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Most people say you need to do 27 different things to start a business, but I strongly disagree. Contrary to popular belief and some trendy articles you’ll find on the internet, let me tell you — you just need 2-3 fundamental things (or I say side hustle ideas) to start a business.
No, wait, a side-business.
Something you can start along with your day job. On the side. Working a few hours a week (weekends, weekdays, after-office, during commute — you decide.) And that side-business can consistently get you an ongoing stream of a second income.
I’ve done it multiple times, and today I’ll show you exactly how you can do it too.
The problem with the “high-dramatic-internet-social media” is that there is a ton of noise out there. You’ll find millions of blog posts and videos on startups, funding, investors, seed-round, etc.
If you really dig deep, one of the strong reasons why Kulwant’s content connects strongly with his readers is because of his no-fluff, straight to the point approach, he doesn’t like to talk about all the noise, only the meat which matters.
And the result of information overload and internet overdosage?
Answer: Overwhelm. Confusion. “Uhhhh…maybe I’ll do this later” (which never comes btw.), and we simply vacillate on 100 thoughts then.
There are hardly few materials on things like –
- How to start a side-business, step-by-step
- How to come up with profitable ideas, when you start as a newbie beginner (for eg: say you’re currently working at a job right now. You get up at 8, leave by 9, reach by 10, work till 7, and then home by 8pm. Now, how do you start something on the side? Like, what’s the FIRST thing you need to do right now? Why don’t people talk about that?)
- How to start a simple tiny-business which creates a second income stream for you
What if out of the 1000 things out there, you only do 3 things (we’ll cover that) that gets you results. Think of it as a gym. You enter on day 1. Would you worry about losing 20 kgs first?
NO! Initially, you would only focus on a few basics — cut down on certain food items, workout 3-4 times a week, get good sleep. Do this consistently for 6-8 weeks, and you’re going to LOOK GOOD!
Once you hit the first milestone of losing a few kilos, now you are in the routine and can scale more. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing here.
The Exact 3-Step Process to Earn a Second Income
Let me give you the crux straightaway — here are the only 3 steps you need:
Step 1: Find a few ideas (more on this below)
Step 2: Validate them
Step 3: Get your first 1-3 paying customers
That’s it. There is no rocket science here. You don’t need to do an MBA. You don’t need to have extensive knowledge on this topic. Hell, you don’t even need to read 508 articles.
Get the first key steps right to win your first customers, and you now have a solid functioning business.
Think of all the things you can do with an extra 20K a month? Buy an additional pair of clothes? Pay for your petrol expenses? Splurge on new activities? Or just save more?
Plus, you get the luxury of scaling that number, from 20K to 50K to even 1 lakh a month, to eventually quitting your day job. For eg: You start with getting 1 paying customer, but once you know how to get 1, you now know how to get the next 10 pretty quickly.
I’ll also show you how I found a simple idea which gets me a regular stream of additional income, and also shows you how to come up with simple profitable ideas that can turn into a reliable side-income.
Let us start with a simple technique to come up with profitable ideas.
The YUS Technique to find 10 ideas in 15 minutes
The best thing is, you don’t have to sit on your laptop for 50 hours, or go to networking events, or wait for “motivation” for ideas to fall down from the sky.
With a simple technique that I am about to show you, you will be able to list down as good as 10 ideas in under 15 minutes. No over-analysis, no complex excel sheets, pivot tables, investor advice, etc. Just a simple pen and paper (and maybe some coffee?) is all you need, and we’re good to go.
You ready? Ok, I’ll wait!
Ready? Ok, here we go — I want you to write answers for each of the following below:
1. Experiences/Knowledge you've gained (like learning maths or geography, finance, or traveling by spending less)
2. Skills you've developed (like playing guitar, creating amazing excel reports, taking better photos, coding in java, or if dancing comes naturally to you )
3. Challenges you've faced or overcome (going from a skinny to a perfect muscular body, writing and communicating smoothly, conduct meetings effectively)
4. Achievements you've been awarded for (maybe you got a promotion, or a high academic score, or won a competition, or attended multiple networking events, or bought a car from your own pocket)
At this point, do not censor yourself with “What if my idea is not good?”, “There are already so many people doing it Zubin, I don’t have a chance!!”, “But, I don’t have enough time!”, etc.
No really, avoid the analysis-paralysis syndrome. We will address each of those concerns, but that is all for later.
Look, I know someone who consults C-level executives on their fashion style, or someone who does dog-training, or one of my friends who helps clients in their interior designing at houses.
The point is, what looks “weird” to you, can be a huge problem to someone else which you can solve effortlessly, and they would be HAPPY to pay you for it.
So do not start criticizing your ideas as of yet. I’ll show you simple exercises on how to eliminate some of those ideas, how to find the demand for your idea, validate it, etc.
It’s good to get constructive feedback, but at this stage, we’re just brainstorming, research and validation come later. So, purely do a brain dump exercise here. List down as many possible answers to those 4 pointers above.
I did the exact exercise with my readers, and the responses were AMAZING!
I call this the YUS technique since I believe these are Yours. Unbeatable. Superpowers, something which is unique to you — experiences you have had, the life you’ve lived, people you’ve met, jobs you’ve done, thoughts you’ve had, and these things are very unique to you, and nobody else.
Let’s try it. Take a piece of paper or open up notes on your mobile. And fill out what comes in your mind first thing for these questions:
- What are you knowledgeable about? What topics come to mind?
- What are some skills you’ve developed over the years
- What are some challenges/problems you had before, and not now?
- What have you been rewarded or appreciated for?
How I found my Ideas
Going through this exercise, one of the things which were a huge achievement for my career was my ability to fetch jobs and interview calls in my field of Industrial Engineering.
With little research, testing and validation (something which I’ll share in detail in my future posts), I started Industrial Inside, a website to help industrial engineers in their career endeavors — from getting into dream universities, to create an attractive resume, to fetching interview calls, to finding their dream jobs.
In September 2016, I launched my first online information product, which was a simple 3-hour video course on the same subject. That single launch alone made 75K in revenue and had 23 paying customers.
Subsequently, that course gets me a regular additional income till date. Plus, I’ve been now able to expand into other areas, where I offer additional services — 1-1 resume consulting, SOP creation, job coaching, etc.
All this started with a simple idea, the same place where you are today, I was at the exact place 3 years ago. A simple casual thought like “Hey, I went through this phase of getting my Master’s degree, and getting multiple jobs. I think I’m pretty good at this now. Why not start a side-business around this?”
Never did I have a pinch of the idea that this might turn into something profitable. The day I got paying customers was itself a huge celebration and also a realization that you can turn almost anything into a side-business if:
- You have an idea…..that has demand
- You’ve gone out…and validated it
- You’ve found a channel to get……1-3 paying customers
One of the things I’m deeply passionate about is writing. Of course, over the years with writing lots of content for other sites, my own site, email campaigns, etc. I got a good hang of making this a useful skill in my arsenal.
So, the thought was why not turn it into a profitable second income. Back in 2018, I got about 5 paying clients for writing projects. (More on how to find paying clients in future posts.)
Today, I occasionally take writing projects if I find it in my domain and good use of my time.
More Real-life Examples
In fact, I don’t want to leave you hanging by saying this works just for me. I mean, what’s the point if this only applies to me and you’re still stuck at your office desk, huh?
My goal is to provide you simple step-by-step exercises to start getting paying customers, unlike other internet marketing “gurus” who promise you “I can get you 10000 facebook page likes, and 5679 Instagram followers!” (Really?)
Let me also show you a few examples of other people who turned their mini-businesses into full-time.
I can list almost 100 real-life examples more, but the point is this — with a few skills, research and effort of about 5-10 hours a week, you can start a business on the side too.
How to Validate Your Ideas
It’s one thing to come up with a few ideas, and a whole another game to validate them. The last thing I want for you is you coming up with an idea, spend 3-6 months on it, and discover in the end that it will never make you any money.
Waste of time. Waste of energy. Waste of expectations. Discouragement. Etc, etc.
I’ll show you a few techniques to quickly and cheaply validate your ideas, but the important takeaway for you is — Validate first, only then proceed to the next step.
Let’s say our idea is “graphic design”. Here are 2 ways to quickly validate your ideas:
Technique 1 — Demand Check: Are there people out looking for these types of services?
If there is no demand for your idea, you’re doomed for failure. In other words, let’s pick an idea where we know there is plenty of demand so we know for sure there is potential to make money.
Here’s an easy method to check demand – Go to Upwork.com, and go to the Search Jobs option.
Type in “graphic design”, and you will see plenty of results.
This tells us that there is a demand for this idea. (We will further delve into niching down, positioning, etc.) You can also go to other places (aka fishing holes), for eg:
- Check if any facebook groups or other websites come up
- See if there are specific job postings on Linkedin or other job portals
- Have you ever seen anyone asking for help via word of mouth?
These are clear signs there is an actual market for your idea. The takeaway here is to check for demand, go to places where people are ALREADY paying for these services.
Technique 2 — Supply Check: Are there people out offering these types of services?
Do you know people in your network (friends, family, colleagues) providing these services? For eg: I know many people offering pet grooming services, yet you will not find them on sites like Upwork or anywhere online.
In that case, check if you know people who are offering such services. With “graphic design”, I know plenty of marketing agencies who need graphic design, so we’re pretty confident there is plenty of supply as well.
Now, I know a lot of people will get scared thinking “There are already so many people out there already doing it”. The way I look at it is to say “Hey, there are people doing this, which validates my idea. With a little work, I can easily stand out and fetch my initial 1-3 customers” (I’ll also show you different ways to easily crush competition later, so don’t worry on this part.)
Listen, like I said, we will tackle all of your Mental Scripts later, right not let’s only focus on what’s in front of us. Get a few ideas down on paper, use the techniques above to quickly validate them.
This is the beautiful part about a step-by-step approach. It is very systematic. So, when you are listing down ideas, you are ONLY brainstorming it. You are not worried or thinking about validation, or getting clients.
Or when you are validating it, and you find out that your idea does not have any demand, not a problem. You simply cross that off, go back to another idea and start with validation.
You do not get frazzled or do things randomly. You take it one thing at a time, and that is it.
What You Need to Know on Getting Started
I did a simple google search the other day. I searched for “how many gms of protein do I need each day for muscle gain?”
I got 1000000 results, each page providing me some insights. I liked some, disliked some, some had contradicting advice. 30 mins gone and I’m on page 6, still scrolling, hoping to find the magic answer or the right one.
The final result? I’m still confused, have little insights, and no real clarity on my query.
That’s the exact problem with almost any topic these days. With a ton of noise out there — who do you listen to? What advice is considered right or wrong? How will you ever know?
The best way to deal with this is — focus on the fundamentals. To hell with complex advice and yet another “top 12 ways to do X”, let’s start simple and focus on the few key steps that matter. That moves the needle. That helps you win.
Again, let’s review what those 3 steps are:
Step 1: Find a few ideas (more on this below)
Step 2: Validate them
Step 3: Get your first 1-3 paying customers
And don't worry, we have also found tested ways to overcome the “But, I don't have time” problem.
One of the major differences between successful people and people who don’t succeed is that successful people know exactly what to focus on (especially when they’re getting started), and what activities will be simply a waste of time.
Let me lay down a basic cheat sheet for you:
What NOT to focus on:
- Business cards
- Facebook page
- Instagram account
- anything else which won't help you achieve that first goal
Instead, what if you could focus on a few things, like:
- Find 10 ideas: Use the technique above, and you should be easily able to list down 10 of them
- Niche it down to 1 idea
- Validate it: Again, this need not be complex. With a little lightweight testing, you will know for sure if your idea is worth pursuing and that people will actually pay for, or is it the one that has no potential of a business. I’ll share a few techniques on how to do this later
- Get your first 1-3 paying clients: Back in the day, this meant actually going out physically to find people, meet them, etc. A time-consuming activity. Now, with a few simple emails and techniques, you can easily get your first clients (more on this in future posts)
Conclusion, and Specific Action Step for You:
I think you’ll agree with me when I say: It’s not that tough to start a business once you have a step-by-step approach laid out in front of you. A step-by-step plan which shows you a roadmap to generate an extra 20K a month in the next 6-8 weeks.
The irony is, I see 1000 articles on a plethora of things around starting a business, yet nobody talks about a really systematic way to start one.
Hear this out — you need 3 basic things — finding an idea, refining and validating it, and then getting your first 1-3 paying customers. Let others talk about “facebook page likes”, or “Google ads!!!”, or any other complicated stuff — all that maybe is required, but not at this stage.
Right now, get those 3 basic things correct, and congratulations, you now have a functioning tiny profitable business. And hey, 6 months down the road, you scale that up — get more customers, more revenue, more flexibility, and yes an option to quit your current job!
The takeaway for you here is that it all starts with generating a few ideas. With the case study, examples and the YUS technique above, you should be able to get at least 5-10 ideas.
Remember, we will talk about refining those ideas, validating, etc. but that is all for later. Right now, the simple exercise for you is to generate those ideas and get it down.
So, the specific action step for you is to go through the YUS technique above, and list your 3-5 ideas below in the comments, and we can improve and further drill it down. Let’s do this!