3 questions that will help you find the most successful side hustle

Every side hustle starts with an idea — and for best results, you may need more than one.

Take note of an important fact about hustle ideas: not all of them are created equal. In fact, there’s a tremendous range of potential profit among them.

Finding the best approach isn’t always this simple because you’re not always comparing ideas that are so similar. Still, almost every hustle idea that’s worth pursuing shares three qualities. You want your idea to be feasible, profitable, and persuasive.

1. Is your idea feasible?

Your goal is to start a project in a short period of time that earns money outside of your day job. If any of these pieces of the equation are not immediately evident to the idea you’re considering, you don’t have a feasible idea.

Start a project: You’re actually going to do this, not just think about it. When you think about an idea, do you feel excited? Can you envision your next steps? If not, abandon the idea.

That earns money: Remember, a side hustle is not a hobby. A side hustle produces income. If you don’t see a clear way to get paid, abandon the idea.

In a short period of time: If your idea requires three years to get going, abandon the idea.

A feasible idea is one that you can turn into reality using the skills, time, and resources you already have. To put it simply, an idea that isn’t feasible is not worth considering. Even if you don’t know every step of the way, you must be able to see a pathway from idea to launch.

2. Is your idea profitable?

You’re not looking for an idea that merely sounds interesting, you’re looking for a profitable one. To make sure you understand the difference, consider two examples of entirely different ideas. Here’s the first, from a personal chef with a love for high-quality desserts:

“I want to start an ice-cream-of-the-month club that delivers artisanal flavors to offices. The service is marketed to HR managers and small business CEOs as a way to increase morale and bring employees together for regular social experiences.”

In this example, there’s a clear target market. Sure, the logistics of storing and delivering all that ice cream could get a little complicated, but it might be worth exploring if you knew how to source the ingredients and who your initial clients would be. This idea is at least potentially pro table, which is what you want.

Now consider another idea, from a college graduate beginning the slow climb at a consulting rm:

“I’d like to create an app that introduces a new form of payment for people who don’t like credit cards or cash.”

Is that idea interesting? Sure, maybe. But how would you even begin to build and market it? It would be an enormous, expensive undertaking even if you had a background in both information technology and finance. And even if you could easily build it, how would you go about making it stand out from all the other payment apps on the market? At best, it’s a grandiose vision that would re- quire a great deal of dedication and struggle. That’s not what a side hustle is about.

Here’s another quick test: if you have a hard time explaining the primary benefit of your concept in more than a sentence or two, you may need to rethink the idea. If the primary benefit is unclear to potential customers, you won’t convert many of them into paying customers

A side hustle is something that makes you money, not costs you money. If you don’t see how you could make money from the idea, preferably in a short amount of time, it’s probably not a good idea.

3. Is your idea persuasive?

There’s one more factor to consider as you brainstorm — and eventually select — your idea. It’s not enough to have a good idea, even one that’s potentially very profitable. Your idea has to arrive at the right time and be so persuasive that it’s hard for customers to say no to.

I recently went to an event where the parking cost $25. Normally it costs $5 to park in this lot, but for the special event, the price had increased 500% overnight. Was I happy about paying $25 for something that usually costs $5? Nope. Did I pay it? Yep. Supply and demand ensured that the parking lot owner was providing a service that was very persuasive on that day.

Sometimes you’ll have ideas that are just not ready yet. That’s OK; you can hold on to them for later. Better to focus your current efforts on ideas that are persuasive now. To be successful, you want the right idea at the right time.

Adapted from SIDE HUSTLE: FROM IDEA TO INCOME IN 27 DAYS Copyright © 2017 by Chris Guillebeau. Published by Crown Business, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.