Do rough times make it prime time to start a side hustle? Bringing in extra money certainly helps. Here’s how to ease into the extra work.
Times are tough. A lot of people are afraid that their job could disappear faster than toilet paper in a freshly stocked paper goods aisle. If you’ve ever thought about starting a side business, you may be wondering if the timing is ripe to make it happen now.
According to a Vistaprint survey, 55% of Americans are interested in a side gig. When job security is a real concern, earning extra money can be a smart move. But getting a side gig going isn’t hassle-free. Here’s advice from those who have launched successful side businesses.
DREAM BIG, BUT START SMALL
It is easy to get lost in the big picture of a side business idea, says Kirsten Penaloza. By (week) days she is a deputy director for donor support at a nonprofit. But at night — and on weekends — she runs her business, Bodhi Leaf Designs, a vegan eco-friendly soap and skincare brand.
Penaloza says she found it helpful to tackle one small aspect of her business at a time. For her, it was finding safe ways to test ideas, products or services — she tapped friends and family. She suggests setting aside tiny time blocks in which to get things done. “You don’t have to spend four hours a day,” she says.
Nick Loper agrees with the “take small steps” approach. He’s a podcast host and Chief Side Hustler at Side Hustle Nation, a community of small business entrepreneurs. “Starting a business can be daunting, so break it down into the smallest actionable steps, he says. “If you do that, you’ll be able to make consistent progress and not get overwhelmed.”
TAME THE TIME CRUNCH
Julia Zhu, who works at an investment bank, concedes that it took her a couple of years to get her yoga teacher certification. “I always had an excuse,” for not getting started, she says. Top of her list — you guessed it — Not enough time. “Time is our most valuable asset,” Zhu says.
So what’s a busy gal to do? Zhu recommends taking control of your hours in the day. “I put a lot of thought into how I use my time.” For example, once she focused on the path towards her side gig, “I was very clear with the people in my life and asked for their flexibility,” she says.
Rochelle Porter, who started her lifestyle brand while working full-time, also highlights the time challenge. “If you’ve already got a full time job and the relative security of a steady income, it’s hard to give up your leisure time to pursue yet another job … it is definitely not for the faint of heart.”
To carve out the time you need, set boundaries with your day job and eliminate activities that are sucking your time without feeding your soul. Remember that time is something to be guarded and doled out efficiently.
PUT A PRICE TAG ON IT
It is great if you’re able to follow your heart, but don’t lose your wallet along the way. If your goal is to bring in money — and not just fill your time — you can’t ignore the bottom line.
A hobby is a great place to begin exploring ideas on what to pursue as a side business. “But you still have to figure out how your interest in that hobby translates into dollars,” says Loper.
Porter recommends getting your financial life in order while money is still coming in from your full-time job. That’s the time to set financial boundaries for your expenses. And before you launch your side gig, “have a clear strategy for monetizing your work,” she says.
POWER THROUGH TOUGH TIMES
Resilience is an essential trait for those pursuing a side business. There will be obstacles and unexpected setbacks along the way. At one point an injury threatened to derail Zhu’s plans to teach yoga. Reconnecting with the reasons she started pursuing the practice helped her pull through.
“A lot of the time, I feel like I am going to drop dead,” confesses Penaloza. During the moments that test her, she, like many of the side-giggers we spoke with, encouraged connecting with the purpose, joy and satisfaction of your side-gig.
Loper agrees. “The most important thing is your driving ‘why’ behind doing it,” he says. Keeping your “why” in mind will help you work through the hard times.