Small-Business Saturday and what it means for you

For years, we’ve been encouraged to think big and indeed there is an important place for that.  Sometimes solving a problem or making the world a better place (which is often one and the same thing), require large-scale thoughts and actions.  A lot of the time, however, it’s small-scale actions, which make the biggest difference, especially if they’re repeated time after time so that they have a chance to add up.  I think the same holds true of small businesses and that there’s a very simple reason for this.

Small businesses are invested in their communities.  If you think about it, the top decision-makers in major corporations are often far removed from their company’s customers, whereas the people who run smaller businesses tend to be much more available to their clientele.  This isn’t necessarily a matter of geography (although it can certainly play a role), these days there are a lot of small businesses which do most of their trade online.  It’s more about the degree of connection between the people who are in charge of a business and the people for whom they work.  

For the record, I don’t think big is necessarily bad, I’m sure there are some larger companies out there with a decent track record on ethics, but to be perfectly frank, I can’t actually think of any offhand.  I can think of a couple of companies which used to be fairly good in that area, but my impression is that they have rather abandoned their ethical behaviours over recent years.

So what does that all have to do with my usual topics on subjects like hygge, minimalism, positivity, sustainability and wellness?  It’s this.  No matter how old we are, we’re probably all familiar with the image of the person trapped in a corporate job and wishing they could escape and for many people, there’s a lot of truth in that image.  For the record, I know some people can be happy in corporate jobs, sometimes very happy and if that works for you, great.  It worked for me in the past and I am still in employment, albeit not for a corporate.  If, however, you’re feeling trapped and unfulfilled in your job, then it’s going to have an impact on other areas of your life, including, quite probably, your home life and your relationships with those near to you.  Having a “side hustle”, regardless of whether or not you choose to monetize it at any given point in time, can help to counterbalance this and rebuild your sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Even if you are happy in your corporate employment, I would still urge you to start your own side hustle, which you either monetize or keep at a point where you could monetize it in future, so that you keep as many options as possible open.  Let me tell you, corporate jobs, even the ones you might think are the most secure, don’t necessarily last forever and neither do corporates themselves.  

The good news is that in my opinion, there’s never been a better time to run a side hustle or a full-time small business.  People are catching on to the fact that large businesses do not necessarily run their activities in a healthy and/or sustainable manner and are looking for alternatives.  Yes price does matter but it is by no means the only consideration even for people on lower incomes and the more disposable income a person has, the less of a consideration it becomes.

So what’s the bad news?  The bad news is that a lot of side hustles and small businesses fail.  If you’ve ever thought of starting one, you’ve probably heard about this.  Perhaps you might have thought about the reasons for it.  I have and in my opinion, the vast majority of failures come down to one of three reasons.

I can’t do this any more!

You’ve bitten off more than you can chew, which is possibly the number one reason why side hustles and small businesses fail.  Ignore the YouTube gurus who tell you how them went from nothing to earning full-time incomes in 6 months “and you can too”.  Even if they are telling the truth and nothing but the truth about their income and the length of time in which they generated it, (which they may be), it does not follow that you can necessarily do the same.  If they were young, without children, living in their parents’ home and working out of their bedroom then they are in a completely different situation than somebody with a family and a mortgage.  By all means, learn what you can from people who have succeeded, take them as role models, but adapt the lessons they teach for your own situation.  My number one piece of advice for anyone thinking of starting a side hustle is to start slowly.  If you’re not monetizing your side hustle at this time then stick to what you can reasonably do.  If you do want to monetize your side hustle into an income or even make it your full-time income, then move forward one step at a time and as your income starts to come in, immediately look to see which tasks you can delegate to free yourself up to make the most of your talents.  This is a win/win all round.  Let’s take an example, you have a side hustle making personalized mugs.  You’re great at decorating mugs but you’re not a natural writer, so you find it hard to keep on top of writing your blog.  You use some of your income to employ someone else to write your blogs.  Your chosen blogger can write great blogs in less than half the time it takes you to write an average one, so they can charge you an affordable price and still make a decent living for themselves.  You drop a task you don’t really like and put the time you’ve saved to better use.

I can’t do this any more?

Let me spell this out to you, if a business is to be sustainable it needs to offer some kind of long-term value.  Anything which has the marks of getting smart, playing a system or finding some kind of “secret” loophole is not likely to be sustainable and even if it is legal to begin with (or not actually illegal), is likely to become illegal sooner or later (probably sooner).  You may be sitting there thinking “well that’s obvious”, I hope so, but going by the number of adverts I see for people selling courses on “insider” ways to make money, I’m guessing there are still a lot of people out there who don’t get this.  Remember sustainable ideas are about quality rather than quantity, value rather than price.

I can’t do this any more.

Your life has moved on in some way and your side hustle is no longer working for you.  If a side hustle is to be sustainable, it needs to work in harmony with your life and if it doesn’t then you either need to make adjustments until it does or let it go and move on.  You can always take the lessons you learned from it and try again later.  Knowing “when to fold ‘em” holds as true in life as it does in poker.

In short

I passionately believe that everyone should have a side hustle, even if you are already self employed and I also strongly believe that everyone should aim to put themselves in position where they could feasibly monetize their side hustle if they wished to, which means building your brand while you still have an income from other sources as this is the hardest part of creating any side hustle.  If you are not fulfilled in your main job, just knowing that you are building yourself an escape tunnel, should you feel the need to use it, can make you feel better about going to work each day.  If you are, then you’ll still have the added security of knowing you have options if you ever want them.

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