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Smart Steps for a Side Hustle - BONUS TIP - Don't Make Need Your Motivation

Authored By: Madeline Anderson-Balmer on 7/28/2021

Don’t Quit Your Day Job!

I know, I know. It seems like if you had more time, you’d get things done. It seems like if you HAD to do it, had no other choice, you would. But you know what? Most times, that’s not the case. Most times, you spin your wheels, get caught up in the details. When you set yourself up to succeed by increasing your “need,” your “need” can easily drive you into a rut of no money, no motivation, and lots of stress. Need for survival puts you at the bottom of the hierarchy of needs without the extra brainpower available for creativity, the necessary energy to run a different path, and you may very well just feel overwhelmed. In fact, the Hierarchy of Need as defined by Maslow even includes a 2nd tier of safety, including job security. None of those things is conducive to starting or ramping up a new business. When you’re worried about survival, you aren’t able to think beyond the immediate, but with a new business you have to think about now, tomorrow and well into the future.

Get and Stay Motivated with Your Small Business

Regardless of where you’re at with a small business, start-up, ramp up, or going concern, motivation will always be a need. No boss is standing behind you, setting goals, making demands, and measuring results. Or rather, that boss standing behind you is YOU. And you’ve got clients with expectations, bills needing to get paid, and decisions that have to be made, and it’s all on you. Or a financial manager if you have one. But in any case, it is you that is driving this bus. Stress, slow growth, competing demands, competition, and lack of goals can all work against you. And when things aren’t going well, aren’t moving forward, and more issues are piling up, it’s easy to get into a slump, both mentally and physically. Don’t let that happen. Set yourself up for success.

Set Realistic Goals and use them as motivation

Outline your objectives, short and long term. Focus on those goals (They should be SMART goals as outlined in Step 5). Keep an eye on progress and the need to adjust or add to those goals. Remember, progress feels good and keeps you motivated.

Celebrate your victories

Even if they’re in the past, look back and acknowledge how far you’ve come. Maybe you completed an actual business plan. Maybe you signed on a specific number of clients. Maybe you won an award or were recognized in the community for your work. Or maybe you achieved your threshold to quit your day job and are now out on your own. Recognize those achievements and celebrate! ThriveGlobal offers 13 ways to celebrate those small (and big) wins. And even one way to celebrate losses and recognize them for what they are. Remember, they’re all a sign: You’re on your way.

Find a mentor

Doesn’t need to be a person you can have lunch with. But seek out people who had similar starts to yours or perhaps even lesser starts than you did, and determine what they did and what they had to succeed. It’s excellent food for creativity and a measure of your own progress and what’s possible with your job. There are also many organizations and events that can provide possible mentors. offers some great ways to connect with mentors and why it’s a step you shouldn’t skip. I’ve been asked to be a mentor a few times in my career. It was always a compliment in my mind. I was thrilled to be asked, and feel I gave as much value as I got. Great experience from both sides of the relationship.

There’s more than one path forward

Sometimes we get in a rut, build a routine, and it works great. But after a bit we get bored. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for something new and better and more enjoyable. Do a bit of tweaking with your business here and there. Consider an add-on product/service, change up your marketing, offer to speak at a locally fraternal organization about your industry, attend a conference. You can get the same old same old at a regular 9 – 5 job. You’ve gone out on your own because you wanted more than that, so do more than that! Put yourself out there, and change up your day, your plans, your same old same old.

Find someone to keep you honest

When you work for yourself, you lose that support network you might have had at the old 9 – 5 job. But having a trusted business connection or two with whom you can sit and whine, talk about goals and aspirations, and someone who will give you honest feedback and set your feet back on earth (or cool down the fires) is essential. Sure, some of this can happen with a mentor, but I’m talking Thirsty Thursday chatter, kick back and have a Whiny Wednesday, make it through the week and laugh at the bumps and bruises that happened on the way (either weekly, monthly, or whatever works). Self-employed can mean everything you do comes home with you (especially when “work” is at home). Find someone you can grab a coffee or drink with, kick back, and check-in. It’s important. They’re not going to solve all your problems. But they can help you get perspective on what’s really happening with your business. Believe it or not, there’s one company who actually provides guidance for what they call Dream/Gripe Sessions and it’s a way to build creativity and provide a fresh perspective. Why not develop that into a work relationship that gives you an outlet and a breath of fresh air?

Find your happy

Figure out what “reward” means to you. Because when reward and recognition time comes around in the self-employed world, unless you’re winning a Nobel Peace Prize or a particular industry award, you’ll be recognizing yourself. But don’t get caught up in thinking that’s not important. Setting goals, then celebrating those goals is critical. As I mention above, celebrate your wins, even small ones. Maybe determine a cash bonus if you meet a certain sales level. Maybe give yourself an extra day off (a proper day off, not one where you take calls and texts all day) if you hit a goal. But find out what you, personally, value. A day off isn’t necessarily it. But you deserve something that works for you personally.

Make Recognition and Motivation Unique to You

Consider what motivates you each day. Does music do it? Do motivational posters help? In one job I had, a creative wall display of progress got me focused each morning as I updated my progress towards short-term goals. In one job, it was a tree, and leaves were added for each acquisition of a client. At another, my team got majorly motivated when we put a 3 D reproduction of our building up on the wall with dark windows lining the front. With each week that goals were met, one window was lit. The excitement as we started lighting up that last row of windows was palpable. Top performers received a desk lamp… It sounds weird, maybe a bit childish, but it worked for that group. Find what works for you, and don’t overlook it. We all deserve recognition, even if we’re giving it to ourselves.

Stay productive

Work doesn’t have to feel like work. But it isn’t always relaxing and fun. As mentioned before, every business hits a snag or a challenge. Some may be planned. Some may be unexpected. But as a business owner, no matter the size, it’s your responsibility to manage it and not let it get you down (or shut you down). Owning your own business can be very rewarding, exciting, and a road to a successful and rewarding career. But its also all up to you. Setting yourself up for failure by quitting a regular full-time job so you’re forced to go it alone isn’t fair to you, your business, or your family. Give yourself a solid chance by doing your homework and developing a plan for when you’ll know it’s time to set out on your own. Turning your hobby or side hustle into a full-time business is possible, but there’s more to it than just jumping into the deep end. And for some, you may find that keeping a side hustle a side hustle is what works for you. Whatever you choose. Good luck!


Photo by Ihsan Aditya from Pexels

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