3 costly mistakes I learned the hard way being the landlord of a 12-unit apartment complex

Author Ryan Lais.
Ryan Lais.

  • Ryan Lais is a career counselor for high school students with disabilities and real estate entrepreneur.
  • After several years as landlord of an apartment complex, Lais says he learned to communicate more with tenants.
  • Ask your tenants to share any issues up front, and be on top of garbage and parking lot maintenance.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In October of 2018, my in-laws, wife, and I purchased a 12-unit apartment complex in Madelia, Minnesota. I had a tremendous amount of anxiety about the $100,000 down payment and the $300,000 we borrowed to invest in the purchase.

Besides the money, I also worried about getting phone calls at all hours of the night with tenant issues and maintenance requests.

But over the first year, the phone didn’t ring. Texts trickled in, but in an underwhelming fashion. In all of our brilliance had we purchased a maintenance free building? Not so much. Here are three costly mistakes I learned the hard way.

1. Invite your renters to “complain” from the very beginning – it’ll save you money

As leases ended and people moved out we did walk-thrus and suddenly heard about leaky pipes, broken bathroom vents, and mold. We’d ask, “Why didn’t you tell us?” and heard, “Didn’t want to be a bother” or “I thought you’d charge me.” I am forever grateful to those that complain – especially about “small” leaks that turn into big moldy nightmares.

2. Secure your garbage – it’s worth a lot

Dumpsters are for garbage and we threw away a lot of money each month that first year. I learned that dumpsters are like big metal magnets that attract everyone in the neighborhood to dump their oversized mattresses, old TVs, and microwaves. Each month there was another big ticket item by our apartment dumpster that we had to deal with, often paying for it to be removed. A $15 a month wireless data plan and a $200 security camera ended the War on Garbage for us at a fraction of the cost.

3. Be on top of parking lot maintenance

Don’t overlook that huge slab of concrete or blacktop you parked on when looking at the building you’re considering buying. I could’ve tripped on the pothole in the parking lot on the way in and still would’ve overlooked it. Turns out little potholes become big potholes. Big potholes become a big liability for someone to trip on, fall, and sue you. We found ourselves needing to borrow another $35,000 to replace the crumbling parking lot. Check the condition of the parking lot or driveway before you purchase a rental property.

Despite these challenges, after three years in the rental property business we’ve reached $150,000 in equity, so I’m grateful for having quality tenants and the opportunity to use real estate to build long-term wealth.

Ryan Lais is a career counselor for high school students with disabilities, real estate entrepreneur, freelance writer, and father currently based in a small prairie town in Minnesota.

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Brittni Popp’s 6-figure side hustle is making custom cakes for celebrities like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian

Brittni Popp
  • Brittni Popp‘s custom cake business Betchin Cakes helps people celebrate important moments in life.
  • Betchin Cakes saw a 120% increase in sales from last year and is on track to book six figures in sales this year.
  • This is part of Insider’s series Star, Rising which highlights early-stage entrepreneurs who are gaining popularity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Name: Brittni Popp

Age: 31

Location: Redondo Beach, CA

Business: Brittni Popp likes to help people commemorate their important life moments, whether that’s a bridal party, divorce, or even an expunged DUI. Her business, Betchin Cakes, sells highly customized baked goods that come adorned with decorations like Barbie dolls or empty nips. In the two years since she launched her side hustle, she’s landed high-profile customers like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian.

Brittni Popp
Brittni Popp

“It’s always been about making people happy and having a moment for them,” she told Insider. “The coolest part about it is that I’ve been the most authentic this entire time – that’s what’s getting me business.”

She doesn’t bake the cakes, just decorates them. The base cost for a cake is $150 but prices can increase depending on the amount of customization. Popp’s most expensive cake was around $900.

Before Betechin: Popp briefly studied communications at a local junior college before dropping out in 2009. Now, she works full time in business development for grants management software company eCivis.

Growth: Betchin Cakes saw a 120% increase in sales from last year and is on track to book six figures in sales this year, Popp says. The Instagram account has 12,000 followers and Popp recently expanded into making cupcakes and cakes for puppies and children.

Despite the increase in business, Popp says each week is different – in one she can decorate 18 cakes, and in another, she’ll only tackle five. “It’s never normal and I’m the queen of last-minute orders,” she said.

Challenges: Since Betchin Cakes started as a passion project, Popp has been learning how to run a business on the fly. However, she’s found it difficult to create a balanced working schedule, especially as she continues to work full time.

Brittni Popp
Paris Hilton with a Betchin cake

Business advice: Take risks, Popp said. “Don’t be afraid to try and make your ideas come to life and into something that everyone can enjoy and benefit from.”

Brittni Popp

Business mentor: Popp calls Lauryn Bosstick, founder of skincare brand Skinny Confidential, a mentor. Popp followed Bosstick’s career on Instagram before cold messaging her last year, asking for her thoughts on Betchin Cakes as a business. “It’s great to have these women in the industry who are starting out just like me and gone through the same obstacles,” Popp said, referring to Bosstick’s journey of turning her passion into a full-time job.

Why is now the best time to start a business? “I would say anytime is a good time,” Popp said, noting that many people make excuses when it comes to launching their passion projects. “I genuinely started my company wanting to make people feel special and have a moment they remembered.”

Hiring in today’s labor shortage: Popp’s friends help her bake, decorate, deliver and ship the cakes, but that’s on a part-time basis. The rest is up to her. “I do my own marketing, buying, sourcing, and client calls right now,” she said. “Everything is pretty personal.”

Popp hopes to expand her business, which could include hiring, but is still imaging what a mature version of Betchin Cakes would look like. “This year has been a big year for me,” she said. “There’s so much opportunity and the demand is really high.”

Managing burnout: Popp prioritizes scheduling personal time, including a two-week vacation each summer. She and her boyfriend visit their houseboat on the Colorado River and she disconnects from social media. “It’s a great break from reality to disconnect,” she said. “I always make time for a break.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

I made an extra $16,000 a year by renting out my spare bedroom on Airbnb – and it was the easiest way I ever made money. Here’s what the experience gave me beyond an extra income.

Sasha Im says she had a great experience renting out her spare bedroom on Airbnb.
Sasha Im says she had a great experience renting out her spare bedroom on Airbnb.

  • Sasha Im is a web producer and nonfiction writer based in Seattle, Washington.
  • For three years, Im rented out a spare room in her home on Airbnb, earning about $16,000 each year.
  • Im says it was “the easiest way” she ever made money as well as a great way to connect with others.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

From 2016 to 2019, I rented out a spare room in my house in Seattle through Airbnb. During that time, I earned the status of Superhost and made on average $16,000 a year. I could have made even more, but I had a full-time job and didn’t want hosting to feel like work. Instead, I focused on the joy of opening up my home to complete strangers, and although I’ve since stopped hosting, I’ve kept the lessons it taught me.

Hosting made me a better cleaner

The shared kitchen room space in Sasha Im's home.
The open concept kitchen and breakfast island in Im’s home.

Because I strived to get 5-star reviews with the “sparkling clean” rating, I stopped leaving jackets on the sofa or empty coffee cups on the table. Rather than putting off all the cleaning until Sunday, I did a few quick tasks every day. Dusting or mopping no longer felt like tedious chores but a rewarding form of self-care. It felt good to be living in a place that was always tidy and smelled like fresh-cut lavender.

Having guests made me feel more secure in my house

Sasha Im
Im on the outdoor terrace of her home.

I’m a petite 5’2″ woman. I learned some karate as a kid but my best roundhouse kick might thwart a puppy, so friends wondered how I could let strangers into my home.

But here’s the thing: I actually felt safer in my house with guests inside. This is partly because the rented room is near the front door, so my guests would have been in the first line of defense had a break-in ever occurred. (I’m not sure they knew their responsibility.) In any case, I enjoyed seeing my guests, and at night, it comforted me to hear their soft snores coming from their bedroom.

I had only a few bad experiences, like one guest who claimed she could smell my cat who had died three years prior and tried to get a refund, and another guest who stole expensive items from my closet (totally my fault for not locking up my valuables, I did lock them up moving forward.) But overall, the positives of hosting outweighed the cons.

Hosting introduced me to interesting people from all over the world

One English couple surprised me with a five-course meal and told me about their bucket list. A Spanish couple cooked a hearty chorizo stew and invited me to visit them in Barcelona.

As a big fan of the late Tony Hsieh, whose mission at Zappo’s was to deliver happiness, I also made an effort to connect personally with each guest. I did things like ask which type of milk they preferred in their coffee and picked up a small carton of it at the supermarket, and once left chocolates and a bottle of Sapporo for a guest who looked tired.

I had fun meeting guests, which only led to more success as a host as several people returned for a second stay or referred others to my property.

Hosting reinforced the idea that money isn’t everything

The shared living room space in Sasha Im's home.
The shared living room space in Im’s home.

I rented the room out between 140 and 170 days each year, and I blocked out two to three days after a guest left so that I never felt rushed in cleaning and turning over the room. I kept the house to myself for major holidays and whenever I wanted to have friends over for a party. Rather than trying to maximize my profits, I focused on giving my guests – and myself – a good experience, so I’ll always remember hosting as the easiest way I ever made money. It didn’t take a lot of my time, it gave me joy, and there were no office politics.

Now that I’m engaged, I’m no longer renting the spare room. My fiancé and I both feel guests would make our home feel crowded, but that might change if we ever move to a place with an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) or a separate floor.

I encourage anyone with a spare room who’s been curious about hosting to try it out, especially with post-pandemic travel plans heating up and sites like Airbnb and Vrbo making it easier for first-time hosts to sign up. But remember to focus on the quality of the experience – for both you and your guests – to get the best outcome.

Sasha Im is a web producer and writer based in Seattle. Her creative non-fiction has been featured on The Moth Mainstage and KNKX radio.

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 ways to decide if starting a side hustle on top of your full-time job is right for you

woman typing on laptop
Many Americans have taken on side gigs as a way to earn extra money.

  • A side gig is a great way to add extra income or explore your passion outside of a full-time job.
  • Look at your savings and current workload to determine if the gig economy is right for you.
  • Network with other creatives to get a sense of whether or not the financial rewards are worth the extra work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Side gigs can be a lucrative way to earn extra cash or expand your horizons – but is it worth the extra stress to have a side hustle and a full-time job?

Although the last decade has seen “the gig economy” blossom and prosper like never before, the concept of the side gig has existed for ages. Anyone looking to earn more money has found that an additional job of some sort is the quickest and easiest way to gain additional financial security.

With the pandemic, millions of Americans began picking up extra “gigs” working for companies including Instacart, Amazon, Uber, and countless other businesses that filled an important niche during COVID. Women were already at the heart of the gig economy long before the pandemic, and many more found themselves starting new side jobs over this last year and a half – perhaps while also holding down full-time positions and caring for loved ones … But working a full-time job and side hustle can be incredibly time consuming, and not always doable with everyone’s schedule. Here’s how to know if doing both may be right for you.

Working “second shift”

Before COVID, many women were likely already working a “second shift” as the primary caregiver for loved ones (such as children and aging parents) and were acting as the caretaker of their home. Once the pandemic hit, millions of women added “teacher” to their list of jobs, and the lines between work life and home life became particularly blurred … Even if your partner worked from home, you most likely continued to do a majority of the domestic work. As a result, it might not be possible to put extra time and energy into a side hustle right now.

And even if you have time for a side gig, taking it on might not be the healthiest option. Over time, it can become just one more ball to juggle rather than a financial relief or a place to put your passion and energy. Finding the elusive “work-life balance” – which, by the way, is a misnomer – becomes even more of a challenge and can take a toll on your mental and physical wellness. In fact, research shows that people who work more than 55 hours a week develop depression and anxiety at a higher rate than those who work standard hours.

We all need to give ourselves a little more grace and realize that working a full-time job, a side hustle, and taking care of a household isn’t always the right choice.

Is the side gig economy right for you?

If you’re deciding whether adding a side gig to your plate is the right move, consider the following:

1. Do you have an emergency fund?

If you have an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months of non-discretionary expenses, that’s great! And it might mean that you don’t need to take on a side gig for the sole purpose of gaining extra income.

If you don’t currently have an emergency fund – or if it’s not enough to cover the essentials for a few months – then a side gig could be beneficial. Regardless, consider putting your emergency fund in an online account that generally pays higher interest.

2. How much do you have saved for retirement?

Ideally, you should save at least 15% of your net income for retirement. If you have access to a 401(k) through your full-time job and your employer offers a match, try to contribute enough to reach your match – and don’t forget that whatever your employer is contributing counts toward your savings target!

If you don’t have a retirement plan or can’t save 15% right now, that’s okay, too. We’re all at different places with our careers and savings goals. A side job that helps you bring in extra money can help boost your savings.

3. Can you devote energy to a side gig?

Extra money is certainly nice to have, but that is only one piece to consider. A side gig takes a lot of energy, resources, and time. Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about because there will be setbacks and days when you don’t feel like you’re making progress. Research and network with people who have similar side jobs to determine what it will take to add the job to your current load. If it seems like the side gig will add too much stress or unhappiness to your life – and take away from what you’re already doing – it might not be right for you.

Ultimately, it’s important to determine whether the financial rewards of a full-time job and side hustle outweigh the potential downsides. Burnout is real and very prevalent right now as people take on too many responsibilities. It’s important to make sure you have the time and energy not just for work and home life, but for yourself as well. If your side gig becomes successful enough, however, it might just be your ticket to pursuing your passion full time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 costly and time-consuming mistakes to avoid when starting a side hustle or small business

working from home
Entrepreneurs should do what they can to avoid time-consuming and costly mistakes when starting a new business.

  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and founder of the company Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • When she first launched her business, she says she made several costly and time-consuming mistakes.
  • Glantz says having a budget, limiting debts, and seeking a mentor would have helped her business grow faster.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I started my business, six years ago, by accident. I had an idea for a unique wedding business, where strangers could hire me to be their bridesmaid, and decided to test that idea out by posting an ad on Craigslist. The ad drew hundreds of interested people to reach out to me and within a matter of days, I officially launched Bridesmaid for Hire.

jen glantz
Author Jen Glantz.

Because I started my business so quickly, I found that in the first year I made many mistakes that cost me a lot of money and precious time. It’s been six years since then and looking back, I wish I had avoided these costly errors from the very beginning.

If you’re thinking of starting a side hustle, these are the mistakes I made that you should try to avoid.

1. Ditching a budget

When I started my business, I wasn’t sure how much money I needed to get the website up and running, to market to new clients, and to hire professionals (lawyers and accountants) along the way. During the first few months, I was charging every little thing on my personal credit card and not realizing how much I was spending.

I spent close to $500 to launch my website, pay for different software products to help with email marketing and social media, and get official branding for the company. This was all just in the first few weeks of starting the business.

Rather than just paying for things and racking up credit card debt, I wish I’d had a budget. If I could go back in time, I would first decide how much of my personal cash I wanted to loan to the business. Then, I’d create different categories for spending (marketing, software, professionals, freelance hires, etc.) and determine how much of that total cash I’d allocate per category. This would help me stretch a predetermined amount of money to pay for everything during that first year. Instead, I did things in reverse and when I needed something, I just charged it and didn’t keep track.

Set a budget before you start the business. Determine how much of your own cash you’re willing to pump into the early days of getting your idea up and running and stay meticulous about tracking your spending on a weekly basis.

2. Taking too much from my personal savings

When I first started my side hustle I was working full time and took some of my income from that job to help fund my business. Without realizing it, I was slowly draining my savings account to pay for a lot of the early expenses. Since I wasn’t earning that much yet from clients and services, I was using too much of my personal cash, too fast, to pay for things.

Rather than pulling out too much money from your personal accounts, and impacting your personal financial goals (such as saving for retirement or creating an emergency fund), it’s best to put a limit on how much of your own cash you’ll loan the business and have the intention of paying yourself back once the business makes money.

When you start a business, everything always feels urgent. What I should have done was prioritize what needed to be funded immediately and what could wait. That way, I wouldn’t have put so much of my cash into the business up front and taken on personal risk without knowing if the idea would generate income in future months.

3. Not asking for advice or mentorship

I didn’t have any friends who were entrepreneurs when I first started my company so I felt very alone in the process. When I’d ask my friends for help or ask their advice on certain situations (such as how much to charge clients or how much to spend on a logo) they wouldn’t know what to advise me.

I had to learn things the hard way by making my own mistakes, when a mentor or circle of entrepreneur friends could have helped me make better decisions with their lessons learned, industry knowledge, or just entrepreneurial experience.

Even if you’re not surrounded by people creating side hustles, find online communities or reach out and find a mentor who can be there for you to answer questions, help you avoid mistakes, and stay smart with your money.

4. Refusing to hire a virtual assistant

I started the business solo and found myself taking on too much work. I was working full-time and working on my side hustle during any free moment I had (early mornings, nights, and weekends). I could have accelerated the growth of my company, big time, by hiring a virtual assistant to help with more time-consuming tasks that didn’t need to be done by me (organizing emails, uploading blog posts, creating outreach emails, etc.). Instead, I took the time to do these smaller tasks that took hours or a half the day, when I could have been working on more important areas of the business like scaling, growth, or brainstorming ways to get new clients.

Hiring a virtual assistant would have cost around $25 an hour and that’s something I could have budgeted for knowing that if I used those “free hours” I could find ways to double or triple the growth of the business.

5. Setting my prices too low

One of the most rookie mistakes I made was when it came to figuring out how much to charge. I set my prices very low and because of that, I wasn’t profitable during the first few months when I could have been. I had many clients and was working more than 40 hours a week with this side hustle, yet my finances didn’t show success. I was undercharging for my services for two main reasons: I didn’t truly know my value and I was scared if my prices were higher I wouldn’t have any clients.

I was wrong. This was a costly mistake because I found I was providing clients with more hours of my time than they originally paid for at a very low cost. This meant I couldn’t take on new clients (because there just weren’t enough hours in the day) and it meant even though I was working hard, and working long hours, my business wasn’t making enough money to be viable.

When you notice a mistake in your pricing, make changes to how much you’re charging or your business plan. This can make or break a business early on.

Everyone starting a side hustle makes mistakes but when it comes to errors that cost time and money, it’s best to avoid those when you can. Set a clear budget, limit how much you’re pulling from personal finance, and ask for advice so you can make smart and efficient decisions along the way.

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These 12 people started their dream businesses from scratch. Here are the biggest lessons they learned from self-publishing on Amazon, writing copy, and hand-dying their own yarn

Examples of how to start your business, including dog walking, a food truck, urban farming, hair care, and dyed yarn.
A record number of people started new businesses last year, including dog walking, urban farming, and food trucks.

  • The pandemic upended many lives, but it didn’t overturn the entrepreneurial dream.
  • Applications for an employer ID reached 1.1 million through September 2020, a 12% increase from the prior year.
  • Here are 12 guides on how to start any business, from a modest urban farm to a food truck.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The pandemic upended many lives, but it didn’t overturn the entrepreneurial dream.

A record number of people started new businesses last year. New applications for an employer ID in the US reached 1.1 million through September 2020, a 12% increase from the same time period in 2019, according to an analysis of US Census data by The Wall Street Journal.

For those who want to chase their entrepreneurial passions, here are 12 guides on how to start a business, from a dog-walking empire, to a modest urban farm, and even a food truck.

1. Copywriting business

sarah turner
Sarah Turner Agency offers freelance copywriting for clients in the medical and health sectors, content marketing strategy, and training programs for future copywriters.

Sarah Turner launched her eponymous copywriting agency in 2013, after leaving her job as a research assistant.

Sarah Turner Agency offers freelance copywriting for clients in the medical and health sectors, content marketing strategy, and training programs for future copywriters. Last year, Turner booked $2.6 million in revenue, according to documents verified by Insider. 

Read more about how Turner launched her copywriting business. 

2. Website flipping

chelsea
Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs for Sale.

Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs For Sale, a company that flips little-known websites into desirable online businesses that can generate $16,800 in a year.

Clarke said her startup took off last year as more people sought online revenue streams during the pandemic. In 2020, she earned $127,000 from flipping 13 websites and brokering sales for 50 more sites, documents reviewed by Insider verified. 

Read more about how Clarke built her website-flipping business. 

 

3. Instagram side hustle

PK.JPG
Today, Plant Kween has 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.

Christopher Griffin’s Instagram account, which is under the moniker Plant Kween, is devoted to pictures of the 200 plants living in their Brooklyn apartment, tips on caring for the greenery, and useful botanical knowledge. 

They started the account in winter 2016 — as a means of learning about something new after graduate school — grew it steadily to 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.

Griffin couldn’t disclose what they earn with the music-streaming service but a partnership with the fashion line Tonle, that sold $42,000 of non-binary clothing last year, netted them around $8,400, according to Tonle. 

Read more about how Griffin built their Instagram side-hustle. 

4. Urban farm

Joanna Bassi
Here’s how Joanna Bassi built an urban farm from scratch and her advice for fellow farming entrepreneurs, including how to pivot during a pandemic.

Joanna Bassi turned her unused backyard — measuring 150 feet by 75 feet — into an urban farm that could grow fresh produce for local establishments.

Bassi started from the ground up in January 2018, and by the following year, she netted nearly $6,000 in revenue from selling at farmers markets and local restaurants, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

In 2020, the pandemic temporarily closed Bassi’s restaurant clients and hurt business. She still managed to book nearly $7,000 by creating new revenue streams. 

Read more about how Bassi built her urban farming business. 

5. Pet care and dog-walking business

dog tricks
You can teach your dog to shake your hand with a simple command.

Jill Nelson took over her friend’s 15-year-old dog walking and pet sitting startup Hot Diggity in 2015. Since then, she’s scaled the Seattle office, opened a Vancouver location, and purchased Hot Diggity’s Portland, Oregon, outpost. 

Revenue for Hot Diggity’s three locations sank between 2019 to 2020 — Portland had the most drastic decline, falling from $2.1 million to $986,000, according to documents verified by Insider — but Nelson said the company weathered the storm and is already seeing an increase in bookings. 

Read more about how Nelson built her dog-walking and pet care business. 

6. Hand-dyed yarn business

Jake 1
Kenyon shared his advice for launching a business around your passion, building community support, and how he stands out in a crowded market.

In January, Jake Kenyon left his full-time job as a speech pathologist to pursue his side hustle: A hand-dyed yarn business called Kenyarn. The pandemic drove many consumers to crafts, like knitting and crocheting, which helped boost Kenyon’s business.

Kenyarn’s gross sales jumped from $33,000 in 2019 to $125,000 last year, and he’s on track to surpass that figure this year, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

Read more about how Kenyon built his hand-dyed yarn business. 

7. Food truck

food truck
Alessio Lacco and Sofia Arango opened a pizza-focused food truck, tapping Lacco’s 15-year background making Neapolitan pies and the truck he already owned.

Alessio Lacco and Sofia Arango launched Atlanta Pizza Truck last August as way to make money during the pandemic.

In its first five months of business, the couple booked $82,000 in sales, according to documents reviewed by Insider. In the first three months of 2021, they netted $53,000 in sales and believe they are on track to at least double sales from 2020.

Read more about how Lacco and Arango built their food truck business. 

8. Hair care business

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Stormi Steele

Stormi Steele used to make hair care products in her kitchen while working in salon in 2012. She’d mix over-the-counter ingredients, such as flaxseed oil and vitamin E, in an effort to create a solution that would help her hair grow. 

Today, Steele is the founder of Canvas Beauty Brand, which booked nearly $20 million in revenue last year.

Read more about how Steele built her hair-care business. 

 

9. Pop-up bakery

abby love
On January 21, Abby Love opened her first bakery, Abby Jane Bakeshop, in Dripping Springs, Texas.

When the opening of Abby Love’s bakery was delayed due to the pandemic, she launched 10 pop-up bakeries around Dripping Springs, Texas to keep her brand alive, attract new customers, and boost revenue.

Love partnered with local businesses for her pop-ups, choosing establishments that didn’t sell baked goods and attracted the kind of customers who would appreciate her locally-sourced ingredients.

Read more about how Love built her pop-up bakery business.

10. Craft brewery business

Chris and Avery_HTB_LittlePondDigital
Christophe Gagne and Avery Schwenk are the cofounders of Hermit Thrush, a Brattleboro, Vermont-based brewery that exclusively makes sour beers.

Christophe Gagne and Avery Schwenk are the cofounders of Hermit Thrush, a 7-year-old Brattleboro, Vermont-based brewery that exclusively makes sour beers. 

Today the brewery has 21 taps and its canned varieties are sold in 9 states, plus DC. The brewery’s most popular concoction, Party Jam, is a collection of fruit-forward sours that typically sells for $19.99 on the company’s website. What’s more, Hermit Thrush booked $1.5 million in revenue last year, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

Read more about how Gagne and Schwenk built their craft brew business. 

11. Furniture maker

furniture
Matthew Nafranowicz, a master craftsman, started doing upholstery work more than two decades ago.

In 2002, Matthew Nafranowicz opened his furniture upholstery storefront, The Straight Thread, in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Furniture upholstery represents an estimated $1 billion market in the US, and government data shows it employs roughly 30,000 people.

Read more about how Nafranowicz built his furniture upholstery business. 

12. Self-published author

sally

Sally Miller is a self-published author who’s written and co-authored 15 books on Amazon. She made $9,000 in royalties in January, her highest amount to date, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

“It meets my two criteria, which is that I’m making money and doing something I really enjoy,” said Miller, who built a following through her subject matter, which focuses on how people can make money through various entrepreneurial ventures, like Airbnb and ghostwriting.

Read more about how Miller built her self-publishing business. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

6 ways to figure out if your side hustle idea will be a quick failure or a long-term success

side hustle video influencer young entrepreneur
The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

The number one thing I love to do in my free time is brainstorm new business ideas. I find it fun thinking about problems and solutions in the form of innovative, unique, and interesting side hustles. My friends know this about me and at some point, at every dinner or phone call, I ask them if they want to chat about random ideas and see if any of them have potential for success.

While coming up with a long list of business ideas is easy, spending the quality time to check and see if these ideas can actually turn into something requires a series of practical steps.

If you’re collecting business ideas wondering which could turn into long term success and which are doomed for quick failure, here are six ways you can put your idea to the test before investing money into getting a business up and running.

1. Get the idea in front of an audience

Side hustles are created for people to help solve a problem they have in their life. Even if you think your idea is brilliant, it can’t be validated until it’s in front of a group of people, who are your ideal target audience, to see what their response is.

For example, if you’re thinking of starting a career coaching service for women in their 30s who want to make a career transition to another industry, find 10 to 15 people who meet this criteria and spend 30 minutes to an hour understanding their perspective, what kind of coaching they’d like, and how they feel about your idea.

If you are thinking of creating a modern stress ball for those who work in high-energy and fast-paced careers, first spend time chatting with this audience to see if this is something they’d use and then create a test product for them to try out before you build the real thing.

This data will help you pivot or change the purpose of your business. The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

jen glantz
Jen Glantz.

2. Have a pulse on industry trends

It’s common for entrepreneurs to start side hustles in industries they aren’t too familiar with. Sometimes being new can allow you to see what problems no other company has ever tried to solve. Spend time keeping a pulse on trends, projections, and innovations happening within a certain space.

An easy way to help you do this is by setting free Google alerts for topics and keywords within an industry so that you can review daily updates about what’s happening. You can also read industry blogs, listen to podcasts, and attend conferences, all before actually starting and launching your product or service.

What you learn will help you brainstorm ways to make your side hustle stand out and be practical to the ever-changing needs of your customer base.

3. Understand your competitors

Before getting too deep into planning your idea, look into better understanding your competitors. Map out their business plan, identify what they’ve done in the past that’s worked well for them and what has failed, and see what opportunities they haven’t even tried yet.

Once you know the performance of at least three to five competitors, you can really understand how your side hustle can fit into the overall landscape of the industry and potentially service customers in a new or different way.

Look into the marketing of these companies (check out their website and sign up for their emails) and use analysis tools like Rival IQ for help on how your competitors are performing on social media platforms.

4. Eyeball your business plan

A great step to take to really see if an idea has what it takes to grow into a success business is to write out a full and formal plan. Once you can identify how the business will grow and scale, what kind of budget you’ll need, and what the overall solutions are to the problems you’re solving for your audience, you’ll be able to have a blueprint for next steps.

Print out a free business plan like this one and see how much of it you can fill out. Over time, consult with mentors and other experts in your industry to expand on your business plan and see if your idea has legs or is just a decent idea.

5. Chat with a handful of mentors

Side hustle ideas should be shared. The more people with business and industry knowledge you share your ideas, the more you can refine your purpose and product based on their expertise.

Join communities where these experts might be (Facebook groups or conferences) and ask if they will meet with you for 15 to 20 minutes, and come prepared with questions catered to their insights and experience.

6. Be willing to pivot, pause, and plan

A lot of successful businesses started out as something completely different than what they are now. Take Amazon, for example, which started off as an online book seller and has now turned into a platform for buying everything you could possibly need and getting it sent to your doorstep quickly.

If you notice you’re hanging onto an idea that’s not getting a good response from your target audience or industry experts, understand that if you don’t pause, pivot, and re-plan, you might not find the success you’re looking for.

Be willing, as a new entrepreneur, to bend your idea from its original state. Following these steps will help you get clarity on whether or not an idea is worth pursuing.

Read the original article on Business Insider

28-year-old Tyra Myricks makes 7 figures and has 5 side hustles. Here’s how she typically spends a day.

Tyra Mavericks
Tyra Myricks

  • Tyra Myricks, 28, makes seven figures a year working a day job and five side hustles.
  • She works for Drake, has a fashion line, a branding company, a website for entrepreneurial resources, a pizza shop, and co-owns a gym.
  • To Insider, she breaks down what a typical day looks like.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If the Land of Side Hustles had a queen, it would surely be 28-year-old Tyra Myricks, daughter of hip hop legend Jam Master Jay. It all began in 2009 when she launched a fashion label while still in high school that eventually helped pay her way through college. She initially went to university to study pre-med but dropped out after the label saw her earning over double her tuition.

She took the streetwear world by storm with celebrity partnerships, and advertising on Instagram’s TMZ the Shade Room. In 2012, she rebranded the company now known as Wealth as high fashion streetwear.

“It’s not the business you do, it’s what you do differently,” she told Insider.

Aside from owning a fashion label, and branding and merchandising company, she’s also the co-owner of The Method, Los Angeles’ first Black-owned gym. Myricks is also about to launch a pizza shop with T’yanna Wallace, daughter of rapper Biggie Smalls, and she’s co-creating a platform to provide young entrepreneurs with resources to start their own businesses.

“It’s not an easy game,” she said of being an entrepreneur. “Everybody on the internet shows the glorious side, but nobody shows the treacherous side where it’s hard to get up in the morning.”

Her day job, of course, is working as director of design, merchandising, and development for Drake’s OVO lifestyle brand, which earns her six figures a year. In total, she makes about seven figures a year and says a secret to her success is knowing how to constantly be agile with the opportunities life brings.

To Insider, she breaks down how she puts that process to use on a typical day.

She wakes up at 5:45 in the morning

Waking up before the break of dawn, Myricks prays, takes a shower, gets dressed, and downs six espresso shots. Her first stop this morning is to The Method to prepare the gym for opening.

Around 6:30 a.m. she leaves the house and puts on gospel music as she drives downtown, trying to beat the morning traffic rush.

At 7 a.m. she opens the gym and gets breakfast

She arrives at the gym and inspects everything to make sure space was cleaned properly before closing the night before. She also folds extra towels and gets the system ready for patrons.

Myricks became co-owner in the gym after investing a substantial amount last year, though she declined to share how much she gave. There are no employees at the gym, though it has 17 independent contractors. It opened in a new location last summer in the middle of the pandemic. Myricks remembers that day clearly because a few days later, the city of Los Angeles shut down again due to COVID-19.

“It was a grand opening, grand closing,” she said.

Tyra Mavericks
Tyra Myricks

During the shutdown, they moved classes outdoors, which helped cover overhead costs (rent is $6,500 a month). Currently, the club has nearly 300 members, giving it a feel of exclusivity, which is something Myricks prizes in all of her entrepreneurial endeavors.

Membership is $99 a month, another reason to ensure service is top-notch. “What’s stopping someone from going to planet fitness for $30 a month?” Myricks said.

After opening the gym she gets breakfast. This day: a green smoothie.

Then, she preps for her day job

Myricks is also the director of design, merchandising, and development for rapper Drake’s OVO lifestyle brand. At 9:30 a.m., still at the gym, she prepares for a Zoom call with the OVO team to discuss upcoming projects. That lasts until about 11 a.m.

Cofounded by Drake in 2011, OVO is known for selling high-end streetwear and has done collaborations with Canada Goose, and the Major League Baseball, as well as having hosted pop-ups at Nordstrom and the once-popular retail store Colette in Paris. “I look at the recipe and formula a lot of successful people use and get little pieces of that to create my own recipe and formula to be successful,” she said.

Tyra Mavericks
Tyra Myricks

Afterward, another business partner meets her at the gym to discuss upcoming projects for the branding agency they own together. Drake offered Myricks a job after seeing some of the branding and merchandising work her agency did for an artist signed to his label. She moved from New York to Los Angeles in 2017 to take the job.

Without giving exact numbers, Myricks said she makes six figures a year from working at OVO, where she leads the design team, approves and denies designs, and deals with manufacturers overseas. “It’s a constant 24-hour job because China and other manufacturers are 12 hours ahead of us,” she said. “When you ask what is a day like – it’s literally a day. It’s a constant revolving door that never stops.”

At 11:28 a.m. she starts working on her fashion side hustle

Next, she heads to the factory she co-owns with a business partner and begins ordering fabric for her Wealth fashion line which she primarily sells online and in one store in downtown LA.

“This isn’t because other stores aren’t interested,” she said. “We like to keep exclusivity.”

She also discusses plans with her business partner on renovating the space next door to expand the factory, makes sure production is on track and approves new patterns for sweaters. There are 16 people currently working for her company, and the brand produces about 2,500 units each week. Each item sells for between $13 and $1,300.

Tyra Mavericks
Tyra Myricks

Finally, it’s lunch time

An assistant brings her lunch around noon, which today is a grilled chicken salad. Before eating it, however, she heads to the screen printer to drop off samples for Wealth’s upcoming fall/winter collection.

When she gets to Wealth headquarters around 2 p.m., she finally eats lunch as she packs all of the orders that arrived the day before, preparing to ship them to customers.

Next, she orders a double shot of espresso from Blue Bottle Cafe. Then, she keeps it moving.

Around 4 p.m. she finally ships off the Wealth packages, then heads to the Inflamed store downtown, the only brick-and-mortar location that sells Wealth. There, she restocks and checks inventory.

On to another side hustle

Next, she heads to a meeting at the pizza shop she’s opening called Juicy Pizza to discuss patio design and merchandise. Myricks said she came up with the idea of Juicy Pizza because, as a New Yorker living in Los Angeles, she felt there was “no good pizza in Los Angeles.”

Tyra Mavericks
Tyra Myricks (L)

“The more I thought about how to bring that New York theme to Los Angeles, I felt, who represents New York more than Biggie Smalls?” she continued. So she called her friend T’yanna Wallace, daughter of the late rapper, and presented her with the idea. “She loved it,” Myricks said.

Myricks also knew the importance of reaching out to Wallace because, being the daughter of the late Jam Master Jay, she knows first hand what it’s like to have people profit from her father’s name and career. “I was like I don’t want you to invest anything,” she recalled telling Wallace. “Let’s just make money together. Let’s make moves.”

The shop is set to open later this year.

Last stop: a dinner reservation downtown

At 7 p.m. she meets two friends at a Latin restaurant called Dama downtown, where she orders a celery salad with pineapple juice, Mexican corn, and an Oxtail Tostada.

She picks up shipping bags from the storage unit before heading home.

Around 9 p.m. she finally arrives home and begins to unwind, if only for a moment. She answers emails before starting her next project, a website for celebrity client merchandise, which is part of the branding agency she co-founded.

Around midnight, she falls asleep. In five hours, she will get up and do it all over again.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to start 12 small businesses from scratch – whether you’re into copywriting, urban farming, or food trucks

Examples of how to start your business, including dog walking, a food truck, urban farming, hair care, and dyed yarn.
A record number of people started new businesses last year, including dog walking, urban farming, and food trucks.

  • The pandemic upended many lives, but it didn’t overturn the entrepreneurial dream.
  • Applications for an employer ID reached 1.1 million through September in 2020, a 12% increase from the prior year.
  • Here are 12 guides on how to start any business, from a modest urban farm to a food truck.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The pandemic upended many lives, but it didn’t overturn the entrepreneurial dream.

A record number of people started new businesses last year. New applications for an employer ID in the US reached 1.1 million through September 2020, a 12% increase from the same time period in 2019, according to an analysis of US Census data by The Wall Street Journal.

For those who want to chase their entrepreneurial passions, here are 12 guides on how to start a business, from a dog-walking empire, to a modest urban farm, and even a food truck.

1. Copywriting business

sarah turner
Sarah Turner Agency offers freelance copywriting for clients in the medical and health sectors, content marketing strategy, and training programs for future copywriters.

Sarah Turner launched her eponymous copywriting agency in 2013, after leaving her job as a research assistant.

Sarah Turner Agency offers freelance copywriting for clients in the medical and health sectors, content marketing strategy, and training programs for future copywriters. Last year, Turner booked $2.6 million in revenue, according to documents verified by Insider. 

Read more about how Turner launched her copywriting business. 

2. Website flipping

chelsea
Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs for Sale.

Chelsea Clarke is the founder of Blogs For Sale, a company that flips little-known websites into desirable online businesses that can generate $16,800 in a year.

Clarke said her startup took off last year as more people sought online revenue streams during the pandemic. In 2020, she earned $127,000 from flipping 13 websites and brokering sales for 50 more sites, documents reviewed by Insider verified. 

Read more about how Clarke built her website-flipping business. 

 

3. Instagram side hustle

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Today, Plant Kween has 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.

Christopher Griffin’s Instagram account, which is under the moniker Plant Kween, is devoted to pictures of the 200 plants living in their Brooklyn apartment, tips on caring for the greenery, and useful botanical knowledge. 

They started the account in winter 2016 — as a means of learning about something new after graduate school — grew it steadily to 311,000 followers and collaborates with brands like Spotify on curated content.

Griffin couldn’t disclose what they earn with the music-streaming service but a partnership with the fashion line Tonle, that sold $42,000 of non-binary clothing last year, netted them around $8,400, according to Tonle. 

Read more about how Griffin built their Instagram side-hustle. 

4. Urban farm

Joanna Bassi
Here’s how Joanna Bassi built an urban farm from scratch and her advice for fellow farming entrepreneurs, including how to pivot during a pandemic.

Joanna Bassi turned her unused backyard — measuring 150 feet by 75 feet — into an urban farm that could grow fresh produce for local establishments.

Bassi started from the ground up in January 2018, and by the following year, she netted nearly $6,000 in revenue from selling at farmers markets and local restaurants, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

In 2020, the pandemic temporarily closed Bassi’s restaurant clients and hurt business. She still managed to book nearly $7,000 by creating new revenue streams. 

Read more about how Bassi built her urban farming business. 

5. Pet care and dog-walking business

dog tricks
You can teach your dog to shake your hand with a simple command.

Jill Nelson took over her friend’s 15-year-old dog walking and pet sitting startup Hot Diggity in 2015. Since then, she’s scaled the Seattle office, opened a Vancouver location, and purchased Hot Diggity’s Portland, Oregon, outpost. 

Revenue for Hot Diggity’s three locations sank between 2019 to 2020 — Portland had the most drastic decline, falling from $2.1 million to $986,000, according to documents verified by Insider — but Nelson said the company weathered the storm and is already seeing an increase in bookings. 

Read more about how Nelson built her dog-walking and pet care business. 

6. Hand-dyed yarn business

Jake 1
Kenyon shared his advice for launching a business around your passion, building community support, and how he stands out in a crowded market.

In January, Jake Kenyon left his full-time job as a speech pathologist to pursue his side hustle: A hand-dyed yarn business called Kenyarn. The pandemic drove many consumers to crafts, like knitting and crocheting, which helped boost Kenyon’s business.

Kenyarn’s gross sales jumped from $33,000 in 2019 to $125,000 last year, and he’s on track to surpass that figure this year, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

Read more about how Kenyon built his hand-dyed yarn business. 

7. Food truck

food truck
Alessio Lacco and Sofia Arango opened a pizza-focused food truck, tapping Lacco’s 15-year background making Neapolitan pies and the truck he already owned.

Alessio Lacco and Sofia Arango launched Atlanta Pizza Truck last August as way to make money during the pandemic.

In its first five months of business, the couple booked $82,000 in sales, according to documents reviewed by Insider. In the first three months of 2021, they netted $53,000 in sales and believe they are on track to at least double sales from 2020.

Read more about how Lacco and Arango built their food truck business. 

8. Hair care business

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Stormi Steele

Stormi Steele used to make hair care products in her kitchen while working in salon in 2012. She’d mix over-the-counter ingredients, such as flaxseed oil and vitamin E, in an effort to create a solution that would help her hair grow. 

Today, Steele is the founder of Canvas Beauty Brand, which booked nearly $20 million in revenue last year.

Read more about how Steele built her hair-care business. 

 

9. Pop-up bakery

abby love
On January 21, Abby Love opened her first bakery, Abby Jane Bakeshop, in Dripping Springs, Texas.

When the opening of Abby Love’s bakery was delayed due to the pandemic, she launched 10 pop-up bakeries around Dripping Springs, Texas to keep her brand alive, attract new customers, and boost revenue.

Love partnered with local businesses for her pop-ups, choosing establishments that didn’t sell baked goods and attracted the kind of customers who would appreciate her locally-sourced ingredients.

Read more about how Love built her pop-up bakery business.

10. Craft brewery business

Chris and Avery_HTB_LittlePondDigital
Christophe Gagne and Avery Schwenk are the cofounders of Hermit Thrush, a Brattleboro, Vermont-based brewery that exclusively makes sour beers.

Christophe Gagne and Avery Schwenk are the cofounders of Hermit Thrush, a 7-year-old Brattleboro, Vermont-based brewery that exclusively makes sour beers. 

Today the brewery has 21 taps and its canned varieties are sold in 9 states, plus DC. The brewery’s most popular concoction, Party Jam, is a collection of fruit-forward sours that typically sells for $19.99 on the company’s website. What’s more, Hermit Thrush booked $1.5 million in revenue last year, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

Read more about how Gagne and Schwenk built their craft brew business. 

11. Furniture maker

furniture
Matthew Nafranowicz, a master craftsman, started doing upholstery work more than two decades ago.

In 2002, Matthew Nafranowicz opened his furniture upholstery storefront, The Straight Thread, in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Furniture upholstery represents an estimated $1 billion market in the US, and government data shows it employs roughly 30,000 people.

Read more about how Nafranowicz built his furniture upholstery business. 

12. Self-published author

sally

Sally Miller is a self-published author who’s written and co-authored 15 books on Amazon. She made $9,000 in royalties in January, her highest amount to date, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

“It meets my two criteria, which is that I’m making money and doing something I really enjoy,” said Miller, who built a following through her subject matter, which focuses on how people can make money through various entrepreneurial ventures, like Airbnb and ghostwriting.

Read more about how Miller built her self-publishing business. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

At 52, I took on a second part-time retail job at Lush Cosmetics for extra income and to get out of the house. Here are 5 lessons the experience taught me.

Zoey Ullah and Belinda Clarke Lush workers
Belinda Clarke, right, with a Lush coworker in January 2021.

  • Belinda Clarke is a freelance writer and a director of alumni engagement at Northwestern University.
  • She recently Clarke took on a second part-time job as an employee at a mall Lush store in Skokie, Illinois.
  • Although re-entering retail was intimidating, Clarke says she enjoyed interacting with people again and feeling valued for her hard work.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In mid-November, I signed on as a holiday associate for Lush Cosmetics at the Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, Illinois, near my home.

While my primary driver for taking a second job was extra income, after nearly a year at home, I also really wanted to be around people again. This might sound off to some, since the pandemic is still raging, but I felt very comfortable with the company’s COVID safety protocol, which involved a required stop at the hand-washing station and masks at all times. (If you’re wondering, yes, you can still smell the bath bombs through your mask). 

I worked at Lush until my holiday term ended on January 10. Here are lessons I learned from taking on the job.

1. You’re never too old be scared on your first day 

On my first day on the job, I was very nervous. I hadn’t started a new job in 20 years. But within a half hour of donning the LUSH apron and getting out on the sales floor, I was already working the register, a testament to both good technology and cool managers who took time away to walk me through things. 

As I worked through my first day, I was impressed by how organized and put together the team was. Even better, I was encouraged to take time when the store was slow (which didn’t happen often) to read product descriptions, ask questions, and even make samples to try at home so I’d get to know the products. Never did I feel like I was being a burden to my colleagues, who graciously helped me learn the ropes. 

2. Quality output takes extra time

I’m a task master and I do things quickly. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes it results in sloppy work. For example, if you want to make a good impression, you probably don’t want me wrapping your gifts. So when it came to the cutting and packaging of the bulk soap, I was a little apprehensive. 

Turns out, by doing things carefully and taking a little extra time, even I could wrap a bar of soap to the standards required! Not only that, I found it extremely therapeutic to take the extra time to slow my roll and cut and wrap the soap tightly and neatly.  

Read more: Writers you’ve never heard of are quietly making more than $10,000 a month self-publishing on Amazon Kindle. They share 4 tips on how to get started with no experience.

3. Team effort goes a long way

Holiday shopping can be stressful enough, but throw in a global pandemic and maximum store capacity limits and you’d think things would become riotous. Luckily, they didn’t in our mall or in our store. With the added benefit of warmer-than-normal temps and no blizzards, there also were never issues with customers waiting to enter the store being overly rude or unruly.

More importantly, the majority of mall goers adhered to the mask requirement, which was pretty amazing. All in all, people were patient and understanding. 

4. It helps to work for a company with a conscience 

Lush is a company that cares about its employees. From the online training I received prior to beginning the job to the company’s inclusive philosophy and practices, I truly felt valued every day.

Some ways they went above and beyond include a surprise $300 COVID relief bonus given to all employees prior to Christmas, a customized gift from the store manager, and frequent “kudos” notes from colleagues taped to the inside of my locker with words of encouragement. On a particularly grueling pre-Christmas weekend day, our floor leader polled us about our favorite shower products and then gifted us our top pick at the end of our shift.  

Read more: This couple paid off $114,000 of debt in less than 2 years – then saved up $431,000. Here are the side hustles they started and how much money they made from each one.

5. Hard work feels good

To some, working at a bath and body store might sound like a pretty easy gig. Well, it’s not. Retail is hard, and for all of you who have done it, you know what I’m talking about. The hours are brutal (especially during the holidays) and the added COVID-19 requirements definitely raised the bar. But at the end of each eight-plus hour shift, as I walked to my car, one of just a few left in the lot, I felt good. I also smelled good. My feet were killing me and my hips were aching after standing all day, yes, but I was proud of myself for sticking it out as a 52-year-old surrounded by 20-somethings.  

So for those of you who are looking to try something new and maybe a little scary? Go for it. You might just learn some things you didn’t expect.  

Belinda Clarke works full time as the director of alumni engagement for the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She is also a freelance writer and regular contributor to 30Seconds.com.  

Read the original article on Business Insider