Three Modern Businesses That You Can Run On The Side (For Students or Employees)

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Students Working

Have you ever asked yourself how you can earn extra money on the side while in school or working the 9 to 5?

I definitely did.

My entrepreneurial journey started in high school and then continued into University. My very first business was a hustle where I bought doo-rags for cheap and sold them for nearly a 300% markup out of my locker. As doo-rags went out of style, I shifted my focus while in University to ecommerce as I sold sports memorabilia online.

Both businesses taught me insights that would help me for the rest of my career.

We all know that the costs of attending college can be daunting and any additional income that could tide things over means one less thing to worry about.

For the school year 2014 – 2015, tuition fee averaged $9,139 for in-state students at public colleges, $31,231 at private colleges, and $22,958 for out-of-state students going to public universities. Anyway you look at it, that’s a big sum of money to dole out year in and year out.

Below are a few, proven side business that can help you exercise your entrepreneurial skills.

We create a resource with Sixty Side Hustle ideas for the Modern day Wantrepreneur. The side hustles below are great but if you’re looking for more, this resource has you covered.

Start Selling Products On Etsy

[Source: Etsy Blog]

If you’re the artsy or crafty type, Etsy would be a perfect platform for your handmade pieces.

With more than 30 million registered users, the site is one of the leading online retailers on specialty and handcrafted items where you can find a wide variety of people who mainly prefer handmade or artisanal items.

Selling on Etsy can be your ticket to scaling your income such as in the case of Alicia Shaffer. Shaffer was a mom-of-three who earned an annual profit of 1 million dollars on the said site. On average Shaffer’s Easy store gets 150 orders with each order averaging about three items.

When asked what her secret to success is, she attributed it to the fact that she utilized multiple sources for traffic with most of her buyers coming in from Pinterest. Although not all of her products are handmade, they make sure to customize each one to give it that handmade touch.

Other key tips Shaffer has offered aspiring sellers on Etsy is to pay attention to detail, stock up on ecommerce knowhow, and to think like a shopper. Styling and good images are definitely helpful too as well as abiding by Etsy’s business tips. Additionally, make sure to stick to practical names that are searchable. Kindness also goes a long way so treat your customers accordingly.

Build A Fitness Instagram Account

Yoga Instagram

Instagram is a great avenue to build your own fitness brand. Aside from being one of the biggest social networking service around, its emphasis on visual content has the potential to drive high levels of visual engagement for your brand. Images are no doubt more digitally stimulating than text and for an industry that’s very much based on aesthetics, Instagram provides you the perfect gateway to amass followers and capture the right kind of engagement for your brand.

For my article in Social Media Examiner, I listed the seven ways on how to achieve this. Among those I have listed include using clear call to actions, relevant hashtags to your posts, as well as promoting your account to all your other networking accounts. One tactic that I didn’t include in this post is one that has been used and criticized by many. It’s the idea of reusing the content that others have published and sharing it on your own account.

Don’t be afraid to steal, just steal the right stuff. – Mike Monteiro

I’d modify that to say: “Don’t be afraid to steal, just make sure you credit the person you steal from. As a company, Hustle & Grind has been the victim of people copying our content in the past. Our recommendation is that if you’re going to share someone’s visual, you share it with a mention of the original photographer or designer. Similar to this post:

The choice is yours. Great post from @rich20something // Keep hustling and give this man a follow! Double tap if you agree!

A photo posted by Hustle & Grind (@hustlegrindco) on

It’s also important to interact with other like minded users by commenting on their posts, which you could do by searching for a specific hashtag. Make sure to vary your caption length as well depending on how much explanation your photo needs. Lastly, doing shout-out for shout-outs allows you to grow your followers with ease.

With a bit of hustle and creativity, you can build a respectable following just like what we did with the @HustleGrindCo Instagram account.

Start Your Own Local Service Company

People today are always looking for cheap, fast, and convenient ways to do things. One way to capitalize on this is to put up your own local service company that gets a specific chore or task done. There are many options to choose when it comes to speciality services and pretty much anyone or everyone can sell a service. Here are just a few:

  • Dog Sitting
  • Proof Reading
  • Painting
  • Landscaping
  • Housework
  • Furniture Moving
  • Snow Shoveling
  • Marketing
  • Bookkeeping

Anyone can take on this kind of business because every person has their own knowledge, skills or experience that someone is willing to pay for. Selling services knows no limits because whatever your age, educational background, business experience, and current financial standing, you can still put one up.

Case in point is Rohan Gilkes’ Maids in Black, which is a housekeeping service he put up in 2012. Maids in Black has been Gilkes’ most profitable business to date, netting him 2 million dollars so far.

To discover which local industries are profitable, you have to take into account a number of things: are there buyers and what’s the competition like. If you get good results for both, you can start your own local service by setting up your site and marketing it accordingly. In terms of finding and hiring your workforce, get people who are already in the industry.

Lastly, market locally and find your first clients through your very own network.

Giles used Launch 27, a booking plugin for local service businesses and Groove Learning, a private Facebook group where you can learn how to start your own profitable company, to sustain his business momentum. With regards to finding the right people, he recommends Thumbtack or Indeed.

There are many benefits in starting your own side business. The biggest advantage is definitely the additional income you will get and the fact that you can use it to hone your entrepreneurial skills. For those who are in school and can’t afford going into business full time, these side businesses are the perfect choice.

All you have to do is to figure out what you want to do and what best fits your individual capabilities. However, make sure you don’t just capitalize on your skills, but devote enough time and research in your new venture so it takes off to a good start and you can be a few thousand dollars richer.

What other businesses have caught your attention recently? Do you run a side hustle? We’d love to hear about it – Comment below and keep hustling! 


Thabiso Makhwiliri

I am a Industrial Design student and I am trying to get a clothing line off the ground, any tips and any kind of assistance will be greatly appreciated


My wife and I are interested in starting a side business for a bunch of reasons, one of which being we’ve heard that there are many tax deductions etc you can use to buy items that may be used personally as well as for the business. Do you know of any resources to help us understand this better?

Ross Simmonds

Hey Breken – The best approach here is to chat with a tax specialist. There are definitely benefits from a tax perspective but it all depends on where you live!


after the bussiness me and my wife worked for closed we both took on jobsat a much lower pay rate. at this time i am currently doing home improvement job on the side and she has landed a few clients for her cleaning service.


Thanks for these practical tips. I will send some of my business artist and intrapreneur clients to this article. I especially appreciate your reminder to give due attribution to photos and ideas. Doing so respects instead of diminishes one’s field, I think.


Ross Simmonds

100% agree Jeffrey – Thanks for the comment. Hope your clients enjoy it!

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