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Wednesday 24th April 2024

Why we all need to be a bit more Branson!

Most people in the UK will know of Sir RIchard Branson (born 1950). He is probably Britain’s most famous and successful serial entrepreneur.

Branson’s early business career involved selling records (the CDs of their day) by mail order. In 1972 he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. Today his Virgin Group comprises more than 400 companies in areas from music to air travel, sports centres to space exploration. 

Branson himself is a billionaire several times over. In 2007 he was included by Time magazine in their Top 100 Most Influential People in the World list.

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Of course, I’m not suggesting that every Mouthy Money reader should try to emulate Branson’s success (though dream big, by all means!). However, I do think we could all benefit by taking a leaf out of his book and being a bit more entrepreneurial, especially in these challenging times.

Multiple income streams

Like Branson and his Virgin Group, I’m a big believer in having several strings to your money-making bow, each one generating another income stream for you.

That doesn’t necessarily mean starting new businesses (though it could) but simply ensuring you have more than one source of money coming in. There are many advantages to this.

For one thing, the extra cash can give you greater resilience in the event of your main income source drying up. It can also help you build reserves to cope with unforeseen circumstances. You can put it towards major purchases in future. It can also finance a few extra treats to improve the quality of life for you and your family – from gifts and meals out to having the heating on for an hour longer in the evening…

Of course, even Branson doesn’t strike gold every time. Some of his businesses have gone under due to changing times and fashions. Others never really took off in the first place (Virgin Cola being the classic example). But because he always has plenty of other projects on the go, his empire just keeps growing and growing. That never-say-die approach is something we can all benefit from copying!

Here then are some ways you may be able to generate extra income streams for yourself…

Part-time work

I guess this is pretty self-explanatory. It could range from getting a Saturday job at your local supermarket or DIY store to gardening, delivery driving, leafleting, and so on. 

People with specialist skills may also be able to get paid part-time work in their field. For example, I know several retired nurses who went back to work part-time giving Covid jabs. 

Part-time work is generally low stress. As well as giving your income a boost, it also has the benefit of keeping you mentally alert and meeting new people and potentially new friends. If you’re over 50 (like me) there’s a website called Rest Less which specializes in part-time work suitable for older people. 

Side hustles

Side hustles is a broad term that covers small-scale money-making sidelines of all kinds. I am a big fan of side hustles and have a number myself, including freelance writing and blogging. 

There are lots of other potential side hustles, of course. One I’ve done from time to time is being a TV or movie extra. This can be great if you have a little time available in the day. You won’t make a fortune but you’ll be paid and get to see how films and TV shows are made. There are a few agencies that employ freelance extras (here’s a link to one). I wrote more about working as an extra in this article on Mouthy Money.

Another possibility is going on TV quiz and game shows. You can make a lot of tax-free money if you win a big prize on a show like The Chase or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Of course, you may not win anything at all, but it’s still an interesting and enjoyable day out and generally your expenses will be covered. I also wrote about this opportunity in Mouthy Money..

There are lots of other side hustles as well. I can’t go through them all in detail here, but they include tutoring, consultancy work, dog walking, handyman/DIY work, house  sitting, making and selling craft items, and so on.

Rent a room

This is a tried-and-tested way to generate extra income. If you have a spare room (or rooms) in your house that you don’t mind letting out, the government will allow you to earn up to £7,500 a year tax-free under the Rent a Room scheme. 

Tax exemption if you don’t earn more than £7,500 this way is automatic – you don’t even have to fill in a tax return. The room must be furnished and in your own home.

If you don’t want a full-time lodger, Rent a Room tax relief can also be used for income from short-term lets, as with Airbnb.

Online auction selling 

Next I want to mention online auction sites, of which the best known is eBay

A lot of people use eBay as a shopping site, but it can be a great way of making extra money as well. We all have stuff lying around the house we don’t need any more, so why not sell it on eBay and get a few pounds for it? Obviously selling is a bit more complicated than buying, but eBay has been running for a long time and they have learned to make selling on the site as easy as possible, even for people who are brand new to it. 

There is no tax liability if you’re simply selling your old stuff on eBay. If you decide to start buying in stuff to sell at a profit then there could be, but it’s worth bearing in mind that everyone has a £1,000 Trading Allowance. If you make less than this in a year from things like eBay trading you don’t have to pay tax on it or even declare it, whatever other income you might have.

  • Though you may like to note that from January 2024 online marketplaces such as eBay have been required to notify HMRC if a user earns more than £4,000 in any one year from selling. There will still be no tax liability if you are just selling old possessions and not making a profit on them. But if you want to avoid any potential hassles there may be a case for keeping sales on any single platform below the £4,000 a year reporting threshold.

Online surveys

Finally, I want to mention survey sites. These are a great way to earn a bit of extra cash for little effort, though you certainly won’t make a fortune. Again, I wrote about this a while ago on Mouthy Money

As I said then, my favourite survey site is Prolific Academic.This site is used by academic researchers world-wide to recruit participants for online studies and surveys, and they are varied and often surprisingly interesting. 

The studies on Prolific require anything from a minute to an hour to complete, with payments based on how long (on average) they take. I’ve earned over £700 to date from Prolific Academic and highly recommend them.

I do hope this article has inspired you to follow in the footsteps of Sir Richard Branson and adopt a more entrepreneurial approach by creating multiple income streams for yourself. 

Of course, Mouthy Money regularly publishes articles by me and my fellow contributors setting out methods for making extra money. Take a look at MM’s Earning category for many more ideas and inspirations!

As always, if you have any comments about this article, please do leave them below.

Nick Daws writes for Pounds and Sense, a UK personal finance blog aimed especially (though not exclusively) at over-fifties.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Nick Daws

Mouthy Blogger

Nick Daws is a semi-retired freelance writer and editor. He is the author of over 30 non-fiction books, including Start Your Own Home-Based Business and The Internet for Writers. He lives in Burntwood, Staffordshire, where he has been running his personal finance blog at Poundsandsense.com for over seven years.

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