The word, “hustle,” as in “side hustle” has a negative connotation to me. It means to work rapidly or to pressure or coerce someone to do something. Personally, I don’t feel that definition benefits what entrepreneurs and part-time business owners are trying to accomplish when they are working to build an additional stream of income. Instead I’m going to use the “side-biz,” in order to bring a more positive energy to this concept and honor the bold efforts and confidence it takes for aspiring entrepreneurs to put themselves out there and build something for their future.
I started my entrepreneurial journey, awkward and unsure, in 2011. As a result of sweat, tears, hard work and perseverance I was able to supplement over half my monthly income through residual income earned through my first business venture – my side-biz.
Catching my drift? Starting a side-biz, with or without the hope of making it into a full-time biz, is not for the faint of heart. I am offering the wisdom of my experience with the intention that it will help you decide whether this is the right move for you.
According to a recent survey, 49% of Americans under the age of 35 reported starting or having a “side-biz” in 2019. About 50% of those who said they were working side businesses were millennials. Layoffs, imminent recessions, government shutdowns, staggering student loan debt, and stagnant wages coupled with increased cost of living started a trend in side-businesses. I was part of that statistics: chronically laid off after graduating college (Check out my blog about losing my job.) It was these crushing personal experiences that brought me to the realization that it wasn’t enough to just put all my eggs in one basket. Working for someone else 40+ hours a week for the next 40 years of my life with the fickle promise that I might have enough money saved or invested to be able to retire just wasn’t going to cut it.
When we first started dating my husband asked me what my biggest fear in life was. My answer? A bi-weekly paycheck. I was scared about placing my trust in, and depending on, someone else (an employer) to take care of me. I’d already experienced what it felt like to make money while I slept thanks to my network marketing business. I wasn’t about to go back to just depending on an employer without having my own side-biz to back it up.
So, what does it take to successfully start and grow a successful side-biz? First, meaningful introspection! I can’t stress enough that before making or executing any plans for a side-biz you ask yourself many questions and answer those questions. Below are my five thoughts on what you should consider before diving head first into a side-biz, idea, network marketing company, or business/investment.
Whether you’re a stay at home parent, work part-time, full-time, or over-time, you already have a job. The key to picking or creating the right side-biz is to consider what you most enjoy. Ask yourself, “would this be something I would naturally talk about and/or share if I wasn’t getting paid?” If the answer is “yes,” then you’re on the right track! Building a side-biz is no easy task. If you decide on an opportunity that doesn’t excite you then you create another life sucking job for yourself. Pro Tip: It has to be about more than just the money.
Example: When I started my network marketing business in 2011, I’d already been introduced to several other opportunities by friends and coworkers, none which resonated with me. I was already nervous and scared about selling. How would I get excited about sharing and marketing something that didn’t excite me? However, when I understood how regular people could create more valuable life experiences by traveling the world at wholesale prices, I instantly got excited. That was something I wanted to do myself! Sharing the opportunity of a travel club and experiencing the amazing packages they created was all part of the process. The joy I experienced enabled me to talk naturally and joyfully about this opportunity with others.
Even with an amazing product like travel it wasn’t easy (especially in the beginning) to build the business and gain real momentum. By the time I hit the one-year mark, I had worked out a lot of the kinks. Success didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen.
What industries do you naturally gravitate toward or want to learn about? What natural skillsets do you have that you enjoy doing? If time or money weren’t an issue, what would you be doing? For me, traveling and talking about it ticked all those boxes. I’m so grateful that I held out on saying “yes” to other opportunities and waited for the right one to find its way to me. Choosing any other opportunities would have created another job for me. It takes real dedication, persistence and motivation to succeed in building your side-biz. Choose one that lights you from the inside out. Your energy is more magnetic than any amount of money an opportunity will “promise” to pay out.
Do you want to create and sell your own products on Etsy or you own website? Do you want to earn extra money working part-time through a platform like Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, Rover, or Task Rabbit? Maybe you’ve thought of joining a network marketing company and creating residual income streams by tapping into established products/services and training systems. Or, you may be thinking about taking on extra freelance projects that don’t require you to work standard business hours, such as Upwork.com. Whatever it is, I encourage you to explore all the possible avenues in order to make the right decision.
According to an article I read on CNBC, millennials are supplementing their income doing everything from selling their personal belongings online to home repair and landscaping. The majority of millennials prefer the regular side-biz that offers steadier, more dependable income and are making on average an extra $580 per month. This may sound like “chump change” for some, but consider that most working Americans spend about 12-hours each week on their side-biz and earn around $1,122 per month. That could be the difference between paying an unexpected medical bill, paying off debt or saving over $13,000 per year for a down payment on an investment property. My husband and I pooled our financial resources to purchase our first home which happened to be a multi-family investment property in 2017. The peace of mind we experience from having our mortgage mostly paid by tenants has been instrumental in helping the both of us transition to new careers and pursue avenues that were more personally fulfilling to us.
Practice due diligence when it comes to understanding how a business model and compensation plan works. As we’ve touched on before, your goal is not to create another boring job for yourself. For any entrepreneur, whether you’re joining an established platform or creating your own, understand how the business (not you) will make money. Here’s something you may not realize just yet: for the first year or two (or more) your business will most likely not turn a profit. The first few years are all about establishing yourself as a business owner and entrepreneur and experiencing the challenging, but valuable, school of hard knocks. However, if you’re passionate about your business, the pursuit of success will be more enjoyable.
If you’re joining an established business platform like Door Dash, Etsy or network marketing company, understand what the monthly responsibilities and expectations look like. For example, if you join a product-based network marketing company you are typically expected to purchase a set amount of product each month to remain active as a business rep. Keep in mind that it’s easier to sell products if you have physical samples for clients to experience. This requires a budget to stock inventory ahead of time.
Another thing to consider is monthly and annual costs associated with business maintenance – restocking your product, making products by hand, buying the materials you need for those products, the cost of your web site host, email marketing platforms. With my coaching business I do my best to keep monthly costs to web site hosting, email marketing platform, and bookkeeping software. Most of my budget is reinvested in myself, whether it’s continued education in coaching, marketing, personal development, or private coaching.
Creating a side-biz is not an easy sprint. Stretch, limber up and prepare for a long run. If you can see the bigger picture and are willing to sacrifice your time and energy to create and breathe life into something you love, then entrepreneurship is for you. If you can work through frustration and roadblocks and stay motivated, you’ll be successful in your side-biz.
When I started out as a novice network marketer in 2011, I was not confident in myself. I couldn’t always see the big picture, and I cared a lot about what others thought. It was my reason for starting my first business that fueled me to keep going. I didn’t want to feel financially helpless. Even though sharing the business model wasn’t my strong point, I was willing to fail again and again until I learned how to share the business in a way that felt authentic to me. It took nearly two-years of watching incredibly successful people share their story to get to a place where I felt comfortable. One year into starting my business I began earning the first residual income checks based on the previous 12-months of hard work. Two years in, I started seeing and experiencing how entrepreneurship could eventually replace my full-time income. Those experiences changed how I looked at work and exchanging my time for money.
Learn from someone who has done what you want to do. A mentor can provide you with invaluable success and failure experience. They can guide you, motivate you and teach you. I’ve worked with all different types of mentors over the years from top income earners in network marketing to success and business coaches. The beauty about working with a mentor is that in the beginning, the mentor believes in you more than you believe in yourself. Their confidence gives you confidence, and that confidence is what is going to help you run the marathon and finish successfully.
It was my experience in network marketing mentorship that encouraged me to become a career coach. I wanted to help more people realize their dreams. Now I have the honor of helping clients learn how to believe in themselves, tap into their natural gifts, identify and overcome roadblocks in their lives, and gain the confidence necessary to start living a more fulfilling and authentic life. When I start working with a new client, I let them know it’s my job to hold space for their aspirations, desires and goals and, essentially, believe in them more than they believe in themselves. I know how powerful this is, because this is exactly what my mentors have done for me. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m still doing what I love today, and it’s the type of magic that the world needs more of these days.
I hope you found these insights useful in helping you determine whether a side-biz is the right path for you. If you need further help gaining clarity, I’m here to help. Schedule your Complimentary Consultation Call and we’ll dive into this together