There is little chance you can have long-term side hustle success, no matter how good your idea is, without a system in place. The more you have going on in your life, the more important it is to have solid systems in place. If you just getting started on your side hustle journey then you should be excited that you stumbled across this blog as it will save you a lot of effort, time, and a few curse words.
Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
I approve of your comment, Mr. Twain.
Systems are the sole reason I was able to start two online businesses in 10 months all while working a demanding career, which had me working a ton of hours and traveling. The systems I developed helped me in so many ways and I’ll capture a few of those below.
The system I developed to help excel in all six of these areas is called The Molehill System. The name comes from the fact that I’ve seen so many people paralyzed by the mountain in front of them - everything that must be done to get their business off the ground - that they never take the first step. Most people will have a great idea but never start because the process of starting a side hustle seems daunting. It is impossible if you continue to look at the mountain that is your Ultimate Goal. To get the ball rolling and on your way to side hustle success, you must break down the process into manageable chunks.
In The Molehill System, we start at the highest, and most important level which is determining your ‘why’ for starting down this path. Despite how luxurious of a lifestyle being having a side hustle or being an entrepreneur may seem on Instagram and YouTube, it rarely is. There will be long nights. You will have to learn new skills you have no idea about now. There will be roadblocks that pop up at the most inconvenient times.
These experiences will be what cripple most of the people that start this side hustle journey. The ones that survive, will survive for one reason - because they understand why they are doing it. Like I mentioned, determining your why is the most important aspect the process. More important than the idea. More important than your goal. Everything. It will be what keeps you going when times get tough. You can read more about determining your ‘why’ here.
An output of your ‘why’ and your side hustle idea is your Ultimate Goal. This is what you are out to achieve and what The Side Hustle Journal will expedite you accomplishing. Unlike your ‘why’, this is the “tangible” objective. I put it in quotations because many of the businesses built with The Side Hustle Journal will not be physical but that does not mean you did not create something amazing. Your blog, video course, or ebook can all change your life as well as the life of those that purchase it. Even if you have a physical product, you may never touch it.In fact, this is the case with The Side Hustle Journal now. After the initial batch from Kickstarter, I had the journals shipped directly to my warehouse and they do the shipping for me - I never have to see or touch them. It’s great but I digress. Your Ultimate Goal is the “tangible” objective you are trying to achieve, simple as that.
Setting Milestones are the next step in The Molehill System and a direct output of establishing your Ultimate Goal. Instead of creating countless high-level Milestones like many people do, we only focus on what is truly important. So, how do you know what is important? That’s a good question. The Side Hustle Journal walks you through a process of brainstorming and creating a slew of big-picture objectives. From that process, you will need to take a step back and review the list you just created with an MVP mindset. MVP = minimal viable product - or - the bare minimum that needs to be done to get your idea into the wild. When you step back and evaluate your list from this perspective, the goal is to pick the 3 most important and set those as your Milestones. You are picking the 3 things that will get you 80% of the way to a final product.
While I was creating The Side Hustle Journal, I used this approach by having one of my milestones as getting a PDF into the hands of a group of beta users by X date. I pushed to get the journal to a place that captured 80% of the features I wanted then got on Reddit and found a group of 20 people willing to try it out. Once I had all their email addresses I sent them the PDF. Not only did I reach my Milestone, but I gathered incredibly useful feedback on tweaks to not only the design but the content inside. It was an invaluable part of the process.
Each of your MIlestones should cover a different aspect of your project. This means that you do not want to have all 3 of your Milestones focused on a single area. The MIlestones should be high level enough so that creating overlapping would be unnecessary. Since my Ultimate Goal was to have a finished and manufactured journal in the world, my MIlestones were similar to this:
- Have an 80% finished PDF of the journal ready for a beta group by September 1st
- Launch the Kickstarter campaign on November 1st
- Have the supply chain and manufacturing determined by October 15th
Those were my 3 MIlestones for launching The Side Hustle Journal. Obviously, there were a lot of other activities to be completed but they ALL fit under one of these Milestones. You will notice in your journal that you actually brainstorm 10 ideas for Milestones but only 3 get selected. This ensures we stay focused on the most important aspects of the project that will be the “make or break” items for your success. The other 7 items will not go to waste though. They will certainly become weekly goals at some point throughout the process of your side hustle.
If you are having trouble determining what should be the final 3 Milestones, then ask yourself one of these questions:
Which 3 items listed will the success of the project most depend on?
Which 3 items listed will the project be incapable of reaching the Ultimate Goal without completing?
Going back to my example, you can see how my project would be a complete failure without completing each of them.
If I didn’t have an 80% version of the journal completed before launching the Kickstarter then I could not have samples, feedback from my target market, or anything to give out to bloggers/media that was a good representation of the final design.
If I did not launch the Kickstarter on November first then it could not be purchased and I could not get it out to my audience in the first quarter of 2018 like I wanted.
If I did not have the manufacturing and supply chain worked out then I could not know the price I should sell the journal for, I would not be able to provide accurate delivery timeframes, and I could not have acquired the samples that were used in the photography and promotions.
Everything else was a subset of these big-picture objectives.
The everything else I mention became my Weekly Goals. Similarly to the MIlestones, you will pick 3 Weekly Goals every week. Each will be directly aligned with one of your MIlestones. Ideally, you will have one weekly goal for each Milestone but this will not always be the case. As you progress deeper into your project and get closer toward your Ultimate Goal, you will start placing more emphasis on certain MIlestones, and that is ok. In the beginning, spread the love across all your Milestones. You want to consistently move the needle on each of them.
Once your goals are set, it is time to play in the dirt. The tactical aspects of your project lay within your day-to-day workflow. Up until this point, we have been establishing the plan, structure, and strategy that will ensure success but now we are moving on to the execution stage. This is an area where many people bail on their idea because this is where all the work happens. Your ability to execute will determine if you reach side hustle success or if your ‘Why’ remains elusive.
The great thing about using the structure provided within The Side Hustle Journal is that it makes the execution easy - seriously. The daily micro goals, or molehills, are designed to be VERY EASY. They should be task and activities that you can, without a doubt, achieve within the amount of time you have allocated for that day.
The time at which you establish these micro-goals will be up to you. I have seen it done several ways. Some people write them down when they begin their side hustle session. Other people do it the day before upon completing that side hustle session. Maybe you write down a one or two the day before, maybe you don’t, it is up to you. You do not need to always have exactly 3 daily micro goals, it is also possible that you will have one big micro goal to accomplish on that day and nothing else. Just follow the basic rules around creating daily micro goals and don’t sign yourself up to do more than can actually be accomplished in a single session.
By following the structure provided with The Molehill System, you will be on the fast track to side hustle success. The Side Hustle Journal is a tool built by a side hustler, for side hustlers, that uses systems to ensure you can create the life you want and deserve.