With a struggling economy, high unemployment levels and concerns being raised over household debt, South Africans need to plan ahead for tough times.

According to the 2019 Global Digital Report, 54% of the South African population are internet users – that’s 31-million people all searching for products and services online every day. This presents the ideal opportunity to start an online side hustle; an income generation stream over and above your day job, to generate a second income or bring a unique business idea to life.

“Starting a business on the side can be risky and requires sacrifice, but it also has the potential to grow into a full-time job that can generate a lot more money compared to your daily nine to five grind,” says internet entrepreneur and head of local hosting company 1-grid, Thomas Vollrath. “Even if it doesn’t turn into your main income stream, a small business is an effective way to earn some extra cash to help make ends meet at month end.”

The internet has become the ideal space to start a side gig. Whether you’re selling household cleaning detergents or offering a dog-walking service in your neighbourhood, taking your hustle online allows you to target potential customers and manage your business in ways that are highly effective, affordable and time efficient.

As with any new venture, Vollrath advises that you plan ahead before getting started. “Make sure your business is something that you’re skilled in and decide how much you want to invest in it,” says Vollrath. “A side hustle shouldn’t break the bank, but it’s important that you set aside money for necessities like web hosting, branding and online marketing.”

Getting a small business off the ground takes time; “Technology has made things a lot easier, you can outsource certain services for efficiency and there are a number of online tools that can help you automate processes like invoicing, analytics and project management. Once your business grows, you can look into expanding by employing others that can complete tasks beyond your skillset,” says Vollrath.