How to go from your 9-5 to a profitable side hustle

With Ale Wiecek, Founder and Chief Empathy Officer at Sqr One and Purposeful CX

Grow/Work /
Ale Weicek 5 steps to a profitable side hustle

Have you ever sat with pen and paper in hand, written down every single goal you will achieve in the new year, like leaving your job to start your own business or start freelancing on the weekend and evenings for a bit of extra fun and extra cash, but despite your best efforts none of the things seem as easy as the side hustle ideas you watched on Tik Tok? 

You are not alone! 

According to Zapier reporting, around 60 million people globally will start a side hustle in 2021, meaning the market is more saturated than ever.

The good news for you is that freelancing and consulting are in the top three highest paying side hustles, together with online business and investing. AND, working out why you and your side hustle idea are a match made in heaven, could be all you need to ensure the freelancing journey kicks off in the right direction.

Here are 5 steps you can take to move from idea to freelancing experimentation and profitability faster than I take to run a marathon! 

Say bye-bye to side hustle FOMO

The way most people look at setting up a side hustle or their freelancing journey is flawed. Scrolling Tik Tok, Pinterest, or Instagram for hours for freelance ideas and inspiration is great, but essentially you are the only one who knows the sweet spot between the problem you love solving and the passion you have for solving it. 

It is extremely easy to become impressionable by what we see and hear on social media, the influencers we follow, our family and friends. Whatever it is, it is normal to become accustomed to thinking of what you want in your life by thinking of what other people have. Instead, you need to think about WHAT YOU WANT.

Let me explain. You might be awesome at marketing but you don’t enjoy doing marketing as a freelancer. Instead, you love Customer Experience or Customer Service and Strategy, as you found these particular areas super interesting. 

My suggestion? Think of problems you love solving, like, what you really love, and make you happy to solve them. Not because you are just good at it, but because it gets you in flow. 

There is no point in planning to leave a job that might be making you miserable to move into freelancing for something that makes you miserable as well. Life is too short for that! 

Looking around to gather inspiration is OK. But what’s not OK is to want to replicate in your life something someone else has without actually thinking of your very own circumstances, passion, and strengths. 

Who the heck do you think you are? Literally! 

Ever done one of those strength assessments with a bunch of colleagues to work out what your ‘corporate strengths’ are but left more confused than before?

Well, it turns out that strength assessments aren’t enough to tell you who you are or work out what you are good at. Your biology plays a big role.

There are tons of assessments you can do for free, from human design, values and personality assessments, unani biotypes, DNA and spiritual hacking reads, and more, to work out who you are beyond what seems evident on the outside.

These provide you with clarity and a beautiful understanding of your imperfections, meaning you can create a freelancing business that is aligned with your strengths and flaws. 

Having a 5-year bold vision

Purposely thinking and visualising all aspects of your life and thinking of yourself five years from now, should really be the first step in achieving your side hustle, aka profitable new freelancing life. 

Visualisation is key and powerful in setting up your vision. Neuroscientists talk about how ‘visualisation can help increase athletic performance by improving motivation, coordination, and concentration’, and it also applies to all aspects of your life.

I suggest that an easy way to do this is to sit down, with your eyes closed and imagine it’s five years from today and you just open your eyes and systematically explore what these 10 areas of your life look like:

  1. Career/work – what are you doing that day? Is it the same job, a new one? Have you started the business of your dreams?
  2. Health & wellbeing – are you healthy? Have you got a 6 pack? Are you fighting a disease?
  3. Contribution & impact   – what legacy are you leaving in the world? How are you helping others?
  4. Emotions & mindset – how do you feel?  Are you not yet healing from some deep emotional wounds?
  5. Money & finances – are you wealthy? Saving more than you spend? Are you living in your dream home?
  6. Purpose & meaning – have you find purpose and meaning in your day? Are you growing as a person?
  7. Adventure, fun & creativity – are you doing fun things? Enjoying life beyond work and business?
  8. Education & skill development – have you learned a new skill? Do you finally speak that language you wanted to learn fluently?
  9. Social life & relationships – are you alone? Do you have kids? Are you spending quality time with family and friends?
  10. Productivity & organisation – are you feeling productive doing the things you love the most? Do you feel a little messy?

Even though they might not seem directly linked to your freelancing business model, lemme tell ya that if you don’t know where you see your life in five years, you are going to have a hard time making your freelancing biz thrive. 

Without the above clarity, finding direction and succeeding in your new business is almost impossible.

Having clarity about where you want to be is like the coordinates that pilots use to navigate from one destination to another. Airplanes get off course ALL THE time but knowing the final destination allows the pilot to get back on course.

Use design thinking in your life/freelancing 

Think Uber, Airbnb, Facebook? They all use Design Thinking. And you can too! 

If you are not familiar with design thinking as a methodology, according to The Interaction Design Foundation

Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. It looks linear but it’s not. 

Well, it turns out that just as a designer designs a chair, a user experience, a building or a product, ‘Design Thinking for Life & Career Design’ can help you design your very own freelancing business and make you into your very own life designer. 

The process allows you to: 

  • Empathise with yourself (this is mostly information gathering and awareness building, really gathering data about what’s going on in your life and career.
  • Then you figure out a bit of a trend and start defining (define) ways to address whatever difficult challenges there are (we call these problems).
  • And then you converge into ideation (ideate) where you come up with tons of ideas that can be implemented
  • These ideas should be ones that can be implemented and prototyped (prototype) as experiments or experiences. 
  • And finally, you begin to test or try these prototypes in the real world to assess if your ideas will work!

When you cultivate a sense of curiosity, a calling to be biased to action, a mindset of trial and error so you can reduce stress, anxiety and burnout, figure out if the work that you are doing is aligned to your values and ultimately, design a life and a side hustle that’s filled with purpose and meaning.

Motivation and mindset for freelancing bliss

Most people think that they need to feel motivated every day to work on their freelancing business. Self-motivation is hard but the magic comes from action. Action leads to motivation and motivation comes from doing the work.

Another thing is that no matter the willpower we have, sometimes our fixed mindset or underlying health imbalances can derail any goals we have written down.

Keeping close attention to our thoughts and emotions is key in setting a great mindset around change and growth.

The primitive part of our brain is hardwired to remove the danger and keep us safe, but this can be detrimental if we do not nurture our rational brain with positive feelings attached to our behaviours and actions. 

Brain training, like hypnotherapy and meditation, can rewire your brain to allow for positive change and growth to be part of your life.

Training your brain by seeing a hypnotherapist, listening to tracks, taking magnesium, and seeing a good holistic GP, gynaecologist or hormone expert are important foundations in getting our body and mind ready for change and freelancing success.

An easy way to train your brain is by using the famous 3-Ps framework used by neuroscientists and hypnotherapists.

The 3 P’s is a simple yet powerful framework that, if used on a daily basis, can rewire our brains, making our primitive brain less prevalent than our rational brain and allowing for more positive thoughts and emotions to flow. It’s about writing down EVERY DAY your positive thoughts, interactions and activities, no matter how big or small they might be.

An easy way to do this is by putting it in the note section of your phone as you go about your day and putting little reminders throughout in case you forget to capture your 3 Ps. At a minimum, you should be writing them down when you wake up or when you go to sleep, as a way to reflect and set new neural pathways.

Sometimes when I have a sad day, I write down things like ‘I am sad today, but I am aware of it’ or ‘I am not 100% today but I still shower’.

These steps can help in nailing your transition from a 9-5 into freelancing land with ease. Good luck! 

About the Author

Ale Wiecek, Founder and Chief Empathy Officer at Sqr One and Purposeful CX, is a respected voice in the emerging space of Innovation, Human-Centred Design, Design Thinking, Service Design, and the Future of Work. Her international roots and multinational experience in Digital Transformation and Customer Experience have been a vital part of Ale’s 20 years’ experience working across 3 continents.

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