The answer is so simple that it’ll sound stupid: You make the decision to begin. Everything stems from a commitment to take the first steps. You can make excuses all day — too busy, too tired, too cash-strapped — but remember that nearly half of U.S. workers already have some kind of side hustle. They have struggles, too. But they’re pushing ahead. Here are the steps that helped me get going, and that can help you, too.
Step 1: Ask these questions.
It’s important to find a side hustle that is a good fit for your skills and lifestyle. Ask yourself this…
- How much time can I dedicate to this? Establish this upfront and commit to it.
- How much income do I need to make this worthwhile? This isn’t a goal; this is a reality check. Be realistic about it, write it down, and refer to it often. You’ll want to know if your time is being well-spent.
- What skills do I have that can make this work? Don’t know? Ask a friend what they think you’re good at. Shoot to create a list of three.
Step 2: Create a structure.
Some people hate structure. Maybe they dream of being an entrepreneur so they can escape the structure of their jobs! But I’m telling you: Structure is freedom. It’s the ground that you build upon. Here’s how to create it:
- Set a goal. I like to make SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Each element is critical. You need goals you can work toward, and that you can track your progress on. Once you know this, you’ll start to have a sense of what’s required to get there.
- Create a schedule. If you’re committing 10 weekly hours, put them in your calendar and stick to it.
- Find your tools. There are many platforms and services that can help you launch. Take a look at places like Upwork, eBay, Etsy. Start offering your product or service, and learn your marketplace at low risk.
Step 3: Foster great relationships.
- When starting anything new, it’s helpful to surround yourself with people who have walked in your shoes—and even better if they are a few miles ahead of you! Search for two kinds of people:
- Mentors. A mentor isn’t a job description; you don’t need people who agree to some formalized role. Instead, build a network of mini-mentors — friends or former colleagues who have expertise and insights.
- Accountability partners. Find someone who’s on a similar path as you, and buddy up. You can help each other stay on track. When you’re your own boss, it’s helpful to keep up with other bosses.
Now comes the most important part: Instead of questioning yourself or waiting for the perfect moment, it’s time to go. Everything that comes next will help you grow.