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TB#24: Fitting Your Side Business to Your Life


I’ve seen this so many times… And I bet you have too!

Here’s how it goes:

Side business starts fun…and first it takes 10% of your time.

Give it a month or two, and it takes about 50%.

Then it takes 400% of your time.

But there’s a better way!

And that way is going to help you avoid burnout, keep a positive mindset, and work on your side business until it’s as easy as 1-2-3: Until it’s a part of who you are instead of something you need to worry about.

But let me ask one question first. When’s the last time you did not brush your teeth in the morning?

I bet it’s been a while. It’s an automation.

And that’s exactly where we’re aiming with a side business that is perfectly in harmony with your life.

Making Side Business and Life Compatible

Let’s keep it simple with this one: We’re talking about the first side business, a digital product of some kind. Let’s say an information product, as it’s usually the easiest way to just get started on something.

And the easiest way to get started is to just get good at something and then teach others.

But even with information products, there’s a lot more involved than a the product itself! And that’s where it starts to go wrong. You see, most people do this:

  • They design a side business first, on paper.
  • And then try to fit it in their lives.

Guess what happens?

It doesn’t fit.

Because when you’re envisioning those fancy diagrams, traffic flows, different monetization ideas, lead magnets, social media channels and your content funnels – all on paper – you forget to factor in reality. You neglect reality because your brains are in a full conqueror mode, high on dopamine, and feeding themselves the sweet dream of well-deserved success not long from now. If you just put in the work.

But that work doesn’t fit in your life. Exactly two days later:

“Oops, life got busy, I’ll just postpone it till tomorrow”.

And the loop repeats.

Rings a bell?

Here’s how we can fix this:

  • Design a side business to match your life (easy)
  • Do not try to change your life to match match your side business (difficult)

I don’t know about you, but easy sounds better to me!

Boosting, but Not Distracting, Your Career

We’ll talk about fitting the side gig to your life a bit later, but let’s also address the elephant in the room: your career.

The perfect side business is a playground for learning, growth and creativity.

Yours Truly

When you design your side business correctly, your employer is…well…a bit silly if they have something against it. We discussed this in one of the bonus lessons in BUILD28. Now, I’m not denying reality. And, sure, I believe there are employers who don’t understand that forcing yourself to learn persuasion, psychology, productivity, creativity, modern tools, digital technology, and dozens of other skills as a hobby is beneficial for everyone. Oh, and the same employer must also believe that they have the right to control your free time. It’s not like you’re supposed to build these at your work. Some people ski, some people paint, some people walk their dogs, some people build online. And that should be perfectly ok!

Anyway, here’s another quick one from BUILD28:

Let’s break it down:

Step 1: What is a specific skill or task you’re particularly good at in your job?

Don’t limit yourself into your “core tasks” here. Think about soft skills too! This is one of my favourite exercises, as it forces you to realise how far you’ve come and compare you to those behind you, not to those ahead of you.

It’s great for your mental health!

Step2: Make it look like you

Why are you uniquely qualified to teach it?

Think about your position at your job, your history as a human being inhabiting this planet, or anything that comes to mind. Dig deep into why exactly are you a good person to teach that to others?

Several benefits to doing this exist, but the most obvious ones here are 1) understanding your professional positioning better, meaning you understand what are your strengths, 2) eliminating saturation: This is your product, with your name, face and personal characteristics associated to it.

This is how you do things. And, again, if you’re preparing an info product to teach to people behind you – your employer should not have much to complain about it!

Then, the third part…

Step 3: Scope it

Keep it small first. So, so small. Much smaller than what you’re thinking right now.

This is how you ensure you can build and operate it.

So, for instance, if you’re builing an information product, just plan to release a 10-page pdf on best the practices of whatever it is you identified in the step 1 above.

Keep it tiny (and then expand, if you have the bandwidth). So, imagine it’s a grain of sand in the entirety of your life.

It can fit anywhere! And then you…

Fill in the Cracks, Breaks and Odd Silences

You build small. Build a minimum viable product, and promote it a little bit here and there.

I kid you now, just tweet once per day about your product. Or write a few posts on LinkedIn per week.

You don’t have to block time for it, you have the time already! Just use it smarter.

Think about it. On any given day, you will have short breaks and cracks that are not filled with the absolute must-dos: Tending to your body or mind, taking care of your job, and family time.

“But when do I then watch Netflix?”

Well, I got bad news for you. We all have a limited time at our hand. If you think watching Netflix is MORE important than building toward a dream, well then… You might be on the wrong email list!

Keep at It Until it Works

Long term. I know people who made almost nothing in terms of money for 2-3 years, and then suddenly over 5-figure months were the new normal.

Compounding effects. And all the time while you’re building toward that, little by little, one social media post by post, you’re learning skills.

One day a week, perhaps you add something to your existing product to make it better. The next day you promote it.

And so the cycle continues.

Just keep filling those cracks of time during the day with something meaningful: Building toward your dreams.

About the author 

Simo Hosio  -  Simo is an award-winning scientist, Academy Research Fellow, research group leader, professor, and digital builder. This site exists to empower people to build passion projects that support professional growth and make money.

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