Why NOT to Side Hustle

August 18th, 2015

A number of my friends and colleagues have started mentioning getting into the side hustle game, and I know there’s plenty of advice out there for why you might want to do so. Being an avid side hustler myself (if you can call my cross stitch shop on Etsy a side hustle), I thought I’d share the other side of things – why you might NOT want to get into the side hustle game. Because I’m contrary like that.

First of all, what do I mean when I say side hustle? I mean a business you run on the side. I’m not necessarily talking about a part-time job – although that may indeed be a side hustle for some, depending on the job. A side hustle could be freelancing, consulting, speaking, creating something for sale, etc. Basically, you are selling your services in a somewhat consistent manner (not just a one-off gig).

My first experience with a side hustle was during 2014, when I started a somewhat regular speaking and consulting business. And by “starting,” I mean I fell face first into it. Someone asked me if I consulted, I said sure, and engagements started coming in. Sometimes not as often as I felt like they should be, but often enough that I had a decent income and was kept busy traveling and working. It seemed like the logical next step – one that all the quality student affairs folks seemed to be taking, so I should probably take it, too. I mean, if I wanted to make a name for myself, I needed to get out there and hustle, right?

Wrong. This is the absolute worst reason to do a side hustle. And if you’re thinking about hustling because of it, I would strongly encourage you to think again. Because as much as I enjoyed consulting and speaking – and I really do – I hated traveling, I hated taking vacation time to do more work, and I discovered that after doing the work 40 hours a week already, I didn’t want to spend more time working on it. In fact, doing this side hustle almost burned me on doing student affairs work completely. Because I was doing it for all the wrong reasons.

So here’s my advice – and take it or leave it as you see fit: Don’t do the side hustle for others. Don’t do it because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do, or because it seems like others are doing it, or you feel like you need to make a name for yourself. Don’t just fall into it ass over teakettle like I did.

Do find something that you enjoy doing and are interested in doing more of and sharing with others. Do make a plan for how much time and money you are willing to spend on that thing – and try to stick to it. Do it because you want to do it and it fits in your life. Hell, even do it because you need the extra money – just be aware of the price tag involved – it’s not called “hustle” for the ease of it.

Most importantly, I think you need to be aware of what you as a person (and/or what significant others in your life – family, friends, pets, etc.) need from your life. If the answer is more time, then maybe a side hustle isn’t for you. But if it’s to do something you enjoy and share that with others, then hustle on, my friends.