Side hustle… or headache?

Linley McConnell

According to Yahoo, 50% of Americans have a side hustle. Yes, a side hustle can bring in additional revenue for your business. But I’m here to challenge you – is it the right thing for your business right now? Here are some questions to ask yourself before diving into a side hustle.

Are You Using Your Side Hustle as an Escape Route?

In Matt Higgins’ book, Burn the Boats, the ‘Dragon’ (Dragons’ Den), and Co-Founder and CEO of RSE Ventures, says “to accomplish something great, you have to give yourself no escape route, no chance to turn back. You throw away your backup plans and you push forward, no longer bogged down by the infinite ways in which we hedge our own success.” Oftentimes we look for a Plan B when we’re not feeling confident in our own business.

When we start thinking about new opportunities, important energy and resources are taken away from what’s right in front of us. You need to recognize that your time is money, and that the time you take to set up a new venture may be better spent determining how to grow your existing business. While your business may not feel exciting right now, or you may be going through a difficult time, consider that a side hustle may not be the right distraction.

Do You Have the Capacity and Skill Set?

When sales were slow at Gibson’s post-holiday season, I had a great idea: add a coffee bar at our Dundas store. I called my brother, a barista, to run the idea by him. I wanted validation that this was an amazing idea. Instead, I was met with some tough questions. Who is going to train the staff? Do you have the correct water hookup for an espresso machine? There’s a lot more to a coffee bar than simply setting up a Keurig machine. We did not have the capacity, resources or skill set to introduce this new side hustle into our store. It may be fun to daydream about ‘shiny objects’, but ultimately your organization needs to have the time and resources to commit to the idea.

Are You Passionate?

Most side hustles are born from passion. A mom who loves to cook starts an organic baby food business, or a dad who loves to tinker launches a bike repair service. If you’re launching something new, you should be passionate about it! Chip Wilson, the founder of lululemon, asks entrepreneurs “What do you get excited thinking about for 12–18 hours a day?”

Being passionate about your side hustle is going to ensure it stands up long-term and doesn’t fizzle out in a few months. Ask yourself that tough question – am I passionate about this and does it make working extra hours exciting or draining? If it ends up being a ‘get-rich-quick scheme’ or something you hate, you may chalk it up to another ‘failure’, and who wants that on their conscience?

Have You Tested It?

When big companies decide to offer a new service or product, they product-test. Before starting your side hustle, test it out. Maybe you think selling gellato at your store is the perfect idea. Partner with an ice cream truck and have it stop by your store a few times a month to test the idea first. If it’s popular, you may have hit a home run, if not, you just saved yourself a lot of time and money. Surveying your clients and getting feedback from friends and family is also a way to test your ideas to new potential customers. Pulling data or market research can assist as well. If you’re thinking about introducing a side hustle, it’s got to be intentional, so why not do the extra work to create a mini business plan and run some basic numbers.

It’s not my intention to kill your side hustle dream. I just want to encourage you to think critically about whether it’s best for your business and personal life. Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

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