Smart Ways to Make Money on the Side in 2017

Small Business IDEAS to Make Money

Small Business Ideas / March 24, 2020

When people ask me what the best ways to make money are, sometimes I laugh.

Not because the question is stupid — but because, well, there really is no “right” answer.

The first thing you have to do is change your mindset. You have to start viewing your skills and experiences as bankable resources.

You have to stop underestimating your ability to help someone with what you can provide — whether that’s information, a service or a physical product.

When you’re first getting started making money on your own, the best way to get started quickly is to understand the different ways you can make money, and which one will work best for you.

Generally speaking, there are 3 ways to make money:

  1. Providing a service to someone
  2. Providing information (really a subset of services)
  3. Selling a product

All 3 of these can be very lucrative — it just depends on what type of business you’re most comfortable with, and what type of work you want to do.

Today, we’re only going to talk about providing a service. This is also known as freelancing.


This is typically the first place that beginning entrepreneurs start, because it’s something you can begin immediately based on the experience you already have — and it’s very simple to plan.

This is the maxim of starting a new service-based business:

If you currently have (or have ever had) a job, you’re capable of providing a service that someone will pay for.

In fact, for many people, the skills you’re already providing to your current employer can used directly to start your freelance business.

  • If you’re an administrative assistant, there’s a good chance your organizational skills will be useful to clients.
  • If you’re a web developer, you can definitely help people build projects on the side.
  • If you’re an accountant, you can help clients with their taxes, or small businesses with their accounts.

Now, not every job can translate directly into a freelance skill — but most can give you an indication of where your strengths are. For instance:

  • If you’re a veterinary technician by day, you can’t necessarily take care of sick cats at your house. But since you love animals, and are good with them, maybe you can open up a side business as a pet sitter!
  • If you work in IT, maybe you can start managing client websites/doing sysadmin work, etc.

The main issue most beginners have here is underestimating the value of their services. I did the same thing when I was first starting my business as a test prep coach.

The company who hired me way paying $18/hour for me to go to houses and teach SAT/ACT exam prep. I thought this was GREAT money…

(isn’t it funny how we judge what fair pay is based on how much more it is than minimum wage, not on how much money we actually need to live?)

One day, I was at a student’s house and saw a brochure for the company I was working with on the fridge. I took a quick peek inside and I realized that the parents were paying $100/hour for me to be there! And I was only getting $18 of that!!

I was a little upset at first, but then, I realized this was actually a great thing.

I was doing all the driving, teaching and consulting.

The company’s only real task was connecting me with the families — and these families had validated that the service I was providing them was worth at least $100/hour.

That validation gave me the confidence to go out on my own and start finding clients.

How to set up your first freelance business

First, take an inventory of your skills.

What are you currently doing now that someone is paying you for? Could that same service you’re providing a large company be offered to individual clients?

Next, what are people paying for the services you provide?

IMPORTANT: The true value of your services isn’t how much a company pays you directly (your salary/hourly rate) — it’s how much they charge other people for you to deliver those services. The cost to the end user is your true value.