Can you make money from a side hustle?

More Australians are turning to side hustles for fun… and money. Meet Carissa Lake, who took a leap into the unknown by starting her own bakery.

If you’ve ever dreamed about cheating on your day job with a side hustle, you’re not alone. The number of people seeking a second – or third – source of income has increased. And so has the list of potential side hustles: passive income from selling things on Facebook Marketplace, investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs) or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or renting out your car.

Financial trader to cupcake baker 

Carissa Lake juggled corporate life and baking for years before finally quitting her day job.

“In the mid-2000s I was working as a junior trader on the futures exchange in Sydney. I liked the fast pace, the stress, the buzz. Did you ever see Wall Street? That’s what I wanted to do. Being the only woman in an office of men, I was called Princess, hence my current business name, The Cupcake Princess. Of course, you wouldn’t get away with that today. 

At one point we were shutting down the futures floor and it was stressful. The market was up and down. The team was cranky but whenever I brought in something I’d baked, everyone would relax and smile. They’d share memories of when they were kids and their mum would bake this or that. It was nice to see people enjoy themselves at work again.

Business owner out front of cupcake store

Then I was made redundant and took temping roles but the baking was taking over. I’d work all day in the financial markets, go home and bake for the farmers’ market, get a few hours’ sleep, then do it all again. I never had any free time. After three years of this, I had to choose. I went with what makes me happier. That was about 15 years ago.

I found premises to work from and locked myself in there for 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week to bake and decorate cakes and cupcakes. The business grew via word of mouth and because I sold at the markets at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter, home to big media agencies, I got to know marketing and PR teams and started baking for movie premieres and brand launches. I was in the right place at the right time.

Fast forward to 2014 and one day, craving pavlova, I stumbled upon a pretty cheesecake shop in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs that was perfect for me. I secured the lease and renovated it using my savings. My brother and I got on the tools – I put up battens and plasterboard and painted it myself.

Running a business has difficulties – finding talented staff is challenging – but I’m my own boss. I could be working in the corporate world, going home stressed every night, earning a great salary. But my business allows me to meet new people each day. 

Sometimes customers come in and the weight of the world is on their shoulders. I tell them a silly story or help them look at their problem differently and they walk out with cupcakes, laughing and feeling lighter. I love creating happiness. Running your own business has its struggles but I’m my own boss.” 

Carissa’s tips for keeping the momentum going

  • Set goals -it doesn’t matter whether they are yearly, monthly, weekly or daily – and If you don’t get to cross them off, don’t stress.
  • Just keep going - success is determined not by how many times you win but by how you play the week after you lose. 
Cupcakes on a plate

This article was originally published in Brighter magazine

Turn your side hustle into a small business

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