- Ramit Sethi, the author and founder of the website I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has helped thousands of people start their own businesses.
- He’s noticed that the entrepreneurs whose businesses are successful have companies that solve a problem that people have.
- That means there’s an opportunity for anyone looking for a business idea: What skills do you have that other people don’t? What can other people pay you to teach them or do for them?
When we think about earning money on the side, one of the first barriers that pop into our head is: How do I pick an idea?
Right off the bat we overwhelm ourselves by thinking about how we need to come up with the next billion-dollar tech idea like Facebook.
But I want to help you think about your idea in a different way. This is something that those who’ve successfully built a profitable business have in common: They were good at something that helped solve someone else’s problem.
Yes, your business idea is simply a skill or knowledge that solves a person’s problem and that they want to pay you money for.
It sounds like a no-brainer when I tell it to you this way, but you'd be surprised by how many people get lost in the weeds of their business idea when it's been staring at them all this time. Through my website GrowthLab and my flagship course, Zero to Launch, I've helped thousands of people start their own businesses over the past 10-plus years. (Plus, I started my own!)
So believe me when I tell you that the skills you have can be worth thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. And yes, you can start an online business around it.
To show you that no idea is off limits, here are a few real business ideas:
- Teaching others to make electronic dance music.
- Helping college students ace their organic chemistry classes.
- Becoming better equestrians. (No joke!)
- Getting back into shape after pregnancy.
These are just a few successful business ideas. If you look around, inspiration is everywhere!
My message to you is simple: Don't take your skill set and passions for granted - they could be worth a lot more than you think.
To get you started, I highly recommend you read my post on how to start your own business.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to be a world-class academic or the best or most knowledgeable to make money using a skill. You simply have to know more than the person you're helping.
The truth is that we all have skills we can use to make more money on the side. If you're working a day job, you are already being paid for a skill. Plus, you have outside skills and interests that other people want. Think about all the people who have come to you for your skills and interests.
Has a friend ever asked you for style advice?
Have you helped your neighbor with their computer?
Did you set up your mom's Facebook page?
We tend to ignore our own skills because they seem so simple to us.
It's called the "curse of knowledge" - we automatically take our skills and knowledge for granted and assume that everyone knows what we know.
But other people don't know - and they're willing to pay to learn.
To learn more about making money on the side, check out Sethi's detailed guide to finding a business idea »
Ramit Sethi is the author of the New York Times bestseller "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" and writes for more than 1 million readers on his websites, I Will Teach You To Be Rich and GrowthLab. His work on personal finance and entrepreneurship have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider.