Tips to Boost Your Side-Hustle Success

By at 20 October, 2020, 4:12 pm

by Raymond J. Keating-

The “side hustle” was originally defined as “a job or a business in addition to your full-time job.” But during this pandemic economy, with high levels of unemployment, typically included in the “side hustle” definition is “work done while looking for a full-time job.”

Initially, the side hustle was emblematic of technological advancements creating new opportunities for the entrepreneurial minded. That most certainly still holds. But now a major force behind the side hustle has been layoffs turning the side hustle into a necessity. This largely reflects the traditional breakdown between two different types of entrepreneurs, i.e., those who willingly dive into the entrepreneurial waters, and those who get pushed.

Whether pushed or diving in, the entrepreneurial waters are rough these days, to say the least. Uncertainty reigns regarding where the economy is headed; the state of business investment; the status of consumers; threats to entrepreneurship and investment that lurk on the policy front; and so on. At the same time, though, put smarts to work on the right good or service, and the benefits might not just be limited to supplementing one’s income or keeping the household afloat during these tough times, but it might develop into a full-time enterprise.

Given these realities, I’ve come across a few recent interesting analyses serving up some tips on the side hustle. Each article is worth reading in full, but I pull in some highlights here.

For example, a recent Harvard Business Review piece, Natasha D’Souza offered the following from her own side-hustle experience:

● “Conduct your own skills audit to account for your ‘known’ and also ‘hidden’ strengths. Ask close friends and mentors to help you identify your natural abilities through which you create value, but that you might not have used in your former role. Use your existing network to help introduce you to their connections in your field of interest so that you can expand your network in a targeted and accelerated fashion.”

● “You need to stand out in order to attract the best opportunities and pay. This will require building a niche skillset — one that is desired, but that also can’t be easily replicated.”

● “Just like an investment portfolio, diversification is essential to a portfolio career, meaning you need to create multiple income-generating work streams.”

● “Thinking outside-the-box will help you find ways to scale your business and also give you flexibility in the event one of your income streams is affected.”

Another piece at the Harvard Business Review site published in March 2020, penned by Jennifer Nahrgang, Hudson Sessions, Manuel Vaulont and Amy Bartels, laid out several points to transform side hustles into one’s work. For example:

● “Nearly 44 million U.S. workers are currently running a variety of side hustles ranging from driving for ride-sharing companies, renting out their houses, or selling handcrafts online.”

● “More specifically, we found that side hustles empowered individuals so that they feel they are the agent in charge of their work, which led to being emotionally and cognitively invested in the side hustle. Workers even carried forward the positive emotions associated with this experience to their full-time jobs, which improved their full-time job performance.”

● “[S]ide hustles that provide autonomy by giving workers the independence and freedom to schedule work, make decisions, and choose how they accomplished the work offer more enriching experiences. Likewise, side hustles that involve seeing tasks through from beginning to end also tend to be better experiences.”

● “In terms of feedback, finding a side hustle that provides direct and clear information about one’s performance improves the experience of the work. Consider for example, the instantaneous feedback provided to Lyft and Uber from rider ratings and tips added to the fare.”

● “[F]inding a side hustle that involves a variety of skills should improve the experience. The skills can be those the side hustler already possesses, or even more beneficial, may be skills the side hustler wants to further develop.”

● “In our sample, 17% of participants agreed that they would like to turn their side hustle into their full-time work someday. These participants tended to have side hustles that aligned with personal interests (e.g., drone photography, woodworker, art, writing) but did not generate sufficient income.”

● “Although juggling full-time work and a side hustle can be difficult, we also found individuals were able to draw from the positive resources generated from side hustles. After working on their side hustles, many individuals in our study reported feeling enthusiastic, inspired, and excited the next day at work.”

And finally, a piece from made the following points worth noting:

● “Adults have been side-gigging, freelancing, and hustling for decades. Social media, the accessibility of modern technologies, and a shift to remote work have made starting a side hustle easier, faster, and less expensive. If you’re hustling for work on the side, regardless of the industry, two things are likely true: You’re good at it, and you enjoy it.”

● “The minute you stop selling your business, you’ve lost. No matter how busy you get, you can’t take a break from looking for new business. Earmark a specific day and timeframe each week to focus exclusively on new business.”

● “Be constantly curious and think like a start-up every single day. If you’re not learning something, you should be teaching it. When you’ve learned something valuable, share it! Write an article, hold a webinar, speak at a conference, or volunteer to guest lecture at a local university. Not only will you be helping others, but you’ll also help your own business through networking.”

Good thoughts, no matter where one might be situated in the process of working side hustles.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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