How to Start a Side Hustle

Image showing how to start a side hustle

The side hustle phenomenon is increasingly gaining traction in Zambia.  Maybe you’ve seen friends turning their love for Chitenge fashion into booming businesses or heard whispers of people starting small lending businesses. The idea is tempting – a chance to be your own boss- explore a passion, or exploit an opportunity no one else is seeing in the market and then rake in that extra kwacha. Perfect! But what exactly is a side hustle, and is it the right choice for you? In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of starting a side hustle, weighing the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. We will explore how to start a side hustle in Zambia in 2024.

What is a Side Hustle?

A side hustle is an additional income source on top of your primary job.  It can be anything from freelance writing to crafting unique jewellery. Think of it as a supplementary income-generating activity pursued alongside one’s primary source of income. 

The Dark Side of Side Hustles

image showing the dark side of side hustles

The intoxicating allure of side hustles – the extra income, the freedom to be your own boss, the chance to finally pursue that passion project – is undeniable. We’ve all seen it: successful entrepreneurs living their dreams, and it can make the idea of starting your own side hustle incredibly tempting.  However, before you take the plunge, it’s crucial to approach this path with your eyes wide open. There are challenges to consider that can trip up even the most enthusiastic hustler.

Work-Life Imbalance
Let’s face it, there are only twenty-four hours in a day. If you’re in formal employment, it means most of your day, about ten hours if we include commuting to and from work, is taken up by where you ply your trade. That leaves you with about fourteen hours for sleep, family, friends and other commitments. 

Side hustles can easily eat into your personal time. Be honest with yourself about how much you can realistically dedicate without sacrificing your well-being and relationships. Remember, a burnt-out hustler isn’t a successful one.

Taxes and Legalities

Formalising your side hustle by registering with Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) in Zambia means declaring your income to the ZRA (Zambia Revenue Authority). Don’t get caught off guard by tax implications! Additionally, some businesses, especially those in the food industry, require permits and licenses. These can add complexity and cost money upfront, so factor those in when planning your launch. Remember, a little foresight can save you a lot of headaches down the line.

Legal and Financial Risks 

Working with clients, especially new ones, carries inherent risks. There’s always a chance of encountering unscrupulous individuals who might delay payments or try to exploit loopholes.  Understanding basic contracts and having clear payment terms in place can help mitigate these risks. Remember, a little preparedness can protect your hard-earned Kwacha.

How Do You Start a Side Hustle?

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons and are ready to embark on your side hustle journey. Great! Here’s how to start a side hustle:

1. Market Evaluation

Market evaluation might sound like a big technical term, but all it means is… do your research. Research your chosen business, sector and niche. Is there a demand for your product or service? What’s the competition like? What value would you bring to your chosen niche? Be sure to check that there is a real need for your product or service. 

2. Set Realistic Goals

Define clear and measurable financial goals for your side hustle. Determine whether your objective is to generate supplementary income to meet short-term needs or to build a sustainable, long-term business. Break down your financial goals into actionable steps and set milestones to track your progress. Whether it’s achieving a specific revenue target or expanding your customer base, having clear objectives provides direction and motivation.

3. Time Commitment

To do a side hustle, it’s important to evaluate your existing commitments and responsibilities to realistically assess the time you can truly dedicate to your side hustle. No business can grow without someone dedicating time and effort to work on it- even a side hustle. Consider factors such as work hours, family obligations, church commitments for those who are religiously inclined, and personal pursuits. To succeed, allocate dedicated time slots for your side hustle activities and prioritise tasks based on their importance and urgency. Establishing a structured schedule ensures consistency and maximises productivity.

4. Skills and Interests 

In answering how to start a side hustle, it is crucial to identify one’s existing skills and passions. You can conduct a self-assessment to identify your core competencies, strengths, and passions or reflect on your professional skills, hobbies, and areas of expertise that you can leverage for your side hustle. Explore how you can align your skills and interests with market opportunities. Look for ways to integrate your unique abilities into your product or service offerings to create value for your customers.

Think about your current job. Are there transferable skills you can leverage, like project management or social media marketing skills? Now, consider your hobbies.  Can you turn your love for baking, photography or woodworking into a side hustle? Critically check to see where your skills and passions intersect with market needs.  

In the event that you find that your skills fall short of market needs, consider acquiring new skills or enhancing existing ones that are relevant to your side hustle. YouTube is a great place to start. You can almost learn anything on the internet these days. Investing in personal and professional development strengthens your capabilities and enhances your competitive advantage.

5. Just Start

Don’t wait for the “perfect” idea to take action. Think of your side hustle as an experiment.  Success rarely happens overnight; it’s about learning from mistakes and iterating based on experience. So, take that first step, even if it feels imperfect.

Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before launching. Create a minimum viable product (MVP) – a basic version of your product or service – to test the market and gather feedback. Think of it as a test you can use to see if people are interested and are able and willing to pay for it.

In truth, success often lies in calculated action, not just idealistic planning. So, dust off that idea and get started! You never know, this can be the most rewarding journey of your life. Good luck.

Alexander Zulu


  1. Great read.
    Definitely time to stop stalling and jump right in after carefully considering everything of course

  2. Excellent insights! Diversifying sources of income is key to survival in these hard economic times. One stream of income is therefore not enough to allow someone navigate through hard times. This article is timely and spot on. Keep up the good work.

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