Making Money from Your Side Hustle: 2 Important Questions

By Alicia Renee

Startup Series

You will have a seemingly unending list of questions when you decide you want to start a business to get another stream of income. The first place most people go when they have questions is the internet. But doing your research and ciphering through everything on the net having to do with business start-ups is often, confusing, intimidating and exhausting!

Well established is the evidence demonstrating significant efforts of women of color to identify secondary/multiple sources of income. Unequal workplaces, unequal pay, unfair practices and more proclaim loudly the need for a level of independence with multiple supports; most of which we are able to control. Though, this is not new information, many of us become imprisoned in the gap between knowing what we need to establish and knowing how to take the next steps. However, doing nothing cannot be an option!

Women owned 1.1 million employer firms. Women of Color owned 254,260 of those firms.

–State Legislatures. Dec 2016, Vol. 42 Issue 10

Resources and ideas for start-ups and side hustles abound. Cutting through the noise and clutter associated with fragmented and conflicting online information, there is only one first question a prospective entrepreneur needs to ask: What problem does your business solve?

As we initiate our startup journey, let us begin with processing and answering this question.

Aaron Brauch posed a simple definition of a business I use to this day when consulting with nascent entrepreneurs. A business solves a problem, using a system, for a profit. Simple right? So, ask yourself what problem does your business solve — specifically. Drill down on this answer until you arrive at the unique problem you solve. If you answer the question too quickly, you more than likely are not drilling down to the uniqueness of the problem you are solving.

After answering this question, the second question to ask is: How are you going to remove yourself from working “in” your business . . . by using systems.? What system can you use or create to solve this problem? Lastly is investigating the potential profit obtained from working the system to solve the problem. All types of people have great ideas.  The operative word here is “idea.” In order to transform an idea into a business, the idea has to be of value to someone who is willing to pay for the product or service – or, stated differently, capable of being monetized.

Answering these two sets of questions do not cost a dime.  The answers derived, however, are both critical and invaluable to any effort to construct a sustainable business model and enterprise.  As you assess and process, be kind to yourself and patient.  In answering these questions upfront, you are much farther along than many who actually have started businesses.  Be sure to be as complete and thorough as possible. It will serve as the foundation from which you will build.

Next time, we will take another step and follow what is referred to as entrepreneurial logic. This logic process was identified through interviews of over 500 founders of successful entrepreneurial firms. We will review important information derived from those who have proven successes.

Until next time, share your thoughts and stories. Write us at

Alicia Hooks is a Special Contributor to XXTRA Special and Free.  She advises entrepreneurs.  Alicia has a master’s in organizational administration, a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology and is completing a second Ph.D. in Business Administration.