Side hustles create transformation in your life. Period.
It’s what you do when you’ve had enough, don’t know what to do next, or you’re keen to experiment with something new. Side hustles help you get to know yourself. It’s how you collect data and make smart decisions.
I didn’t wake up today and decide to write about side hustles for fun. I live, breathe, eat, and sleep in the side hustle world. I now have thousands of fellow creators in my communities and direct network. Here’s what I learned.
There’s a pattern.
We lie to ourselves with excuses. We don’t start, don’t keep going, lose motivation, or give up too soon on our side hustle because of these painful excuses. Once we’ve covered them I’ll give you the simple solutions.
Excuse #1 — “The market is saturated”
The market for everything is saturated, yes. If you’re early to a new market you’re a guinea pig. If you’re right on time it will be overwhelming.
Take the side hustle of writing online as an example. There are loads of writers all over the internet. Someone like me should be afraid. How do I stand out? How do I earn a living?
The brutal truth about this excuse is:
- Most of your competition will give up. They’re impatient. They’re just in it for the money — the easiest way to fail at a side hustle.
- 99% of your competition produces low-quality output.
- 0.001% of your competition will last 5 years.
When you factor in those three truths about the market, it’s easy to see why this excuse is dumb.
The online world is full of copy-and-paste culture. Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V made it easy for people to borrow, steal, or imitate easily. As a result they produce nothing new or unique. They can’t even copy. The market is saturated in low-quality competition.
Quality work destroys competition. Focus on quality.
Excuse #2 — “I need to make money from this to live”
Making $100k online is easy. Figuring out how to make your first $1000 is hard — Lawrence King
I don’t recommend starting a side hustle to make money. It’s a bad distraction. But I get, over time, you probably need to find a way to make money so you can live. No problemo.
This excuse only ruins your side hustle if you start with a huge goal like “make $100K.” Think of making money from side hustles as duplication. If you can find a way to make $20 then you’ve got one customer.
You can then email that customer and find out more about them — such as why did they buy, where do they come from, how did they hear about you, and most importantly, what communities do they hang around in. You can even overservice that customer to the point where they introduce you to more customers.
So it all starts with one customer.
The next milestone is $1000. This is where it gets a little harder. You’ll be stuck at this point for a while, I know I was. If you can pass the $1000 threshold then all you have to do is duplicate the formula.
Formulas create automation. And automation is how tiny side hustles become empires over the years.
Money is a bad excuse. You had food in your stomach before your side hustle, didn’t you? So slow down and make your first $20 properly.
Excuse #3 — “I have no time”
This is the worst side hustle excuse in history.
No time equals not a priority.
You either want to start a side hustle and will make time or you won’t. Don’t piss your pants with this weak excuse. You can always make time. I bet if we looked at every hour of your day we could find wastage in your time tracker.
I started my main side hustle while working long hours in a bank, writing for free on another blog, and doing interviews at all-weekend startup events.
Get your priorities right before you start any side hustle.
Excuse #4 — The excuse nobody wants to admit
This one’s extremely painful. You don’t want to hear this.
We don’t start side hustles because of fear. Yet we’re embarrassed to tell anybody that or even ourselves.
New things make us uncomfortable. We’re tempted to tell our friends and family about our side hustle. That can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you have accountability. On the other hand if people know what you’re working on they may judge your every move.
I built my side hustle in silence.
I didn’t let my friends and family pollute my thoughts. I told one friend. He said “The internet is full of useless blogs. You’ll never make money from Google Adsense or without knowing SEO.” He was wrong. I found ways but I had to start my side hustle first.
When you let this excuse take over, you’ll fall victim to the next excuse.
Excuse #5 — It’s easier to be a critic
Again, nobody wants to admit this. I’ve studied critics. They’re deeply afraid men and women who have stuffed up their lives and are looking for a little joy. It feels good for them to tell anybody building something or making the world better that they’re an idiot.
It takes no effort at all.
You can sit at home and judge everybody from the couch with a bag of Doritos. There’s no success measurement for a critic. Fear leads us away from our side hustles and accidentally down this path if we’re not careful.
How do I know?
I became bad critic. I went on Youtube and spat on creators in the comments. I called their content a scam. Later I found out, the fear I felt every day that held me back since childhood was actually mental illness. Once I took responsibility and healed from the trauma, I stopped feeling the need to tear other people down.
Builders create their vision. Critics tear down someone else’s vision.
The side hustle life is to build. The no side hustle life is to consume.
Excuse #6 — ”I don’t know what to do”
Before Google and Youtube that was a fantastic excuse. I used it myself in the 1990s. Post the tech revolution this excuse is stupid.
We’re drowning in information. The key is to curate the good information. Spend your time after hours going down Google rabbit holes. Take detailed notes with an app like Roam Research or Evernote. Keep adding to your notes. Find ideas. Research online strategies. Write lists of creators who are doing what you want to do.
None of us start a side hustle with any idea what to do. It starts with inspiration. Put up a vision board at home and pin pictures of your side hustle dreams on it if you have to.
Excuse #7 — “I’m not ready yet”
We’re not born ready to live. I’m not ready to get married tomorrow. It’s scary. We can shop for a life partner for life. Or we can sit down and make a decision. We can choose a path and stick to it. And make it freaking work.
Lawrence King slapped me in the face with this side hustle gem:
Reminder — There are people worse than you at everything, getting paid way more than you because they didn’t wait till they were “ready”
You can wait your entire life and die with your side hustle ideas still inside of you. We can get to the day of your funeral and place your physical remains in one casket, and your side hustle dreams written on fluro yellow stickie notes in a second casket for you.
Or you can accept you’ll never be ready and begin. Today. It’s up to you.
Starting a side hustle is easy. Making excuses about why it doesn’t work is hard.
How to Start a Side Hustle like a Badass
Most of your side hustle journey is entirely customizable. There is no exact science. But there are some killer principles to send you skipping and whistling like the seven dwarfs towards whatever side hustle goal you have.
You either give yourself a deadline, or life will give you one — Orange Book
Decide on one goal. Is it to post your first piece of content? Or to release your first product? Or to create your first service? Or to launch your first app?
Add a deadline. Don’t make it stupid like, “ I’ll do it all in a day tomorrow.” But give yourself a deadline that’s uncomfortable. Put it in your calendar. Don’t BS yourself. Commit to it.
Think about patience differently
What looks like success is often just patience — Shane Parrish
If you knew that most side hustle success was simply being patient, you’d never use another excuse again. I’m not that smart. I don’t have a formula. But I work hard and I’m stupidly patient. I think in 5-year blocks.
If your side hustle had to continue for the next 5 years, you’d stop looking for shortcuts and falling for the advice of critics and gurus, and get to work.
Go long or go home.
The 3-step punch in the face
When anything can be learned online, the barrier to education is simply:
3) And persistence
— Anthony Pompliano
Does this side hustle light a fire inside of you? If not, it’s going to be hard to get any motivation to do it. Are you curious about the areas connected to your side hustle? If not, your curiosity won’t be able to lead to creativity.
If the first two are missing then how the heck are you going to be persistent? You can’t.
Here’s the hard truth: a winning side hustle that changes your life is based on discipline that comes from habits. No habits, no consistency. No consistency, guaranteed side hustle faceplant.
Become obsessed with the naughty “P” word
I swore to the buddha I wouldn’t use this word. But hear I am using it.
How does this side hustle connect to a purpose bigger than you? The purpose of my side hustle is to inspire people through personal development and entrepreneurship. It drives everything I do. When I don’t feel like it or tragedy has pissed in my face again, I go back to my purpose.
It’s cliche AF. I know you hate the word. But it’s true.
Think about a noble purpose that can inspire you on the off days. Because there will be a boatload of “off days.” Mark my words.
If all your side hustle goals are selfish then you’ll eventually give up. Our self can never get enough money, results, ego, friends, and attention.
Attach a powerful why to your side hustle game and you’ll become unstoppable. You’ll go from painful excuses to dedication and motivation to achieve what looks like the impossible.