Once upon a time, a ‘side hustle’ was a phrase that made most people nervous because it sounds like illegal activity. Today I feel like I hear it almost daily. This makes me happy since I happen to be a huge fan of entrepreneurship.
This is not going to be one of those posts that encourages everyone that they should quit their job. In fact, it is quite the contrary.
Instead of talking with you today about my theories pertaining to the value of a side hustle, I am going to draw upon my actual life experience with it. I have quit a well-paying, comfortable corporate job to pursue entrepreneurship full time and it is difficult to build your income back up quickly. I know this because I failed horribly with this approach and lost tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
How can you put a price on an experience like that?
I have a lifetime’s worth of content to create about this very experience. I know that this will help countless others and it has given me enough material to write my first book too.
This is going to be one of those posts that encourages everyone to start a side hustle though. I am fairly laid back, but I am also very direct with my intentions which usually works well for me. It just occurred to me that some of you may not know what the hell I am talking about when I mention a ‘side hustle,’ so I will define it for you.
A side hustle is a supplemental stream of income that results from offering products and/or services. If you work a full-time job, then the side hustle usually happens from 5 pm to 9 am or simply when you are not grinding away at progressing within your career. I have put together some common questions and the applicable answers in the hopes that I can answer some unasked questions out there.
Q: Why would someone start a ‘side hustle?’
A: There are a variety of reasons that someone starts a side hustle. The most obvious one is for extra money and a majority of people will gladly take as much income as they can possibly earn. Another reason is to pursue a passion or even a hobby. The escape that some people need from their career can be found in this kind of pursuit. This is also a way to start a business and test the market while ramping up revenue sources as well.
I personally try to push new startups into this direction because it offers less risk and an opportunity to still pay the bills with the day job. Remember that I have jumped from a career into full-time entrepreneurship and ultimately failed because my heart wasn’t in what I was doing. If it would have been a side hustle, I could have sampled the opportunity and cut it loose after some time if I decided that it was not a great fit for me.
Time and money are the two biggest limiting factors that most people are going to face when looking at the startup requirements of a new business. The side hustle reduces the need for both of those.
Q: How much side hustle is too much?
A: When you spend so much time on your part-time venture that it starts to negatively impact your relationships, health, and your performance in your full-time job, you may need to make some changes. I speak from experience here and what I have discovered may honestly surprise you. When I started to block off time to unplug, reflect, and to get a few hours of extra sleep, things began to improve for me. I became more intentional with my time and more efficient too. I stopped doing unproductive, nonessential tasks as well
If and when your side hustle grows so much that all of these things happen, perhaps it’s time to make it your full-time gig. The distinction that I want to point out here is working a ton of hours and not making money vs making money. The first scenario should tell you that you are inefficient and that you need to manage your time more wisely. Please remember that if what you are doing is not giving you the results that you want, it’s time to try something new. The second situation is a great “problem” to have if replacing your primary income source is your objective.
Q: How do you strike a balance between all things in your life?
A: The first step must be prioritizing everything that consumes time in your week. How many hours do you need to work to survive? 40? 50? 60? 70?! How many hours of sleep do you need a night? 7? 6? 5? How much time do you want to spend with your family or significant other each day? I am not going to even guess the amount of time on this one. Everyone’s situation is different and so are their need requirements.
We all have the same 168 hours in a week, so I am trying to illustrate that most of that time will be spoken for in an average person’s situation. The time that is left is the ideal time for the pursuit of your side hustle. I know just how exciting and addicting it can be in start-up mode but without limitations, the imbalance can and will come back to haunt you.
You will have to take a chance with all of this to see what happens, initially.
I think that you will find yourself making adjustments to the areas in which you spend your time as you move through all of this. What works for me will not work for some of you and vice versa. I wanted to get you thinking about some of the areas of your life that will require your careful attention as you figure all of this out.
One thing I will tell you is that you won’t sit around and watch as much television as you used to. You won’t lay around playing video games every day (unless this is part of your business plan). I recently went to a show with my son and I got to see the power of building an audience of 14 million from gaming on YouTube. It was insane!
Parting advice for perfecting your side hustle:
- Reflect often on the reasons why you are doing it
- Be patient and relentless in the pursuit of your goals
- Establish balance in your life among all things that consume your time
- Surround yourself with people who will support you and not bring you down
Successfully launching and maintaining a side hustle is one of the most enjoyable things that I have done, in my entire adult life. It gives you hope. It gives you an outlet, creates new streams of income, and gives you options. These are all big plusses in my book.
Read “100 Side Hustles: Unexpected Ideas for Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job” by Chris Guillebeau This unique guide features the startup stories of regular people launching side businesses that almost anyone can do: an urban tour guide, an artist inspired by maps, a travel site founder, an ice pop maker, a confetti photographer, a group of friends who sell hammocks to support local economies, and many more. In 100 Side Hustles, best-selling author of The $100 Startup Chris Guillebeau presents a colorful “idea book” filled with inspiration for your next big idea.
Do you have a side hustle? Do you have an idea for one that you plan on starting? Let’s hear about it in the comments.