8 Tips for Overcoming the Anxiety and Stress of Starting Your First Side Hustle
Knowing your stressors beforehand can prevent them.
For starters, founding a new business requires much more time, money and resources than a side hustle. This means putting all your eggs in one proverbial basket. Starting a side hustle can help you learn many of the same skills you’d learn from starting a business, but without the same amount of pressure. Should your side hustle end up not working out, you still have your full-time job to lean on as a stable source of income.
If you have ever known someone who has been hesitant to start their own side hustle, chances are likely that the reason they didn’t was because they were (or are) afraid.
When you think about it, how can you blame them? Starting anything new is innately scary, especially a new venture — we all fear failure and rejection. But the thing is, you’re going to encounter these feelings throughout life. The key to overcoming our fears isn’t to run from them, it’s learning how to face them head-on and overcome them.
Here are eight tips to help you navigate your new venture.
1. Find a mentor
Entrepreneurs who have a mentor to guide them not only create larger growth for their business, but also become top performers in their field and keep their venture alive and stable for longer. While having a mentor who is an expert in your field is definitely preferable, it is not always a necessity, as many willing mentors possess a general wealth of knowledge that can help you manage your new side hustle.
3. Break down big goals and start small
What is the big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) you have for your side hustle? Having a BHAG to meet for your side hustle is a perfect place to start, as it helps align your venture with a vision, but no entrepreneur successfully accomplishes their BHAG overnight, or even over the course of a few months. Most don’t even meet it after a few years.
Instead of setting yourself up for anxiety and fear of failure for not meeting your BHAG, break it down into smaller, realistic goals that you can set for yourself. These smaller goals should be realistic enough that they can be accomplished in a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly timeline, depending on the needs of your side hustle.
Setting and meeting these smaller goals will not only force you to truly consider the tasks on your plate and how to accomplish them, but achieving each smaller goal acts as a dopamine booster which further helps alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress about your side hustle.
4. Only master one thing at a time
Think for a moment about that one single skill or tool you possess that you know you do better than most others. How long did it take you to achieve that level of mastery? Better yet, how many other skills or tools do you have that you’re equally passionate about that also complement that first skill you’ve already mastered?
Attempting to master multiple skills or tools at a time will definitely help you learn a lot about many things at once, but mastering anything inevitably takes time, and operating this way means you don’t have the same commitment or dedication to focus on mastering each of them.
Focus instead on becoming a master of one, then a master of another one and then another one. Eventually, you’ll find that you’ve mastered a handful of tools to help your side hustle grow and thrive instead of trying to master multiple tools or skills at the same time and not becoming a master of any of them.
5. Schedule dedicated time to work on your project
Everybody spends their free time in their own way, whether it’s binge-watching a new show on Netflix, firing up a video game or meeting up with friends to get a drink after work. But what you’ll find out immediately upon starting your side hustle is that a lot of that free time you had before now needs to be redirected to focus on your new venture. That said, starting a side hustle doesn’t mean it needs to swallow all of your free time, but like anything in need of nurturing, it’s going to require some of that time to grow and flourish.
Instead of trying to ham-fist a few extra minutes into your schedule to work on your side hustle, block off certain blocks of time each day to dedicate to it. By doing this, you will still see your side hustle grow incrementally without the anxiety, fear or guilt of not finding the time to work on it.
6. Turn off notifications — and don’t check them before bed, either
Imagine this scenario: You’ve been working on your side hustle for a few minutes or hours. You’ve found yourself getting into the flow of it, knocking out small tasks or adding a few more paragraphs of copy to your website, but then you hear it.
You stop your flow and look down at the notification on your phone, turn it off and get back to work. But then you hear it again. And again.
Leaving notifications on while you’re spending dedicated time working on your side hustle not only distracts you, but it also disrupts the overall flow of your work, making you less productive than you would normally be.
Dedicated work time means dedicated work time — that includes time free of distractions like your phone’s notifications, too.
7. Become comfortable saying “no”
No great leader becomes a great leader by surrounding themselves with people who agree with them all of the time. In that same regard, no leading business or brand became successful by trying to please everyone. Instead, they focus on helping their target consumer markets solve a problem that is unique to them.
When starting a new venture or side hustle, you will be inclined to say “yes” to more people — including customers — for the sake of a sale. After all, sales are what will help your side hustle grow into a thriving business, but saying “yes” to every potential customer or client will leave you with a full plate of work you won’t be able to tackle solo.
Even though it may go against everything you know or want, every successful business owner and entrepreneur out there became successful after they got comfortable with telling people “no.” No, you don’t need to give each customer a discount just because they said they would buy from you if you did. No, you don’t need to wake yourself up three hours early to send one email. Trying to be a business owner and a people-pleaser will end up running you ragged.
8. Be ready to fail
Failure, like change, is an inevitable part of life. The reasons why almost all of us are scared of failure are broad and varied, but are often rooted in a fear of rejection or what others may perceive of them after they fail.
Chances are high that your venture or side hustle — especially your first one — will not succeed. Regardless of how fantastic of an idea you have for your side hustle, how innovative your new product or service might be or even how unique of a way you may have to improve upon an existing product or service, the reality is that roughly 90% of all business ventures end in failure. What sets successful entrepreneurs apart from their unsuccessful peers is their willingness and determination to persevere in the face of failure.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor