In 2013 I needed to do more. I enjoyed (and still enjoy) my 9 to 5 job. But I really wanted to generate some extra cash – primarily for saving to buy a new home, but also for the challenge. I had always had a desire to start a side hustle, but I never really knew what to focus on.
I had started off slowly, basically offering my services for computer repair. I mainly advertised on Craigslist and my hometown website forum. I gained a few regular customers that I did work for probably about every 2-3 months. I mainly worked on laptops, upgrading hard drives, increasing memory and removing Adware. But, the money wasn’t there for the effort I was putting in. I eventually pivoted and got much more into what I do most and best: system, network and infrastructure and security.
I launched my LLC, built a more professional website, bought new business cards – and I was on my way. Throughout the process, I learned a lot and thought of these (3) Tips for starting your solo #sidehustle.
1. Sell yourself – not a product
A lot of times when entrepreneurs want to launch they might think they need to invent something or at the very least sell a product. I learned early on, this isn’t true. I had to market myself and my best skills. Early on, I took on a website project. I knew basics of websites, but not WordPress, which the client truly wanted. I figured I’d take the job and learn WordPress along the way. This was a bad idea. It basically required me to work even harder than expected. First, I was trying to deliver a product to my client and second, I was spending time learning (from the very basics) the product I was trying to deliver. Needless to say, this client eventually stopped utilizing me for their website needs. I focused on what I did best and stuck to it. I declined several jobs that required skills that I just didn’t have and didn’t have time to sit and learn while also trying to deliver a final product to a client.
2. Don’t let it interrupt your 9×5
Once I gained my first client, I was ecstatic. I wanted to show them that they choose me for a reason and I could solve all their problems. I had great ideas for improving and securing the infrastructure (which was my main purpose as their consultant). That – turned into the client calling me much of the time during the day while I was working – and I would answer, and I would work on projects or troubleshoot issues for them on my primary employer’s time. My employer did not know about my side hustle nor do they now. But at the time, it was completely disruptive. I had to draw the boundaries. And I did. If I was going to have a side hustle I realized that’s exactly what it had to be. It was work I was going to do in my spare time. It was not going to replace my everyday job which I needed to pay the bills.
3. Harness the Cloud
As an official Network, Infrastructure and Security consultant – I felt so accomplished. I had done it. But again, it was a side hustle that I ran solo, all by myself. Not simple as many of us side hustlers know. One of the greatness explosions in technology is the Cloud (still even called SaaS). Harnessing the cloud is so very clever because the infrastructure is not up to you. For example, a client I work with has been looking for a reporting server to keep at least (2) years of large files from their environment. I pitched (2) strategies for them. Option #1 was buying a new server, with a ton of disk storage, Windows Server licensing plus a software solution. Option #2, was doing the same in the Cloud. The proposals were very similar in nature. However, the Cloud option benefited me and the client in the same way. There was no need to maintain the physical hardware which includes power, support costs, software renewal costs, general maintenance and more. All of this was included with the Cloud option with no heavy lift on me or the client. A win for us both!
In the end a side hustle can help you with the bills, some extra savings or just a new challenge in your professional life. What have you learned by starting and maintaining a side hustle?