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Start-up Advice

Entrepreneurs Should Always Be Dabbling In Side Businesses. Here’s Why

Side businesses allow you to test your idea before you dive in and risk financial loss.

Neil Patel




When we first start out in business, we need money, right? Rarely does a new business or 9-to-5 job provide enough of it. One way to make more money is through a side business.

Side gigs offer us another way, not as intense as full-blown entrepreneurship, but a way to earn money and have some fun along the way. With side hustles, we can turn the entrepreneurial quest from a constant grind into an outlet for our true selves.

Not only do we improve our financial security, but we often discover we are happier and more satisfied because of our side-business ventures.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why every entrepreneur should start a side business.

Related: How To Start A Side Hustle Without Quitting Your Day Job

1. You can test new ideas

You’ve heard it before: Most startups in America fail. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of small businesses never make it past their second year in business. There’s a silver lining, though. The small business failure rate is declining.

New technology is making it easier than ever to test a new business idea. Simply create a landing page, send traffic to the page and see if people click the “buy” button. It’s that simple.

A common thread among business failures is a failure to define their unique selling proposition (USP) – the core message that tells customers, “We’re different because. . . ” What sounds like a great idea may be a total flop in the marketplace.

When you test your side business USP, you can quickly gauge demand for the product or service. If none exists, you have the freedom and flexibility to change the offer before diving head-first into a new venture.

So long as you’re making enough from your core business to cover your lifestyle expenses, you’ll be free to play around a bit, experimenting with what works for your side business.

2. Stoke your curiosity

Starting a new business is exciting. Flush with big ideas and grand ambitions, entrepreneurs often set out with stars in their eyes. But as our workload increases, our stress goes up and up. We tend to lose site of this vision and seek an escape.

A recent report by e-commerce company Selz showed that more than 20 percent of business owners surveyed said they founded those businesses to “escape the grind.” Rather than wear yourself out trying to “escape,” why not set your sights on adding something – a new business venture that may create such an escape right now. The nice part about a side business is that you have more freedom to follow your curiosity and passion.

I usually avoid recommending that new entrepreneurs “follow their passion” when starting their first business; but for side hustles, just the opposite is true. You want passion. You need it!

Doing work you’re genuinely passionate about isn’t work. It’s play. Your love of the work is a fountain of energy and daily insights.

When it comes to starting a second business, you have the luxury of waiting for ideas that truly inspire you. If an idea doesn’t make you say hell, yeah!, then wait for one that does.

Related: How To Become A (Successful) Entrepreneur


3. It’s less risky

If you start a side hustle while maintaining focus on your core business, and it fails, you haven’t lost anything significant. You still have your main business to fall back on; and, hopefully, you walk away with a few valuable lessons. Before starting a second business, consider the following to help hedge your risk:

How much time will you need to invest, and can you afford this without jeopardising your other business interest? What resources, skills and availability are needed to make the new venture successful? Develop a plan to profitability. Getting to profitable will help you maintain the initial passion.

A good rule of thumb is, if things are flowing smoothly in your current business, then it’s a good time to start a side business.

Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind that each time you invest either your time and/or money into a new business, you owe it to yourself to move cautiously and consider all possibilities before you make a final decision.

4. Leverage existing technology

The Selz study cited above found that technology is the key enabler to starting a side business. Low-cost technology makes it easier than ever to start a new business today.

With sites like Amazon and Etsy, you have immediate access to potential customers around the world. In just a matter of weeks, you can take a product from the idea phase to market.

Other free web-based apps like PayPal, MailChimp, Google Docs and Slack have dramatically lowered the cost of starting and running a new business. With so many technology options, it’s easier than ever to start a side business.

Related: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started

5. Use your businesses to support each other

When you start a second business, you’ll find that it’s in your best interest if your businesses support each other. The huge time and money investment you’ve already made in your core business can be used for your side business; that’s not only smart, it may be necessary for success.

A prominent example of business overlap is Elon Musk’s financial handling of Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. Musk owns a trust that has shares in all three companies, and buys shares in each. There’s no denying that Musk’s financial strategy here is paying off.

When it comes to starting a side business, your ambitions may not be so grand, but the point remains: There are benefits to sharing resources between and among businesses.

I do this myself, using similar content marketing systems across all my businesses to lower marketing costs.

What are you waiting for? Never before has it been this easy to validate, launch and grow a new business, nor less risky. You don’t need to be making a lot of money, just a passion for the idea and a lot of hard work.

A side business can diversify your income, support your existing business and involve work you’re truly passionate about. So quit waiting and turn that side business into a reality.

This article was originally posted here on

Neil Patel is co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.

Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden




You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden




Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck


This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black




Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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