The Top 5 Reasons You Need a Side Hustle
I remember the day my income suddenly halved. The company I worked for was struggling financially, and the big red ‘CUT COSTS!!' button was smashed through the wall.
I was like a deer caught in headlights. Should I go left or go right, or just close my eyes and hope for the best?
It was particularly stressful because, at the time, I was neck-deep in debt with a property renovation and subdivision project.
My job allowed me a certain degree of flexibility, meaning I could attend to issues with the property project when needed and continue my ‘normal' work into the evening if required. A ‘normal' job just wouldn't allow that, so finding another job wasn't an option.
This was classic ‘rock-and-a-hard-place'.
The long and the short of it is, I struggled through as best I could, failed terribly, got divorced and lost everything.
My employer made it through, though, thanks to an outside investor, and they went on to grow into a much larger business. Eventually, my income was restored to pre-disaster levels and I continue to work for them today.
I'm no longer involved in property development, but I still have a few side-hustles on the go, like this website, the Midlife Mastery Podcast and a few freelance clients.
And I still love real estate investing, but I'll never run a development site again without a significant financial buffer. I learned the hard way that they always cost more than you think and they also take longer than you plan.
It was also proof that you should never bet the farm on a side-hustle unless you have lots of spare money to recover should things go south. A side hustle shouldn't be dependent on your primary income like mine was. It should augment it.
But getting back to why us mid-lifers need a side-hustle or two, the reason I say this is we're at a time in history where two powerful forces are at work.
For the first time in history, almost anyone with a phone, a tablet or a computer and an Internet connection can reach 3.6 billion people.
The era of the career employee is fading rapidly; replaced by contract workers, freelancers and project-based talent.
Jobs are Harder to Replace
Most people can't survive more than three months without an income. They spend what they earn, and then some.
Think about this.
If you lose your job tomorrow, how long before the car/s are repossessed, the Netflix disconnected and the house goes up for sale? Will the kids stay in private school? Will you be able to do the weekly grocery shop? Will you lose your health insurance?
Most people are extremely vulnerable because they rely on a single source of income.
Having an income-generating side-hustle knocks the top off the edges and gives you a means to build a financial buffer, or replace your income entirely over time.
It gives you options and pathways to consider if you do suddenly lose your job because you'll have learned to think like an entrepreneur.
And that brings us to the second reason.
You Feel Less Trapped
Ever since I was a kid, I've had side-hustles.
Whether it was making and selling stuff to neighbours, collecting and re-selling golf balls at the local course or photographing riders at the local motocross track, I always had multiple revenue streams.
Today, it's no different. If I lost one source of income, I could ramp up the others or add a new one to help replace it.
It's just a different way of thinking. It's a mindset that says, “I'm in control, here. If things turn to sh*t, it's up to me to fix it.”
When I was 13, I desperately wanted a new dirt bike – a bright orange Honda XR200.
Did I beg my dad for one? No, I zeroed in on a place I wanted to work (the local fitness club) and rang them every day for two weeks straight until the owner agreed to meet me and hire me. And for the next two years, I worked my arse off for $3 an hour and bought one.
When that beautiful machine arrived at our house, I knew from then on I could have anything I wanted. It was entirely up to me.
This self-directed attitude carried right through my life and it has afforded me a degree of autonomy and freedom few others enjoy.
I'm less tied to a single employer and therefore, the master of my own destiny. I'm effectively free.
You're More Valuable
Over the years, I've learned a tonne of skills. It started with photography – beginning with an ancient Voigtlander rangefinder, a couple of books and an obsession with photographing everything. My first feature story was published by the age of 16 and I had my first magazine cover and a full-time gig with a publisher by 18.
Now, thanks to the Internet, I'm able to do it faster, easier and cheaper than ever.
Recently, I decided to start a podcast.
Years ago, I would have had to wade through a mountain of books or cosy up to someone who'd succeeded as a podcaster. Today, though, I only had to look for an expert podcasting course and sign up.
And that's exactly what I did with Pat Flynn's Powerup Podcasting Course. I now have a podcast, and it's 100% professional because I learned from one of the best in the industry.
It was the same with digital marketing, writing, web design, video and SEO.
I found the information I needed, I practised hard, and now I'm considered an expert in all of them.
The add-on benefit to acquiring these skills is that I can apply them to my other work as well. I've been working for the same software company for 20 years and I regularly deploy these skills on projects I do for them. As a result, I'm now a more effective employee and a go-to person for these skills.
So developing side-hustles makes you more valuable right where you are. It acts like an insurance policy, making you harder to replace.
When you're middle-aged, it can seem as though life is all about work. We do so damn much of it, we start to feel like a one-trick pony.
Having a side-hustle, though, lets you explore new avenues for creative expression.
It doesn't really matter what it is; the fact is, it's different. And if you develop something that generates a growing revenue base, it diffuses the stress in your work because you sense that one day you might be able to kiss the job goodbye.
That's a very nice feeling.
Also, there are more opportunities than ever for creating passive income. It's nowhere near as easy as you might think (unless you create a nude celebrity website and choke it full of ads), but I personally know some online business builders who routinely generate five and six figures a month from passive income sources.
One of those people is Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. Luckily for me (and now you, too), after eight years as a very successful affiliate marketer, he has just released his first course on the subject. It's called 1.2.3 Affiliate Marketing, and if it's half as good as his podcasting course, I'm gonna be singing his praises from the rooftops yet again. Pat is one of those rare gems who puts service and ethics above everything else, and that's why his reputation as an online practitioner and educator is so revered.
His courses thoroughly reflect this approach and they deliver brilliant results.
Pat has a tonne of free resources about affiliate marketing over at his website, but I also recently saw a great article about a range of passive income opportunities from Kimberly and Ahmed over at Bengu. It's a long read but definitely worth the effort.
Creating a side hustle is also great for your marriage. It gives you and your partner something else to talk about besides your hateful bosses, bills and politics. It might even be something you can work on together – perhaps with the kids, too.
Actually, this is a huge benefit in and of itself. Teaching your kids – by showing them – how to create something from scratch and infusing them with an entrepreneurial spirit is one of the best things you can do for them.
All my kids have side hustles, and it makes me enormously proud to see them grow and develop through entrepreneurship.
You Become More… You
Most of us stumble into our careers. It happens through ignorance or circumstance or just dumb luck.
But even if we land a job that truly satisfies, it's inevitable that over time, our interests change.
A side hustle allows us to test a new interest or idea, and to do it with very little risk. Because it's a side-hustle, we needn't toss in our career to have a go. We can taste the buffet and sample different dishes and still hold down the day job.
This allows us to try different things and discover – through doing – what feels right for us, our personality, our skills and our passions.
And this is probably the greatest benefit of all.
We're only here for a single lifetime. Just one.
To spend most of it doing something we're ambivalent about (or worse – hate) is a terrible waste.
Creating a small independent business; doing something we enjoy, is one of the best things we can do for ourselves because it allows us the freedom to become more of who we truly are.
There are no arses to kiss, no protocols and no office politics. It's just you and your thing.
If you've read this far and I've convinced you to drink the Kool-Aid, then there's one thing I recommend you do.
I know it's tempting to Google the hell out of any new interest (that's my default setting), but if solopreneurship sounds appealing to you, you should learn from other successful solopreneurs. Do it properly and save yourself the headaches.
Chris is one of those people who walks quietly and carries a big stick – in the nicest way possible, and his story reads like a great adventure novel. Having visited all 193 countries before by the age of 35, and never holding a job his entire life, Chris first came onto my radar after a suggestion from Corbett Barr (of fizzle.co) to read his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity. It is brilliant, and any aspiring solopreneaur should read it.
I've since gone on to read Chris's other books, The $100 Startup, Born for This and Side Hustle, and I'm an avid listener of his fabulous podcast, Side Hustle School. His insights, delivered in a concise, low-key and factual manner, really resonate with me. I have a huge amount of respect for this guy and cannot wait to finally meet him when he visits Australia next year.
As for the guys at Fizzle, I don't believe Midlife Tribe would have happened without them. One thing most of us struggle with these days is information overload. There's so much stuff out there. And with that comes analysis paralysis.
We don't know who to trust, who's teachings to apply; how to even begin.
Fizzle has done something few other online training businesses have. They've created a structured learning environment that is anchored in ethical conduct, is completely devoid of bullsh*t, and is built and supported by people who've had significant success on their own.
They know their stuff and they truly care about the things they teach and the people they serve. I've been a student of theirs for about two years, and I don't see myself leaving anytime soon. Paired with their awesome podcasts, The Fizzle Show and The Courage & Clarity Podcast, their nine-stage roadmap for building a business is second to none. They are quite simply the best.
The reason I recommend the people in this post is that I've learned so much from them, and I owe my own midlife reinvention to each one of them. These are zero-bullsh*t operators who created significant success for themselves before they started teaching others.
- Fizzle -Training courses for indie entrepreneurs (get 5 weeks free)
- Smart Passive Income – Online business the right way
- Will it Fly? Book (Pay Flynn)
- Side Hustle Book (Chris Guillebeau)
- Choose Yourself Book (James Altucher)
Middle Age & The Power of Midlife Reinvention
What it Means to Live Authentically
The Best Investment for People over 40
5 Reasons it isn't too late to Change Your Life
New to Midlife Tribe? Start Here.
Also published on Medium.