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What is under-employment, and how you can overcome it

Under-employment refers to a situation where individuals are employed in jobs that are below their skill level, qualifications, or desired number of working hours. In under-employment, individuals may be working part-time when they want full-time work or they may be working in jobs that do not fully utilize their skills and education. It is important to distinguish under-employment from unemployment, where individuals are actively seeking but unable to find any work.

Problems of Under-employment when there is an increase in the Cost of Living.

Financial Strain:

Under-employed individuals may struggle to meet their increased expenses due to rising costs of living. The limited income may not be sufficient to cover basic necessities, leading to financial stress.

Reduced Quality of Life:

Under-employment can affect one’s overall well-being and quality of life. Individuals may be unable to afford essential goods, services, or recreational activities they enjoyed before the cost of living increase.

Increased Debt:

Some under-employed individuals may resort to credit cards or loans to cope with the higher costs, potentially leading to accumulating debt.

Limited Savings:

 Under-employment may hinder the ability to save for emergencies or future goals, leaving individuals vulnerable to unexpected financial challenges.

When was the last time you had a holiday away?

Four “Side Gigs” to Earn Extra Income:

If you have the skills to be employed, then you also have the skills to start your own business to offset the rising costs of living. Even if you have a full-time job, consider how many hours you spend doing your primary job role. This is the reason there are over 40,000 positions advertised on the internet each month in Australia for “clerical and office administration” roles.

While these roles are most likely to be Full-time positions, and the primary job role is to do important work for the company, more than 50% of the time these days is spent doing urgent but not important work, which can often be automated or AI.

It’s not about ego, or feeling unappreciated, but that is usually the reason people leave. It’s about job security when things get hard. Who is the first to get cut back? And why do they have to come back to the office when it was fine to work remotely during covid? Which takes higher organisational skills to WFH, yet if you want to do that now it generally comes with a pay cut.

But don’t worry, being sent out for coffee for company executives is likely to not be replaced anytime soon, and can’t be done by their Overseas Virtual assistant. Just don’t tell your boss that the local coffee shop lets you order online, not to mention uber eats.

The good news is, you have high enough digital literacy skills to do all the “fun stuff” that the sales and marketing departments in the larger businesses won’t let you do.

For example, if you work for a small business owner doing office work, they generally encourage you to hone your skills by doing what you love as a way to ratin you working for them.

Small business can use the skills you gain in their business if you start up the following in-demand side gigs:

Startup Group
Startup Group

Digital Content Creation:

If you have skills in writing, graphic design, video editing, or photography, you can create content and sell it to small businesses that don’t have their own marketing department. One of my marketing international students sold a photo to Brisbane City Council’s tourism department for $750 from an Instagram post. A steal at that price as it would have cost the council over $1500 to do the photo shoot.

Just don’t tell the client that it was taken by her boyfriend while staying in a city hotel for the night, and on her mobile phone. All you have to do is learn how to set your phone up right, but when I got my new Samsung this year they had already done that.

And with Canva and Website templates, graphic design work takes less formatting skills than making a PowerPoint presentation, but you still need the eye for detail to meet “professional” benchmarks that you have gain through your work experience over many years.


Start an online store and sell products through dropshipping, which allows you to operate without maintaining inventory. Research trending products and market them effectively. While this is becoming less common with websites like Wish and Temu, there is still a big 2nd hand market for this on Facebook marketplace eBay selling well known brands. You may have to hold stock for a couple of days, so technically not dropshipping, But it is simple enough for school kids to do and sell their grandparents stuff to help fund their retirement, for a small fee of course.

Online coaching/mentoring:

If you have expertise in a particular subject or skill, consider offering online tutoring services through platforms that connect tutors with students and new employees alike. I know a lot of business and marketing coaches who regularly attend local networking events looking for this service for their clients.

While options like fee-free TAFE exist, which is running out of places by the way, they are not taught how to monetise their skills in a classroom.

This is known as the “suitability gap” in the government’s official figure. This is the number of applicants that hold a qualification that are considered “suitable” by employers for an advertised job. Which currently says that only around 40% of “qualified” applicants are also suitable for the job.

The government’s internet vacancy index even says that “skill VET” (who hold a certificate III or IV in a related field) also need at least 2 years on-the-job experience to be considered for advertised roles with larger companies.

So how do they get the experience when they are fresh out of TAFE? While small businesses make up 97.5% of all businesses, and only employ 42% of the workforce, Small Business employs twice as many trainees and apprentices than larger businesses.

The problem is the only thing worse than training a person well and they leave is not training them well and they stay. That is one of the biggest expense to small businesses that are not set up to train new staff.

It costs big businesses over $30,000 to turnover staff in training costs and lost sales. And with 43% of all businesses not making a profit last year after all the government stimulus stopped, small businesses need this service to limit training coast if they want to survive this financial year.

Affiliate Marketing:

For small businesses, this is not about being an “influencer” on social media. It is more about sending the 20% of customers that cause 80% of your problems to other businesses in your network that can serve them better. If you don’t have to go out of your way to help people, you can help more people, which means you can take on more customers without increasing labour costs.

It’s hard to do when you are starting up if the business is your main source of income, but if you are already earning an income from another source you build long-term customers through your expertise in giving genuine referrals.

If your business is your main source of income, this is also a skill you need to learn. Whom to say no to. Getting referral from the 20% stated above only increases them as a portion of your business. When they get to 25% of your clients/customers, 100% of your resources are taken up by fixing problems. You lose happy customers, you can’t grow, and slowly but surely start going broke.

I don’t like the word “collaborators” due to its association with dodgy business practices in the past, but essentially that’s what you do. The correct business term I use is called “complimentors”, which comes from Porter’s 6 competitive forces model as the opposite of competitors in your industry.

You can partner with companies and promote their products or services through your blog, social media channels, or website. You earn a commission for each sale made through your affiliate links, which many businesses will pay 10%-20% for.

There is even a free WordPress plugin I can show you that creates the links for your affiliate marketers to use that lets you see how many people come to your website from a social media post, and whether the person converts to a customer (or downloads your lead generation content).

This is how I ensure affiliate marketing is not just a one way street if you do a contra deal instead of commission. It’s how we teach startups to track if they get a return on investment doing work in exchange for “exposure” of their new business.

Want to start a side gig right now?

Remember, the success of side gigs depends on factors like your skills, dedication, and market demand. Always research and assess the feasibility and earning potential of any side gig before committing significant time and resources.

This is what we do in the first 4 modules of our bootstrap startup program. We hold your hand through all of the research needed to write a startup business plan and launch your business and start making sales in under 4 weeks.

But the support doesn’t stop there. It only takes a couple of hours a week to develop your business plan. You tap into our 30+ year’s experience of starting up businesses to only do the things you absolutely need to do when starting out. Once you have a business plan, we have all the information we need to start money coming in. If you need to put more than a couple of hours a week, depending on your business model, you still have another 4 weeks to develop your business into a viable enterprise with our support.

A basic business plan is an essential step if you are going to start a business, even as a side gig to earn a bit of extra income, or introducing a new range of products/services when expanding an existing business.

Still not sure what to do now?

Let’s have a free 15-minute chat. Click HERE to book that.

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