One of my favorite podcasters is Jason Stapleton, and while I know his (and really my) politics may not be everyone's cup of tea, sometimes he talks about personal growth and development (something I often find myself enjoying more than his political talks) and recently he nailed something that I've been batting around in my head but have never been able to really put down to a concrete thought.
In talking about successful people, he mentioned that he gets annoyed when he hears people talk about luck with regards to how those people achieved their success, and while this isn't a new thought on its own, his examination of it was very good. He talked about women who find "good men" and how it isn't luck that does it, it's putting themselves in positions where meeting a good man is possible. Instead of hopping bars on a Friday night, they tend to go to events and settings where good (and successful) men are.
This mentality applies to many things, but the philosophy boils down very simply to putting yourself in a position to succeed is often the difference between success and failure.
Since this blog is primarily and almost exclusively about making, how is this relevant? Well, I had a thought over the weekend, and it involves my "side business," which you see on this very site.
Recently, I've been very motivated to grow it, which entails a lot of work and that work usually means I work my regular day job, then go to work on the side hustle. On the average day, I wake up at 6:45am, then work on this business until about 9am, then it's off to the shower, then my drive to work. Some nights I work, too, but mostly my time in the morning and large swaths of time on the weekend are devoted to Handmade by Vincent Ferrari. On a lot of days, yesterday included, I've probably done more by 9am than most people do in their entire day at work.
I'm not bragging; there are surely people who start at 5am and get more done by 6:45am than I get done all day. That's the nature of things. But even though the time in and productivity may be disparate, the principle is the same: your success will often be directly dictated by your effort. A quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson says "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have," and that's basically the life philosophy we're talking about today.
As I've dedicated more time and resources into refining my techniques, my production level has skyrocketed, and my output has not only increased in quantity, but in quality. I've made conscious efforts to organize my shop in a way that's more efficient. My office at home is almost always neat and organized, allowing me to just go in there, get work done, and move on. I don't have to "find" anything because everything has a place, and it's nearly always in it. My home computer? Sure I play games on it, but the desktop has only files for what I'm currently working on. When something is done, it gets filed onto a Network Attached Storage drive and sent off to Amazon for backup. I extensively use Post-It notes, Evernote, and recently started using Stamps.com so that shipping items can be done more cheaply. A few days I ago I shipped two packages, and in those two shipments I saved $8. That doesn't sound like a lot, but extrapolate that out over a bunch of individual small sales of around $30 and you start to see how that matters. I'm investing as much time and effort into processes because they matter. The more efficient I become, the more productive I can be with the limited input of time that I have, but when the time is required, I put that in as well and the more effort I put into those refinements, the more return on that investment I get. As my personal business grows, it's becoming increasingly obvious that the road I'm on, and the fact that I'm putting the effort in, is bearing more fruit.
My side hustle matters to me, and if you have one and you want it to be worth the effort, it should matter to you also, and you need to demonstrate that through your investment into it.
In 2018, a lot of people have a side hustle. It's not even that remarkable. Some people make stuff. Others drive Uber or Lyft or have a few rental properties on AirBNB. Some have Etsy shops, eBay stores, or a Tupperware business. It's almost a requirement if you want any kind of disposable income now, so what's going wrong?
In almost all of the cases I know, it's lack of effort. Lack of commitment. Lack of investment.
In the end, if you want your side hustle to be something you do other than a passion project (and don't get me wrong; that's fine too) then you need to start treating it like it matters and putting in the effort. Put yourself in a situation to succeed, and you may just be surprised how well you do exactly that.
Or don't. But just know that if you choose not to, that's your choice. Not the economy. Not the government. Not your neighbors. Not your childhood or education.
Get out there. Hustle. Be great. As Jason Stapleton said, "Be so great and so successful that your haters ask if you're hiring."
Tangentially related: My first mug design is available in the store. If you want one, you should definitely pick one up. Click the image to take you to the store and it'll be made for you and shipped out within a day or two!