The Art of the Side Hustle
How fit people are primed for side business success, plus the mind-body benefits
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Outside of your career, you have your fitness routine, relationships, and hobbies. But the latter shouldn’t be confused with a side hustle—something that more and more driven, motivated professionals are acquiring. In fact, 29 percent of workers have one, according to a recent Career Builder survey. And of those surveyed making $100k, 12 percent have a side hustle. Still: “The goal of a side hustle is to make money (which is what differentiates it from a hobby)—whether or not you need to or it’s your primary motivator,” says Nick Loper, founder of SideHustleNation.com, a site to help entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
But, not being hell-bent on making money gives you an advantage: “When you don’t need the cash you have the freedom and flexibility to work on more speculative projects,” says Loper. What’s more, the key to a successful side hustle is something fit-minded folks are very familiar with: commitment. “It really is like a fitness habit. If you can spend a few minutes a day—even five minutes—proactively working on your project, it has that compound effect,” Loper says. It’s similar to how you’d tell yourself you’re going to get on the treadmill for five minutes or doing one push-up. Once you’re in it, you’ll go for longer or push further.
While you may expect that taking on an additional gig would negatively impact your fitness routine (not to mention your day job) it turns out it has the opposite effect for many. Side hustles can make you more efficient all-around since time becomes more of a premium, says Loper. And your boss may actually end up benefiting as well: “When I was working full time and running my business on the side, it made me a better employee because, even on the bottom rung of a Fortune 500 company, on nights and weekends I was the CEO of my own little operation,” says Loper, noting he was in turn happier overall which reflected in all of his work. Eric Goeres, creator of Archer Planners, notes similar benefits: “When I turn away from all the day job hysteria and just spend an hour designing, I return to work with a fresh focus and renewed energy, kind of like after you’ve meditated or gone to the gym or walked around the block.”
Here, four side hustlers share their stories and tips for other high performers.
Jessica Lauria and Karen Pfaff Manganillo
The Side Hustle: Another F*ing Tote
The story: “We met 15 years ago at an ad agency and spent our days making things. We both continue to make things and get creative—Jess in Marketing at Chobani and Karen as a freelance designer. A few years ago, we were shopping and Jess bought a tote bag—to add to her collection of all the other tote bags she had—and said, ‘why am I buying Another F*ing Tote bag?’ Two years later, Karen made one for Jess’ birthday. Once Jess got it, she knew it was going to be a hit. We then realized all the other f*ing things people have tons of, but always need: Thank you notes, birthday cards, to-do lists, etcetera, and created products around those ideas as well. By design, a side hustle is done ‘on the side’ so you fit it in during your breaks and on weekends. Our weekends are full of taking Instagram pictures and finding shops that might appreciate our unique product.”
The high-performance perk: Learn to be more efficient in the gym.
“When you are trying to create more than 24 hours in a day, you need to make the most of each one. Mornings are key to get in workouts (we find spin classes are the best way to break a sweat in 45-minutes) and being efficient with meals helps—like getting in all your vegetables in a smoothie.”
Hustler Tip: “If you wait until it’s perfect, it will never happen. Just throw it out into the world and make adjustments as you go.”
The Side Hustle: BBQ films
The Story: “I work as a content producer for small businesses and start-ups. As a side hustle I work with an immersive cinematic events company called BBQ Films. We combine a screening with things like live performances, music, food, props, and interactive elements that transport film fans into the worlds of their favorite movies. We have produced shows for Back to the Future (featuring a 1955 Enchantment Under the Sea Dance) and Weekend at Bernie’s (a beach motel party with a roaming dead body). It all started when my husband and I attended one of their events three years ago. Now we both work on the director’s crew and spend most of our free time planning and promoting our events in unique venues in New York City. When we are a few weeks away from our next event date, my days are full of BBQ Films. I try to balance our production logistics with my regular work, but I often work very late and on the weekends to try and catch up. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.”
The high-performance perk: Turn your hustle into a workout.
“Event production is the world’s best workout. Running around lifting furniture, transporting supplies, building props, dancing in costume, corralling guests, and cleaning up provides lots of cardio and functional training. So when we’re in event production mode, I trade my yoga classes and morning swimming for hauling and prop-building.”
Hustler Tip: “You don’t have to start from scratch or build a business by yourself to make something new. Find the right people to help you launch your idea, or partner with existing groups or organizations to promote your services.”
The Side Hustle: MasalaBody.com
The Story: “After I had my second child, I lost 40 pounds through diet and exercise. People were asking me how I lost that weight and I started giving them advice. It really was such a passion to me because I struggled my entire life to be healthy. Then I started coaching women one-on-one. When I started this side business I was working as a management consultant for a top four firm. So, I really only worked an extra five hours a week, creating my website and writing blog posts, because that's what I had. But when you do five hours a week for six months then you work toward something. Now I make double the income that I made before (even after changing jobs to one that required less travel), and I don't have as stressful of a schedule. It's given me so much freedom. With the extra income, my kids and I were able to go on a luxurious Caribbean vacation last winter and we have two more trips planned. More importantly, I've helped women lose up to 40 pounds now and I have an audience of over 10,000 people. I didn't get that personal fulfillment from my regular job.”
The high-performance perk: Make over your sleep habits.
“I realized that my most productive hours are in the morning, so I shifted my sleep schedule. I started going to sleep and waking up earlier in the morning, like at 5:00 or 5:30 am, to work.”
Hustler Tip: “When you start, take it slow and just really dedicate three to five hours a week. Try to do just that and you'll see that you're building something over time.”
The Side Hustle: Archer Planner
The story: “My product is a self-organization and productivity notebook called Archer. I started working on it a few years ago as I grew increasingly frustrated with trying to manage my schedule and tasks on an iPhone and in Outlook. Both stink, Google isn’t much better, and honestly the apps aren’t the problem. So, I was creating these daily worksheets to keep my productivity up and printing them out at the office. It wasn’t that long before people around me started asking for them too, and so I thought, “Hey, there’s an opportunity here.” My day job is pretty intense. I run a 30-person digital content business that covers automotive journalism for a major publisher. The only way to work in the side hustle is to carve out time for that project. I carve out a full hour a day, and in that time I go through a checklist of tasks. This keeps my side hustle on point and lets me get back to the day job rather quickly. It’s not making me rich, but it’s enough to pay my mortgage. Think about that a second... I’m going to keep this going, and if it never gets bigger or smaller, 20 years from now, I’m going to be able to look at my house and say, “wow, my side hustle bought me this house.” That’s pretty amazing to me.”
The high-performance perk: Create a product that helps you live healthier.
“My health routines and lifestyle are baked into the design of my product,” says Goeres. “In addition to keeping track of your schedule and tasks, there are sections for tracking the cold, hard numbers of healthy living (calories, distance, sleep hours, and activity time) and also places for softer assessments like rating your mood and optimism and stress levels,” he says, “So on one level, my product drives a healthier, more centered person. But in addition, the side project keeps me sharp and allows me to shift focus and bring renewed energy back to my day job and personal relationships.”
Hustler Tip: “Don’t be scared to tell everyone about your idea. Doing so builds momentum and even if they try to steal your idea, only you have the real idea, the head start, and the passion.”