“Everyone should have a side hustle. Even if you love your job., having more than one source of income will give you more freedom and more options.”
This is a book with heart. It’s aimed at giving people two very valuable gifts. For those who feel stuck and maybe a bit desperate – workers or managers who cannot afford to give up their day jobs, but aren’t getting enough satisfaction from their work – a side hustle provides an extra source of income. But much more importantly, it gives the gifts of more freedom and more options (security). And even for those of us who love our work, having options is valuable in a time when business or government can change our world quickly and dramatically.
This book is a practical guide, designed for the many of us who are busy and impatient. But be warned, this is not a book for reading, this is a book for IMPLEMENTING. If you are a thinker, not a doer, make a commitment to stop at the end of each weekly chapter, and do the work. You’ll thank yourself in a month if you do.
THE BIG IDEA
Start with One
“Every side hustle has a target customer, a specific type of person that its product or service is designed for…you can think of them as ‘your people.’”
– Side Hustle, Day 8, Page 74
The first week of side hustle month is about your ideas. The second week of the program encourages you to get clear about your ideal or target customer. The phrase “think of them as ‘your people’” resonated well. In some instances, you’ may be your ideal customer, so you can easily describe the pain you feel and what you want or need to serve and satisfy yourself. In other instances, ‘your people’ are different from you in some critical way and you need to be able to clearly describe who your ideal customer is, what they need, why and how they are feeling pain, and what they would consider a great product or service.
The author proposes two practical methods to find out more about “your people”. If you know one of them, have a coffee. But if you don’t: ‘have an imaginary coffee with them’, or write a letter to them. And I would add a third, write a blog to them – and post it. Then wait to see what response, if any, you get.
My realization from having a coffee with a colleague, was that ‘my people’ are fundamentally different from me in one important characteristic – they lack confidence – which makes it easy for me to serve them because I am a great encourager.
Create your Origin Story
“Like a comic book superhero, your side hustle needs a history [or herstory]. Don’t just give ‘em the facts; tell them a story/”
– Side Hustle, Day 10, Page 87
The author cleverly compares a factual story – a guy went travelling, got hitched, the couple saw a business opportunity, bought product cheaply and re-sold at a profit – with a ‘feel good’ story. A couple met and fell in love, got married in the wife’s home town in the high mountains of Nepal, saw cashmere shawls sold cheaply, recognized they would sell well in cold Canadian mountains, found suppliers with a complementary commitment to quality, sold out the first shipment and gave a percentage of profits to the cashmere farmers to educate their children, and now they have a thriving side hustle. Both are true, but only one is likely to get you to Google and buy from “Corala Cashmere.”
The author encourages us to look for our own origin story – what is our superpower in relation to “our people” and importantly, what is the drama, or the ‘turning point’ that gave us our superpower. E.g., for years, I’d wanted to write a book, but the voice in my head said “you’re not good enough – you don’t have anything interesting to say”. After nine months of agonized procrastination on a writing course and staring down the barrel of a missed opportunity to promote my as-yet-unfinished book, I realized that the voice in my head was both true and misleading. It’s true I wasn’t good enough – yet. But the answer wasn’t to give up on the dream, the answer was to write more regularly. Now, I confidently encourage others to “just start writing” and then re-write, re-write… and get a good editor.
Focus area #1: How you can change your customer’s life
“The best hack of all is to do something that makes a difference in [your] people’s lives.”
– Side Hustle, Day 16, Page 140
A side hustle is, by its nature, something you do on the side, so the best way to be efficient is to be laser-focused on improving the experience for the customer. This includes learning to:
+ Clearly explain what your product or service is, why “your people” will benefit and how it works.
+ Deliver what you promise, so start simple with your promise, but go above and beyond whenever possible.
+ Uncover and respond to unspoken needs. If you uncover something else “your people” want, offer to help with it at least once at no charge, then start to charge for it.
+ Find a way to report back to “your people” in some way. People often forget how bad the problem was, once it is solved. Get them to write down the pain they are feeling before they use your product / service. Quizzes are great for this. My partner [vested interest alert] asks participants in his eOrganising program to complete ‘before and after’ quizzes.
+ Make it fun, interesting, or a source of status to write or record a testimonial for you. A friend asks for video testimonials from satisfied clients. She told me that a young, media savvy client is already planning what to say in the testimonial video, so the client is paying careful attention to the positive changes she’s making, courtesy of the program.
The main messages of this book are all about finding “your people” and taking action to offer and deliver a great product or experience for them. When in doubt, the author says: “send the email.” Reach out to at least 10 people. The people who get annoyed are probably not “your people.” Those who are, will be pleased you’ve connected with them. But don’t just send an email about you – make sure that every communication provides value that makes it worth their time to read.
And if you are a bit like me – more into ideas than action – sign up for Guillebeau’s Side Hustle Society, from January 2018. You get to connect and take action with a group of people who want what we all want – more freedom, more security, more options, more income, and a bit of fun on the side.