Side Hustle: Getting Started (Part I)

Hustling – a story as old as time. From rap music to LinkedIn, hustling is embedded in the American culture. Who comes to mind when you think about someone who “hustles hard?” Maybe it’s Jeff Bezos or Beyonce. Whether we like it or not, hustling and side hustles are now a prolific part of our current culture. So, if you have ever wondered how to start your own side hustle, this article is for you.

You may ask, what do I know about side hustles? Well, hustling is in my blood. From my grandma’s commercializing her personal farm to my first side hustle in high school selling baked goods. Throughout my life I have engaged in various side hustles short and long term, to various degrees and successes.

In this two-part article I will give you 14 of my top tips on what you need to know to turn an idea to a real side hustle.

Disclaimer: I will differentiate between a side hustle and secondary employment (i.e., working for another company). I will define this side hustle as your own venture in some sort of fashion. Typical examples include creating and selling goods, freelance writing, tutoring, etc.

#1: Know the Goal: A side hustle is just that… done on the side. This typically means you have a main hustle on top of that. Side hustles are not for everyone. To be successful at this you need tenacity and perseverance because realizing you’re exhausted after a long day of work just to remember you have orders to fill and ship out will take a toll on your physical and mental health. That can easily lead to burnout in the long run, so it’s imperative that before you begin this journey, you need to have a goal in mind. What are you working towards? And, most importantly, why? Is it to turn your side hustle into a full-time job or to pay off debt or for a different reason entirely? Either way, having a real goal in mind, especially in times of stress keeps you motivated when the last thing you want to do is more work.

#2: Take the time to be truly introspective (I need you to dive deep!) Now that you have this goal is mind, the next thought will probably be – so what do I do? This is where introspection comes in: there are so many jobs and opportunities you didn’t know exist and they are hard to learn about. But, by really thinking and eventually writing down what your strengths and assets are you can begin finding out how to profit from your skills. Many people leverage the skills they utilize in their day job to then freelance.

#3: Research, research, and research some more:Okay, so you now have a list of your skills…now what? This is probably the hardest step, but you now need to devise a plan on how to capitalize on those skills. Finding out who would benefit from your skills, how to get in contact with those types of people and businesses, and why your skillsets are better than the competition.

#4: Learn to be your own salesperson: A side hustle is only as successful as how well you can market yourself. You need to become your own salesperson. But now the product is yourself. We have to combine this step with step 2 to find your Value Proposition. A value proposition is a statement of what makes you valuable. This proposition will be used to eventually sell your product or skillsets to paying customers.

#5: Know your value: You now have your product/service, your elevator pitch, and have made it into negotiations with your first potential customer and they are ready to sign – all they need is your price. How do you figure out what to charge? Normal convention is to do some more research and understand that market – aka what the going rate or average cost is. Then you figure out where you fit into that scale and there is your price (which can subsequently change for future engagements once you have a better understanding of your time and expenses). Another method I have found very helpful was to price my time (once you finish all of the initial steps I described). I used 2 drivers to determine the cost of my own time. First how much was I getting paid in my main gig. This to me tell me what my skillset (especially if you’re using a similar skillset for your side hustle) currently goes for. I then think about the cost to my personal life because by accepting a project your giving up valuable free time to spend with family and engage in hobbies.

#6: Know when to walk away: This is part 2 of my earlier statement. Whatever your side gig is, always remember that you have value and don’t need to take any project or sale. There are a lot of unscrupulous people that want to undercut your worth. You need to know when the price is too low and be willing to walk away. Always negotiate, and in every negotiation begin higher than your actual price.

#7: Shoot your shot: When you’re starting a new venture, it can be hard to have a plan and to find customers. This is where shooting your shot comes into play. Reach out to people and brands (this is where being your own salesperson comes into play) and give them your pitch. The worst thing they can say is “No,” right? So, it hurts nothing to ask, and it could very well be the beginning of a fruitful side hustle.

The 7 tips above will set you up mentally for the new venture you are about to engage upon. In Part II, I will add 7 more tips that together will give you a good overview of key items to think about as you venture into your new side hustle.

This post was authored by High Water Women Volunteer, Young Women’s Council Member and Financial-YOU Blog Contributor Therese Nkeng. Therese’s passion for personal finance began during her first financial literacy program in 5th grade. Ever since, she has honed in her skillsets with a bachelors degree in finance from the University of Maryland, self study, research, and volunteering with nonprofit organizations that focus on mentorship and financial literacy for children. Her mantra is to focus on the individual because all of our journeys are unique which requires nuanced advise. She teaches good habits that elicit mindset changes that gives richness to your personal finances and other aspects of your life.