To side-hustle or not?
One for the most lucrative things in todays time is the idea of becoming a millionaire with just the passive income. Every body wants that and so far, the only way to accomplish that is to invest your money and let it grow. One could invest in real-estate or stocks or private equities. The problem with each is that you need a lot of money to make good enough profit with increasing amount of risk, respectively.
So how does a guy like me, with not enough money to invest, do it? As per most of gurus, starting a startup, or a side hustle to generate cashflow is the way to go. Which, I totally agree with. The only way to build the initial capital is to start business. Any business that generates cashflow is fair game. However, it is very difficult to figure out the ikigai spot for starting your business.
Following are the constraints, someone with a steady job like me encounters:
1. I don’t want to do business in something that would take too much time away from my steady job or whatever semblance of family time I have. This effectively takes out a huge chunk of business ideas that require a lot of legwork to get there.
2. I don’t want to be doing a business in an area that I have no idea about. In some cases, it would massively narrow down the area. But for someone with computer science degree, it does the opposite: there is a lot of things one can do just by knowing how to write programs.
3. Finally, whatever good ideas I’m thinking of, someone has done a good job already. Even if I figure out what are they missing, to even give what they are giving would take 6–12 months of hard work at minimum. It sucks to be the last one to think of a good idea.
What is out there?
Given the constraints above, the only option left for us is to watch youtube videos or read medium blogs about what ideas can we start with. And then, you are bombarded with ideas such as blogging, drop shipping, SAAS/APIs, affiliate marketing, building agencies and so on. Each of these things have one thing in common: being real good at social media marketing. Somehow, I have come to suspect that social media marketing cartel is pushing such content, so people like us have no option but to hire them for whatever inkling of an idea we have for a startup.
There are thousands of videos that tell you how to be successful at side-hustles and interestingly they are the only ones making money. It is like, somehow, the only way to make money is to sell other ideas or tools for making money. Which feels a bit ironic. Shovel sellers are making money while rest of us are looking for gold. Given the scenario, it is also visible that a lot of those shovel sellers are leading you down the ponzy pathway in search of gold.
Well, I’m sorry for ranting like this and I think that I’m missing some philosopher stone that would enable me to figure out how online business is actually done. I totally believe that having a good idea for a great product would have a lot of mileage. But given that we are competing against millions of ideas, the rate of success is abysmally low. My manager, once spoke about survivor bias in the industry; where we we only hear from those who’ve made it and never look at those who didn’t. We blame them for their incapability and move on. However, whenever studying something empirically, we look at the mean and not the outlier. And, the mean is failure.
What are we to do?
Easy thing would be to shut up and do your job. Keep at it and be patient. Get paid for a long enough time that you save money for the investments, which I spoke about, at the beginning. You don’t have to wait for a very long time. Save some and buy small amounts of something that would keep the value for money intact. Some thing like Gold or Stock, based on your inclination. Keep collecting till the capital is large enough to exit those things and start putting that capital in real estate. Once you have enough real state properties to make you feel comfortable, then look towards private equity type investment. Become the seed funder for your friends, whose ability you trust. I think this would be the safest approach. Even if the world goes to shit, Gold and real-estate would still give something more than anything else.
But that is not the answer you are looking for and that is not the answer I’m ready to accept. So, I’m looking for a better way to approach this. And, so far, the only door I have in front of me is to learn the ability to market one’s product. Being an engineer, I really want to avoid having to learn that and that means, I have to partner with someone who is good at it. One could consider this rant as a recruitment call for that one position :D. May be, I will find a way or may be I won’t. Either ways, it is said that the journey matters most and let’s hope that I make it though. Otherwise, there is always the safe bet.
Finally, I’d like to thank you for reading up to this point. I was ranting mostly and there is a bit of hope in me that this would act as a light post for fellow travelers.