How To Make Money From Starting Small Businesses

Andrew Derse
4 min readOct 9, 2023

In today’s hustle-fueled world, it’s easy to feel like you are getting left behind if you don’t have a small business. I personally have felt this many times in my 25+ year career.

First things, first. If you want to make money in a side hustle, and have it be a long-term thing, you need to set realistic expectations. Most people expect to get “rich fast” and that’s not what I am presenting here. My method is more of the slow to medium paced method which has generated me over $20k per year for over 5 years until I sold my 1st business, Mad City Coders.

Now, after 1 year of being removed from the sale of that business, I’m itching to jump into something again. I’m going to walk you through the process I take every time I start a new business that I classify as a “small business”. That means:

  • It’s run by me and only me
  • It does about $10k-$30k per year in net profits

Step 1 — Get the idea

This is an important part of the process, but not the most important idea. Everything starts with an idea and from there things grow. But what to start with depends on you and your strengths.

Here are a few tips on what types of ideas to pick from…

  • Choose an area you are already strong in.

With this approach you can be confident in your business as you are the subject matter expert and position yourself to help others.

  • Choose an area that helps people.

There are tons of people in your support group that need help with one thing or another. Simply asking them if you can help will go a long way.

  • Choose an area that is fun.

Hey, if you aren’t going to have fun doing it…why do it?

Step 2 — Start

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a great idea and tons of people would have benefited from said idea, but I never pulled the trigger because I was too scared. If I had just started, I would have eventually learned what I am sharing with you now.

The hardest part is starting, but it’s also what I consider the most important part of the entire process.

Starting involves:

  • Registering your business name with the state and federal governments. Make sure you get an EIN!
  • Getting the licenses and permits required to sell and collect taxes within those areas.
  • Securing a domain name and hosting for your website (which you will need for marketing).
  • Marketing your business. Tell people what you are doing and how you are going to help them.

Many people fail to pull the trigger on starting their business because they want it to be perfect when they launch. Here’s a tip, it will never be perfect, but we’ll get to that here in a bit.

**A word of caution. Starting a small business does require some capital, but it shouldn’t require tons of capital. For myself, I’ve been successful at starting with just a few hundred dollars. If anyone is telling you that you need tens of thousands of dollars to start, maybe you need to think smaller until you’ve proven that your idea can generate money before you go after funding and growth.

Step 3 — Make mistakes

You are going to make mistakes. That’s a fact. I wanted to highlight this so you can give yourself some grace and space to make mistakes in your business. There’s so much to running your small business that you can’t be the subject matter expert at everything…like accounting or web development/design or marketing, etc.

Those things take time to learn and develop, but the important part here is knowing that you will make mistakes and to not stop once you do make a blunder. Get yourself back up, brush yourself off and push forward.

Step 4 — Improve

This one plays well with steps 2 and 3 and is a critical piece to your new small business. Improving your business means that you are:

  • Listening to your customers and adjusting your services to meet their needs
  • Listening to the market and adjusting your operating plan accordingly
  • Not being content with where you are. Always learn, always grow.

Improving and honing your small business takes time, but the time spent here will bring you huge rewards! Listen to your customers and their pain points and capitalize on them so it’s a win-win for both of you.

Starting a small business and actually making money from it can be easy. It’s not as hard as you think it is. If it is, you may be getting in your head too much. If that happens, take a step back, assess where you are within this process listed above, and move forward learning along the way. Remember to give yourself room to make mistakes and improve.

You’ve got this! Now go make an impact in your community!

Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or get stuck along the way. Always happy to help where I can.