Today we are in the company of Mathieu, a reader from the Gros-de-Vaud region, Switzerland. His ambition is to achieve financial independence in order to stop working for his 40th birthday (he is 33 years old today).
In addition to his “standard” job, Mathieu has managed to earn an extra CHF 1'000 per month for almost a year now.
Let’s see what you can learn from his experience in order to generate some additional income in Switzerland yourself too.
Hi Mathieu! First of all, let me welcome you and thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview. Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences: demographics, single or family, location?
Hey, MP. Thanks for the invitation! It feels weird to be featured on your blog, but it’s pretty cool :)
To answer your question, my name is Mathieu, I’m 33 years old, I’m married and I have 2 kids.
I’m self-employed in the construction industry. My job is to coordinate people on construction sites, manage costs, and develop / accompany people in real estate operations.
We are a small structure so we mainly stay on projects of villas, small rental buildings, and co-owned buildings (PPE in French) up to 6-8 units. We are active throughout the canton of Vaud.
Thanks for the intro. So then, explain to us: your side gig, what does it consist of?
So in fact, for quite some time now I’ve wanted to develop sources of income other than those from my main activity, in order to diversify my income but also to see other horizons.
I have had different opportunities, including one that came via LinkedIn: a person contacted me with the wish to improve his skills in the field of construction management. To give courses… why not! I hadn’t thought about it before.
I thought for a few days about how I could approach it, and then I accepted.
We agreed on a trial session to see if everyone could benefit from it, and it worked out well.
Since then we’ve been seeing each other once a week. Even during the current period (i.e. COVID-19 pandemic) when human relations are reduced to the strict minimum, we continue via videoconference!
We work by discussing problems and how to solve them. It’s a different approach than theoretical courses, because we are directly involved in the concrete stuff, and it gives a very interesting dimension to the exchanges we have.
Interesting how that “fell on you”. Can you tell us how this contact knew you from LinkedIn (i.e. how you were connected to him)? Or, if you weren’t connected to him, why did he choose you and not someone else? Was it through a recommendation from a person in common?
The person contacted me on LinkedIn after having gone around many people doing the same job. He made his choice based on the answers he received but also on the background of the different people. Many answered negatively or did not even answer his request. In the positive answers, I was one of those who were quite close to Lausanne and he liked my background. We did our first test session on a Saturday morning, the feeling was immediately there, and we both found it to our advantage. Since then, the adventure has continued.
Excellent. You can congratulate this person for taking his destiny into his own hands and improving on his own, that’s really great! I’m not going to surprise you with my next question, since we’re here to talk about money (!): how many Swiss francs do you make per month since you started?
With this activity, I finish the month ends well. It varies according to the hours, but generally between CHF 900 and 1'100/month.
Wow, nice! Congratulations! Can you describe at what point in your life you got the idea? And how did it come to you? And why (need more cash, need a change of scenery for the job, other)?
I accepted this activity due to the “discovery” side of it. Even if at the beginning I wanted to change a little bit from the construction field, the “educational” side took over and took me to heart.
In the end I am very happy about it; it is the human relationship that really counts. I have the impression of being useful to this person and the progress is visible. This is my main source of motivation.
Then comes the financial aspect, because it is a significant income that allows me to inject the money earned into other investments to benefit from a leverage effect.
But then, tell us how you got started, step by step from the idea to the first time, and especially in addition to your existing job?
I embarked on this activity by pure chance and without calculations. The initiator of the contact and the job offer was the person who approached me on Linkedin.
Being busy, my only limit was not to interfere with my family life. During the week, the days are already very full and it is difficult to reconcile family and professional life. I didn’t want to create even more constraints during the week.
So we agreed to work on Saturday mornings. This is well accepted by the family, and it allows us to finish mid-morning so as not to overlap too much with the weekend either.
I see you’re an early bird like me :) Also, can you explain us concretely if you have prepared a course material, if you have looked on the net for how to do coaching, or that kind of things? Because I find it interesting to understand how one can prepare for such an opportunity.
In terms of setting up the courses, I am fortunate to now have experience thanks to my job. We’re moving forward step by step with sessions divided into two parts.
The first part is in the form of a question-and-answer session about his current concerns and the problems he faces on his work sites. The goal is to provide answers in the form of avenues to explore in order to try to resolve complicated situations. But also to make him attentive on the points that can be critical in order to avoid bad situations.
The second part of the sessions is more focused on theory, with the learning of good methodologies, but also new knowledge. For this I was lucky during my studies to have been very attentive and to have kept all my course materials. I sort through them and use them as inspiration to create a logical program in the order of things over several sessions.
Another very pragmatic question: how did you choose the place for these sessions, and how could you book it on a weekend (i.e. was it easy or not, and how much did it cost you)?
That’s a good question. To carry out these sessions, I was looking for a quiet place, easily available, not expensive because that was my “student” who had to bear the cost of the room… At the beginning, I thought of rooms that are blooming everywhere at the moment in the co-working spaces. But after thinking about it, it was too many constraints for us, because the price and availability of the rooms were too random.
I went to the Novotel in Bussigny; they have a great space on the ground floor where I had already done some work sessions with clients over a drink. The environment seemed calm and practical for many reasons (availability because it’s always open, access because it’s close to a motorway exit, unbeatable price, and pleasant place). It costs us a few coffees and breakfast formulas, and we are really well installed to work. Up to 4-5 people is manageable. Beyond that we would have to do things differently.
Just out of curiosity, have you raised your rates since you started?
No, the rates have remained the same and will not change. I think it needs to be fair for everyone.
And in the future, what’s your next step with this personal project?
It opened my eyes to other skills that can be developed over time without necessarily realizing it.
You shouldn’t be afraid to test it, you should go for it and not hesitate.
I’m going to continue this activity and why not try to develop it. There are a lot of subjects to talk about… it’s a vast world!
I’d also like to dive more into the training aspect to give workshops for people who are not in the construction industry but who want to acquire a property or invest in real estate in Switzerland. I’m thinking about it!
Excellent! Keep me informed, I would be able to pass on the information via my newsletter because it might interest some people! And thanks again to you for agreeing to be the first one in this interview series.
Mathieu’s last answer contains an important point that I would like to highlight: “It opened my eyes to other skills that can be developed over time without necessarily realizing it.”
While developing more and more my blog, I came across the motto of one of my favorite companies: “Teach everything you know”. The idea is that even if you’re not in the building industry like Mathieu, you must have some experience. Your experience. Whether it’s cooking, horseback riding, computers, decorating, or plumbing. Whatever the field, there must be one in which you have more knowledge than someone else.
If you’re really serious about making more money than your current salary, here’s what you need to do:
- List all the skills about which your friends and family often ask you for your advice/opinion
- Talk to 100 people over the next week (face to face, via Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) about the fact that you are going into coaching/consulting/<your_activity_here> and that you have availability starting next month. Ideally, add a photo showing what you’ve already done (or if not adequate, write a quote from someone close to you who has already called on you in the past)
- Important: never offer your services for free. Otherwise people won’t take you seriously. That’s why you have to start with something you already have some mastery over
- Contact me as soon as you have earned your first Swiss francs of additional income so that you too can participate in an interview!
Feel free to ask Mathieu questions in the comments below, I will notify him as soon as there are any for him to answer.
Finally, if you too are interested in participating in this series of “How to make extra money on top of my salary through a side hustle in Switzerland?”, then you can contact me via the following email: contact [at] mustachianpost.com