How does someone go from working a data entry job in a cubicle to traveling the world working from their laptop? Or how does a software salesman become a tech entrepreneur? How does anyone turn their side hustle into their main hustle?
There is a method to the madness–a process for turning that thing you do on the side into your full-time gig.
1. Learn how to make time, even if you don’t have time.
The first thing you need to know about turning those side projects into main gigs is how to find time even when there doesn’t seem to be any.
Trust me, you have time–you just need to de-prioritize things you might not want to.
The people who actually turn their side hustles into main gigs are the ones who work after work, who stay up late, who grind on the weekends, and who say “No” to things that are fleeting rewards but long-term distractions.
Finding time isn’t about cramming more into your busy schedule. It’s about subtracting. Get rid of the things that aren’t moving you closer toward your goal. That way, the important things can have room to breathe.
2. Only take on projects worth your time.
When people first start out trying to build a side hustle while working a full-time job, the very first challenge that presents itself is learning the difference between projects that sound nice or sound interesting, and those actually worth your time.
An effective (and even profitable) side hustle is not about saying “Yes” to anything and everything that comes your way. It’s about learning what kinds of projects you can do well within the amount time you can realistically allocate, and at the same time knowing what sorts of projects are a time sink.
The faster you can learn the difference, the more effectively you will be able to build something sustainable and efficient on the side.
3. Simplicity is velocity.
A lesson learned from one of my mentors, Aaron Webber, CEO of Webber Investments, “Simplicity is velocity.” Too often, people try to moonlight too many different skill sets. They are a freelance writer, videographer, graphic designer, social media marketer, Instagram foodie, and dog walker.
The reason this ends up being so detrimental is two-fold: first of all, people don’t know what you do. You can’t build a reputation for yourself because to ten different people you do ten different things.
Second, the way you spend your time is an investment. So if you’re talking about making your side hustle your main hustle, then by investing in ten different things, it’s going to take you ten times longer to get good enough at what you do to make it a full-time gig. It’s far better to invest in one or two skill sets and master them as fast as possible.
4. Collaborate with other side hustlers.
Nothing is more inspiring than surrounding yourself with other people who are also working hard on their own side projects. It helps you remember what you’re working toward, but even more so, it exponentially increases your own learning process.
The value here is that there is strength in numbers. By collaborating with others, you can usually find ways to get things done faster and more effectively. After all, anyone with a side hustle is hyper aware of their time, and knows the value in finding ways to increase velocity.
5. Save everything you make, so that you can eventually take the leap.
And of course, the final step to turning all of this to reality is to be extremely deliberate about the financial side of things. As my mentor said to me, “Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much. Plan for the worst.”
If you are working a side hustle while balancing a full-time job, do not immediately upgrade your lifestyle. Do not take the side hustle money and go buy unnecessary things like a nice watch or expensive clothes. Those are poor investments.
Instead, save it all. Treat that side hustle money like it doesn’t even exist. Have it go straight to a savings account and watch it start to pile up.
The end goal should be to set a number for yourself–preferably 3 months of runway, based on your current living expenses. Once you hit that number and you have a nice cushion for yourself, and you’ve clearly proved that you can make your side hustle work, that’s when you take the leap. That’s when you go all in on yourself, and you start spending twelve hours a day doing what you love–not just a few hours at night.