My Rule For Deciding Which Side Hustle to Go After

“My writing is too real for the world.”

She then went on to tell me about how her writing would be popular. She just wasn’t ready to share her work with the world. We tend to think that we have some powerful business idea within us that will make us the next fast-rising billionaire. The truth is that we all do have an idea inside of us that could at least lead to a new source of side income. It’s up to us to actually make something happen instead of just sharing another corny meme.

Are you confused about which side hustle idea to chase? I wanted to share my rule for how to decide which business to follow-up on so that you don’t waste your limited free time.

Business ideas to follow

It’s easy to get excited about starting a new side business. It’s difficult to actually start this new business. We struggle with deciding what to do next. It’s all fun and games until you have to take a risk and put something out there.

We live in a time where it’s socially acceptable to throw out statements about ridiculous dreams. If anyone doubts you, they’re considered a “hater.” I see this all of the time since I’m surrounded by pro wrestling, blogging, and MMA. People think that they can enter the UFC or WWE within a year. Start class on Monday and be fighting Jon Jones on Saturday. People think that they can start a widely popular blog in a weekend just because they heard a podcast episode about chasing your dreams.

[Just the other day we looked at why you shouldn’t try to create the next Facebook and what to do instead.]

How do you decide which business idea to chase after?

Here’s a quick rule that I use when someone tells me that they want to start a side hustle, but they’re not sure of which business to go through with.

[Quick note: The rules are obviously different if you have the capital to purchase a franchise or plan on taking over a family business. This is a guide for anyone looking to start a side hustle to make extra money.]

The Beer League Rule.

I use the Beer League Rule when it comes to helping people decide which side hustle they should start.

According to Wikipedia, a beer league is:

“Beer leagues can be of virtually any sport but are usually amateur and recreational in nature, not being tied to a larger competitive league system, and contested by adults. The consumption of alcohol is often encouraged during the contest, as the actual competition is secondary.”

What does a beer league have to do with your side business?

You may not want to consume alcohol every time that you work on that business, but you’re going to want to do something that you enjoy. You’re going to want to start a business in something that actually excites you.

Do you play any sports for fun?

You do it because you want to. It doesn’t feel like work. You look forward to it. You have to want to do this. You would do this for free. This is something that you think about. This is something that gets you excited when you’re at work.

The point here is this: You have to go after a side hustle in a niche that you enjoy with people who you understand or else your side business will fail. There’s just too much going on in life for you to devote your limited time and energy into something that’s meh to you.

How do you decide which side hustle to focus on with this rule?

“There’s big money in selling lizards.”

Okay? I don’t care. I don’t want to do that.

One thing that makes me laugh is friends who are chasing riches in random fields because someone on social media told them that there’s money in that given area. There’s nothing wrong with chasing the big bucks. I just want you to work on projects that you won’t get bored with after a month. I know what it’s like to go after big bucks, only to get bored when you don’t see the cash rolling in.

When you don’t see instant results, it’s easy to give up when you don’t care for the side hustle topic.

Something that you can realistically commit to.

“When are you going to take a fight?”

A coach at my gym asked me about taking an amateur fight. I had to break the news to him that I’m a blogger and I’m in my 30s. I’m not looking to get into any fights unless it’s against someone who leaves spam comments.

I’m all for being a dreamer, but you have to be realistic.

Don’t try to enter a bodybuilding contest if you can’t make it to the gym more than twice a week. Don’t try to start a blog if you hate writing (you can always start a YouTube channel or a podcast). If you’re in your 30s you might have missed the boat on being a basketball star.

It’s important to remain realistic in life. I know my limitations. I know what I can do if I commit to it.

Can you do this for fun? Are you okay with dealing with rough patches?

Something you can actually get decent at.

Can you actually be good at what your business offers? Can you get decent at this?

The world will immediately see if you know what you’re talking about. If you can’t offer a quality product or service, then please don’t bother.

Something with the ability to earn some money.

Is anyone making money in this field? Is there a way for you to make money?

I know that it’s fun to read stories about trailblazers and leaders who followed their passions. It’s even more fun to go into a field where there’s actual money to be made.

I know that it’s tempting to follow your passions and to not worry about money. However, you need the money to come in at some point. You have limited free time. I don’t want you to spend this time on projects that don’t have the potential to ever bring in any money.

A field where you can find regular people who are successful.

Do you know any real people who are even mildly successful at what you want to do?

The thing with many get rich quick schemes is that you always hear about hypothetical people who are making so much money. These people are apparently living a lavish lifestyle where they’re making all kinds of money.

Do you ever meet these people? Nope.

I want you to ensure that you can find at least three people who are making money in a similar field to yours.

A field where you know where to find the target market.

Do you know who your ideal customer/reader/client is? Do you know where you can find this person?

If you can’t even think of a possible client or target market, then don’t bother. You have to know who you’re targeting and where you can find them. You don’t want to waste your evenings and weekends on chasing mystery clients.

When should you not bother with a business idea?

It’s fun to bounce around ideas, but at some point you have to follow through with something or move on.

Truth be told, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to discussing ridiculous business ideas that I’ll never do anything about.

Here’s a list of ideas that I’ve given up on over the years:

  • Dating coach. I wanted to be a dating coach. I even wrote a book on escaping the friend zone. I never followed through.
  • Coffee tours. I had this idea last summer to give a coffee tour where I would show people the coolest coffee shops in downtown Toronto. I did all of the research. I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I didn’t know where to begin with advertising.
  • Launching expert. I wanted to help people with launches. I never really had any luck with launching so I didn’t want to be a hypocrite.

I could go on with the list. It’s fun to discuss business ideas. At some point you have to decide if you’re actually going to do anything about the idea or if this is just something that you enjoy talking about.

When do you decide not to pursue a side hustle?

You always talk about it but make zero effort.

“I should really do that.”

This means that this person will do nothing. It’s okay.

The days pass you by and you don’t do anything. You solicit advice but never make anything happen. I don’t want you to waste your life away. I don’t want you to talk about the same stuff without ever taking action.

You know that you won’t be able to work at this for more than a month.

I started a personal finance blog in college because money was everything to me (it still kind of is). I knew that I wasn’t going to stop thinking about money for the foreseeable future.

If you don’t see yourself doing this for at least the next year, then there’s no point to pursue it. Most side hustles need at least 2-3 months to bring in any kind of income.

I want you to go over the following practical posts about making money:

    1. The exact steps to getting paid as a writer.
    2. How to start an online business in 6 easy steps.
    3. How to make money off social media.

Check out the other articles in this series:

Good luck with deciding on what business idea to follow-up on. I know that your time is precious. I don’t want you to waste your valuable time talking about what you want to do.

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