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Created in partnership with Zensurance
If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic is spurring, it’s an increase in people launching a start-up business or taking on a side hustle to earn extra income. Some folks are launching home-based businesses and others are taking on a part-time second job to pay the bills.
Data from mid-2021 suggests one in five (21 percent) of Canadian entrepreneurs, or 1.9 million people, started their businesses within the past year. Many did so because they had more spare time during the pandemic, were laid off or felt financial pressures. Furthermore, 72 percent of Canadians who launched a new business since 2020 say they started one as a side hustle, and most of them (73 percent) are optimistic about what the future holds.
You may be asking yourself: how can I get in on the action? You’re adaptable and creative. All it takes is imagination, confidence, passion and a well-thought-out plan. Part of that plan should include a comprehensive risk management strategy to protect yourself and your finances from the risk of accidents, unexpected events or third-party lawsuits. That means getting a liability insurance policy for your side hustle.
Here are five side job ideas to consider that can help you bring home the bacon and move your life and career in a new direction.
1. Become an Amazon Seller
Most Canadian entrepreneurs are digitally focused, and why shouldn’t they be? Many facets of our world are increasingly shifting online, business especially. For example, Scotiabank notes many Canadian entrepreneurs and business owners pivoted to new technologies when restrictions disrupted existing ways of doing business due to the pandemic, including embracing e-commerce.
But even individuals can easily open an online shop on third-party marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, Wayfair and others. However, if you’re going to go that route, be aware of the risks associated with independent sellers and small businesses selling and distributing products through any digital marketplace. Essentially, any small business or individual is potentially liable for injuries, illnesses or property damage a customer suffers from the item they purchased from you. That includes products you did not design or manufacture. Moreover, Amazon requires Canadian sellers who earn $10,000 in monthly sales to carry liability insurance. Other marketplaces have similar policies in place.
2. Dog Walking
Dog owners love their pets in ways that may cause some of us to raise a Spockian eyebrow. Maybe you’ve heard a friend or stranger talk to their dog in a silly voice. It’s common, so let’s not judge. Dogs are lovable, fun companions, after all. Contrary to what you might think, being a professional dog walker can be lucrative, provided you build a large client base and receive positive references. According to Glassdoor, dog walkers in Canada make an average salary of $50,145 per year. That’s nothing to bark at (pun intended). So, the demand is there, but you must be prepared to give the animals the care they deserve and walk dogs in all kinds of weather and on holidays.
3. Become an Airbnb Host
Being an Airbnb or VRBO host offering short-term rentals of a room or your entire abode involves more than landing a few bookings. It’s about ensuring your guests’ experiences are stellar. For example, what kind of amenities will you offer? Including a few simple items to make your guests more comfortable goes a long way (and may result in a positive Google or online review). Offering free toothpaste, dental floss, soap and shampoo, and bottled water is always welcome and leaves a lasting impression.
But be sure to check your municipality’s bylaws and rules to determine if there are any restrictions related to being a host in your neighbourhood. For instance, in the City of Vancouver, all short-term rental operators must have a business licence and can only operate from the dwelling where they live. Whether your rental is the entire home or a room within it, you’re restricted to renting it for less than 30 consecutive days at a time.
Thanks to the cameras built into mobile phones, everyone fancies themselves as a photographer nowadays. But not everyone is a professional shutterbug equipped with a high-quality DSLR camera and lighting gear. Think of it this way: if you were getting married, would you want one of your relatives snapping shots of the big day on their phone? Or would you prefer a pro to capture that special moment? I’ll bet you’d want the latter. Therein lies an opportunity if you’re so inclined. Of course, photography’s profitability depends on your location, clientele, charisma and marketing skills. Weddings, portraits, reunions and events, and product and scenic photography, all have several possibilities. But know you’ll need to invest in good equipment, and of course, insure that equipment.
5. Freelance Writing
According to Indeed, the average Canadian freelance writer earns around $22 an hour. That’s respectable, and if combined with other income or as a side gig while pursuing post-secondary education, it’s a smart way to shore up your finances. If you have a knack for communicating messages in a clear, easy-to-understand way, and can distil confusing information to make it less so, there’s opportunity aplenty as a copywriter, freelance writer or ghostwriter.
Make Risk Management a Priority for Your Side Hustle
Everyone has skills they can employ to earn additional income. Whether you go the route of a home business or otherwise, such as driving for a ride-sharing service, take the time to weigh all the costs associated with the liabilities your venture poses. If you have one accident or lawsuit levied against you and aren’t insured for those risks, the outcome can be financially devastating.
About the Author
Liam Lahey is the Content Marketing Manager at Zensurance, Canada’s leading digital business insurance broker helping entrepreneurs, independent professionals and small business owners across multiple industries get the insurance protection they need at the cheapest premiums available on the market.