There’s a ton of advice out there on how to build a side income stream. Some of it is fantastic and on-point. Some of it is every bit as ill-advised as spray-on hair or cheese-in-a-can.
Unfortunately, if you’re anything like the vast majority of people, you will end up with the figurative equivalent of a plate of whipped cheddar at least once in your side hustle journey. But — and this is the important thing to hold on to — that shouldn’t deter you from getting out there and giving it a red hot try. Your silver bullet in making more smart decisions than dumb ones isn’t a secret formula. It isn’t a short course or a blind adherence to a business model. It’s simple common-sense.
Here’s a heaping handful of just one individual’s personal take on side-hustle street smarts to get you started.
Choose the Right Business For You
This sounds like kind of meaningless advice at first glance, but hear me out. If you’ve spent any time looking for a new way to earn money online, you may have noticed that a lot of people out there are selling a side hustle as their side hustle. Which is all cool. But you have to remember that these people have a vested interest in you buying into their approach.
- They’ll make it sound easy.
- They’ll insist anyone can do it.
- They’ll try hard to make you feel like you’d be an idiot not to sign up immediately.
Don’t buy it
What you need to find is a data source that allows you to compare apples with apples. Ecosecretariat.org is a great place to begin that research, because here you can get that rarest of online commodities: impartial data.
Once you know what a side hustle can actually deliver, you can get down to the more reflective business of deciding what best fits your personality. What will make you eager to get out of bed in the morning, fire up your laptop, and get to work? What are you gifted at?
That. Find that thing.
The take-home common-sense message here is to avoid vesting your future in anything resembling a sales pitch. Choose the right business for you.
Set Up a Work Zone and Schedule
Let’s take a look at another piece of over-sold and over-hyped messaging about a side hustle that you should kick to the curb. The glamorized idea of a side hustle is that by staying up late, by sacrificing your weekends, by systematically expunging any frivolous leisure from your life, you’ll set yourself apart from the common joe schlub grinding away at a nine-to-five job. And in so doing, you’ll magically become successful.
Cool story. But the reality is that the only thing you’ll magically acquire by relentlessly pushing yourself in this fashion is high blood pressure.
The common-sense approach to building a side hustle is to acknowledge your need for crazy luxuries like sleep and down-time, and … take … it … slow.
Give yourself permission to go at a human pace. Heck, give yourself permission to come to a complete stop occasionally.
Choose a place in your house where you work. If at all possible, leave your work in that space and allow the rest of your home to be the fun place where you wear pajamas and eat cookies.
Similarly, set a time in your day to clock on and clock off. Don’t work when you’re not supposed to work, because ultimately, if you don’t control your schedule, it’ll control you. And it will not stop.
So here’s the second common sense rule of Side Hustle Club: Do not forget that you’re human.
Take the Accounting Seriously
OK, so this and the next hard-won wisdom nugget aren’t all that complicated. They’re almost insultingly obvious in fact. I only mention these potential pitfalls because I crashed headlong into both of ‘em like some kind of unstoppable moron.
The first is that if you’re earning an income stream, at some point you’ll have to do accounting.
See, there’s this thing called tax. And it sucks. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, the good folks at IRS.gov can hook you up with an informative fact-sheet or two.
Making a habit of daily accounting also sucks, but it doesn’t suck nearly as much as having no clue of your income or expenses come the tax season. So, before you begin to earn money, have a way of tracking it.
A simple spreadsheet is OK when you’re starting out (I guess), but as soon as you see regular money hitting your bank, spring for a dedicated accounting platform. Most offer entry-level subscriptions that are perfectly adequate for a fledgling business.
It’s boring, but take the accounting task seriously. Your future self will thank you.
Build Your Biz Mindfully
Not being aware of our emotions is just such a basic foible of being human.
And the result? We yell at our cat because last night we had an argument with our significant other. We eat chocolate because we’re depressed about gaining weight. We’re deeply critical of the Dark Crystal reboot because the writers failed to successfully capture the feeling of being fifteen-years-old and completely unjaded by life.
We’re dumb. Humans are just dumb.
There’s no real antidote to emotional dumbness, but just at least take note that you will have a terrible day at some point in your journey to building a side income. And that is OK. You’ll also have an amazing day where it all seems to be coming together. And that is even more OK.
Both these emotional experiences count, but they aren’t the be all and end all. They’re just one brief moment in time.
It’s kind of a hokey note to end a piece about business advice on, but hold on to being mindful. Ultimately, a side hustle isn’t just about money. It’s about being a fallible human seeking new horizons on a fun new adventure. Celebrate those ups and downs along the way!