On the Side – If Only We had a Wheelbarrow

If you want to start your own side business (or even full time business, for that matter), you have got to find your wheelbarrow.

Whenever I have started out on a new venture, there is a scene from The Princess Bride that comes to mind. It is the scene in which Westley Fezzek and Inigo are hiding behind a wall trying to figure out how to storm the castle and save Princess Buttercup.

Westley has spent the better part of the day being “mostly dead” and he is therefore unable to move most of his body – and when he asks what the small team’s assets are he is told that their assets are his brain, Fezzek’s strength and Inigo’s steel. Clearly unimpressed at their odds, Westley mutters “If we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something.”

As it turns out, the trio did have a wheelbarrow, to which Westley replies, “then why didn’t you list that among your assets?”

So I like to think of starting a side gig as finding your wheelbarrow. What are your assets? What skill or knowledge do you have that other either don’t have or would rather not spend time doing?

It’s taken just over a year, but I’ve finally built my occasional odd job writing into a reasonably successful freelance writing gig. It’s still definitely a side job which supplements my regular full time employment, but I think if I had to manage with only the freelancing… well, I think that I could. My ability to write well has been a very good wheelbarrow for me.

Over the years, I’ve concocted a number of ways to make some extra cash each with their own wheelbarrows that I have been able to identify. In fact, even as a child I remember having quite the entrepreneurial bent doing everything from trying to sell my so-called “art” to creating amateur haunted houses and charging the neighbourhood kids to let me chase them around while wearing a Halloween mask.

Over the past ten years I’ve had a number of these reasonably profitable side gigs including making and selling vermicompost bins (my wheelbarrow was that I worked for a year at an environmental organization that made and sold them, so I had built up that knowledge); I’ve been a professional “contest winner”, selling prizes that I won on sites like Kijiji (that wheelbarrow was a very large network of friends that I made over social media who all contest together) ; and I’ve also played a role in helping my husband develop his own side gig of teaching wedding dances to couples (using his wheelbarrow of being an amazing dancer).

But my most successful side gig has most definitely been freelance writing. And the writing that I really like to do is writing content for business (a wheelbarrow that likely developed working for a local business organization).

Along the way, I’ve also discovered there are some wheelbarrows which I do not have. I do not have a “sales wheelbarrow”. Sure I can sell my own business, but don’t ask me to make appointments and go out and talk to people. That’s just not me.

There are wheelbarrows that I have and wheelbarrows that I don’t have – and I think I’ve become pretty proficient and discovering new wheelbarrows as well.

My advice to someone thinking of starting a side gig? Find your wheelbarrow. And if that particular analogy is not working for you, find one that does?


I’d love to hear from you in the comment section: Do you have a side gig or are you considering one? What is your wheelbarrow?


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