You’ve heard the success stories.
Million-dollar businesses built on the side, empires founded from home and other magical tales of overnight riches: do you want in on a piece of the pie?
So you start a side hustle on your own. Days become weeks, which then stretch to months. You’re a witness to progress for sure, but it’s moving at an achingly slow pace.
Almost half of the working American population are working a gig outside their primary job -but the ones that see profitable results range only from a select few.
If we’re looking at the numbers; a considerable chunk of side hustling Americans don’t get to see anything upwards $300 a month through side income.
That’s right – it’s barely enough to cover a housing loan. Much less supplement your idea of a luxe income stream that’s going to let you retire at 30 and run a million-dollar business from your Grecian holiday home.
So if this situation is one that you relate to a bit too much -you’re probably stuck between giving up altogether or just riding the waves of mediocrity.
There’s so much more potential to your side hustle than you realize! But what you need to understand to turn things around is that there’s a difference between just starting a side hustle to get by and one that you can turn into a business.
Nothing is going to work for you – until you work for it. And even then, if you’re working hard instead of working smart, you still won’t get there.
We understand that everyone runs into a wall now and then! We’re here to help. Here are seven reasons why you may not be able to see the results you want; and how to get over them to start raking in real progress.
Before we begin, if you’re still exploring what kind side hustles to pursue, do check out HUSTLR’s Side Hustle Checklist here.
1. Competition is tight, and your ideas are suffering.
There’s no doubt about the ability of a great idea to generate good income.
However, a “good idea” is simply not going to cut it anymore! If your side hustle is mostly based online -competition is going to be unbelievably tight. It becomes considerably worse if you’re starting out; there are already plenty of others out there who have a far more developed idea.
Assume the role of a consumer for a bit, instead of an advertiser. It doesn’t matter how wonderfully unique a business’ idea is. If someone else more distinguished, with tons more experience offers a similar product or service – which one are you opting for?
Let’s even say that your ideas are kickass. Are they still appropriately executed? Do you end up following your marketing strategy, or does it fall through halfway?
Execution is responsible for everything. It could even turn a shitty, basic idea into a high return if done right!
The point is – the uniqueness of your idea matters in a highly contested space. But it’s fair to say that execution and how you end up framing it in comparison with the rest of the market matters more.
• Competitive analysis is so necessary.
If you’re only just starting with a side hustle and finding your niche, it helps to differentiate your idea until it’s just strong enough to stand on its own. If you’re far down a side hustle, you’d want to continually perform competitive research in the techniques, promotions, social media efforts and everything else taken on by your competitor to counter-offer something else. No matter your niche, the game is ruthless. Always, always, always highlight your strengths over the competition; even if it’s something as tiny as price difference!
You can get a heads up with paid tools like LongTailPro and Ahrefs for keyword research purposes! If you don’t have a budget, start with something Google Trends. Just hit the keywords in the niche you want to rank for to get a good idea of the demand and competition in that space.
2. Your business might not be scalable.
Chances are if the competition is choking the life out of your side hustle, your idea is also struggling to be scalable.
How can you tell? This happens when your side hustle becomes way too dependent on your extreme efforts and personal time to move forward without you working on it.
Sure – you need to put in the blood, sweat, and tears necessary. But that’s not necessarily a precursor of growth! If anything, it’s a sign that your side hustle is based out of lucky breaks and basic scraps of income.
If you’re struggling with the legitimacy and scalability of your ideas, here’s how you can start getting over this hump.
• Make your hustle work FOR you.
For anyone to see their side hustle prosper, it needs to run even when you’re not readily channeling your efforts through it. Passive income is the best way to go – and we hope you’ve heard of it! One good way you can focus on scaling your side hustle is by automating (through solid affiliate marketing, monetizing your blog, selling eBooks and online courses) as well as outsourcing (finding great talent to run your social media, create content, etc).
3. You’re distracted by too many things.
A diverse investment portfolio is always great. So is it commendable to want to dip your toes into more than one side income -but beware!
Having multiple side hustles can become dangerously distracting, fast. You might think it’s a good idea to have a few backup plans in case, but chasing after each venture might very well prove to be the downfall of all.
Take Side Hustler A for instance. His niche has always been eCommerce dropshipping – in which he has successfully made at least $500 per month in profits. To increase that number; he heads off to become an online virtual assistant with the rest of his free hours -which gives him another $1,000 per month.
Side Hustler B, on the other hand, focuses solely on marketing and selling his online courses teaching graphic design. Then, he decides to branch out further into eBooks, webinars, and paid video tutorials. His expert tunnel vision and selective growth gives him powerful dominance over his niche – increasing sales exponentially. He makes $8,000 per month easily through a combination of these efforts.
See the difference?
• Capitalize on your existing side hustle -but avoid taking on different responsibilities.
The difference between Side Hustler A and B can be observed through how each of them decided to expand their income. It’s only natural to want to increase how much you earn – but it’s a much better idea if you’re focusing on growing one particular craft; not dipping your hands into every other niche you can find! Successful side hustlers work hard and smart no doubt, but they also come equipped with the ability to say “no” when faced with the noise of everything else.
4. You’re taking too few risks.
We 100% understand the allure of a safe space/cocoon that you might want to indulge in the rest of your life. Hell, even through the length of this article, you’ve probably doubted your capabilities of fulfilling some of the advice given; for fear of failing miserably and having your world go kaput!
So yes, most leaps of faith would make or break your business.
But, the worst possible thing you can do for your side hustle is to take absolutely none at all.
Playing it safe is a surefire way to be on the path of mediocrity and end up on the previously mentioned group of side hustlers earning $300 or less per month. You don’t want that, at all.
Funneling that first $500 bucks as a capital investment can be scary. Registering for a domain and monthly hosting subscription for your blog can also be daunting. Most of the time – we know of budding entrepreneurs who are dead terrified of even buying a single guide eBook to better their business!
That’s just effing crazy if we’re honest. If you’re not willing to at least step one foot of your comfort zone in the right direction -how do you expect to build a thriving business at all?
As an entrepreneur, taking risks is part of the DAILY job description. In fact, failing is more common to successful entrepreneurs compared to any group of people in the world. Failing fast is even better, and you know why? Because you get to learn, learn, learn, and then finally end up succeeding after you’ve mastered the lessons from all of your mistakes!
• Learn how to use professional help and online resources for this.
Follow business mentors. Listen to startup and entrepreneurial podcasts. Work through self-help eBooks that are filled to the brim with industry-relevant advice that you cannot find anywhere else. Educating oneself is so underrated, but it’s an essential step to take if you want to work towards an informed, calculated risk and watch it pay out gorgeously!
5. You’re running the show yourself; with no help at all!
Most of the time, when people start with a side hustle, they tend to operate 100% solo.
That’s fine for the most part if you’re just interested in an average, make ends meet income. Building a lucrative business, on the other hand, will not work out in your favor if you refuse to let go of the reigns.
Micromanaging and taking on everything under the sun is hands-down one of the worst things a CEO or founder can do for their brand. Face it – you’re just one person!
There’s no way you can handle creating content, managing social media accounts, tracking finances, meeting clients all on your own.
Well, you actually can – but you’ll be doing a shit job at all of them.
Why? Even though you have it in your head that you’re the best person for the job, refusing help is going to hinder the progress of your side hustle severely.
Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this a whole lot; with detailed explanations as to why delegation plays such an important role in really exploding your business to its true potential.
• So, get help! Start delegating your tasks ASAP.
If you haven’t already, get one or two people on board to manage the day-to-day ops of your side hustle. Delegate anything possible for someone else to do; like bookkeeping or social media! If you’re worried about the overall cost of bringing on human skill; you could even offer flexible part time or remote positions. We mentioned this briefly in Step #2, but we often find that talent on Fiverr is always affordable and of high-quality.
6. Your reputation with existing consumers is not that great.
No one wants to admit it, but we hope this piece of tough love works for you.
You might be doing all of the above to a tee, but if your product or service is falling flat with consumers; there’s only so much marketing advice we can give you!
Let’s say you’re running a blog for the sole purpose of earning big through affiliate marketing. Entirely possible when done right, btw.
But a huge chunk of your affiliates leads to low-quality, unreliable, dodgy retailers that your consumers don’t relate to at all. Or worse yet, they buy something through your affiliate link – and be dealt with absolute garbage at the end of the day.
Directly, it’s not your fault. It’s not even technically your product/service!
But whether you like it or not, they bought it through your blog, through your recommendation. They trusted you – and now your credibility suffers a great deal.
Whether or not directly or indirectly, the last thing you want from starting a side hustle is having no one like what you’re offering.
• Herein lies the importance of analytics. Whether or not it’s through online-based services or a product, always ask for feedback.
Ask your consumers (through a Google Form, email, etc.) what they think after buying something from you! This way, you can genuinely build a strong relationship with your consumers and gauge their thoughts on how you could improve yourself in the future. Offer them a little something for their time taken too, like a one-off voucher, or a freebie after answering your questions.
• Your side hustle business can very quickly suffer from a lack of consumer trust.
Authenticity and credibility is a significant element that influences purchase decisions, and if you don’t have that to boast -there’s no way you can carry on your business long-term! So that’s why before going further with extra marketing measures, hardcore online promotions; consider strengthening the trust your existing consumers have with you above all. These groups of people can become your strongest asset if you learn how to use and provide for them wisely.
7. You’re setting unrealistic goals.
No one wants to get by with only $300 in side hustling profits a month. But what’s the right amount to expect?
For us to answer this, you need to understand that although it’s a fantastic notion to reach for the stars – there’s no need to get discouraged if you don’t see immediate gratification right away.
Don’t expect to make six figures in a couple of months. For some, that doesn’t even happen two years after.
But then, BAM! Your third year is giving you seven figures -and you’re thanking all the gods above that you stayed on course.
This is not to be confused with being stagnant for years and years -hoping to see the same results. Your side hustle needs to grow steadily, not sporadically with the help of “chance” and lucky breaks! What we can say here is that you have to celebrate small victories, so you don’t burn out!
• Monitor your momentum carefully and focus on the bigger picture.
A good rule of thumb to creating a thriving side hustle business is always to assume that you’re going to be operating this in the long-run. Make decisions that would put you on the map for years to come, not just for the next month. Sign up for a 3-year domain name subscription. Get a better quality mic that’s going to help your podcasting business survive longer – simple stuff like that!
You’re not always going to be motivated to fulfill these tips. So when motivation is absent; start being disciplined above all.
There’s immense potential for your side hustle business to prosper in the long run – if you stick to the right course of discipline and laser focus. Regardless – we’re with you each step of the way through your entrepreneurial journey!
Jesslyn has been a senior content strategist and writer for personal finance and side hustles for the past 4 years. She believes in the power of an idea and breaking the rules whenever necessary. Above all, balance is everything. When she’s not writing up a mad scramble, she leans towards wine bars and yoga studios on the weekends.