I have a day job. A pretty intense one, at that. I work between 60 and 70 hours a week as a resident physician in a hospital. I get paid just $52,000 a year for my time—about $15/hour.
In addition to my day job, I have launched two startups that have generated more than $10 million in revenue. The return I get from the time that I spend on my businesses is about $1,500/hour (I will explain later why I still keep my day job).
I even pitched one of my companies on ABC’s Shark Tank and closed a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban. Despite many of the Sharks thinking that I couldn’t be both a doctor and an entrepreneur, I have been successful at both.
Whether you’re a doctor, or a teacher, or you name it in your daytime hours, I want to teach you how to start a side hustle that will allow you to generate six or seven figures without having to quit your job.
Even if you do hope to quit that job one day, these lessons will still get you to that point, faster. No more excuses about being too busy. If you are willing to be the hardest worker in the room, you can build a successful business in the precious hours you have outside of your day job. Here’s how I did it.
The 7-Figure Side Hustle Blueprint
This is the formula I used to start my own successful side hustle. Note that there is a lot of information here. I recommend you read this article all the way through and then go back and check out the resources I posted in each section to get more detailed information on each strategy and exactly how to make money on the side. Let’s get to it!
Do What You Know
What kind of side business should you start? What are the best side hustles? Billionaire Warren Buffett has said that he is a successful investor because he stays within the realms of what he knows. This could not be truer when it comes to entrepreneurship.
The first rule is: Do What You Know.
When I was in college, I attended a speaking event with Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Work Week. One of the attendees asked Ferris what kind of business audience members should think about starting a side hustle. Ferriss responded, “Do something you have expertise in.” He said that he knew a lot about bodybuilding, so he started a sports nutrition company.
I remember being completely unsatisfied with this answer. I wanted Ferriss to tell us specifically what kind of business we should start. He was the author of The 4-Hour Work Week. Shouldn’t he have the secret to success? It wasn’t until years later that I realized he did give us the secret to success.
One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is attempting to enter an industry that they are not familiar with. If you have no knowledge of an industry, you are shooting yourself in the foot before you even start the race.
But if you have deep knowledge of a particular topic, you immediately have a competitive advantage. This is why I keep my day job as a physician. I want to gain specialized medical knowledge in dermatology so that I can start a skincare company that makes use of the thousands of hours I spent becoming an expert on the subject.
You might be thinking, “I don’t know anything that well!” Don’t worry, I thought the same when I was first starting out. So let’s do an exercise to help you think of some ideas. Answer the following three questions:
1. What topics would you consider yourself an expert at?
2. What is something you worked extremely hard at in your life?
3. What are some of your greatest accomplishments in life?
4. What questions do your friends and family always ask you that they consider you to be the go-to person to offer advice?
Take the answers to these questions and narrow it down to two or three choices. For example, maybe you are great at five things but you don’t like two of them and you can’t see yourself starting a side business around them. To whittle down your choices, ask yourself, “Which one am I most passionate about?” or “Which one wouldn’t I mind working on late nights and weekends in my free time?” Since this is a side hustle, it’s best to have some interest in the industry. Otherwise, you risk getting too burned out as you work on this in your “free” time, when you are off from your day job.
Hopefully, you have generated some ideas. The ideal situation would be if there was one discipline or topic that showed up as an answer for all questions. If that happened, you now know what industry you should start a business in.
If you weren’t able to come up with any areas of expertise that you already have, then you need to become an expert. To become an expert, choose a topic or discipline that really interests you. Ideally, pick a topic in an industry that people are regularly spending money in (health, education, food, beauty, etc.). Now, spend a hundred hours learning everything you can about that topic.
A mistake I see entrepreneurs make is not building massive value in the industry they plan to enter. There is no such thing as a get-rich-quick scheme. Most people are not willing to put in the time and effort necessary to build massive value.
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule from his famous book Outliers posits that it takes 10,000 hours of practice in order to become a master at anything—sports, music, academics, etc. The same is true for business. Although it may not take 10,000 hours to build sufficient value, it will certainly take a significant amount of time and effort.
Start a Service-Based Company
Should you create a product or a service? Starting a service-based business as a side hustle is much less capital-intensive and has a higher probability of success than a product-based business, for the solopreneur.
When you think of an innovative entrepreneur, you typically think of an inventor who tinkers with materials to develop a new product. In fact, most people are surprised to hear that I went on Shark Tank, because I have not invented a product. I want you to reimagine your idea of an innovative entrepreneur to be someone who produces massive value by providing a service.
Technology companies used to sell software as a product. They now sell it as a service. In recent years, the trend in the software industry has been to sell a SaaS, or software as a service. This way, software is paid for on a subscription basis rather than as a one-time purchase. This not only increases the profits of software companies, but it also helps reduce the piracy of their services.
What services should you sell? Take your answers from the last section and come up with some ideas on how you can serve your audience. Let’s say you are a chef and you have expertise in cooking specific techniques. You are also passionate about this. You can write a book, do some consulting, start a food blog and become an influencer or create a course online. In the next section, we dive into this in more detail.
User experience is key for your service-based business.
When thinking about starting a service-based company, you need to think about user experience. Most people think of user experience as the way in which a user interacts with a piece of software or a mobile app. But there is a user experience for everything.
There is a user experience when you go to McDonald’s to order a hamburger. There is also a (much better) user experience when you go to the Apple Store to buy an iPhone. To learn more about user experience, and why it is so crucial for your business, check out this article. Going back to our previous example, if you want to create an online cooking course, think about the user experience for your video demonstrations. You could simply talk about cooking in your videos but a better user experience would be to demonstrate your techniques on camera so viewers can replicate them.
You also need to think about how to scale your service-based company. The easiest way to do so is online. There are so many web tools available to help you reach a wider audience. If you are creating a pre-recorded online course to sell, consider Thinkific as a potential platform. If you are delivering content in a live online format (whether it’s a course or consulting), consider ClickMeeting as a potential platform. There are a number of other resources. Find which one you like best to start scaling your service-based business using the Internet. Later in this article, we will cover some strategies to get your name out there and get found online.
But whether you are creating an online service or an in-person service, your strategy when creating a service-based business should remain the same. First, your service needs to be unbelievably effective and deliver results, preferably measurable results. Second, you want to de-commoditize your service. If your service is just a commodity—something that is easily interchangeable with other product—it will be difficult to turn a profit, especially if there is fierce competition.
Never Trade Time for Money
Trading hours for dollars will never lead to significant wealth. You only have 8,760 hours in a year, and much of that is spent sleeping. You must set up revenue streams that continue to produce income even when you sleep.
Passive income is the key to real wealth. Approximately 70% of the world’s billionaires started their own businesses. Starting a side hustle business is probably the most common way to generate passive income. Of course, it’s not easy to start a successful business—50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. But first, let’s understand why passive income is so important.
Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals are essentially highly skilled laborers. Although “laborer” has a negative connotation, I don’t mean it as such. A laborer essentially trades time for money. But there is a ceiling on the money they can earn. That ceiling is the number of hours that they can work.
This is not to say that you should not go to school to have a professional career and start a business instead. The two are not mutually exclusive. I actually think that highly skilled professionals are often the best people to start businesses. To start a successful business, you must first create value. And specific expertise in a particular area can have tremendous value. However, most professionals distribute their value incorrectly—selling value per unit of time. Instead, highly skilled professionals should sell their value per unit of volume by starting a business.
With this in mind, I want to give you some ideas about how you can generate a passive income stream with a side hustle, without having to quit your day job (which again, is often your source of expertise). Here are three that work for me.
1. Write a Book — It’s easier than ever to write a book. Write a book on a subject that relates to the industry you want to start a business in. For example, if you are starting a copywriting consulting business, write a book on conversion copywriting techniques. I would recommend self-publishing your ebook through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and print book through CreateSpace. Even if your book does not make you an astronomical amount in royalties, you will be seen as an expert in whatever field you choose to write about. Of course, make sure that you are actually an expert on the topic that you write about and that you are providing massive value to your readers.
2. Create Videos — If you think writing a book is too boring or difficult, or you hate writing, create content for YouTube instead. My videos on YouTube have been viewed by millions, resulting in thousands of dollars in royalties. I’m sure that you can develop videos that are more entertaining than mine. Similar to what you would write a book about, create content on topics that are related to your industry. You can record yourself talking about a topic or create a screenshare video if they require online demonstrations. The point here is to showcase your expertise and position yourself as an expert. You can also create a passive income stream that may eventually become greater than your primary income stream. Here’s a great step-by-step guide on how to get started with making money on YouTube.
3. Develop An Online Course — Are you an expert in a particular field? Of course you are. Everyone has a talent. And if you don’t have specialized knowledge of a particular discipline, start developing it. Online courses allow you to create income while you sleep because you are not physically sending any materials or getting on the phone consulting with buyers. Your course runs on autopilot, and people can access it whenever they want to. Read, learn, and practice everything you can related to a particular topic. Then, create an online course teaching others about it.
Add 40 Hours to Your Work Week
But how can you start a service-based company if you are already working 40-50 hours a week on your day job? You can add an additional 40 hours of time outside of your day job to work on your business. Here’s how:
Work Weekends (+16 hours)
Treat your weekends like weekdays…for your side business. If you work eight hours per day on the two days you have off from your day job, then you can add 16 hours per week to work on your new business.
Sleep Less (+14 hours)
Most people sleep eight hours per day. You can sleep six hours per day. This will give you an additional 14 hours per week to work on your business that others don’t have.
Work After Hours (+10 hours)
After you come home from your day job, eat dinner then spend two hours working on your business. If you do this every weekday, you can dedicate an additional 10 hours of time per week to your business.
I know, these suggestions may not sound fun. You might not like them much. But if you want to start a side hustle, well, don’t forget the “hustle” part.
Automate With Digital Marketing
The good news about generating a passive income stream is that it is easier than ever because of the internet. Fifty years ago, creating a passive income stream was really difficult. To build a business, you would have to invest in infrastructure and were limited by location and hours.
Now, the internet makes it virtually free to open a store that’s open 24 hours to a customer base of 7.5 billion. Scalability through the internet has made it easier than ever to avoid trading time for money.
My first startup only had modest sales until we implemented an end-to-end digital marketing strategy. Many entrepreneurs can build great products/services, but the sales do not match because no one knows about their businesses.
You must use digital marketing channels such as Facebook and Instagram advertisements, content marketing, and Google AdWords if you want to make money in your sleep. To scale your side business, here are some excellent digital marketing strategies to use:
1. PR & Media
Getting exposure through media outlets, blogs, and micro-influencers is a great way to build your brand and get customers without having to spend a dime.
However, you have to know the right way to pitch the media. Reporters don’t care about your business, but they do care about a good story to tell their audience. Remember this golden rule when pitching media, and you will be much more successful at landing media mentions. Consider using PR and media to establish authority and generate brand awareness within your industry. For a comprehensive guide on how to land press coverage, check out this article.
2. Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are a low-cost way to acquire customers, because billions of people are on the social network, and the platform makes it possible to target the exact demographic for your business. My businesses constantly make a 3-5x return on investment using Facebook ads. Consider using Facebook ads to generate new leads for your business. For a comprehensive guide on how to generate leads with Facebook Ads, check out this article.
3. Automated Webinars
About a year ago, I decided to start using automated webinars in my businesses. Because my time is limited, I can’t run a live webinar everyday. However, using a software called Everwebinar, I can pre-record a webinar and have it shown to potential customers all day, everyday, without me lifting a finger. My automated webinars have generated over $1 million in sales for my companies. Consider using automated webinars to close sales for your business. For a comprehensive guide on how to run automated webinars successfully, I would check out this resource.
It’s Time To Start a Side Hustle
Do all of the above, and you’ll have a full 40 hours a week to work on a side business that will over time generate significant income automatically. And the best part is, you don’t have to risk leaving your day job to do it. Of course, this isn’t for everyone. If you have children, for example, or are otherwise in a place where you want more balance in your life, this may not be for you. But if you have the time and you are willing to hustle, you can build a solid side business that nets up to seven figures a year.
Are you working on a side hustle? Tell us your story, and the strategies that have been useful for you, in the comments below!