At no other time have side hustlers needed more help than now. With challenges from finances to health issues, solitude to stress, if you’re running a side hustle, you likely have hit a hurdle lately that you’re unsure how to jump.
The good news—and we’re sure you could use some—is that help is available. Resources online will lead you to new solutions, but you have to reach out.
As you think about ways to move forward, start by evaluating which areas are troubling you most. Make a list of challenges, obstacles, and goals. Consider the structure of your business, financial goals, technology needs, and even team member challenges. Choose the top three issues you feel would help you move forward now.
Then take a look at these resources:
1. Startup help.
If you’re just getting started with your side hustle or small business, you could benefit from an outside perspective. A startup consultant works with you for a short time to offer their expertise, help you make decisions, and even share their networking connections if you’re lucky. Search for startup consultants in your area on LinkedIn or find them on Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, or Toptal.com, which are freelance websites with a variety of contractors. Always vet your startup consultant before hiring by asking for references and reading reviews. Also pay attention to any areas of expertise or focus they emphasize so you’re sure to get the right person to help with your particular concerns or weak spots. Startup consultants will either charge hourly or have a package that comes with a specific number of hours up front.
2. Tech help.
If you need more advanced technology than a pair of noise-canceling headphones to get the job done, it’s important to have the best IT team you can get. But if you’re working solo as a freelancer or consultant, tech troubles can feel like massive headaches you’re expected to cure yourself. From WiFi connectivity to website setup, device glitches to software installation, remote tech support services can provide the help you need. If you’re building or working with a team, Support.com offers phone and online help for up to five team members starting at $49.99 per month. If you only need help for your own laptop and phone, USTechSupport.com has plans that start at $19.99 per month and can help you with basics like setup, processing speeds, viruses, and software issues. For more in-depth issues like website or app programming, you can try Guru.com to find expert freelancers ready to lend an expert hand.
3. Funding help.
Whether your small business was impacted by COVID-19 or you’re just looking for startup cash, funding is available if you know where to look. The list of COVID-19 impact resources starts with the U.S. Small Business Association, which offers relief to businesses affected by the pandemic. For work-from-home creatives or consultants, the Freelancers Union offers grants and relief funds to those who qualify, along with help with things like health insurance, discounts on commonly used services, and retirement investment advice. Membership to the Freelancers Union is free. For other side hustlers, organizations for your industry may offer similar grants. Don’t forget to check with local small business nonprofit organizations that may offer relief funds or grants to people in your location or demographic.
Sometimes, all you need is a helping hand from someone who’s been there and done that. A mentor could be just the person you need to help you out of a frustrating or confusing situation. You can find a mentor through networking—asking those you already know to recommend someone who has achieved success in your area. SCORE, an arm of the U.S. Small Business Association, offers weekly mentoring for those who apply and qualify. And the app Mentorship offers an easy matching service to help you find the advice you need. When creating a mentorship relationship, be sure to lay out expectations at the beginning, including what your goals are, how often you’d like to meet, and when you’ll know you’ve achieved success. Some companies, such as network marketing organizations, have a mentorship program available for all members so ask your side hustle organization for ideas as well.
As you vet resources to get the help you need, remember you can always combine solutions. Work one problem at a time, and if the resource you’re using doesn’t continue to work for you, try another one. Or if you’re struggling to connect with your mentor, ask around and find advice from someone else. The most important thing is to ask for help in the first place.
Q: Working alone has really affected my motivation and mood. Is there a way I can work with others while still running a solo business?
A: Solopreneurs have long struggled with this question. The human need for interaction with others can be tough to meet when you’re spending the majority of your time alone at a laptop. Even if you’re offering ride sharing as your side hustle, a 20-minute ride with a stranger isn’t the same as creating relationships with coworkers. So how do you meet your need for interpersonal relationships? Here are a few ideas for reducing your solo time:
√ Lunch dates. Whether you meet on a patio, at the park, or on Zoom, pausing in the middle of your day to take time for yourself is a great chance to connect with others. You’ll recharge your emotional batteries as you air out any challenges you’re facing, and the act of helping someone else with their daily struggles will fill your own cup to overflowing. Spending your lunch with others even once a week will make you feel less lonely.
√ Mastermind. Small business owners and side hustlers join masterminds to benefit from the expertise of the others in the group and share their own experience to help their fellow members. Not only are masterminds great ways to make new business partnerships and enhance your professional skills, they’re also perfect for making deep connections with other people. You won’t hit it off with every person in a mastermind, but you’re bound to find some like-minded folks who really get you and your dreams. Having these people to meet with weekly or monthly will give you the sense that you’re on the road toward success with others side-by-side.
√ Networking group. Different than masterminds, networking groups are geared toward people who want to expand their professional circles. While many groups won’t be meeting in person, even a virtual meeting where you have the chance to learn about others’ businesses is a great way to feel connected. Partnerships and friendships—and even customer relationships—can be formed in these groups, not to mention getting to share a friendly chat.
√ Coworking space. Renting a desk or shared space in a coworking office will give you the opportunity to work with others on a daily or weekly basis. Prices start quite low for shared space, and most organizations also give you access to conference rooms, printers, and other office perks you might be missing. While you could take your coffee and ear buds and work solo, opening yourself up to conversation with your fellow coworkers could lead to friendships or other networking opportunities. If coworking spaces aren’t open near you, try an open-air space like a plaza, park, or temperature-controlled patio.
√ Remote team. If you’re a solopreneur who works on projects with other contractors, try forming a team. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, reach out to a copywriter you know and ask if they’d like to join up to work on projects. Then when one of you gets a new client, you can recommend the other and work with the client together. You can also begin to scale your side hustle into a small business by subcontracting work to people who can do some of the same work you do but at a lower fee. Remember: You’ll be the head of this type of team and will need to send out 1099s to your subcontractors.
With a little effort, you can work alongside others while still working alone. The benefits of human connection during your day will far outweigh the inconvenience you’ll face as you go out of your way to connect.
There are nearly 4 billion active mobile internet users worldwide, which means you’ve got ample opportunity to reach customers and grow your side hustle.
- Internet users spend an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes online daily. And they’re spending 48 percent of that time on their mobile devices.
- The most visited websites are Google, YouTube, and Facebook.
- Worried you’ll run out of customers? There are 1 million new internet users each day.
As you create a strategy to grow your side hustle, you’ll find ever-increasing chances to earn on the internet.
*Sources: Digital 2019: “Global Internet Use Accelerates” by You Are Social and Hootsuite; “The Top 500 sites on the web” by Alexa
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
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