“Sixty-six percent of employees are not engaged or actively-disengaged.” — Gallup
So are you one of the millions of people working your way out of an unfulfilling path? A business-on-the-side can be a fun and fruitful way to find engagement and fulfillment in your work life. The classic entrepreneurial spirit says, “I can out-hustle everyone, do more, post more, read more, sell more, network more, BE more.”
While this single-minded drive is inspiring, consider the outcome if you’re slightly off-course yet powering forward at maximum speed. You won’t end up close to where you intend! Moreover, doing ever-more of the wrong thing will leave you with burnout, frustration and dismal results.
Here are some work-smart strategies to help you manage your gig on the side.
Strategy 1: Get incredibly specific about where you want it to go.
Many would be-entrepreneurs say “I want to be successful,” or “I want to replace my income and leave my current job.” These are noble generalities. You need refinement and clarity to be both powerful and effective.
Enter FOMO. (Don’t let it get you.)
Fear of Missing Out happens to entrepreneurs who are afraid to set goals too low. They don’t want to jinx or limit their success, so they use non-specific, enormous goals like:
- “Make as much money as possible.”
- “Get rich.”
- “Get on Shark Tank.”
- “Crush it.”
How would you know when you’ve achieved most of these goals? They’re not measurable or achievable in a concrete sense.
Strategy 2: Create momentum toward incremental, monthly goals. These should be goals that you can actually crush, one month at a time. Commit to a regular review, engage your circle of influence to help you achieve them, and reset each month based on achievement and market forces beyond your control. Moving forward at full steam toward an incremental goal will build your productivity muscles and increase confidence and endurance.
Even the laws of physics are on your side.
Momentum abides by Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.“
Your side hustle can benefit tremendously when you rely on sustained momentum toward monthly, achievable goals.
Strategy 3: Make it a family affair. Instead of breeding conflict and resentment by disappearing behind your laptop (the struggle is real!), make things better for your family by including them. Get your loved ones involved in packing, shipping and sharing on social. You’ll earn their buy-in right off the bat. Rather than deplete available family time, your family side hustle could create opportunities for learning, bonding and a team mentality.
The family that works together grows together.
Real experience in an active team project roundly beats passively consuming digital media in the same room. Creativity and problem solving are learned at home and can become part of the fabric of your family’s core beliefs and values. Imagine the confidence you will give a child or spouse by trusting them to research solutions for a business problem.
For example, if you have a high rate of return on packages due to incorrect postage, they could find a new scale, weigh the items themselves, track rates, stand in line at the USPS for you, and save the day. In this scenario, the whole family wins!
Strategy 4: Manage your research and development time. This may be the single most impactful strategy for increasing your revenue. As entrepreneurs, we want to devour every article, social strategy and webinar offered by industry experts.
Clear up blurred lines between working and “working.”
Try this: Set a time limit on learning from others and balance it with implementation in your own business. Dedicate one hour per day to reading, listening to podcasts or reviewing competitors’ products. Outside of that hour, research needs to wait. This way you will keep learning, but avoid wormholes that are disguised as “learning.”
Then try this: According to Eric Schmidt on Tim Ferriss’ Lessons from a Trillion Dollar Coach podcast, Google’s brilliant mathematician Sergei Brin introduced a company plan to spend 70 percent of their time on core projects, 20 percent on expansion projects and 10 percent on high-risk, high-return projects. It worked for Google, and may work for you.
Strategy 5: Carefully curate the information you consume. The digital age has come with phenomenal opportunities and inordinate challenges for time and attention management. Your best resources will do it all for you. Sign up for the emails from Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Scientific American or your industry trade organization. Train your mind to create action steps while you read.
For example, constantly ask yourself how the information relates directly to your business and what action you can take to bring it to life.
Then implement an old-school snail mail management strategy. After you read content:
- Ignore, delete or throw away anything that’s not relevant now and never will be.
- Copy the link and place it on your calendar for future review. Optionally create a PDF and save in a file to review on a specified date.
- Take immediate action. Forward the article to the relevant department, to a colleague whom it may help, attach to a meeting agenda to discuss, or print and highlight actionable items.
If it’s not directly related to your core or expansion projects, let it go.
“It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” – Tony Robbins
Hope is in sight!
With the right time, attention and strategy, you can meet and exceed any goal you have set for building your business on the side.
Start today: Invest 30 minutes in learning something new, then allow three hours to execute what you learned. You’ve got this.