Nowadays, if you’re doing research and following empowerment or lifestyle platforms, there’s this notion of “living your best life!” That can mean anything from taking your dream vacation or even quitting your day job to launching your own business. However, there’s an equally attractive message that shares center stage with booking a one-way ticket to Bali to flex your glow-up.
That’s the glorification of the side-hustle.
Most entrepreneurs would tell you before they were running their businesses full-time, their now full grown baby was just a side hustle. However, there’s so much hype surrounding the idea of having a side hustle to the point of where its exalted by budding founders. But, what does it really mean to run a side hustle? Better yet, are you side-hustling or side-juggling?
Sujan Patel, VIP Contributor at Entrepreneur.com talks about five ways to change your mindset to make your business sustainable for the long run. Indeed, folks are unfortunately running their “business” as a hobby, lax attitude and all, expecting results. After multiple conversations with passionate people, I often find that creators are hustling and bustling, working on so many side hustles for free but don’t seem to be making any progress. In fact, this is where I was only a year ago. It looked attractive online to be “booked and busy” and doing everything known to man. But, while my social media presence seemed solid, IRL (in real life) I was skressed! Not even stressed, skressed! That bad.
I was hustling and saying “yes” to opportunities that I thought aligned with my goals but weren’t producing the right fruit. I really wasn’t just booking my time, I was booking my energy and I didn’t know how to value or organize it correctly. And you might be doing just the same: wasting your time with what you think is a side hustle.
By the end of this article, you should be able to decide what activities need to come to a screeching halt and where you need to re-align. Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself to know if you’re actually side-hustling or merely side-juggling:
1. Are you focused on growth or enjoyment?
I’m someone that loves horseback riding. It’s a peaceful activity and brings me genuine joy when I get to spend time with these dynamic creatures. But being the ambitious person I am, I brought myself to look for opportunities to compete in equestrian events. What did this mean? This meant I had to go to practice, purchase gear and equipment, dedicating a massive amount of time per week to perfecting the craft. But considering the long-term, what would have been more valuable? Engaging it as a sport or a hobby? Now ask yourself that question.
Growth, however, requires a different kind of energy and I don’t mean just passion. Growth is saying that you not only enjoy this craft on the weekends or after work. It’s saying that you’re going to sacrifice time and invest the peak of your daily creative energy to cultivating this craft. Remember, growth with the goal of profit is a consistent investment. If the activity/skills only bring you peace, centers you and gives you genuine enjoyment, maybe it needs to stay that way.
2. Are you using effective strategies to take it to the next level?
This is where you get real with yourself and your future self. Your future self would be grateful for the peace of mind you’re practicing. She might even love that you’re working on your music, expressing your artistry or how you’re helping a friend or associate with cultivating their passion. But, what is it leading to? Whether you’re doing a good thing for yourself or someone else, there’s a pleasurable feeling associated with it. Does this mean it deserves priority and should be taken to the next level?
Implementing strategy goes beyond doing an activity for the moment. It requires you to ask yourself, “what long-term relationship do I want to have with the craft?”, rather than, “how will I get there?” If your true goal is to build, are you putting systems in place? Do you know who you’re servicing? Are you being intentional about serving them? If so, do they know you’re open for shop? If you’re juggling side work for other people, are they paying you? Are you skilled enough to be paid right now? If you are, set your prices and get agreements signed. If you’re not, decide if this needs to be crossed off the list as a side hustle.
3. Are these activities producing the intended results?
The most basic question you can ask yourself is, “what do I want?” The answer should always be a specific feeling or position in life. Let’s say you want to be feel fulfilled. The next question should be, what normally leads to me feeling fulfilled? How can I say “yes” more to those things? What do I need to say “no” to with reckless abandonment?
Let’s say it’s a position in life. This requires you to know what you want and don’t want. If you don’t want to be financially anxious and want to be financially stable, understanding basic math is the first step. At the beginning of building a side-hustle to a full-fledged function, there won’t be any money made right out the gate. So, let’s say that instead of profiting financially right away, you’re profiting emotionally and mentally. If your side-activity is providing those emotional and mental gains while aligning with your long-term goal, it's a keeper. However, if this activity is bringing in money but with added stress because of late paychecks and inconsistent communication, it’s time to get creative.
In the age where the internet has the tendency to rush most creatives, distorting the process and making everyone seem more qualified than you, it’s easy to lose sight of the goal. We all want to feel wanted, and valuable members of the communities we’re in. But, what happens when we start to exchange our time for multiple or singular activities that don’t reflect our vision? You’ll end up experiencing burn out, confusion or even putting your passion on pause. So, if “Bozo the Clown” is not the name on your birth certificate, then it’s time to stop juggling these side activities and get serious and clear about your commitments.