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How Your Side Hustle Can Hurt Your Business Dreams

Megan Effertz
October 8, 2020

Side hustle? I’ve had a few. From consulting to contracting to selling real estate, I always had a side hustle during my career. Each time I made money doing it, but the fact that it was “on the side” always held me back from scaling it to its full potential. Eventually, something else would capture my attention and I wouldn’t have enough time or energy to make the most of my side business. Basically, I’d find a reason not to do it anymore. As I’ve reflected on those side hustles, I’ve noticed reoccurring themes with each. My now defunct “on the side” businesses fall into these buckets.

I’m just testing my side hustle out to see if I like it

It’s a built-in excuse to give up. Yep, tried it, didn’t like it, moving on. Although it is okay to move on when something isn’t a fit, starting off with a “just trying it” attitude basically is saying one of a few things:

You haven’t thought it all the way through

If you haven’t thought it all the way through, take a pause to do so. Why do you want to test it out? What do you want to get out of the test? How long are you going to commit to the test phase before you decide if you like it or not? Running a business is hard and it is really easy to find reasons not to like it. Be purposeful in your test, not passive.

You’re secretly afraid to fail

You can’t fail if you just tried it, right? Wrong. If you go into it thinking you’re going to fail, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and you’ll look for the first signs of failure to get out before you gave it a real shot.

Instead, listen to that voice telling you you’re going to fail. Embrace it. What is your gut telling you? What do you still need to figure out? Figure it out and then take on your business idea full force. And if you do fail, so what? As the saying goes, if you fail, congratulations! Most people won’t even try.

You’re just not that into it

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. I’ve fallen into this trap so many times. People ask me to do something on the side. I know I can do it, don’t really want to, but the extra money is always nice. Then someone else wants me to do something for them and I’ve got a little side hustle that starts to grow. Every time I’ve done this, I have immediately regretted it. It takes up time I could be putting towards something I want to do. Building something long-term and not just for now. It’s hard to pass on an opportunity to make some money on the side but if you are really looking to start a business, do what you want, not just what will make money. Don’t just do something because you can, be purposeful.

I don’t have the time to do my side hustle full-time

Well, if you don’t have the time to do it full-time now, how are you ever going to have the time to do it full-time in the future? It’s fine to do it on the side to start, figure a few things out, but eventually, it needs to become your number one priority or it will always be on the side. What are you willing to give up to make it happen? If it’s not much, I hate to break it to you, it’s a waste of time unless it brings you joy. What is your plan to make it your number one priority? How long will you do it on the side? What needs to happen so you can quit your day job?

I can’t afford to do it full-time

Why not?  Have you put a business plan together? Do you understand how you will make money? Do you understand how much money you can make? Lots of people have great ideas, cool products, specialized services, but if you don’t understand how to translate it to making enough money to support you full-time you’ll never grow out of the “on the side” mentality. It will always be a hope but never a reality.

Build a business plan

Understand the investment needed. Understand the amount of time you’ll need to build the business before you turn a profit. Understand how much you need to sell to support your business, your employees and you in a full-time capacity. One of two things will happen. You’ll realize you need to work on your business plan or you’ll have a road map to follow to move from on the side to all in.

Make sure you consider all the ways to fund your business. You can bootstrap it, crowd-fund it, or get a business loan. Whichever way you chose, have a plan to make it full-time.

I’m not sure what I want to do

Not sure what you want to do so might as well do something? I’ve been caught in this trap too. Just start, do something, it will reveal itself to you – all things people say to encourage you to follow your dreams. It’s well-intentioned but not helpful. Spend this time exploring, brainstorming, searching your soul so you can be intentional. If you just do something, I guarantee you, your interest will wane, and you’ll feel like either a failure or that you wasted a ton of time. I cannot stress it enough. Have a plan–an actionable, purposeful plan.

If you want a business on the side and you never want it to be anything more than that, go for it. Do what calls you.

If you want a business that will be your full-time, all encompassing, life altering business, do the hard work up front.

Figure out what you want to give up friend and family time for, figure out what is worth taking a financial risk on, figure out what will sustain your interest long-term. Then build a plan. Vet the plan. Refine the plan. Lastly, work the plan and course-correct as needed. But don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. Trust the plan.

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