It's coming. The winter that we are all worried about. While winters have always been difficult, social distancing and Covid-19 are causing many to worry that this will be the longest, loneliest winter in recent memory. What are we going to do with ourselves?!
But with any new challenge also comes new opportunities. This winter, the distractions preventing you from starting new projects or pursuing new interests have disappeared. We all suddenly have a new free pass from friends and family to spend the next 4 to 8 months working on personal passion projects, and to grow in ways we previously never found time for. We now have plenty of time on our hands to tackle something big, and to commit ourselves to something exciting and ambitious.
For those with the urge to build something useful, personal, meaningful, or purposeful - the opportunity to create your own passion-driven side hustle has never been greater. And it’s likely that you’ll never be presented with a golden opportunity like this unique moment in history again. The best time to start something new is right now.
Personal passion projects don't have to turn into a business, but business has always offered the most reliable infrastructure to help more people and scale your impact. Simple business rules drive the growth of fledgling side hustles into mature enterprises serving hundreds, thousands, or even millions of customers. They teach us to delight our customer, to intimately understand what customers need, to creatively solve problems, and to invest in finding more people whom our solutions can help. In short, business teaches us how to grow.
We are living through an unprecedented shift in consumer behavior right now that big businesses struggle to satisfy, and where new entrants can make their mark. Airbnb, Groupon, and Uber were innovative solutions born from the last recession, and became runaway successes in part because consumers needed something new - unique vacation experiences, more discounts, and cheaper taxis. Side hustlers and small businesses in this new environment have the agility to quickly meet new needs of the moment that large firms are too slow to support.
Side hustle success stories in this pandemic are already happening. There’s Stephanie Shatto from Harrisburg Pennsylvania, who has always been interested in photography, and treated herself to a new camera last Christmas to cultivate a new hobby. Early in the pandemic, Stephanie’s entire department at work was eliminated, and she suddenly needed a new source of income. After creating Facebook and Instagram pages showcasing her photos, friends and family shared them, and interest in her work started to snowball. Stephanie shared that “I’ve gotten requests for one-year old pictures, engagement photos, and I’m excited.” Stephanie fell into her side hustle almost accidentally, but it's allowing her interest to morph into a new source of income where she can develop the skills that she always wanted to build.
While side hustles start small, it’s important not to underestimate what they can become. The most impactful businesses in the world - including Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, UnderArmour, Khan Academy - all started as a side hustle. As one or two people in a garage tinkering. Most of these founders never expected to serve millions of customers, but their strong passion and commitment helped these once tiny side hustles to grow up.
If you’re excited about the potential to build something, but aren’t sure where to start - don’t worry. There’s a free webinar coming up in November that you can attend called Become an Entrepreneur: How to Start a Small Business During Covid19. This webinar will answer the most important questions for anyone interested in launching a side hustle - including how to evaluate ideas, how to understand customer needs, and how to land your first customers.
If you’re worried that you don’t have the skills to build something, you’re wrong. Everyone has unique and monetizable talents, but they aren’t always visible or exercised in our day jobs. What do you have to lose? Winter is coming, and you have the once in a lifetime opportunity to build something. I hope that you take it.