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5 Habits Every New 'Side-Hustle' Entrepreneur Needs

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 19/10/2015 Alex Barker
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Starting a full-time business is tough enough, and the conditions are even tougher for those of us who want to start a business on side. I knew being a "side-hustle" entrepreneur would be difficult for me; juggling responsibilities of a family, a day job and a side-business is no walk in the park for anyone.
Rather than focusing on what I was doing wrong, I decided to focus on what I could do right. I decided to research what successful people do and compare my findings with my efforts. The solution I found shocked me with its simplicity: Successful entrepreneurs have crazy-productive habits.
I realized that my journey to create a successful business depends on my habits. So, here are five habits that every new side-hustler should implement -- and ones I wished I knew about when I first started:
Hack the morning.
The morning is when you can find your most precious, valuable moments of the day. Because your mind becomes tired like any other muscle, your brain is at its most energized and is ready to take on difficult problems in the AM. This is when you should work on the tasks that require the most brain effort. Hence, if you have a day job (especially if it's stressful), you should spend time on your side-business in the morning vs. the evening.
I also learned about a principle called decision fatigue, which is defined as the "deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making." (Thank you, Wikipedia). In other words, it's easier to make good decisions in the morning before many decisions have been made than it is in the evening after you have spent all day making multiple difficult decisions.
If you consider yourself to be a "night owl," there's hope for you, too. I once considered myself to be a late-night person and was never able to wake up early. I found that placing my alarm clock 15 feet away from my bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier over a period of time helped me to arrive at my daily wake-up time of 4:30 a.m.
Beat Parkinson's Law.
Parkinson's Law refers to a principle that states, "Work fills the time allotted." To explain, imagine that you gave two student groups a task of creating a banner, but one group had to finish in 45 minutes and the other in 75 minutes. Parkinson's Law states the students will take the full amount of time given whether or not the banner can be finished in 45 minutes.
Whether you know it or not, you have been a victim of Parkinson's Law. A 2014 Salary.com survey showed that 69 percent of respondents reported wasting time at work every day. Of those respondents, 62 percent wasted between 30 minutes and an hour each day, and 4 percent wasted four hours or more each day.
The fix here is to simply set a goal time to complete tasks. I use a tool called "Toggl" to time my tasks. This great (and free) tool allows you to total your time so you can track your productivity.
Be an idea generator.
A business without creativity becomes stagnant. Continuously experimenting with new ideas is essential for a new entrepreneur. This habit is easy. Write down five things that make you curious or five solutions to problems that you have. Here is an excerpt from my idea list today:

  • Create a Web site for motivation that takes you to a random motivational video.
  • Create a deals Website for new homeowners.
  • Create a crowdfunding Website (like Kickstarter or Indiegogo) for school teachers to help them raise funds for community/school projects.

I don't worry about whether or not there are solutions out there for my problems. I focus on trying to make something that's 10 percent better than what my competition offers.

Delegate what you hate.
If there's anything that sucks up your valuable time, it is tasks at which you are naturally ungifted. I was (and still am) naturally NOT gifted at website design. I know the basics, but what was most detrimental to my business was wasting hours tweaking my Web sites' themes. That's why I delegate tasks at which I'm not naturally gifted--or those tasks I hate -- to others.
I save time and money by hiring someone else because I'm not spending the time doing the task, and I'm likely working on something else that is making me money. To create a list of tasks that I can hire out, I use Chris Ducker's VA (virtual assistant) list. Here's how it works: You answer a few simple questions about what tasks do you hate doing, are not good at and enjoy doing. I took the tasks I hated and those I'm ungifted at and handed them off to a virtual assistant.

Grow your network.
The adage, "your network is your net worth," is true. I like the word "network" because it contains the word "work." Your network takes work to grow. But how can you get started?
I use a tool called "the Dailies," which reminds me to complete daily tasks and habits, including "networking."
For me, networking involves a tactic I recently applied that works wonders in terms of response rates. I have been using the Facebook Messenger app to send 90-second videos to individuals in my network. Usually I say something like, "Hey Joe, I saw that the Packers won the other night and thought of you. Hope all is well with you and your family. Let me know if you need anything or if you're interested in some business opportunities." These messages require minimal effort to generate and have brought me media interviews, affiliate income and job offers, among other benefits.
As you begin your entrepreneurial journey, think about your habits. Productive habits can help you to work smarter -- so you don't have to work harder or more often.

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