Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Everywhere we look today, people are talking about side hustles. Everyone wants one. Money is tight, so most people welcome the chance to open a new income stream. Thanks to the power of the Internet and the lessons we learned from the pandemic (primarily, that business can happen from about anywhere), the opportunities for side hustles are greater than they have ever been before, and things will only get better.
“Side hustle” is just the popular new jargon for what most of us have been doing for a long time: making ends meet! It is anything we do that brings in extra income or saves us money. A side hustle can be active (crafting, teaching, delivering) or passive (renting a property, investing in stocks or businesses).
There is nothing wrong with a side hustle that is a way to make ends meet. A side hustle is often something you do because you love doing it anyway! You may begin as a hobby (or, like me, because you suddenly have the opportunity) and continue because you’re enjoying yourself. It may not even occur to you at first that you could make money for doing something you are quite happy to do for free.
Over ten years ago, I started a side hustle that eventually turned into a multi-million-dollar corporation. I can’t promise that every side hustle has the potential to become a nationally recognized brand. Still, with a balance of passion, persistence and discipline, a side hustle can become your ticket to greater financial security and even wealth.
Let’s talk about the three traits I relied on to get there and how you can dig deep in yourself and find the same power.
When I started my business from my kitchen table, I had a passion that was eager to find an outlet. I had loved and studied the confidence of glamor since my childhood. I wanted to sell affordable, high-quality jewelry to women like me who didn’t have “diamond-level” money but still wanted to look like a million bucks. Women’s confidence has always been, and remains, the “why” of my brand. Fired up on this idea, I only needed to find a way to make it happen.
There came a time when I began turning a profit from my side hustle. I could have stopped moving forward right then, and no one would have thought any less of me. I had at least four significant obstacles, every one of them physically real and every one of them capable of stopping me dead in my tracks: I was a recent immigrant who was not yet fluent in English, I had a minimal budget, I had no experience or connections in the field of fashion jewelry, and I was pregnant and experiencing complications that kept me on bed rest.
Remembering those setbacks, I am amazed that I maintained my focus. But I had a secret weapon. It might have even been a secret to me. I did not consider quitting to be an option. I intended to follow through on this plan, no matter what. I never allowed myself to become complacent. There was no procrastination or defeatism allowed at my kitchen table.
Real passion is the thing that keeps us going when we have excellent reasons to quit. Passion is the place where the side hustle and real money-making potential meet. My passion said, “No, there’s more to this than just an income stream. This can be bigger. I can bring it.” I kept learning, reaching out, asking for more opportunities and looking for more chances to build.
When you are ready to take your side hustle to the next level (or levels!), passion leads the way, but persistence keeps passion from losing heart. Persistence is necessary because of how often you will hear the word “No.” No, you often cannot have funding, trust, support, encouragement or freedom from setbacks.
Persistence steps in and says, “Pull up your bootstraps. We are going to knock on one more door.” Because if you don’t keep knocking, how will you know when someone is ready to say “Yes!” and let you in?
Bring persistence to your kitchen table. Remember that for every wonderful “yes,” you may have to hear “no” 99 times — but that’s how you find the right door.
The relentlessness of persistence requires the occasional oversight: are we being dedicated, or are we making the same mistake over and over? Here is where discipline plays its part. Sometimes you must look at your methodology critically and see if a change is necessary. Discipline says, “We are going to learn from our mistakes and ignore distractions, eat right, and sleep enough. We will get today’s work done so we can start fresh tomorrow.” Discipline helps keep you from distractions and ensures that your foundation is solid.
Passion, persistence and discipline are essential components of moving from the territory of a side hustle to a thriving business. They are not mutually exclusive traits, either. Each trait cooperates with the other two, in a balancing act that can take some trial and error but produce amazing results when you get it right.
The trick is to make sure that the blend is such that each trait gets the chance to do its magic. Passion fuels your fire, persistence keeps it alive and discipline ensures you don’t get burned!