By Zaman Mecci
What do entrepreneurs and superheroes have in common? For starters, they both tend to work a full-time, 9-5 day job while masquerading in their “true” persona once night falls. In the case of entrepreneurs, that “persona” can be simplified into a single term: the side hustle.
Virtually every entrepreneur with at least one strong side hustle will happily tell you that their dream is to eventually turn that hustle into a fully-fledged, full-time business. After all, doing so is one of the quickest ways to achieve financial independence. As a self-described “technopreneur” myself, I’ve managed to create and scale three side hustle ventures, MagicHands, Kryptokafe, and Parabolus Inc., into businesses generating assets worth more than $1 million—all while still maintaining my full-time 9-5 day job as a Systems Consultant in tech.
While I can’t say it has been easy to accomplish this, the success my two side hustles have seen has made my venture into entrepreneurship over the past decade more than worth the while. If you’re an entrepreneur yourself, then I also want to help you realize why you should spend more time focusing on growing and scaling your own side hustle.
The question as to “why” you should spend more time on your side hustle differs from person to person, depending on a number of factors including your personal needs, goals, and passions. My own “why” could be starkly different from another entrepreneur’s “why.” However, with that said, the stronger your pursuit of success is, the higher your chances of success become. On a broad spectrum, I classify that pursuit into several categories such as happiness, prestige, name, money, and impact—with the pursuit of impact being the most important driver for your side hustle’s success and happiness being the lowest.
Entrepreneurs seeking to create successful side hustles need to ask themselves if their venture is truly worth the time, effort, and money it costs them. For example, there are many doctors who sign up to volunteer (and, in some cases, risk their lives) for Doctors Without Borders. For them, the pursuit here is clearly the “pursuit of impact” where money is not the ultimate driver.
This is not to say that money being the ultimate driver for an entrepreneur’s side hustle will set it up for inevitable failure. Plenty of entrepreneurs pursue their side hustle purely for money and become extremely successful. This is to say that entrepreneurs need to identify where their passion lies for their side hustle, but more importantly, why.
The goal of achieving true financial independence and freedom is one of—if not—the single most common reasons why entrepreneurs strive to make their side hustles successful. Nevertheless, success is not so much a destination as it is a journey of perpetual learning and development. For entrepreneurs seeking to achieve financial freedom from their side hustle, creating high-performing groups, and setting up winning systems and processes, is most important.
Creating groups which integrate a sense of belonging results in a win-win proposition. Thus, to run a company as a side hustle, entrepreneurs will almost always require at least one or two co-founders and an experienced team to continue building and improving their venture every day, even if they have to give up their position of authority and delegate the role to a full-time co-founder. In most of the ventures I get involved in, I give away the board position and take over as a strategic advisor, retaining my equity and creating a deeper sense of belonging amongst my team members. At this stage the “proof of business concept” is already performed, the group is synchronized and ready to take a plunge.
The next immediate step I take is to streamline the venture’s sales processes. We are fortunate enough to live in times where the sales process is streamlined in virtually every industry, and there are marketplaces for every consumer sector. Coupled with social media inbound sales advertising, there is hardly any need for outbound sales. For example, I used Airbnb for my real estate short-term rental business. Although I have diluted most of the properties, I still generate about 25% of my income from the few properties still listed on the marketplace. The systems and processes are in place, and there are people to manage them accordingly. This means that my time and effort is on a declining trajectory while the venture’s income is on an increasing trajectory. Sales automation is the key to be on a growing trajectory.
Building a side hustle into a successful full-time business requires more than simply time and effort; it requires patience and personal growth, as well. Many entrepreneurs get bogged down when their startup or venture is not met with success, even though the chances of a startup failing is very high, with some 90% of all startups failing within their first year of operations. As a side hustle, chances of failing are even higher.
Taking this into consideration, it’s crucial to keep your side hustle, its target consumer markets, and the products and/or services it offers aligned with your own knowledge and skill set. Your passion and pursuit of achieving your goals is the key driver in moving your hustle forward towards success. As such, the stronger your passion and more knowledge you possess regarding your side hustle’s own logistics and operations, the greater chance for success you will have.
It is equally important to remember not to venture into too many different ventures as potential side hustles. For example, my full time job as a systems consultant complements each of my own side hustles because the knowledge and skills required for each are complementary, if not almost exactly the same. Similarly, if your key knowledge and skills lie in the realm of B2B marketing, a side hustle as a freelance photographer—regardless of how passionate you are for it—would not compliment the knowledge or skills you already possess, and would require more time, energy, money, and resources to succeed.
Remember: spending more time on growing your side hustle is akin to digging a well before your water runs dry. Digging too many wells, however, could prove to be more overwhelming and risky than it’s worth.