶d̶e̶a̶s̶ ̶B̶r̶a̶i̶n̶s̶t̶o̶r̶m̶i̶n̶g̶
  • S̶e̶l̶e̶c̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶b̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶i̶d̶e̶a̶
  • Preparation and Setup
  • Beta Test
  • Reflect, Correct, Release

If everything goes according to plan, I should have an update in the form of a new article next week. Cheer for me!

If you like this article, you can follow me on twitter as I continue to document my thoughts and findings.

This article was published first in Medium

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