While many people have a side hustle for economic reasons, it's also a good way for leaders to acquire new skills, and many entrepreneurs start their own companies as side ventures while they're still holding down a traditional job.
At the moment, the gig economy is booming, with an estimated 36 percent of the American workforce freelancing. Doing this, though, can be a bit of a mixed bag, so you need to understand the rough edges that can up your stress before you start.
In my opinion, the worst side hustle points that can elevate your blood pressure are as follows:
1. The unpredictability of hours and income
Whereas with a traditional job you typically know roughly the minimum hours you'll get, side hustles can give you a full plate one week and leave you scrambling for work the next. Subsequently, it's very difficult to make accurate predictions about how much money you'll have coming in. That can create real issues when it comes to paying suppliers or even just handling regular personal bills.
- Lowball work and income estimates until you can get a good average.
- Ask ahead about hours or include minimum hours in new contracts.
- Work hard to build loyalty so you're a first choice and have return business.
- Establish a designated shortfall emergency fund in your budget and tap it only in times of lean.
Because a side hustle can be so up in the air, planning anything around the work is challenging. For example, you might not know whether you will be free to accept plans with friends, and you might not know if your income will be sufficient to let you make desired improvements.
- Do whatever research you can to create feasible contingencies.
- Work by the assumption that the worst will happen rather than the best so you're not left disappointed or scrambling.
- Be realistic and transparent about the need for flexibility.
3. Investing and client acquisition
Investors at any stage typically like some evidence that you'll produce a return on whatever they give you. And, in the same way, clients like to know that you're stable enough to produce good, reliable products or services. But this evidence is hard to deliver when you can't fully estimate how much you'll work. And, despite the number of people gigging, others still don't always think that side hustles are serious, commitment-filled ventures.
- Deliver hard facts about what you do and have achieved.
- Focus on matching investor or client need to your skills and experience to sell yourself.
- Go after many small investments instead of asking for larger amounts.
- Ask for referrals and testimonials regularly.
Side hustles can let you decide when and how much you work. But the problem with this is that, if you're in the more-is-always-better mindset, you might struggle to set healthy limits. You can become mentally and physically fatigued, and relationships can suffer if you put all the spare time you have into the side venture.
- Set specific times or hours per week for the side hustle and stick to them.
- Use digital technologies to filter or limit communications.
- Avoid comparing yourself with others.
- Set a realistic date to achieve specific goals and steps within those goals. Then track your progress.
Done well, a side hustle can make you a more intelligent, agile, and successful entrepreneur. But even gigs you do part time are real work and have their complications. If you prepare for your side venture with the same degree of realism, risk management, and attention to work-life balance that you do for a regular job, you'll come out far ahead compared with the competition.