“The first thing you should know about me is that I am not you. A lot more will make sense after that.”
I recently heard this quote, coincidentally through my nine-to-five job, and I think it embodies some of what I am writing about in this blog post. As of this blog post, I am still a marketing analyst at a traditional nine-to-five job that takes up the majority of my Monday through Friday schedule. That means that Defined Media is my side hustle. I love having a side hustle and you might be surprised to hear that 1 in 3 Americans have one too. So should you have a side hustle, too?
The quote I shared above is important to keep in mind as you read the rest of this, because what works for me and how I approach things, may not be the same for you. I am hoping, however, that some of what I share can help you as you think about getting (or maintaining) one too. So let’s jump right in! Here are a few of my tips for approaching a side hustle if you’re thinking of starting one.
One of the first things you should think through before picking up a side hustle is defining your why behind it. While the main reason for most people picking up a second job is to make a little extra money, there are usually other bigger reasons. Are you making some extra money to pay the bills, save up for a house, pay for your child’s schooling, or something else? Some people’s side hustle will hopefully grow into their dream career someday. Defining your why is important because having another job can get tough at times. Knowing your why can be motivating and help you stay at it when times get tough.
I cannot stress this part enough. I stole this idea from Lebron James a.k.a. the greatest basketball player of all time (happy to debate this with anyone). He is the KING of side hustles and has been well known for saying this to the younger generation looking to have something on the side for work. Your “main thing” is whatever career brings you the most money. A side hustle is a balancing act so don’t forget that. For Lebron James, he isn’t able to work on Space Jam 2 or have an HBO show if he doesn’t prioritize his craft that allows him these other opportunities.
For me, that’s my nine-to-five job where I have a full salary and benefits. It is crucial that I keep that as the first priority at all times. If I don’t, things may slip and then I may need to reconsider how I’m balancing my priorities. A lot of people forget about this when having a side hustle and it can become a huge problem if you let it. So remember, always keep the main thing, the main thing.
This is my analyst mindset here. Not everyone thinks about it this way, but I think it’s helpful. So let’s do some math here. Guy Raz, host of various NPR shows, broke it down in his book How I Built This.
There are roughly 16 waking hours in a day, assuming you sleep 8 hours. Of those 16 hours during the week, you’ll spend about 8 at work or school, 1-2 getting ready or commuting, 1-2 eating and drinking, and another 1 to do errands or household chores. Assuming you don’t have kids, that is about 2-4 hours of discretionary time, which seems generous but isn’t a lot. That means you need to look at those 2-4 hours and figure out realistically how much of that you want to spend on a side hustle and what you are able to manage. Once you figure out your number you can commit to, think through your non-negotiables next.
A non-negotiable is something you are not willing to give up in life. For example, everyday I know for my mental health and sanity, I need to be able to workout, meditate, and read. If I do those three things, I generally feel better at the end of the day than if I don’t… and I feel zen AF.
Therefore, I make those three things non-negotiables in my life. For someone else that might be making time to eat dinner with their spouse or kids, going to their weekly networking group, working on a specific skill, or something else important. Define what your non-negotiables are and don’t waiver on them. If you find your side hustle time taking those things away, then you may need to re-evaluate how much you are committing to it.
While this question is last, it still may be one of the most important. Like I said earlier, a side hustle is a balancing act. You may be the most organized person in the world, but the bottom line is you may find times where you just need to grind and get things done. A late night, a tight deadline, or something else is going to come up. So will you make excuses or do what you need to do to get it done? Now if this becomes a consistent issue, see some of my other points above and, you guessed it, re-evaluate.
So should you start a side hustle? Take what helps you here and leave the rest when you make your decision. If you find this post useful then feel free to share it or connect with me on LinkedIn. Otherwise, tell them someone else wrote this. Happy side hustling!
Will Koppenhaver | Social Media Assistant | Defined Media