What I wish I knew: Lessons from a life-long side hustler

By Taylor Bryant

I will always have a side hustle, even if I own a multi-billion dollar corporation. There will have to be a project on the side that energizes me to use my brain differently and allows me to make money while doing it. 

There’s an art to balancing a side hustle with a full-time commitment: school, job, or otherwise. It takes work and planning to provide an outstanding consumer experience for your side hustle while still exceeding expectations in your day job and having some sort of a social life. 

I’ve made most of the mistakes a side hustler can make. Overbooking myself with clients. Not setting realistic deadlines. You name it. I’ve lived it.  Three lessons come to mind as I look back on my misadventures. Learn from my mistakes instead of making your own. 

Communicate: Set clear expectations about what communication will look like. Can clients expect an email response within two hours or two days? How do they reach you if they have a concern? I’ve chosen to be up front with my current clients about the fact that I have a full-time job. If that feels uncomfortable to you, try creating office hours. Let people know when you’re available via email or phone. 

Automate: My guess is that you started your business because you like doing the actual work of delivering your product or service. You may or may not like the marketing or the client communications or the logistics. As a one-woman shop, you bear the responsibility of every executive title. I try to automate as much as possible so that I can focus on the reasons I started my business. IFTTT and Zapier are two automation tools which I am forever grateful. I’m also a big fan of creating canned email responses so I don’t have to write the same email several times. As a general rule, find a way to automate any task you find yourself doing more than once. It’s a time investment up front that will save you countless hours once completed.

Re-evaluate: You spend a significant amount of your mornings, nights, and weekends working on your side hustle. As exhilarating as the work is, it’s necessary to set aside time for reevaluation. How are you feeling as a business owner? Where is the business going? Do you like the direction it’s headed in? Is there anything you need to do to course correct?

Ask yourself these questions at least once a month. Having a side hustle takes so much time and commitment, and you need to be certain that you’re building the life and the business that you want. 

LearnKaren Spears