10 Things You Should Know Before You Start A Side Hustle

Are you thinking about starting a side hustle?

Before you start, you may be wondering what’s involved, so I put together this article to share ten lessons that I’ve learned that you should know before you start your side hustle.

Side Note: My goal is not to scare you about starting a side hustle but just give you a realistic outlook at what’s all involved.

#1 You Are Not Guaranteed To Make Money

I’m going to be blunt here:

Just because you start a side hustle doesn’t mean you’re going to make money, EVER.

In fact, in my first year running my personal finance blog, I didn’t make anything. I was so frustrated that I almost quit.

However, I decided to give things one more chance.  At the time I felt one of the easiest ways to earn a buck online was with Google Adsense, so I signed up for it and added a small snippet of code to my site.

A few days later, I checked my stats, and to my surprise, I had earned a few cents. It was not enough for me to quit my job, but that moment changed something in me.

At that point, I realized that I could actually make money online. A few months later, I was making $100 a month with Adsense, and a year later, I was making over $1000 a month.

The Moral of the Story:  Your not guaranteed to make any money with your side hustle but if you keep at it you’ll be more than likely earn something, even if it is a few cents.

#2 You Need To Treat This Like A Business

There are two ways to run a side hustle:

You can do it in your spare time whenever it works best for you or you can run it like a business.

For a long time, I ran it in my spare time, even up until recently, when I decided that I needed to run my side hustle more like a business rather than just doing it whenever I felt like it.

Once I started taking my business seriously I noticed something else:

Everyone else started taking my business seriously.  For a long time, I would jump from one side of a business idea to the next, thinking that the more businesses I would have running, the more I would earn.

This actually had the reverse effect and I earned less money.

The Moral of the Story: Put your foot down and stick to one business.  This will show that you are serious about your business and not just jumping from one side hustle to another.

 #3 Be Specific On Who You Will Serve

Answer this simple question:

Who does your side business help?

When I started my personal finance blog, I thought I wanted to help everyone dealing with financial issues, from picking the right kind of insurance to getting out of debt.

The problem was that I wanted to help many different types of people, and it showed on my blog. This caused a lot of problems, including getting people to read my blog, keeping email subscribers, and even earning income.

If you want to see the most success with your side hustle you need to know exactly who you want to help. Here is a great article by John Lee Dumas over at EOFire.com that does a great job of showing people how to discover their avatars.

The Moral of the Story:  The better you know the person you want to help the better your business will do.

#4 How Much Time Are You Willing To Invest

Once you’ve picked a specific side business to start, you need to ask yourself how much time you want to invest in it.

In the beginning, I used to do it whenever I had the time, and that worked for a little while, but over time, I began to get burned out, so I cut way back.

Then I got lazy and didn’t get anything done.  There was no happy medium for me and what I realized is that I needed to set a schedule of exactly when I plan to work on my side hustle.

I’ve found that doing this separates things a little better and allows me to focus on things a little easier.

For me, I answer any emails I get on my lunch break at work during nonwork time.  This allows me to get the unimportant stuff out of the way earlier in the day.  Then in the evening, I schedule time to do the most important things.

The Moral of the Story:  Plan out how much time you want to work on your side business ahead of time so you can focus on the most important things.

#5 It’s Hard Work

Here’s the truth:

Starting a side business can be fun and exciting but it’s also going to be a bunch of hard work.

Just to give an example, it took me roughly five hours of hard work to put this article together, from creating a solid outline to writing and editing it, and that’s just what it takes to write my weekly article.

This doesn’t count answering emails, putting together an outline for a new product, managing social media, and managing the bookwork behind it all.

Where most people fail is they look at all the fun stuff they get to do in their side business but don’t consider things like staying up late to get an article done or dealing with someone who may have hacked your website.

The Moral of the Story:  Hard work is part of the business.  If you want to succeed you have to be willing to do all the fun stuff as well as the hard stuff.

#6 You’re Probably Going to Fail at Some Point

Guess what:

You’re probably going to fail at some point with your side business. I know this has happened to me a few times over the years.

The first time for me was in 2011. It was the first blog I had ever started, and I had worked hard for the last three years to build it up to earning just over $1000 a month.

Then it happened:

Google changed its algorithm overnight, and I lost roughly two-thirds of my traffic. I went from earning over a thousand dollars a month to less than $300 a month. Ouch!

What was worse, I let that moment define me. For a long time, I thought I would never be able to build a business as good as that one.

After three years of trying to rebuild that business, I moved on to something new and decided to start over.  Since then I’ve seen a lot of success and realized that failure is a part of the game.

The Moral of the Story:  You are going to fail at some point.  The import thing is that you learn from it and not let it define who you are.

#7 Develop Strong Daily Habits

Earlier this year I decided to change my habits, in fact, I deemed 2016 The Year of Habits.


Because after reviewing the last several years of my online business I realized something was missing.  I would always set these huge goals for myself at the beginning of the year and I almost never hit them.

My habits didn’t support what I wanted to achieve. For example, if you want to write a book, you can’t just sit down and write it; you need to build a habit that allows you to achieve that goal.

Instead of saying you want to write a book, which is a great goal, you might create a habit of writing 1000 words a day.

If you want to learn more about this you can check out this recent article I wrote that talked about this.

The Moral of the Story:  Decide what habit you could put in place on a daily basis to help you continuously grow your business.

#8 Start With the Mindset that You Will Win

Do you want to know what makes some people so successful and others not?  It’s that they go in with the mindset that they are going to win.

If you’ve ever watched the reality TV show Survivor, you might see people being interviewed about how they did. The people who get knocked out early in the game might oftentimes say that at least they weren’t the person to be eliminated.

However, when you look at the people who win, they usually say something a lot different.  A lot of times will stay something along the lines of I was in it to win it.

People with that kind of mindset will go a lot farther than someone who doesn’t.

Just look at your own life.

Think of a moment you were in a competition against someone else and you didn’t win.

Then ask yourself if you were in it to win or just to do the best you could. I’ll bet if you were there to win, you won or came really close, and if you were just there to do your best, you probably didn’t do nearly as well.

The Moral of the Story:  You need to be in it to win it and act as if everything is rigged in your favor.

#9 Have a Why

Here’s the thing:

Why do you want to start a side hustle?

Other than saying for the money, what is it?  I’ve found people who have the most successful businesses have the strongest why.

For example here are a few of the reasons I do my side hustle:

  • To provide for my family
  • To live a less stressful life
  • And finally the most important to help other families just like mine achieve these same goals

Money can only motivate you for so long, and more than that, money is really a means to an end of what you really want to do.

The Moral of the Story:  When you know what your why is it grounds you with more meaning to what you want to accomplish. What is your why.  Be specific and detailed.

#10 Strive for a Goal

Finally, you need to have a goal in mind that you want to achieve.

In the end, you need to have a goal that you want to achieve.  This gives you something to strive for and hit.

However, your goals can have many levels. For example, one of my first goals was to earn some money and make that first sale.

Once I did that my goal became earning $100 a month and eventually $1000 a month.  The point of having goals is to keep you hungry for the challenge and move you forward.

The Moral of the Story:  Write down several goals you want to achieve and pick the one you want to do the most.   Then break that goal down to smaller goals, and achieve them.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on things you should do before you start your side hustle what are you planning to do moving forward?  Share your thoughts and comments below.

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