Side hustles are extremely popular. An estimated 44 million people in the United States have a side job; that’s more than six times the number of workers holding multiple jobs. The process is simple; it only takes a few hours to start your own small business.
Does hustling really pay off, both professionally and personally? It is much more difficult.
Over the past year, I’ve spoken to dozens of people who’ve started successful side businesses to find out what works, what doesn’t, and the lessons they’ve learned.
Here are their 10 commandments for side-hustle success:
1. Constantly crush your full-time job.
Side shoves are fun. Side shoving is annoying. It’s tempting to reflect, linger, and even occasionally work on your hustle when you’re at your full-time job.
No. One, that’s just wrong. And two, you’re not that stealthy. People will notice – and whatever your side hustle dreams are, losing your full-time income is the last thing you can afford.
When you start a side hustle, your goal is to be excellent at of them things: your full-time job and your side business.
So even before you start your hustle, focus on being a superstar in your full-time job. Work as hard and efficiently as possible. Do more than anyone else, if only to be able to leave on time without regret and without worrying about your performance and dedication.
2. Never go into debt.
Many business ventures require you to spend money before you earn money. This is why some small businesses take years to make a profit. A huge percentage of startups fail because they never make a profit – let alone repay their investment.
How can you avoid this? Start a side business that you can fund with your savings — or better yet, don’t need to fund. Provide a service that only requires the tools you already have. Sell products that you manufacture or that you can obtain on consignment. Prove to yourself that there is a market – and that you can serve that market – before you go into debt.
I know: it’s tempting to think, But if I just had this…and this…and this…then I’d have a real business.
The only real business is a business that generates profits – and it’s much harder to generate profits when you’re paying off debts you didn’t need to incur.
If you can’t find a way to start your stampede without going into debt, find another idea.
3. Don’t use a side hustle as an excuse.
Imagine that metalworking is your hobby. You always wanted a bigger forge. Then you start a side scramble. And you buy the biggest forge.
But you don’t need it. Not yet. You come from to want this.
Many failed scammers admit that they started their business as a way to streamline buying something they had always wanted to own. A nicer car “because I will have to make a good impression on customers”. A larger workshop “because I will need room for all the carpentry equipment I will need.”
If you just want something – and there’s nothing wrong with that – don’t use starting a side hustle as an excuse to buy it.
4. Don’t spend money that the customer won’t see.
You could have a cool desk at your full-time job. You might have some cool gear.
Don’t think your hustle should do it.
Before spending money, always ask yourself a question: “Does (this) affect the customer?” If not, don’t buy it.
Spend the money you have where it makes a real difference to your customers, because without customers you don’t have a side business.
5. Spend money only for real efficiency.
It’s tempting to think ahead, to forecast needs, and then spend money based on those forecasts.
Like needing more supplies before you actually have a demand. Or need more equipment before you actually have a request.
Or need more efficiency before you have to be as efficient. Sure, buying a certain tool might make you X times faster to complete a certain task, but if you currently don’t have enough customers who will pay you to complete that task beyond your current capacity, don’t buy it.
Allow yourself to be inefficient until you have enough work for greater efficiency to really matter.
6. Always follow a strict hustle schedule.
When your “normal” work day ends, your secondary work day has just begun.
Decide how many hours you think you can spend a day on your side. Then add 25-50% to this number. If you think two hours, make it three or four.
Then commit to that schedule. Make a note of it, and if your schedule says you’ll be working 6-9 p.m. every night, and 9-3 p.m. on weekends, work these hours.
See the timeline you create for your startup the same way you see your timeline for your current job – as non-negotiable.
Otherwise, you won’t see any progress, you’ll get discouraged quickly, and you’ll never have given yourself a chance to succeed.
7. Dream big, but focus small.
Almost every scammer dreams of finding an empowering client, that big client that will allow you to bypass the “hustle” and truly start a business.
How many actually find an empowering customer? Out of over a hundred people I’ve spoken to, only one. (And it was an accident; the client approached her before she thought of initiating a side hustle.)
Instead, do what Dharmesh Shah recommends: rather than find a way to earn a million dollars, find a way to serve a million customers. Start small. Prospect where you have a reasonable chance of success.
Along the way, you will learn. You will develop your skills. You will build up a clientele. Later, you can leverage this clientele – and everything you’ve learned – to successfully hunt bigger game.
8. Do only what generates income.
Of course, you may need to spend some time on administration and infrastructure. But not a lot. You don’t need fancy spreadsheets. You don’t need full reports. You don’t need a catchy brand or mission statement.
What To do you need? You need the work – and you have to do the work to get paid. Successful scammers focus on two things: selling and working.
Take me. I only make money when I write or speak. ASomething Otherwise, as “important” as it may seem, it’s time spent on what really matters: generating income.
It may be true that when you do what you love money will follow, but only if what you love doing actually generates income. If he doesn’t pay, put him away.
Successful entrepreneurs ultimately spend more time working to their business that in Their business. Later, this could also be true for you, but for now, a successful stampede requires work. in the business – because that’s the only time you actually make money.
9. Always defaults to action.
But there are always things happening.
Most people who start a secondary hustle don’t get past their first three action items before adjusting to reality. (I started a business assuming I would provide book design services to publishers; I ended up writing ghost books instead.)
Spend some time planning. Then spend a lot more time doing. If you are unsure, do something — and so react appropriately.
It’s easy to think, plan, and assess yourself before you start a secondary hustle.
Remember, it’s not life or death: it’s a side hustle. Consider starting a side business a great experience. Never forget that the fun is in the To do — not thought.
10. Think of your jostling as “me time.”
When choosing your side business, choose something you to want To do. Choose something you to want to reach. Choose something you want to be, and actively work on it.
Not only will you enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with making progress toward a goal – even if that goal is to do something just for fun – but you’ll also feel better about yourself and your life.
In short, think of your hustle time as “me time”. Because it’s – it’s time that you spend making the most of your life. Think of it as the time you spend that will leave you feeling fulfilled.
Of course, other people could relax with Netflix. And it’s a form of “me time”.
But the same goes for the side hustle – because when you pick the side hustle and give it your all, it means you’re making the most of every hour you have.
This is the perfect definition of “time me”.
And it’s the best way to really inhabit.