By Kathryn Knights, Management & Leadership Tutor at Professional Academy
With the global economy in a rather unstable state at the moment, you might have decided to take matters into your own hands and think about what you can do to future-proof your career. Those thoughts may have led you to consider starting a side hustle. But where do you begin?
Life post-lockdown is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. If you want to invest in your future self then setting up a small business to run alongside your existing job (AKA a side hustle) could be just the solution you need.
Being your own boss is not for the faint-hearted, the self-employed have been some of the hardest hit during the coronavirus outbreak. However, if you can start a business during a particularly tough time then the only way is up. In fact, possibly the biggest challenge is giving yourself permission to start in the first place.
I have a business of my own that I run – Kat Pilates – teaching Pilates to beginners. There are five elements to the way I approach my business that you can use when setting up your own side hustle.
It all starts with one: one minute of your time, one customer, one £1 earned. Whilst there’s no harm having an overall vision, sometimes those big thoughts can make you feel overwhelmed and stop you from starting in the first place.
You are going to need time to work on your side hustle. Is there somewhere in your day that you are willing to dedicate to your side hustle? Five minutes is all you need to begin with – you can increase this as your business grows. It’s far better psychologically to start small and then increase your time commitment, rather than the other way round.
A side hustle requires regular effort over a long period of time. Getting your mind tuned into taking things slowly and not chasing big wins is far more likely to lead to success in the long term. This approach will also make your side hustle more manageable alongside your existing commitments. Just like the Aesop fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, remind yourself regularly – slow and steady wins the race.
Whilst some productivity tools will make you more organised, many are just distractions and lead to over complication. You don’t need fancy project management software to begin with. An Excel spreadsheet is fine.
Another simple tool you can use to stay organised and get you going in those first few months is your calendar. Get into the habit of living by your calendar and using colour blocking to help you plan and see the shape of your week ahead.
Colour blocking involves using different colours to block out chunks of time for different types of activity instead of individual tasks. For example, my calendar uses blocks of colour to indicate: deep work, shallow work, calls, and meeting people. Make sure one of your colour blocks relates to working on your side hustle.
As mentioned already, spending five minutes each day on your side hustle is better than spending no time at all. Try to break every task down into the smallest possible parts so that you avoid putting things off. This will help you sustain your motivation over the long term. You might find it helpful to keep a record of the actions you have taken each day so that you can use this as a journal you can read and refer to when you (inevitably) have those tougher times and lose your enthusiasm.
Side hustles don’t have to be a dirty secret. They are a very positive signal that you are someone who is motivated, relishes a challenge and enjoys finding solutions to problems. Whilst it might not always be suitable to share your side hustle with your employer, don’t be afraid to share it with friends, family and other entrepreneurs. They are your support network and will provide external accountability to help keep the wheels of your side hustle turning. We are all far more likely to take action on the things that we have promised to others than the things we have only promised to ourselves.