4 Reasons Why Side Hustles Don’t Make Enough Money

Via sheer grit, can we ensure that our side hustles will grow big enough to support our entrepreneurial dream?

I come across a video recently about a Japanese girl’s fantasy of becoming a K-pop idol. Mizuni believed that she could make the dream a reality through pure determination.

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Initially, the Korean producer allowed her to pass through at the first round. Mizuni learned singing, dancing and everything that an entertainer needs to do on stage.

Although the competition was intense, she practiced harder than many of her Korean peers. Her loved ones were hopeful that she could indeed make it to the final. Despite Mizuni’s effort, her story doesn’t end up with a fairytale ending. She got kicked out during one of the audition.

Now, do you realize that your side hustle may just remain as a dream? There is a great possibility that it won’t go as big as you want it.

YOU MIGHT BE TOO COZY TO WANT TO GROW

We could be the one sabotaging the growth of our side hustles. I think “laziness” which is a synonym for “self contention”, being the main reason.

What if I tell you that you have never wanted to scale your side hustle at all in the first place? You still have a day job that you are not exactly in love with. But it still manages to pay your bills.

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Mr. Pang is an accountant of a reputable hospital in the city. He started a side hustle as an insurance agent a decade ago with a good friend. Although his friend had given up on insurance, Pang is still soldiering on.

As an agent, Mr. Pang has to fulfill a minimum sales premium every year to renew his insurance sales license. Trust me, even if you are into the industry as a full-time, it ain’t easy. Despite all the odds stack against an agent, Pang always hit the minimum sales target.

Even the insurance agency manager is dumbfounded on Pang’s ability to fulfill the sales quota. He could bring in new sales in the nick of time, sometimes a week before the closing date. His counterparts always encourage him to go full time but he never harbors to go solo.

You know you can’t trust your company for lifelong employment and that’s where you started a side hustle. For a few years, the part-time business grows from zilch to a few hundred bucks a month. That’s where many of us shouted out for joy and stay put as it is.

It is just too painful to step up a notch if it means going into the unknown from a familiar place.

YOU ARE NOT LOOKING AT YOUR SIDE HUSTLE AS A BUSINESS

How could my side hustle not a business? If I am putting time into it and it is bringing in some lucrative income, I expect my effort to bear fruit.

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Putting in the effort does not mean you are carrying out an action plan to grow the gig. Let’s take Pang as an example. At the pace he moonlighted as an insurance agent, the side gig is not sustainable in the long run.

Yes, he might hit some home runs here and there, but there was no depth in his action plan. Insurance is nothing but a side gig to him.

The same applies to other types of the gig economy like e-hailing. If you are just savoring your time driving your customers around town without a long term sustainable plan, sorry, there is no viability in the business.

In order to bring about a positive metamorphosis for your side hustle, you need self-sacrifice. You have to sacrifice resources like money, time and energy to grow your freelancing. If you are holding a day job, you might have to hire others to carry out your growth plan.

You have to pay to escape the rat race. Don’t buy that Mercedes Benz GLA 200 even if you can afford to pay for the downpayment. Roll your profits back into the side hustle and just make do with your monthly salary.

However, there are certain side hustles that you won’t see any immediate growth opportunity. In such a scenario, save whatever profits in a war chest and wait for the next “crop” to appear.

REFUSAL TO CHANGE

This is very similar to staying put in a comfort zone. Instead of not wanting to grow, you want to grow this time around. But you refuse to change even though, it’s for the sake of achieving the growth you desired.

Henry, a friend of mine, started a side gig in e-hailing a few years ago after quitting his job as Property Operation Manager. He wanted to go freelance in real estate and Uber was sort of a side income.

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But his timing into real estate was bad. Calls from both the potential buyers and service dropped to a trickle. As a result, e-hailing changed into his main source of income instead of merely a side-gig.

Most drivers would have stayed put and let nature takes her course but, Henry is a street smart hustler. He detected the disruptive trend in the e-hailing terrain and quickly gathered the database of his regular customers.

As time passes, his customers are able to contact Henry directly instead of going through Grab (Grab has taken up the stake of Uber in Southeast Asia). Not only that, one of his regulars introduces an opportunity to ferry Chinese tourist to him, prompting Henry to start a company specifically for this.

Put yourself in Henry’s shoes. Would you have pivoted if you have detected a storm brewing in your industry?

YOU NEGLECTED THE VALUE OF GOODWILL

During your childhood, how many of you have the experience of running errands for your folks? Do you remember the specific shop that your mum asked you to purchase her groceries? It was only that shop that your mum wanted you to visit, right? Well, that’s goodwill!

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When you are in the same line of work for a number of years, inevitably, you would have developed goodwill among your peers. The industry knows you for who you are, for better or for worse. Due to this goodwill, friends may come to your aid without your asking. For instance, when you lose your job.

More often than not, you will come across the value of goodwill incorporated when you want to purchase a business. The business may not even need assets like a building to start generating cash if the goodwill is intact.

In the era of the gig economy nowadays, you can still shine by guarding your goodwill with your life. Always deliver all that you have promised and even give more than what your client expected.

Remember my friend Henry? I’m sure he has done more than was required during his Grab gig to earn him over 500 regular clients. Now the goodwill has transformed his side hustle into a business that supports his family.

Search yourself, what do you want to achieve from your side hustle?

7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I must say I really enjoyed this post. Thing is: many times, people don’t treat side gigs as seriously as they treat their main businesses and that’s one of the main reasons they don’t make money. They see it as something on the side that they can do without. I personally believe that if the same effort that is put in the main business, is also invested in a side gig, the chances of yielding enough profits will be high. Nice read.

    1. Exactly! If the main business is your own business, then I assume that is acceptable. But if it belongs to others, then, better put more effort into the side hustle.

  2. You need to put as much effort into your side hustle as your main hustle. I completely agree with this article about how people are usually their own barrier to success. Thanks for sharing this!

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