A few months ago, a jaguar escaped its cage at a New Orleans zoo and killed six other animals.
A few months ago, a jaguar escaped its cage at a New Orleans zoo and killed six other animals.
Rightly, no one blamed the jaguar for being a Jaguar.
For years, its trainers fed it chunks of meat — pre-cut and requiring no effort to procure. The jaguar accepted those meals day in and day out because he had no choice.
It’s not such a bad life, right? He doesn’t have to deal with the harshness of the wild, wonder when his next meal is going to come, or risk getting injured during a hunt. But the second he got the chance to do what his instincts told him to do, he just couldn’t help himself.
We’re a lot like that Jaguar, except we have the opportunity to hunt every day and some of us refuse to take it.
Hunting, Gathering, and Making Our Own Living
People forget the current environment we live in is a blip on the radar compared to human history. Your ancestors didn’t have jobs — they hunted and gathered to ‘make a living.’
Even once we evolved and became more ‘civilized’ we didn’t all rush to a cubicle, an assembly line, or any other situation that involved “punching a clock.”
You didn’t ‘work at a shoe store.’ You were the shoemaker. Or you were the blacksmith, the fruit stand owner, the butcher.
People were artisans. Everyone had their own little niche and we traded goods with each other. There was nothing like a formal job until a very recent section of history.
In the past, you could also easily die from getting diarrhea and lots of people were poor farmers and indentured servants as well. I’m not saying those times were ideal.
What I am saying, though, is that it seems like there’s a lot of monotony in our lives because they’re too predictable. We’re the jaguar in the cage who secretly wants to escape. Our circumstances and scenery have evolved, but mentally we still want to ‘hunt’ ‘trade’ and have our own little corner of the market to operate.
You don’t have to quit your job, but you can still recapture that feeling and way of living
Why You Should Consider “Eating What You Kill”
There’s nothing wrong with having a job. I still have a job (even though I make twice as much from my side hustle) and I love it.
Jobs are stable. Jobs can be fun. You can reach all of your career goals through a job without ever starting a business.
Nothing is black and white. Everything has pros and cons.
While a steady income is great — a must even — there are some drawbacks:
- You have no control over when you get your money
- You can’t increase your output and suddenly earn more money
- Jobs have disincentives for your output, e.g., stretching a five hour day into eight because…who knows?
- Even in the best job, you have to wait for a handout — even if it’s one you’ve earned
Contrast that with ‘eating what you kill’:
- There are few better feelings than making money directly for something you made or provided
- You have more redundancy and safety. If you have a job and a little side hustle, you have ‘two lungs’ so to speak
- If you’re in a pinch, you know you can go get some money
- Accumulate enough money on your own, and you can tell people to fuck off
Now, before we dive into the ‘how’ portion of this, let’s get a few things straight.
You Don’t Have to Be a Capital ‘E’ Entrepreneur
If you want to permanently remain at the side hustle level, you can. You can easily get to $1000/month and increase your lifestyle a bit. What would an extra $12k do for you? I’m guessing quite a bit
If you want to lazily pursue your side hustle — without waking up at 5 a.m., grinding and ‘crushing it’ until you have a panic attack, or moving to Bali — you can.
You don’t have to put entrepreneur in your Twitter profile (actually, don’t do that).
You can slowly and patiently start to earn a little side hustle income and reap the benefits from it. Nothing extravagant.
Having a side hustle is less about the money you make and more about the person you become when you pursue one.
It’s also the perfect route to true entrepreneurship.
I’ve noticed a trend, all the real entrepreneurs give the exact opposite advice most entrepreneurship coaches and silicon valley gurus give:
- Don’t take risks — it’s called a side hustle for a reason.
- Don’t quit your job — build a bridge to a company if that’s what you want to do
- Be patient and don’t take yourself too seriously along the way
You can slowly creep into your side hustle until you can leap into something better.
Next, let’s look at some ways you can earn money.
Freelance Writing, Design, Coding, and Marketing
Lot’s of people try to freelance but they go about it the wrong way.
First, they’re quickly disillusioned by the ‘race to the bottom’ mentality because they sign up for Upwork and find that competing with developers in Pakistan who will work for $3/hr doesn’t pave the road to financial freedom.
Pro tip — don’t go to a freelancer mill to start freelancing….
Want to know what works?
Good ol’ fashion outreach. Create a portfolio. Reach out to businesses (they have more money than individuals) and pitch them your stuff. Keep pitching until someone accepts and improve your skills in the process.
Send 100 emails to get 10 replies, 3 meetings, and one contract.
Voila. As with all keys to life — working hard and doing shit repeatedly while iterating along the way seems to work. Who knew?
Here are some great freelancing resources to get you started:
You can start e-commerce businesses with low overhead.
You don’t even have to carry the inventory.
I’m no expert on this subject, but given my knowledge of marketing and SEO, I know you can have a successful business if you learn how to market it.
Again, I’m no expert, but I’ve seen e-commerce business make great side hustles for people.
Some useful guides here as well:
A lot of people have muddied the lifestyle business niche.
This isn’t going to be a sales page or a Facebook ad about “making six-figures in six seconds.”
People do build lifestyle businesses. It’s just not as easy as some people make it seem.
The short version of the process — write/video/Instagram/whatever about stuff you’re interested in, build a following around it, find *something* to sell them that they actually want.
I won’t dive deep into the details.
Here are some articles that explain the process better than I ever could:
It takes hard work, but it’s fun (see: why you should eat what you kill).
I’ve barely covered all the possibilities when it comes to starting your side hustle. Places like Side Hustle Nation go into much more depth than I can.
The point? There’s opportunity out there to make some extra change and build a more comfortable and exciting life for yourself.
So why don’t most people do it? Well, you need skills to pull off a side hustle. To get those skills, you have to hustle.
Not at a breakneck pace, but not at a snail’s pace either. The more skills you build on top of one another the more opportunities you have to create a custom-tailored career.
Build Your Talent Stack
Do yourself a favor and read the book — How to Fail at Almost Anything and Still Succeed.
Scott Adams — the creator of the comic strip Dilbert — wrote the book. In it, he shares an interesting concept anyone can apply.
If you asked Scott, he’d tell you he’s an average drawer at best, funny but not hilarious, business savvy but no Buffet, and good with words but no Hemingway.
He’s pretty good at a handful of skills. On their own, they’re not worth much but combined, he suddenly becomes the best in the world as the combination.
When you stack talents your skills amplify each other until you have ‘career capital’ meaning you’re rare and indispensable.
If you’re rare and indispensable, you can charge more, have more autonomy, and have access to more opportunities; skills beget skills and success begets more success.
Here’s a pool of items that make great potential for a side hustler’s talent stack:
- public speaking
- SEO, PPC, Ads
- second language
- artistic talent, e.g., painting, sculpting
- people skills
Above the money, you should start a side hustle to try and get good at a valuable skill. Then, you can start more hustles and experiment until you have a skillset and portfolio unique to you.
Break the Monotony
Imagine you own a little online jewelry shop. Nothing fancy. You went on Shopify and set it up in a few hours. You don’t carry any inventory and the products go straight to the customer. It’s just something you’re doing for fun — a hobby.
You make a few hundred extra bucks a month. When your car breaks down, you have the money to fix it. Or, you and your spouse randomly decide to take a weekend trip because you can.
Time goes on. You’re enjoying your hobby. Because you enjoy it, you start to get curious and read more about marketing the store. You implement the techniques. The store grows, and grows, and grows.
One day, the income you make from the store matches the income from your job.
You can keep your job and have the extra money or you can scale your business.
The moral of the story? You have the option.
Side hustling, trying creative experiments, and tinkering with your career provides optionality. That’s the biggest benefit.
I’m not here to tell you what to do or try to sell you an entrepreneurship course. I’m here to promote the idea of trying low-risk ventures to spice up your life and your bank account.
I know you want to do it too. I know you’re a little tired of the rat race and monotony.
Why not give it a try?