4 Mistakes to Avoid when running a Side Hustle


Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.

~Abraham Lincoln

A couple of months ago I decided to start doing something on the side because I wasn’t interested in continuing in my current job anymore. At that time, I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I decided to start doing something rather than waiting for things to just click into place once I quit my job. I had wanted to write novels for a long time and realized that I can’t just get started on writing a 100,000 word novel. I had to get into the habit of writing daily and started with writing short stories. Somewhere along the way I discovered my true passion and started this blog (not that blogging is my passion, it’s just one way to get the message across). Enough back story, fast forward to the present.

I decided to develop a business for myself with online offerings as well as a freelancing as a coach. To that end I decided to get some help and support in the form of online courses (I am currently doing two simultaneously). I just got started on a third one this weekend. Soon (and I mean the very next morning) I started feeling flustered and the emotions that had come to the fore during my depression phase, started to show their ugly heads again. Then it hit me – the dangers of working on a side hustle.

I learnt a lesson in the short time that I have been doing this and I want to share it with you. If you have a side hustle in the early stage or are feeling down in the midst of it, I hope my experience can act as head up for you. (The lessons I learnt are in bold, so, skip the paragraphs if you are interested in only those and not the story.)

  • Enjoy the time that you have, don’t use it as a yardstick for productivity.
    I had gotten really pumped about the lifestyle described in The 4 Hour Workweek. It was one of the main reasons I decided to start a business of my own. But, the thing with a passion project is that, it is so exciting and enjoyable that you get totally immersed in it. And when it is a side hustle, it becomes a paradox. Here you are aiming to have a lifestyle that affords you loads of free time (I’m sure that’s what every side hustler is in it for) and yet you are filling up every hour with something to do, to read, to write, to build. Unconsciously, you start keeping a count of what you have accomplished during the day (and the regular job doesn’t count). If they don’t match up to your expectations don’t fret, because the time you spend worrying is the time you are not enjoying.

  • Don’t let your passion turn into an obsession.
    I realize that it is very easy to cross over from acting out of passion to being driven by obsession. If you are running a side hustle it is more likely than not a passion project. I understand how it feels when you know what your calling in life is and you are taking solid action to move in that direction, the exhilaration and excitement that comes from doing them. Sometimes though, the act of doing these activities can become so tied to our sense of fulfillment that any interruption becomes intolerable. Last week I was down with fever and had a few other engagements on top of that so I wasn’t able to progress on my courses or work on my blog, as much as I had hoped. This left me feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. I caught myself in time though. Setbacks and obstacles are part of the lifestyle of a side hustler. The only way to stay strong through tough times is to keep your long term vision in sight and letting go of the expected results of your everyday activities.

  • Do not completely give up things that you enjoy – Indulge occasionally to relax.
    Before my side hustle, I used to watch movies and play video games every day. That was part of my identity till I got started on my passion project. However, in the past few months I haven’t touched any game and have watched only 2 movies (only because I was getting bored on the 9-hour flight), and I am proud and happy of the fact that I have found something in life that I value and enjoy more than mindless entertainment. But, giving up the things you enjoyed so abruptly will leave you feeling empty for some time. And, when the tough times hit and you can’t see the end, you reach for these old discarded habits to seek comfort. Therein lies the risk of getting comfortable and falling back into old habits. So, I watched a movie this weekend and I enjoyed it. It was a reminder of how far I have come and also left me feeling refreshed. Relaxation is the key to keep on going.

  • Maintain pace at level lower than your current capability.
    Remember that you are in it for life. The biggest risk of a side hustle is that it is a ‘side’ hustle. You have limited time and energy and the majority of it is spent on the day job (willingly or unwillingly). It is easy to get caught up in the passion and excitement – Trying to fit in 6 hours into 2, trying too many things at once, stretching yourself everyday because you know it is for a meaningful cause. These are exactly the actions that will lead to burnout if you aren’t careful. It is a noted fact that burnout occurs in only the highly motivated and hard working people, which I am sure every side hustler is. Hence, we risk burnout more than others. Do yourself and the world a favor, pace yourself to finish the marathon called life.

I was inspired and motivated to start a side hustle to bring positive change in the world. I had visions of a lifestyle that a majority of the world doesn’t believe is possible. I want to be an example of the change and claim that dreams can come true. To do all that, I have to keep on moving in the direction I set out in. I am so glad that I stopped short of walking into the trap that I had set out to avoid. I know better now what I need to do. I hope this post has been helpful to you. So, onward with passion, and to all side hustlers – you rock!

For more information on side hustles read this post by Jenny Blake, the author of the book and the blog ‘Life After College’.

Also, check out this awesome post by Tom Morkes, the author of the books 2 days with Seth Godin, The Art of Instigating,.