With the increasing burden of massive student debt and low insurance reimbursement rates, many optometrists are searching for income alternatives to make extra money aside from their full-time optometric profession. Many optometrists are looking for ways (either passive or active) to supplement, or even completely replace, their current income by doing a “side hustle”.


Click here to See a List of Side Hustles Ideas

Do you need a Side Hustle?

To be honest, you don’t. Simply being a full-time optometrist will provide a steady income to be financially successful. But having a side hustle will increase your total income and help you achieve financial freedom quicker and accomplish other financial goals. More importantly, many ODs start a side hustle because it is something that they truly enjoy and are passionate about. It is often a way to keep things fresh from the repetitive nature of optometry at times.


There is a famous statistic that millionaires usually will have an average of Seven Streams of income, whether they are active or passive. So, I think we as ODs can strive for at least 5 streams.

What is the Difference between Active and Passive?

Active Income: When you work the majority of the time and are paid for your expertise and time. This usually requires actual hours and physically being there. 


Passive Income: When the payment is not directly tied to you working or being there. Don’t mistake passive income with zero work; it will often require a significant amount of active work and long hours at the beginning, before it can truly produce cash flow without you being there all the time.


  •  Example: Stock dividends, rental properties, book royalty

What are 6 Tips for starting your Side Hustle?

(1) Don’t ever quit your day job.


Unless you inherit a million dollars from your rich uncle, you are likely starting without any funds or resources. Being an optometrist is an extremely lucrative profession and should be your primary source of active income, at least for now. Keep on working your day job until you saved enough cash to start your side hustle. You can easily do it by both SAVING MORE (aka Frugal living) and EARNING MORE (working extra fill-in OD shifts during your days off).


(2) Seek Passion over Profit.


Start with finding your passion or area of interest. Having a business idea that you are truly passionate about is a great indication for future success. Side hustles take a lot work and time, but it doesn’t have to feel like a job. If your side-hustle is something you are passionate about, it will motivate you to work that extra 2-3 hours late at night after you are exhausted from a long day of refracting patients. Passion creates energy, and it is that energy that drives you to succeed.


 (3) Brainstorm a crap-load of ideas and write them down!


No matter how ridiculous it might sound. Start with asking your friends and family about what they think you are most exceptional at, whether it might be creative drawing, building wooden tables, giving good advice, or having a great specific personality trait. Start with your strengths first and use that in forming your ideas.


This will make it easier to execute down the line. Even if something is an amazing idea but you can’t imagine yourself executing it, then it is a Moo-point, you know a cow’s opinion, it just doesn’t matter (90’s pop culture TV reference for all you Friends fans out there).


(4) Be Strategic and know that Execution is key.


There are many stories of companies with amazing ideas, which eventually collapse due to poor leadership or an awful business plan. One perfect example was WebVan.com back in the 1990s, which was an online E-commerce store where consumers could have groceries and household items delivered straight to their door. Sound Familiar?


You are probably thinking to yourself, “Wait, isn’t that what CEO Jeff Bezos of Amazon is doing now?” It was basically the same great idea as Amazon, but due to poor management and execution, WebVan.com went bankrupt.


Once you have a set idea, you need to have a set and logical business plan that makes sense. Lay out a framework on how you will make money.  Which market or niche will this work in? Who is your biggest competition? How much money will you need to get it started? What are your goals each year? And then, analyze the HECK out of it.


List all the reasonable things that can do right or wrong with your side hustle. Then have someone else take a look at it with a fresh set of eyes, don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism.


(5) Trust yourself and be Confident in your ideas.


If you able to talk yourself out of your own business idea, then you should not be doing it in the first place. But once you established your mindset, be confident in your ideas and stick with it! Don’t count on others to give you validation when attempting something new.


The most successful business ideas out there are ones that push the boundaries of what is traditionally view as “safe” or “possible." Take Uber for example - there were so many critics in the early stages saying it would never work due to legal restrictions and push back from the cab industry, but Uber still persisted and overcame criticism to become one of the most successful disruptions of the taxi industry.


(6) Always Stay Humble.


There is always room for you as an entrepreneur to learn. Be respectful and always listen before you come to any conclusion. Make sure you take the time out to show gratitude toward people that helped you along the way. This ensures that your side hustle will last for decades to come.


Here are some Side-Hustles Ideas to get you started:  

Side Hustles Using your Optometric Degree

Side Hustles Using your Medical Knowledge/ Influence

  • 1 Fill-in optometry Day Diem aside from your full-time job
  • 2 Tele-health at a VA Site (such as monitoring for diabetic retinopathy)
  • 3 Vision Screening for clubs and organizations (Many will fundraise money to hire an OD for the day)
  • 4 Member on hospital board or on Optometry school board
  • 5 Optometric Consulting for contact lens research, new medical devices, pharmaceuticals and other healthcare companies
  • 6 Optometry content writer for medical journals or optometric publications
  • 7 Expert Medical Witness in legal cases
  • 8 Chart/Utilization patient review (such as for worker’s compensation and insurance) or Doctor’s options on Medical Cases
  • 9 CE Lecturer or other Speaking engagement
  • 10 Part time clinical instructor or teaching assistant
  • 11 Optometry research for clinical and pharmaceutical trials
  • 12 On-Demand Doctor Visits: Heal.com, Pager.com
  • 13 Optometric-specific Surveys (Online): Ranges $10-$200 (M3 Global Research/ MNOW Surveys/ InCrowd/ Reckner Healthcare/ ZoomRX/ Inspired Opinions)
  • 1 Write a book, paperback or eBook (Amazon self-publish) on various topics
  • 2 Create online Blog using WordPress
  • 3 Create online courses (ex: such as KMK NBEO study guide)
  • 4 Become an Instagram or other social media Influencer promoting various optometric products or lifestyle
  • 5 Optometric experts on TV, film or radio
  • 6 Podcasting and YouTube video blogging
  • 7 Sell Items on Esty.com, Amazon.com or eBay.com
  • 8 Direct to consumer products (for example: Selling a specialized home-made product like birdhouse feeders)

Side Hustles Real Estate

Side Hustles Business

  • 1 Part time Real Estate Realtor (Need License for Selling homes on weekend)
  • 2 Rent out your own home via Airbnb.com
  • 3 Real Estate Rental home investing such as apartment, single-family home, and vacations rentals
  • 4 Invest in crowd-funding real estate (RichUncles.com, Biggerpockets.com, Realtyshares.com)
  • 5 Invest in tax lien properties
  • 6 Real Estate Rental (In-state or out of State)
  • 1 Create invention or make an existing product better, can be optometric or non-optometric
  • 2 Create a mobile application using sites like ibuildapp.com and buildfire.com
  • 3 Venture capitalist consultant: consult firms that fund medical innovations, especially in optometry
  • 4 Angel Investing in new technology or companies (ex: Angellist.com, microventures.com)

Click here to Learn more about Real Estate Investing with Julie Phan OD

Side Hustles Investing/Lending

Side Hustles Miscellaneous Ideas

  • 1 Day-Trading with the Stock market: Remember this is completely different from mutual funds. Involves extensive investing knowledge about technical analysis and timing the market to try to sell high/buy low. Involves a significant amount of risk and speculation.
  • 2 Peer-to-peer lending: Lendingclub.com, Prosper.com
  • 3 Individual Stock Investing (Long term/Fundamentals)
  • 1 Free-lancing any skill, whether it is optometry-related or not (Examples: www.Fiverr.com, www.Upwork.com)
  • 2 Drive Uber/Lyft during your free time
  • 3 Rent out your car (Example: www.Turo.com)
  • 4 Teaching a specific class like Yoga, motivation speaking, or an instrument

Finally, is it actually worth it?

I think all doctors have the smarts and drive to start a side hustle. We made it through 4 grueling years of Optometry school. But not every optometrist has the determination to be an entrepreneur, which is completely fine, because the optometric profession is a noble one.  The mass majority of side hustles require a lot of long nights and weekend, therefore limiting the amount of personal time.


At the end of the day, you need to look at your own personal situation and see if it is even worth your time.  This is when passion and having the right attitude can often motivate you to keep on going.


Ultimately, like everything in finance, it is personal for a reason, you got to have the right drive and motivation to keep on going.

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About DatBuiOD

Dr. Bui is a lead optometrist at the Apple Wellness Center in the heart of Silicon Valley. He has a deep passion for ocular disease and healthcare technology. He started his career with $230K of student debt and has been focusing on strategies on attacking this massive debt such as budgeting and personal finance, along with investing. He is a big advocate for passive index funding with a small portfolio toward technology stocks. Lastly, he wants to help all new doctors and high-earning professionals navigate toward wealth and financial independence.

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