Gig Work vs. Side Hustles. Bridging Financial Gaps versus Building Wealth

Explore the difference between gig work and true side hustles—flexible jobs vs. asset-building endeavors for long-term wealth.

An AI-generated image of a young man mowing a lawn.
A young man mowing a lawn as part of his side hustle.

I may have been using the term side hustle wrong. For me, a side hustle is a small business. It is freelancing or running a blog. You know, an entrepreneurial endeavor.

Not everyone sees it that way. For some, a side hustle is driving an Uber or picking up shifts as a security guard at some local event. Those are vastly different things, and it is worth comparing them.

The Nature of Gig Work

Gig work is flexible. It requires almost no commitment, and it pays fast. If you need $50 today, you can open the Uber Eats or Doordash app, drive for about three and a half hours, and just like that, you can deposit $50 in your bank.

As a stop-gap to address an immediate financial need, gig jobs can be a great help. For example, it is much better to drive for Uber Eats than to take out a payday loan.

Gig work is not, in my opinion, a good option for long-term or full-time income. The pay is relatively low. It offers no medical or retirement benefits. And in the end, you don't own anything as a direct result of the work.

Entrepreneurial Side Hustles

Ownership is the fundamental difference for me. Ownership builds wealth.

An entrepreneurial side hustle will frequently come with some form of asset ownership.

Here is an example. When my kids were young, we started a lawn-moving service. During the summer, the entire family would work evenings and weekends mowing suburban lawns with 22-inch mowers purchased at The Home Depot.

At its peak, the business had 70 clients, a few part-time employees, and about $2,500 per week in revenue. We old it. It was not a lot of money, but when we were done mowing lawns, so to speak, we derived value from the business as an asset.

If your entrepreneurial side hustle is a blog, that blog has some value. It has the potential to be a wealth builder.

Wealth Building and Asset Ownership

Wealth is the value of assets owned, like money, property, investments, and savings. Wealth reflects the accumulation of income and savings over time, as well as any appreciation in the value of assets.

On the other hand, income is the money made in a certain period, like a salary and wages. Income is vital. But it does not necessarily build wealth. If you spend it all, you will still need more.

Get a Side Hustle

So that's it. A somewhat lengthy description of what I mean by a side hustle and why I think it is important.

I think of side hustles as tiny little asset generators with great potential.