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7 Lessons From a Side Hustler Whether it's for extra money or the pursuit of happiness, when you have a side gig make sure you use these tips for success.

By James Tew Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I've been building a business alongside my full-time job for the past five years. I've pivoted and failed more times than I'd like to admit. I'm by no means a success. And to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I like the term "side hustler." Instead, I prefer to think of myself and others who chase this path as just super driven individuals. I mean, who else would work 30 to 40 hours on top of a full-time job in pursuit of a better life?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not limiting side hustlers to just people who hold a full-time job. Entrepreneurs who run their business full time could be side hustling -- building a passion project on the side. In fact, there are a lot of people who probably fall under this umbrella.

Related: 5 Keys to Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Successful Business

However, in my time as a sidey (Can I call it that? I am an Aussie and we like to shorten things) I've learned a lot of lessons. I've had to adapt and adjust repeatedly. A lot of people ask me how I do it. So I'm going to share with you my top seven lessons as a side hustler.

1. Focus will help you win.

I don't claim to be the god of focus, otherwise I probably would have achieved my version of success a long time ago. However, in my moments of best work, I'm hyper-focused. When you have a billion things going on around you, finding moments where you can be focused on getting work down are few and far between. I recommend writing down your weekly priorities and then, every day, break down three to four tasks that you can do to achieve your weekly goals. This ensures that when you find yourself with a spare hour -- or two, if you're lucky -- you'll know exactly how to use that time and keep focused.

2. Communication matters.

Whether you have a significant other or just a close group of friends, it's important they understand what you're doing. They may not care about the details of your business, but when you spend most of your time working, they will better understand your goals and be more accepting of it. So bring them into the fold. Share your business goals, and explain your why. You want them to buy into it as much as you. The last thing you want is to have your marriage or relationship break down because your drive for a better life got the better of you.

3. Accept the imperfections and obstacles.

While it's easy for me to say "don't worry, it will all work out in the end," the truth is -- it may not. You may pivot and fail your way to success. Maybe not in 12 months; maybe in two or three years depending on the size of your goal and business. And that is perfectly okay.

We all have our own paths. We don't have to be the next John Lee Dumas or Marie Forleo. You are you, and that means treading your own path. After all, the journey is the fun part. Enjoy it, and embrace the obstacles that you have to climb to truly get what you want in life!

4. Acknowledge you can't do everything solo.

I'm a terrible writer and editor. Before you read this article, it's probably had about eight revisions. I know rubbish about writing, so I have a copy writer. I spew out rubbish, and she polishes it until it's legible and makes sense.

You're not superman or superwoman; accept your limitations and realize that asking for help is okay! Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and strong in areas where you aren't, and you'll be fine. Believe it or not, this is a team sport, and we're only as good as our team. Together, we work better.

Related: 7 Rules for Entrepreneurs to Delegate Effectively

5. Sleep!

At the end of the day, you are still human, which means you still require rest. Sleep is super important and it's something that my buddy, Travis Dillard, continues to remind me of. Your body needs sleep to function at its optimum level. That means shutting down the laptop, crawling into bed and getting a solid seven to eight hours. In an ideal world, it's possible, but we each know our limits. If you function on six hours, then do that. The most important thing is to acknowledge that sometimes you need a break. So take a time out, recoup and take on the world tomorrow.

6. Frame your goals and keep them in plain sight.

This is something I heard from Lewis Howes, and it has honestly changed the way I work. I employ the 12-week year methodology. Every 12 weeks, I write out my goals for that period. I put those goals in a frame, and then every week I look at the items I need to do to ensure that I achieve these goals. I have these goals sitting next to my computer at my desk so that every day I look at them and remember what I'm working towards. It keeps me on point. I don't know much about the psychology of it all, but it seems legitimate that we have these goals in a prominent zone for us to visualize and then make happen.

Related: 5 Indications That 'Side-Gigging' Is More Than a Fad

7. Not everyone wants to know about your side gig.

This was a hard lesson to learn for me. I'm a BIG people person. I love talking about what I'm working on, but I had to learn that not everyone wants to hear about my side gig. Especially my colleagues at my full-time job. Instead, I recommend finding yourself a group of people -- whether through or just a Facebook group -- where you can find the support you need to keep moving forward. Having a special place to share your struggles and wins with people who are in the same frame of mind will do you wonders.

This journey has been one of the most rewarding of my life. Instead of sitting down and playing eight hours of Call of Duty after work, I do something meaningful. I get to help people achieve their business goals by helping them build the strength, courage and confidence to build their brand with video. I wouldn't have my busy life any other way!

James Tew

Aussie YouTuber and Entrepreneur

James Tew is an Aussie YouTuber who helps entrepreneurs build the strength, courage and confidence to build their brand with video. A dad of four girls, James juggles family life, work and building his business while releasing humor-flavored content to help the world via his blog and YouTube. A member of Entrepreneur Network, James' focuses on bringing actionable advice to help entrepreneurs harness the power of video to grow their businesses.


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