We’re living in a time of abundant options and potential. When was the last time you heard about a friend working on something outside of a full-time job? From app developers to freelance writers to personal trainers and startup founders, there are more people than ever exercising their right to side hustle alongside their main job.
But as much as we dream of a side hustle being incredibly fulfilling to the soul and to our bank accounts, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it can be a struggle to make it work. Take some advice from some of those who are making it happen and keeping the dream alive.
1. Know its purpose
“Know what role you want your side hustle to play in your life. Is it a creative outlet or a business opportunity or something more?”
–Yoo-Sun P., DIEMlife co-founder and serial side hustler.
Before taking on any future projects or jobs, take the time to figure out the motivation behind it. Asking yourself this basic question can help you prioritize how much time and energy you want to invest in your side hustle. If you’re doing it for the sake of creativity, perhaps you don’t have to spend every free moment on it. On the other hand, if you need extra cash now, then that hustle may get bumped up in priority.
2. Network within the industry
“When I’m curious about something, I link up with people who can help me gain the industry experience and knowledge I need to turn my curiosity to a reality.”
–Dare H., dance company founder side hustling as a skin analyst.
Creating a network for your side hustle can open up opportunities of knowledge, experience, and future business. If you don’t know where to start, shoot an email to someone who’s familiar with your side job or business and ask questions. Better yet, if they’re local to you, meet up in person for a quick chat. If you want to jump right in, go to meetup events in your area. If you’re not a big networker, there’s still a way to grow your network. Sign up for courses and email newsletters from industry thought leaders.
3. Make sure you have something worth building
“If you have the core structure of a great business, scaling is easier than understanding true demand. Most people want to go straight to scale but focus on demand and you will be forced to scale.”
–Josh F., musician who previously side hustled as a food vendor before turning it into a full-time restaurant business.
When your side hustle is supposed to make money, you want to make sure that people want what you’re selling before you decide to make it a bigger business. Is there a demand for what you’re providing or creating? If not, there won’t be longevity or reason to grow your side hustle. If you’re not sure, one of the fastest ways to find out is to get feedback. Gather a group of 10 friends and customers and ask for their feedback on your product or service. This way, you can find out if you’ve got something worth scaling or something worth fixing.
4. Be aware of boundaries and the burnout
“Make sure your side hustle aids your main hustle: doesn’t leave you so drained that you can’t be full bodied in your main hustle.”
–Breanna B., performer side hustling as a movement professional.
Your side hustle is important, but so is the rest of your life. Make a plan to also fit in time for yourself. Otherwise, you’ll be burning yourself out from both ends, leaving you without the energy or focus to do anything effectively. Start by carving out an hour each day to refresh your mind and body after you finish up your day job and start working your side hustle.
5. Have unwavering confidence and belief in yourself
“You must believe in your dream, your vision, whatever it may be on so many levels that you are willing to make sacrifices. It is very important to not let that confidence fade away because it can be a wild rollercoaster of a ride. The challenges will test you.”
–Meredith L., entrepreneur who previously side hustled as a consultant before launching an international socially conscious company.
There will be days when you and others question everything you’re doing. But when the going gets tough, that’s when your inner strength will convince you to fight for it and keep going. To combat your own doubts, start the day with a post-it size list of what you’re grateful for. It can be your business, resources, family or friends – anything or anyone who supports you and what you do. Keep that post-it with you as a reminder when the going gets tough. It will serve as a reminder on those days/hours/minutes when you will have questions and doubts.
Having a side hustle is not always going to be sunshine and roses. But, being mentally prepared will ensure your confidence remains intact to keep doing what you love.