Ellen Thomas
3 min readMar 3, 2022


Tools to help you design your side hustle.

2020–2022 to date has been a lot, one of the good things to come out of the past few years has been the time to reflect. Now I’m no expert but I would guess that this has been a big part of the spike in people starting their own businesses (and furlough obviously).

But what if you want to start a business but you have no idea what you should do?

I wanted to share with you some tools that might help you work that out. These are tools I have used in my job as a UX designer, in evolving my own side hustle and in my personal life (to bring myself back to why I started).

Think about where it fits

Start with thinking about where the side hustle fits into your life, having a side hustle is great but it’s extra work. An important part of this process is understanding what you want from it in the first place. Maybe you just want to earn a bit of extra cash? That’s fine but be honest with yourself.

My primary reason for my side hustle was less about making money and more about joy and creativity. I wanted creative freedom and to design things that connected with people.


I found the IKIGAI framework a great tool for understanding what I really wanted to get out of my side hustle and how that connected with the rest of my life. It’s something I come back to; I find it really grounding to be reminded of why I started.

Design thinking

So now you’ve thought about how it fits holistically, I want to introduce you to another tool.

The template is from Solving product design exercises by Artiom Dashinsky. This is basically using design thinking to solve a problem in steps.

But essentially this was my criteria

· Must be able to bootstrap business (no loans please).

· Must have low overheads.

· Must have long term scalability but be suitable to run at any scale.

· Must have a location that can easily be altered.

· Must be selling things that bring people Joy.

· Must be something I love and will still love for a long time.

And this is what it looked like written out so hopefully, you can see how you can use it to work through your ideas.


Let’s talk about the final concept MVP, this means minimum viable product. In a nutshell, this means what is the smallest thing you can do to test your idea and get feedback? Make a couple of items and try selling them or test that workshop idea with a small group etc.

Sometimes you just have to try things and so often we think we want something and when it comes down to it, we liked the idea better than the reality. Also for your side hustle to be viable there needs to be some demand for it.

Be patient with the process and yourself

Remember it’s an iterative process (expect to do it more than once to get it right) and you must fail to succeed! Don’t be put off if your first idea for your side hustle idea doesn’t work out. Sit back and assess what worked and what didn’t and then try again.

Personally, I think it’s better it takes you longer to work out and you land on the right thing in the end.

Just start!



Ellen Thomas

UX Designer at Zebra Technologies. Design geek, pattern lover and Northern girl living in London, who believes design has the power to make the world better.