Ever since I was a little kid, I have acted as a mini entrepreneur. After receiving gifts of money for my birthday from relatives, I began to recognize the importance and meaning of money. I was given an electronic bank so that I would be encouraged to save my money, but I had the desire to save all on my own.
Even as a child with no actual income, I began growing a savings that very quickly surpassed my older sister’s. She and my parents, who kept little cash on hand, would come to me to borrow money if they were in a rush. I soon developed a systematic method of keeping track of all these “IOU’s,” because keeping and increasing my wealth was the most important thing to me. I had an intense desire to save my money, but not to spend it on anything in particular. To me, just earning and having money was fun all by itself.
Failing To Sell Homemade Crafts
When I was younger, I desperately longed for the day when I could go to work so I could make my own money. I had tried selling various arts and crafts I had made in order to get some cash. Strangely enough, my parents had little interest in paying me $30 for my homemade macaroni necklaces, thus my attempts at creating a small business inevitably failed.
It was not until my best friend and I began selling lemonade at a local golf course that I finally got my first sweet taste of a successful “side hustle.” It began innocently enough, with our mothers dropping us off at a golf course with a pitcher full of lemonade and some plastic cups, with an attached sign reading, “50 cents.” After a few particularly successful days, racking in quite a bit of spending money between us, we decided to improve our setup and update our business strategies. We came back the next day with a cash box, tip jar, mini drink umbrellas, homemade cookies, and a new and improved sign reading, “75 cents.”
Our business boomed, and we spent much of our summer sitting on a golf course bench selling only a few cups of lemonade each day, but raking in the tips from the sweet golfers who, as adorable and eager young girls, we charmed day after day. This opportunity was too good to last for long, and as we grew older, we discovered that it was our childish smiles, not our keen business skills, that kept our lemonade business alive and thriving.
Getting Started Decorating Cakes
While attending high school, I realized I needed to earn a lot of money if I wanted to buy my own car and attend college. I applied for many jobs, but they were hard to come by since I was young, inexperienced, and had no resume to speak of. I always had a wicked sweet tooth and enjoyed helping around the kitchen, meaning baking was clearly one of my favorite pastimes. After seeing cake decorating shows and incredible images of gourmet confections online, I took up cake decorating as a hobby. Frosting birthday cakes for my family members had always been a treat for me, but I decided to take it more seriously.
My Christmas list became filled with cake decorating supplies that I dreamed of, and I spent hours in book stores flipping through pages and pages of beautiful images of custom made cakes. I always took the time to admire the cakes I saw in the display cases of grocery stores, and I knew that I wanted to do that all on my own. I taught myself how to decorate cakes, cookies, and cupcakes using books and videos I found online. Although I had a rough start which included eating lots of ugly and failed treats, I quickly honed my skills and improved greatly. Anytime my friends or family members needed a cake, they knew they could count on me.
Really Focusing On Developing My Side Hustle
After a few years of decorating for fun, I decided to turn my favorite hobby and greatest passion into a business that would earn me money. I began taking official orders for cakes, cupcakes, and cookies that I would complete and deliver during my weekends, and even some days after school. I developed a strong cake business, well known for my good reputation and low prices. My clients went beyond friends and family, and through positive referrals and word of mouth, I gained a large and loyal customer base that allowed me to earn a steady income. I mixed my artistic (and delicious) talents with my past experience and knowledge of making and saving money to create a successful business so that I can “side hustle” my way through college.
Love this story? Share it on social media to vote!
Check out the other finalists here: 2017 Side Hustlin’ Student Scholarship Results Page.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.