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Put The Hustle Back In 'Side Hustle' With These Essential Tips

Workin' Girl

With the cost of living on a steady incline and Sallie Mae swallowing up earnings before they are even realized, it's no wonder that everybody who is somebody is on the quest for more income. Regardless of profession, millennials everywhere are diving into extra ways to make dividends. We've coined this way of life "the side hustle."


From where most of us stand, starting a side hustle is a no-brainer, yet realistically, successfully adding new responsibilities to an already busy lifestyle takes strategy and commitment. If you are looking to get off the sidelines and into the game, here are 6 tips that will position you to win.

Research

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Most side hustles never take flight because we fail to do adequate research. Research teaches business owners the tools necessary to succeed. Without some understanding of how to run a business in your industry, it is difficult to maximize revenue. To get started, do a simple Google search related to the side hustle you have in mind. Learn all you can learn from blog posts, YouTube, seminars, and courses. Use this information to compile takeaways, things to consider, and action steps.

After you've done your homework, it is always a great idea to share your findings with a trusted resource who has a proven history of succeeding in the area of your side hustle. Rather than "picking their brain," ask them to validate whether or not you are on the right track. Add the feedback you receive to your repertoire of learnings.

Plan

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Even side hustles need a business plan. A business plan is a written document that details the goals of the business, a plan for accomplishing the goals, a time frame for accomplishing the goals, and measurements of success. You can find templates for business plans online. The Small Business Development Center in your city is also a great resource for assistance. These offices provide services at little or no cost to you and are also a great way to prepare for financing and grants if necessary.

Ultimately, your business plan serves as the blueprint of your side hustle.

It will guide budgeting, expansion, and everything in between so it is important that you put true effort into drafting it. As your business evolves, you should consistently update this plan to reflect changes in direction or new goals.

Implement Systems and Habits

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Having a business plan means nothing unless you implement systems and habits necessary to be successful in the day-to-day operation of the business. As such, you should start by brainstorming ways you can increase productivity and decrease disorganization or inconsistency.

Let's say you are interested in being a freelance writer while still maintaining your full-time job. Implementing systems and habits might look like batching all pitches for the week each Sunday, committing one hour each evening to writing approved stories, and blocking off Saturday mornings for final edits and story submissions.

Regardless of the side hustle, systems and habits are a must for managing it all. There are few overarching themes amongst side hustlers everywhere that can serve as a starting point for your systems and habits.

Most side hustlers are weekend warriors who sacrifice lounging or connecting with friends in exchange for working. They are earlier risers or late owls who maximize hours outside of their 9-5 to grow their business. You can also find these entrepreneurs utilizing their 30-minute or 1-hour lunch break to tackle important tasks for their side hustle, such as clearing out emails, taking consultations, or attending conference calls.

Develop a Marketing Plan

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Branding is key to selling. If you want customers to do business with you, look like a top-tier business. Create a website that includes services, products, contact information, and even blog posts. Revamp your social media pages so that they relay a clear marketing message that draws customers in. Avoid posting things that take away from this marketing message and get intentional about posting regularly to at least two social media platforms. A good post will keep your services at the forefront of your customer's mind and entice them to purchase from you. Be authentic, informative, and credible in your approach. This trifecta will enhance your sales.

Network

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Sometimes it isn't about what you know so much as it is about who you know. Even with the best products or services, you have to position yourself around the right people. Put yourself out there so that others know what you are offering and why it is valuable to them or the people around them.

Go to meetups and functions that give you the opportunity to connect with a crowd you can learn from. You should also use your Rolodex of friends, family, and acquaintances to assist you in areas that may require outsourcing. One example might be pitching a graphic design student to create your company website in exchange for building her portfolio, class credit, or tickets to an upcoming concert. These situations are often a win-win for both parties so don't hesitate to ask.

Maintain Solid Work Ethic

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No matter the success story, the work came first. There is no amount of bright ideas or planning that can substitute for actually doing the work. At the end of the day, being successful takes commitment, consistency, and sacrifice. It won't matter that you have a bomb accountability partner or an amazing list of action plans if you allow yourself to get lazy. Dedicate yourself to going the extra mile and the results will speak for themselves. It takes a certain amount of "want to" to work your dream. Evaluate your "want to" often, being determined to show up for yourself no matter what and you will succeed.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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