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A side hustle can add a lot of value to your life.
Not only can it bring in extra income, having a side gig can help you become a more well-rounded person and learn valuable skills. And building skills is the best way to increase your income.
A side project can even give you something fun and productive to look forward to after your workday and on the weekends.
With easy access to education and the potential to reach clients anywhere in the world, your opportunity to create a microbusiness has never been better.
But there are some myths that may be holding you back from starting your own side hustle and finding success.
Side Hustle Myths and Reality
These myths can slow you down and make it more difficult for you to stay consistent. Busting these myths can help you set expectations and build momentum to earn more money.
These myths are:
- You have to take big risks
- Your idea must be unique
- You need lots of free time
- You need lots of money
Starting your own microbusiness takes a lot of effort. Avoiding the pitfalls of these myths and facing reality will set you up for success. You do need to be realistic about the amount of time, money, and energy you have.
Also, be clear on your purpose for starting a side hustle. Is it to bring in more cash so you can save more? Do you just want to have some spending money? Are you working on destroying your debt? No matter your goal, any extra income is going to help you reach it much faster. Keeping your purpose in mind will help you stay consistent.
Myth 1: You Have to Take Big Risks
Reality: You should minimize your risks by starting small and testing your idea before you commit lots of time, money, and energy.
You’ve heard it before: “Go big or go home.”
There’s a place for that, but taking big risks to start a side hustle is not one of them.
You don’t have to take on a lot of risk in order to have success.
Instead, you should start small and test your ideas with a minimum viable product or MVP. You should define success, especially early on, as simply making any profit. And you can do that by using the skills you already have to provide a valuable service using connections you already have.
Starting small is a good way to avoid overspending your money, time, or energy before you really understand what your particular business needs in order to grow.
While creating business cards and a website can be a good idea — and the price of a domain and hosting is pretty affordable — you may not even need that much to get started. You may be able to start offering your product to friends and family to get early feedback. And you can ask them if they know anyone who might be interested in your offer.
By reaching out to people you already know or have a close connection to, you get feedback on your idea and product execution before investing a lot of money and time.
You can also start testing how to add your unique, personalized touch to your service.
Myth 2: You Need a Completely Unique Idea
Reality: You need your own unique take on a product that adds value to a specific group of people.
When we think about entrepreneurs, we often imagine someone who conceives of some cutting edge service or new product and brings it to market.
But the reality is that the majority of entrepreneurs are regular people who offer a pretty common product or service that solves a legitimate problem. They just do it with a spin that is unique to them and their customer base.
You need a unique selling proposition that helps you stand out to a group of people that is large enough to make your side hustle profitable.
To succeed in business, no matter the size, the first thing you need to do is offer a valuable product or service. Finding clients will be infinitely easier if people want what you’re selling. And it’s easier still if you offer a valuable product with your unique spin to a group of people who you can connect with through work experience, life experience, or common interests.
Myth 3: You Need Lots of Free Time
Reality: There is plenty of time in your week for you to make consistent progress on any endeavor.
Most of us have time in the morning, evenings, and weekends that we can use a bit more productively. Even 30 minutes a day or several hours every weekend will add up.
If you really take stock of how you spend your time, you’ll find space in your day that you can use to work on your business.
If you ride the bus to work, you can use that time to research, write, or otherwise plan your project. If you drive, you can use a voice recording app or dictation software on your phone to get your ideas “on paper”. Often, just clarifying the next steps will make your next work session much more productive.
Building anything worthwhile takes time. Pace yourself. Decide how many hours you can devote to your side project without taking time away from the people and things that really matter to you. Cut back on Netflix, video games, and mindless Internet browsing first.
Being consistent is more important than waiting for a large chunk of uninterrupted free time. Those chunks of time don’t exist. If you’re waiting for that before you take action, you’ll never start. You don’t have to spend hours and hours at a time to be successful.
I’m not saying you’ll be able to make hundreds or thousands of dollars each month after a couple of months of committing 10 hours a week to your side hustle. But over time all of your efforts will add up.
The 4-Hour Work Week might be a reality after you’ve spent years building up a side business. But there is plenty of time between now and then to just get busy with the time you currently have available.
From personal experience: remember to set realistic goals and pace yourself. If you’re feeling burned out, make sure your life is in balance in the places it matters most: personal relationships, sleep, a good diet, and your mental health.
Myth 4: You Need Lots of Money
Reality: It is possible — and preferable — to spend very little up-front when starting your business.
In the article The Importance of Starting a Side Hustle and How to Succeed, I reference the book The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. This book provides tons of examples of people who started profitable businesses that generate a full-time income ($50,000+ annual profit) for very little startup cost.
By relying on the skills you already have to offer a unique product or service, you can keep costs low and still be very effective.
I know from experience that when you start researching how to get started, you’re overwhelmed with information. You’ll find plenty of books, articles, videos, and podcasts telling you that having a side hustle is important. And it can be, depending on your goals. And, no doubt, these resources offer a product or service that will help you.
The problem is that a lot of these sources sell the entrepreneurial reality as “simple” or, worse, “easy”. It isn’t, and I would only recommend you trust sources that are realistic about the amount of time and effort it takes to run a profitable business.
While there are lots of great communities and platforms that offer information and, yes, paid services to help you with your business, these platforms cost money long before you can expect to make any. You still have to do the hard work. And there is more hard work than you probably realize.
Doing the Work
Depending on your business idea, you’ll be responsible for content creation, product ideation or product research, creating an offer around your product/service, finding clients, figuring out how to get paid, etc.
Even a platform that gives you everything you need to know and methods for implementing your knowledge, you still have to do the work. And this requires learning all the extra knowledge you need to accomplish even the most “basic” task.
For example, if you’re running a blog, you need to think about purchasing a domain name, paying for hosting, finding and installing plugins that will make your life easier, writing articles, and learning how to effectively troubleshoot. You’ll have to create content and publish it consistently for a long time without seeing any solid results. And you’ll have to figure out if you’re going to rely solely on SEO or if you’ll experiment with paid traffic sources like Google Adwords, Facebook, or Pinterest ads.
The complexity can branch quickly leaving you overwhelmed and burned out.
But by avoiding the myths and using reality as a guide, you can develop a mindset that offers you the greatest chance of success. Just work consistently and set reasonable expectations for yourself.
There are lots of myths that can keep you from starting a side hustle or running one successfully.
These myths set up false limitations and a list of “requirements” that don’t align with reality.
One myth says that you have to take big risks. Reality: Try to minimize your risks by starting small and testing your idea before you commit lots of time, money, and energy.
Another myth says that you need a completely unique idea. Reality: You need to offer a product that adds value to people, and you should add your unique touch.
A third myth states that you need lots of free time to have a successful side gig. Reality: There is plenty of time in your week for you to make consistent progress towards your goals.
The most insidious myth states that you need to spend lots of money to get started. Reality: It is possible — and preferable — to spend very little up-front when starting your microbusiness. See the book $100 Startup for plenty of examples.
By not falling for these myths, you set yourself up for success. Accepting the reality of starting a side business helps you get started by doing what actually needs to be done instead of worrying about a lack of time, a lack of money, or the lack of a completely unique idea.
Start with the skills you have and offer a product that people want, and you’re well on your way to success.