THE BLOG
10/11/2016 06:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

3 Opportunities to Turn Skills and Spare Time into Extra Money

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Image Source: FieldEngineer

I have yet to meet someone that would refuse extra money. Whether it's a raise at work, lottery winnings or a $100 bill laying on the side of the road. But, it's hard to control those things. Sure, you could work harder at your job, play the lottery and go on more walks. But, there's another path that Robert Kiyosaki, author of bestselling Rich Dad, Poor Dad is fond of pointing out: "The only difference between a rich and poor person is how they use their time."

It's entirely possible to pick up some extra work outside of your regular working hours. And, if you feel inspired and prepared to take a giant leap, you could leave the 9-5 environment all-together. Focusing your life on multiple revenue streams is really about steering yourself towards long-term financial freedom.

But, let's start with some baby-steps.

1. Skilled Hourly and Fixed-Price Contracts

If you've sacrificed time and money to earn an education, the knowledge in your head could be worth some serious money. To understand how the gig economy is impacting professionals, I reached out to an expert in the industry.

Kaushik Bhaumik, the CTO of Field Engineer, a platform for telecom engineers to find gigs, shared with me that, "...the Uber phenomenon has already allowed relatively unskilled labor (taxi drivers, dog walkers, babysitters, etc.) to cash-in on the gig economy and earn money in their spare time. The revolution that's taking place now is centered around empowering skilled professionals to offer their specialized services to niche markets on a contract basis. It's not about the size of the market, but the sophistication of the projects."

Skilled labor and professionals are beginning to enjoy the fruits of their education outside of their 9-5 jobs by utilizing specialized sites that match specific employers with contractors to service their technical needs.

2. Crafting Your Own Opportunity

Of course, you don't need an industry certification or an MBA to generate new revenue streams in your life. In fact, the arts and crafts that you spend time creating with your kids could be a big business opportunity. Sites like Etsy and Handmade at Amazon provide an outlet for your creativity. Sure, you might not be able to command the rate of a professional right off the bat, but you can build up a catalog that sells through and provides a solid income.

And, it turns out, if you have a flare for branding and marketing, you could clear six-figures by offering your homemade creations online.

3. Keep an Eye out for Problems in Your Local Community

"Don't find a fault, find a remedy. Anybody can complain." -Henry Ford
Don't just take time away from your friends and family in order to make money. You can think bigger than that. Look around your community. The people you interact with, the situations you encounter are all opportunities to think better, do more and act more efficiently.

If you can identify problems that the people around you are facing (whether they realize it or not), and then create solutions, you'll eventually find the right opportunity for your next business venture. Remember, businesses don't have to be huge. They just need to be profitable.

Squatty Potty, a legendary startup featured on Shark Tank, was actually founded by a son whose mother was constipated. He delved into the research to find a solution. As a result of his quest, as highlighted by Inc.com, he "...helped create a special tool designed to fit around a Western toilet...[giving his mother] almost instant relief." The simple solution to his mother's difficulty relieving herself has become a multi-million-dollar business that's helped hundreds of thousands suffering from constipation.

If you're willing to break out of your comfort zone, disrupt your normal daily routine, and chase opportunity, it's possible to generate a serious side-income. Depending on your personal bandwidth, you could launch an entire line of crafty items for sale online. Or, you could cash in on your education and professional experience to complete odd-jobs in your area. And, if you figure out a solution to a problem you or someone else is experiencing, you can monetize it and create a serious business.

Only you can shape your family's future. Will you continue to struggle paycheck to paycheck, or can you break the cycle? Converting free-time into new revenue streams is the best way to change your family's life for the better. Are you in?