Should you start a side business?

COVID has changed people’s behavior a lot. It has brought a lot more financial uncertainty and insecurity into our daily lives, and it has reshuffled our priorities. People have started, for example, to prioritize time spent with loved ones, to prioritize their “time for me”, to prioritize their mental and physical health and to favor healthy work environments. It also highlighted, for many of us, just how passionate we really are about the work we do – is it worth it?

At Mind Cloud Academy, we’ve seen a big change with new applicants joining the program starting a side business. They are really passionate about their ideas, and they want it to be successful and hopefully will eventually quit their current job and be fully invested in their side business once it resumes.

To begin with, what is a “Side Hustle”?

A secondary activity is any type of employment undertaken in addition to one’s full-time job. A secondary activity is usually independent or piecemeal in nature, providing additional income. Side pushes are often a passion project, rather than a typical day’s job to make ends meet.

Ten years ago, having a secondary activity would have bordered on scandal. Many come from a school of thought that says we have to be completely immersed in what we are doing.

Let’s dig deeper into this and understand how the world today perceives this trend and what the data is showing us.

Why everyone should start a side business!

  • Personal happiness: Surveys and data show that more than half of us are unhappy or stressed at work. It affects our whole well-being. A side activity gives you back a sense of control, because you decide what and when to do it. A side activity also gives you a sense of personal accomplishment, as you can see the direct effect of your work. Indeed, having the autonomy to make decisions and see the direct effects increases our levels of dopamine and serotonin. It means less stress and more energy to work even longer and feel more energetic, more motivated and more productive.

  • Diversification of skills: A secondary activity will push you to acquire new skills. This means that your brain is activated and rejuvenated, which in turn affects your whole personality. Having additional skills will get you noticed by your superiors and the chances of promotion are much higher. Plus, if you lose your job for whatever reason, your new skills will support the new job, not to mention that your side job could totally become your main earner.

  • More chances of success: Believe it or not, studies show that entrepreneurs who start a business while keeping a job are 33% more likely to be successful than entrepreneurs who are dedicated full-time to starting up. This is because the side crush allows you to test ideas and business models, without worrying about your daily income.

However, here are some mistakes to be aware of when starting a side business:

  • Do not start something that you are fully passionate about: Doing a job is already a lot like that. It is not worth starting a side activity which is not our passion. Soon we will experience burnout and could lead to broken relationships.

  • Underestimate the time needed: the time it takes varies a lot if the side business is a youtube channel, a facebook store, or a full-fledged business, whether it’s a tech or physical business, and it really depends on the phase.

  • Underestimate the skills needed: If your side business is counseling or self-employment based on a skill you have, then you’re fine, but if you’re opening a business, you can make a checklist of all the skills required for that business.

  • Underestimating the resources needed: Again, a full-fledged business needs a proper business plan to understand exactly the associated setup costs, as well as to understand when and how much the business can begin to generate revenue and cover its expenses.

  • Not understanding what entrepreneurship is: Finally, entrepreneurship is an extremely different path from that of an employee in a company. Decision making and problem solving are at the heart of this journey, and this time every step counts. It’s also a kind of up and down trip until it stabilizes. It requires jostling and paying attention to all parts of the business. Unlike business work, entrepreneurship requires a clear map, which only you can put together, and you alone are responsible for it.

Tips for a successful side business idea

So, you have made the decision of a side activity, and you have few ideas. How do you know which one is best for you?

First, I would test an idea with the Ikigai tool that I personally like, a template that invites you to list the following:

  • What do I like ?

  • What am I really good at?

  • What do people want or need?

  • What are people willing to pay for?

If your idea is at the intersection of these 4 questions, then it is a good idea to continue. The next step would be to study the feasibility of this idea and come up with a business plan for it.

There are many other Design Thinking tools that can help you imagine and formulate your idea. One of them to explore is the empathy map.

At the end..

If you have an idea and want to try it out at the same time, then don’t hesitate: go for it!

To start a side business, first understand what really excites you, the time, skills and resources you have, and learn more about the entrepreneurial journey.

Entrepreneurship is not just about starting a new business, but first “having a vision” and, more importantly, “having the courage to step into that vision”. Entering our vision requires the courage to take the journey and find our deep “why”, the strength to boldly navigate uncertainty and open-mindedness to allow the universe to guide us.

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