How to KILL IT at your Side Hustle while working a full-time job
Everyone talks about hard work and dedication and going all-in on your dreams and I'm here for it! I wrote a book on how to achieve big goals. Literally.
But somewhere along the way, this battle cry for fledgling entrepreneurs and dreamers became the rationale for quitting their day jobs to pursue their vision full-time. Look, throwing yourself into the deep end to teach yourself to swim in entrepreneurial waters is an incredible option-- if you happen to be independently wealthy. But assuming that you're not a trust-fund baby and assuming that you have actual, real-life bills and responsibilities-- throwing away your paycheck without any sort of backup plan all in the hopes that the pressure will magically make success happen is just dumb you guys.
When I decided I wanted to launch my first company in 2003 (a high-end event planning firm in LA) I spent a year and a half working a full-time job (that I hated by the way) while working nights and weekends on the dream. I became ultra-efficient at getting focused, scaling fast and utilizing every ounce of productivity out of the little time I had to work on my goal. For those of you who are working on building your vision into reality but aren't yet ready to go all in, here's my best advice for how to excel at your side hustle.
Be HARDCORE about your hours: Do you have set hours each and every week that you're committing to work on your goal / your small business / your side hustle? If not, you're leaving it to chance and dude-- you do not have the time to leave it to chance! If your weekly scheduled tends to stay pretty consistent then you should easily be able to commit to the same hours, on the same days at the same times as your hustle time. For me, my schedule changes constantly which means that every single week I have to be intentional about carving out time for my extra project or I will find myself at the end of another week without having made traction against the results I'm looking for. If I can look at my calendar on Sunday and commit even just 5+ hours (spread out throughout the week) I can make incredible traction on my goal.
PS - just in case anyone is wondering like "Wait, don't you own the company? Can't you just work on whatever you want whenever you want?" I mean, hypothetically, sure. But my day-to-day schedule is intense and time-consuming and so many things require my attention. If I want to start a new project (like writing fiction or trying my hand at a screenplay) outside of my work as CCO then I'm going to have to fight for those hours just like I had to back in the day when I was starting my company while working full time somewhere else.
Focus on what matters... and if you're hustling, money matters most: Many first time entrepreneurs and dreamers will ignore this one --myself included-- but the bottom line is, if you want to create a real company then you have to make money!
If it's not making money, you have a hobby, not a business.
If you haven't started to make a profit yet, don't stress, most of us struggle with this in the beginning. But don't be lax about this, take yourself and your goals seriously. Do you know the difference between revenue and profit? Do you know what the margin is on each of your products or services? If you don't, head on over to YouTube and watch a video. There is SO much free information on the internet, don't choose to remain ignorant about anything that might help your business grow. Once you do understand margin, get laser-focused on the product or services that bring you the highest margin. Newbies in business will often spend their time working on what they love most instead of what really makes money or what the customers are actually asking for. Remember, you can have a hobby that makes you happy and that gives you a creative outlet-- that would be incredible. But if you really want to be a business owner then you need to get serious about profit not revenue and that begins with great margins.
Make a RESULTS list, not a to-do list: The average person's to-do list is roughly 14,000 items long and typically if you’re already struggling to be productive, your brain will seize on any excuse to mark something as complete. So usually the least effective items in your business get checked off first just so you can have a sense of accomplishment -- inbox: 0 people I'm looking at you! 👀 Instead, create a list of results that you're looking for, and be specific! For example, let’s say you’ve decided to set and achieve a new target for your direct sales organization. Your to-do list could have “hit new sales target” on it, but that’s so open-ended. I mean, how in the world is that any direction or focus for your brain? If I talk to three new prospective clients, does that count? If I spend an hour researching how to grow in a sales organization, is that good enough? Maybe, if you’re just trying to stay up-to-date in your industry, but if you want to get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do things you’ve never done. Your results list should be specific: “reach out to one hundred new prospective clients every day” or “close four new contracts every week” or “increase the average sale per existing customer by 3 percent to raise overall revenue numbers.”
Notice with that last one it’s very focused. I like results that are specific --and about more than the goal-- that are also about expanding on ways to achieve the same outcome. If the last time I tried to increase my business I focused only on locking in new customers and it was difficult, I can step back and ask myself if there’s a smarter way to achieve the same outcome.
Avoid distraction: Man, this sounds obvious when you write it out, but people who struggle to be or stay productive are usually too distracted to know they’re distracted. Every time your focus and your energy wanders, it takes a long time to get it back—if you even get it back at all. Pay attention to what steals your attention. For me, it’s usually access to WiFi on my computer and the ability to see or hear the home screen of my phone. In my mind every text is urgent and possibly an employee telling me the office is burning down, every incoming email might be from Oprah, and a quick Google search to research something I’m working on turns into a vortex rabbit hole and suddenly I find myself taking a BuzzFeed quiz to see who my ideal Disney prince might be. So figure out what distracts you and set up your hustle hours in a place where you can get into a flow state and be highly productive!
Course correct: It’s easy to get sidetracked, and it’s even easier to be moving so quickly in a direction that you don’t realize it’s the wrong direction. I recommend a check-in with yourself every Sunday. Sunday is the easiest time for me because it’s when I plan out my week. I take the time to focus in on the outcome I want for the week and then ask myself if I’m really, truly headed in the direction of the next mile marker on my goal road map. If so, great! If not, what can I do this week to ensure that I get the results I’m looking for?
I hope these ideas were helpful friends and I wish you all the luck and all the productive vibes as you hustle this week. As always, if you have questions or would like advice on something specific comment below and I'll take a deeper dive. If you found this article helpful please share it with your peeps.