How to Start a Side Hustle: A playbook for a new economy
Everyone has an idea that they believe could be a business, but very few take the leap. With the economy turned upside down by Covid-19, there is no better time to get started on a side hustle — to experiment and generate extra income. Entrepreneur Nic Haralambous has spent 20 years building businesses, learning the hard lessons and figuring out what it takes to launch a side hustle.
I often conflate not having enough time with spending time on the wrong things. It’s an easy mistake to make.
The things you spend your time on are the things that are the most important to you. You should by now have completed your Hour Audit exercise, which means you have a very clear (and probably very shocking) view of what your priorities are. If you are reading this book because you need to start a side hustle as you don’t have enough money but your Hour Audit showed you that you spend 10 hours every week trawling YouTube or doomscrolling through InstaFace, you have a very screwed up list of priorities. Very often our priorities have simply been decided for us because we’re too busy to think about them in greater detail and the habits of our day and week dictate where our attention goes and what our lives end up looking like.
You can break the cycle. All you need to do is pay attention. That’s what the Hour Audit exercise was all about. I want you to be conscious of your implied priorities. Implied priorities are the ones we accept in our lives without ever actually having made a conscious decision about them. These are the priorities we inherit from our parents and our friends. These are the priorities that advertising defines for us and that our colleagues push us towards in the rat race. These implied priorities are the biggest time sink in your life. Implied priorities lead to subconscious habits that suck our time and steal our attention. We need to shift towards defined priorities and minimise the implied ones.
Defined priorities are the ones that we have chosen explicitly – the things we identify as important in our lives. One of my most clearly defined priorities is that I want to be able to travel often. This dictates what I work on, what commitments I say no to and how I spend my time in the day. Another priority for me is mental and physical health, because I know that if I feel mentally and physically fit, I am a better person to be around and I am more productive and energised. Being more productive and energised means people are happy to be around me and I am more motivated to do the work that I love, which is challenging and requires a lot of my attention. These are defined priorities – they are not implied by someone else or by the world around me just because I exist in it.
Are your priorities really your own? Do you really care about driving a BMW? Or do you actually care about the financial freedom that you think affording a BMW suggests? Don’t let the world tell you what matters to you.
When I was 24 I purchased my first house because that’s what people did when they had a good job and were going through the motions. You get a raise, you buy a nice car, you buy a nice house and then you start building your life. The problem with this scenario for me was that I didn’t know anything about property and I didn’t want to stay in one place for too long and buying a house is really only valuable in two situations: if you want to flip it for a profit, which is a great side hustle if you know what you’re doing, or if you want to live in the house for two decades and pay it off to then live in debt-free or sell for a profit.
I wanted neither of those things. I just bought the house because it was an implied priority. It’s what other people were doing. It’s what I thought I needed to do to show people that I was doing well. I was wrong. The house turned out to be a complete mess. I renovated it before I moved in, which drained my savings, and then I found out that the body corporate was broke and needed to increase our monthly contributions.
I was now spending more than I could afford on the house, a new car and my fancy lifestyle, and then I decided to start a company and move to Cape Town. Luckily I was able to sell the house without losing any money, but I wasted my time and effort on a priority that I never explicitly chose.
Don’t let anyone else tell you what is important to you.
Take the time to consider your priorities and goals. The more clearly defined these are, the more likely you are to build a side hustle that fits your life.
Review your Hour Audit and reorder the things on that list with a newly shifted perspective.
Which of the things on your Hour Audit list need to be removed completely? Which should be at the top of your priority list and which should be at the bottom, with just a couple of minutes every day? What is missing from your priority list? Do you need to do more research? Do you need to exercise more often, or even start exercising? Do you perhaps spend too much time running and could allocate one hour a week of that time to your side hustle?
Reorder your Hour Audit list and create a new set of priorities for the coming week and month.
Take this list of priorities and share it with the most important people in your life with whom you spend the most time and see if they have anything to add or any comments to help you refine the list further. DM
How to Start a Side Hustle is published by Tafelberg.
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