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Why Canada’s Next Generation is Starting to Side Hustle

A cursory overlook at Canada’s economy shows that Canadians are becoming stretched. Debt-to-income is at record levels and full-time work is waning in the face of contract positions. Furthermore, economists are predicting seismic changes to our work force over the next decade as we are already seeing jobs lost to automation or outsourcing.

Our greatest currency nowadays lies in freeing up some extra time to open up additional sources of revenue in the form of micro businesses, defined as one that operates on a small scale.

While we are often inundated with get rich schemes and fairy tale advertisements that promise early retirement in the Caribbean, there are many Canadians who are turning to the digital space to generate an extra couple of thousand dollars a month.

Tim Ferris explained this phenomenon in his widely successful book, The 4-Hour Work Week, work automation and how it’s possible to create a passive-income business, often in the areas of: lead generation or drop-shipping. Lead generation refers to becoming an active funnel in introducing customers to businesses and drop-shipping is a process of moving goods from the manufacturer directly to the retailer without going through the usual distribution channels.

While both of these avenues have been basic pillars of business for centuries, the internet age is making it possible to reach a large potential client base with minimal resources.

I spoke with Brad Wammes, a financial analyst on Canada’s coveted Bay Street, who felt the cash crunch after purchasing a new downtown condo in Toronto. Rather than grinding day-in and day-out to slowly pay off his mortgage, he partnered with his friend who runs a digital agency, Grey Smoke Media, to create a micro-business. With new DIY ecommerce technologies such as Shopify, it was possible to create a simple drop-ship website in only a matter of a few days. The two launched Fresh 82, an online curator of cutting edge natural health products.

“Once the website is created it becomes a matter of mastering digital marketing, after that the process itself consists largely of sending orders to the manufacturer and simple accounting. We were able to outsource a lot of the digital marketing to a freelancer on Upwork, and have since grown monthly revenues to $2800 while committing only 2 hours / week each on management,” explained Wammes.

Passive income is quite attractive for a tech centric millennial generation who can navigate social media and SEM (search engine marketing) with ease.

Wammes piggybacked off his success with Fresh 82 to develop a lead generation site, which provides off-site truck advertising to a variety of freight carriers across the province. Similarly to the previous site, the website earns passive income becoming a simple pass through after digital marketing efforts have been perfected.

In addition to creating a passive income business, the sharing economy has presented new opportunities to leverage a household’s assets. Whether it’s our home or condo on AirBnb, our Car on Uber or our social network on Framestr, it’s essential that we all look at the cards in our hands.   

While every generation faces challenges, new technologies are presenting new opportunities. In a slowing economy and corporate cost-cutting, it is imperative that individuals are constantly improving their skill set and diversify the means by which we generate income in order to ensure financial independence. At the end of the day, it is not the total income per annum, but the per hour income that will be the most telling in assessing our efficiencies and quality of life.


Chris Porteous was an investment-banker turned serial entrepreneur. He focuses his efforts on helping small businesses grow their digital foot print.

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