Entrepreneurship Is for Everyone—5 Points to Ponder

Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC
Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels

Futurists predict that by 2030, there will be over 100 million freelancers involved in side-gigs. Today, 5 out of 10 Americans under the age of 35 have a side hustle. However, side hustles are not just for millennials. Nearly 4 out of 10 Gen Xers. 3 out of 10 Baby Boomers have side hustles. That’s how many have launched outside side hustles to survive or as a path to be a microentrepreneur.

Approximately 85% of the likely jobs in 2030 do not yet exist and need inventing. Educational futurists predict today’s students will have 8-11 careers (not jobs) in a lifetime.

So, if you have been putting off taking the plunge, or you can’t quite see yourself as an entrepreneur, consider these five points. Remember, side hustles, you are your own boss versus a part-time job where you work extra hours for someone else.

1. Gig type matters.

Most side hustles produce, on average, $500 a month. So, it is unlikely you will be able to quit your full-time job right away to focus on your side hustle. That will take market smarts and a viable business model.

Don’t underestimate your idea’s potential. Yet, don’t be too susceptible to think you can quit your day job the first time you get paid by a client. There is no substitute for careful planning. Honest self-awareness, self-assessment, and social networking are important first steps.

2. Motivation matters.

The most sustainable businesses are started by entrepreneurs who are motivated by:

    • opportunity – seeing something that adds values versus
    • necessity – focusing on financially driven decisions to pay down debt, send their kids to college, or take an extra vacation.

Transforming yourself and your business venture into a sustainable, prosperous experience will take more than selling your free time. While it is easy to start a side hustle today, it is difficult to transition moonlighting to the type of independence and freedom most aspiring business owners desire when venturing out on their own.

3. Triggers matter.

When do you know it’s time to move your hobby to a side hustle? Most solopreneurs are unsure when their hobby or side gig should be a full-time business. I encourage aspiring business builders to establish triggers for thinking and determining when it is the right time for them to launch. It’s personal. Also, it will take an understanding of your customer needs and finding ways to add value for which they will pay you to avert one of the three biggest reasons for start-up failure: lack of product market fit.

Automatic triggers are things like:

  • you experienced downsizing;
  • you survived three waves of offshoring and know the other shoe will drop;
  • your spouse lands a job that makes your family less reliant on your income;
  • your family grows, or
  • perhaps one parent in the household wants to work from home or have more flexible hours.

Some less obvious triggers might include:

  • an income replacement trigger—when I reach X% of my annual salary, I can start my company or when I saved $X;
  • a job dissatisfaction trigger—today, 54% of employees are psychologically unattached to their work or the company and you are one of them; or
  • a market-ready trigger—multiple end-users or customers demand your product and believe it solves a real problem they have, AND they are willing to pay you for it.

4. Accountability matters.

Solopreneurs and business builders are often lonely and feel isolated while launching their ventures. It isn’t easy to motivate yourself when you work out of your garage, an extra bedroom, or out of a coffee shop.

Plug into an entrepreneurial community to network; team up with a trusted advisor, a business coach, an investor; or to connect with other entrepreneurial support providers. Entrepreneurial communities provide structure, a gentle and confidence-building push, and a safe space to lean into your vulnerability as you build your courage and grow your confidence.

One of my favorite bosses once told me, “results, not effort, get rewarded.” There is a big difference between checking items off your to-do list and achieving tangible results for your business. You need to know the difference, or you will be treading water!

5. Cash matters.

Don’t let anyone fool you. Cash is king. Liquidity, burn rate, and conversion rate are essential key performance indicators for migrating from a solopreneur side gig to an entrepreneur mindset.

Too many entrepreneurs are over-ambitious. The reality often is what you think will cost you twice as much; you will accomplish with half as much. And, it will take you twice as long to achieve your business goals. Planning for and mitigating execution, financial, and customer risks is an essential dimension of entrepreneurial excellence.

So, what’s in your future? Perhaps, entrepreneurship? Remember these 5 points as you launch, grow, innovate your business: 1) Gig matters. 2) Motivation matters. 3) Triggers matter. 4) Accountability matters. 5) Cash matters.

Ready to get started? Check out some of our resources available through The NIIC’s WBC EmPWR program.


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