Client: “Charles, my business has just EXPLODED! I am just so busy. I’m seriously thinking about quitting my job!”
Me: “That’s great! How much are you making?”
Client: “I’ve made $12,000.”
Me: “Wow! Per month?”
Client: “Oh gosh no. I made that in the last 12 months. So what do you think? Should I quit?”
This was a few years ago.
This client was trying to grow their side hustle to a full-time business.
For the uninitiated, a side hustle is just another term for a side business. It’s also an entrepreneurial buzzword that’s gotten out of hand.
And I don’t think it’s a fad. It’s easier than ever to start doing a side business while working your full-time job. I generally advocate for someone to take this route to when they want to start a small business.
But they have their own set of issues.
Side hustles tend to start strong, but then just kind of flounder.
Here are the top 5 reasons side hustles flounder:
1. Zero planning
I’m not an advocate for the 50-page business plan that is 90% fluff.
But you’d be surprised by the number of people that don’t have a single goal for their business.
When I ask how much revenue they would like to make, their faces go blank.
“Well, I’ve never thought about it.”, they say.
But I’ll bet you before they’ve taken any job in the past, they knew how much it paid.
This is the same thing, but you get to determine your pay scale.
Create a revenue goal.
2. Not built to scale
If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.
But if you want to grow your business, learn to delegate and automate.
If you want this to just be a permanent side hustle, you can be the king of the castle and touch every aspect of your business.
But if you really want this to be a full-time business, decide what can be done by someone else now.
For example, if you are making a food product and there’s the same recurring process that you do every day, document the process and hire someone else to do it.
It’s scary, but once you find the right person (yes, you may have to go through seven people), you will never understand how you had time to do it in the first place.
The same goes for recurring bookkeeping and some marketing tasks.
3. Time mismanagement
“I’m just so busy” is the excuse that just keeps on giving.
Look, I get it. I have a full-time job, my own small business, three kids that are involved in dance, singing/piano lessons, basketball, football, etc., but you can make time if something is a priority.
Plan your day with the highest priorities of what must get done to grow your side hustle to a full-time business.
This may mean you start getting up an hour or two earlier before everyone in your house does so you can work.
You may have to reduce your phone time from 4 hours a day to just one hour a day.
And you may have to give up binge-watching “Bridgerton.”
4. Being lazy with your marketing
Your side hustle does two things.
The first half is providing the service or making the product.
The other half is selling it.
We’ve been led to believe that if I am just good enough the marketing will take care of itself.
There are a few unicorns out there that just make something that is so unique and cool that they’ve never had to do any real marketing, but it’s just not that common.
What is common, are folks that don’t do any marketing and claim to make a great living.
They have been in business for 20+ years and have plateaued, meaning the business still couldn’t survive without their daily involvement.
Or they are not making nearly the revenue that you would like to make, but they are comfortable enough to just get by.
This is the 800-pound gorilla in the room that nobody acknowledges.
Fear manifests itself in several ways with the side hustle.
“I don’t want to call that lead, because if they really want my service they will follow up. In fact if I call I will annoy them. Then they won’t buy from me and they will tell everyone else not to buy from me. Then I will be ruined!”
“If I grow my business too much then I won’t have time for my family and that’s SOOOO important to me.”
“I tried hiring someone else once and they just didn’t get it. I mean, nobody really wants to work anymore.”
My advice for the client that wanted to quit the full-time job was to continue to grow the “side hustle” until it was making enough money to survive.
As far as I can tell, the business is in the same spot today as it was back then.
Looks like No. 3 and No. 5 are the culprits.
My advice for you?
Start the side hustle today for the small business you want tomorrow and be willing to push yourself outside your comfort zone regularly.
Charles Alexander is the director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center.