100 Side Hustles: Unexpected Ideas for Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job

Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale Books • June 4, 2019 • 336 pages • hardcover $25

Reviewed by Chris Wendel

In a nutshell: Having a part-time gig or hustle is not just a way to supplement income. It’s also a process to workshop and grow a business while minimizing the risks of a traditional startup business.

Who is it for? This is an inspiring book for anyone looking to take a skill or personal strength and turn it into something more fulfilling.

Author quote: “It’s better to look at a side hustle as something you control and is fun and profitable.”

The idea of a side job is nothing new. Tradition shows us that plenty of successful companies started as part-time endeavors to help makes ends meet. Apple began when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak shared their hobby of building personal computers in their spare time. The founders of Airbnb started when its founders had spare space in their apartment and then rented it out to visitors attending a nearby conference.

People taking on side work goes back further than the Great Depression. In the 1970s and ’80s shareholder returns became more important to major companies than employee loyalty. The promise of working at one company for their entire career eroded, forcing people to be more proactive with producing income. The trend toward self-reliance continued into this century when the 2008 recession forced people to think in more innovative ways. The terms gig economy and side hustle grew out of this environment of resourcefulness.
In the past few years there have been a few books outlining ways to operate in this part-time economy. Author Chris Guillebeau has covered the nuances of this trend in bestselling books and his popular podcast “Side Hustle School” that features case study interviews of entrepreneurs who have found unique ways to produce new fulfilling work.

In “100 Side Hustles,” Guillebeau takes these podcast interviews and profiles 100 unique businesses that started on a small scale. He is quick to clarify what a side hustle is and what it is not. It is not a second job that drains your energy or a hobby that you do just for fun. Instead, he writes, it’s “an asset you build for yourself so that you have more options (even if you love your job).” It’s something that’s likely to be both profitable and fun.

The book’s profiles include: A young writer who found her niche with a seasonal Santa Claus letter-writing business that provides handwritten responses to kids’ Christmas wish lists. An accountant who dreamed up a viable morning after party cleanup service. An architect who turned his love of great books into pocket-sized classics for bus or subway commuters. A Target store manager who used his interest in personal finance to start a blog that now generates $45,000 a month in profit.

The 100 businesses profiled include a wide range of situations, ideas and personalities. Some create supplemental income that may not seem overly impressive. Others parlay an idea and passion into six-figure monthly salaries. Guillebeau emphasizes that success is not always measured financially, but by a new level of satisfaction to its owner.

The book is separated into 15 unique chapters such as “Use Skills You Already Have” to “Bring People Together” to “Do Good and Do Well.”  It focuses on forming a unique product line and identifying markets that are likely underserved. Guillebeau does a worthy job demonstrating how someone with a vetted idea can start their own business in a controlled way that accentuates one’s life instead of adding a burden to it. The colorful layout and relatable stories of “100 Side Hustles” presents a playbook that clarifies exactly what a side hustle is and the essential steps for starting a successful side hustle of your own.

Chris Wendel is a business advisor with Northern Initiatives, a community development financial institution (CDFI) based in Marquette, Michigan. Northern Initiatives provides money and know-how to businesses throughout Michigan. Wendel lives and works in Traverse City and can be reached at cwendel@northerninitiatives.org.