Do you really need a side hustle?

Having a “side hustle” is becoming increasingly common and many young people are looking to have one to increase their income.

This can include selling items online; being a content creator or working in the gig economy.

I did experiment with having a side hustle in 2020 and 2021. During this period, I monetized my blog by doing paid content for DBS; Skillsfuture; NTUC Income and more.

However, in 2022, I stopped doing paid posts entirely as I did not enjoy them at all.

If you’re thinking of starting a side hustle, here are three simple questions you can use to determine if it will be worth your time and energy or not.

1. What is the effort-reward-ratio?

One of the key questions to ask yourself is: What is the effort-reward ratio for your side hustle vs your day job?

A simple way to think about this is:

Are you more likely to earn a $2,000 per month increment from your existing main career path through switching roles or promotion or upskilling, or to make $2,000 per month on whatever your side hustle pursuit happens to be?

Is the incremental effort of your main hustle or side hustle more?

For many people, it’s their main hustle, not side hustle that will propel them to further gains in the immediate future.

Another factor to consider is also the energy used. Mental and physical energy for the day is finite as well.

In my case, I decided that if I used my mental energy on writing paid content, it takes away from day job. When I stopped my side hustle and used that time for my work, I saw a significant increase in my income.

“If there are nine rabbits on the ground and you want. “If there are nine rabbits on the ground and you want to catch one, just focus on one.”

Jack Ma

2. How closely linked is your side hustle to your day job?

Expanding on the topic of effort-reward-ratio, another question you can ask yourself is: Does your side hustle complement your career and vice versa?

For instance, VC Jeremy Au has been running the BRAVE Podcast since 2020. This branding helps his day job in an industry where reputation is key for deal sourcing. The BRAVE Podcast benefits his main role and vice versa.

Some have multiple side hustles that are completely different from their current jobs or their future career goals.

This approach can be exhausting, especially if your side hustles take up the time you would normally use to rest and recharge.

It is not the most efficient use of time and energy: If you're not using skills that play up on each other, you don't really have time to invest back into yourself with rest.

3. Are you trying to pivot into something new?

There are some situations where side hustle makes a lot of sense. One of these circumstances is when you want to pivot into something new.

For example, The Woke Salaryman was a side hustle until it became a full -time business.

The same goes for the co-founders of CoinGecko and Dollars and Sense.

In my case, I know from the beginning that I have zero intention of being a full time content creator.

I did consider moving to education as I felt that it would be much more meaningful and impactful than my day job.

However, after a pilot phase in late 2021, I realized teaching was not for me and incredibly draining.

Overall, I have made a conscious decision to double down on SaaS and just treat content creation as a passion project.

It has paid off in terms of skills learned and finances. In fact, I wish I made the conscious choice to focus earlier on.

That will help me not only do better at my day job but also enjoy content creation a lot more. Not all hobbies and strengths need to be monetized.

“Every hour that you spend working is an hour that has to come from somewhere else in your life, whether that’s sleep, leisure time or your time with family and friends.”

My thoughts on fire

In my mid 20s, retiring early was my only goal.

I remembered in Salesforce when my manager when he asked me what was my career goal, I replied “Retire early”

(Pro tip: Please don’t tell white hair middle aged Singaporeans this type of answer. They do not like it)

After all, I began to question a couple of things

  • Was there really a point limiting myself for the prime years of my life just to retire early?

  • Was there any meaning in life where one of my main goals is just to retire early and get freedom?

  • What was I really going to do when I retire early? Isn’t it very miserable to only look forward to retirement but not be my happiest self in my youth?

That is when I changed my POV to instead pursue financial independence and focus on “How can I design a life so great that I do not need to ‘retire’ or travel to escape from?”

I thought very hard about what a good life looks like to me; what kind of career I wanted; what kind of experiences I wanted and began to make decisions about life that were aligned to this.

I also designed my weekly schedule around that.

I feel like where we spend our time and energy; and our weekly habits and schedule…. is a vote for the kind of life we want.

While I do enjoy travel, I want to make sure my happiness is not impacted at all say there is another lock down globally. Travel to me should be about learning and exploration, not an escape.

My goal is to try to visit 3 places I have never been before in my life. This year, I already went to Turkey and would likely also go to some towns in Taiwan outside of Taipei and either Sapa or Siem Reap.

I also made the most out of my business trip by going to Cotswold; Lavender fields and White Cliffs by Dover over the weekend.

Being mindful about our career choices

I do not buy the idea of work being just one small part of our lives. Other than sleeping, we spend the most amount of time at work.

Sure it is not everything but how can it be relegated to just a small portion of our lives?

When I was working in the wrong environment, I have tried treating work as simply a place where I earn money and go home and a platform for me to exchange labour for money. It was incredibly difficult.

I think a more sustainable approach is really to find the right fit - company, job and career.

Was recently listening to Organizational Psychologist Andre Martin who described working in the wrong fit environment as similar to “working with your non-dominant hand”

He recommends a thoughtful approach to one’s career which includes starting a job search by first understanding. This includes:

  • Who you are

  • What you value

  • How you like to work

  • What you are solving for: Again, I am optimizing for learning, growth and impact. This is because my personality and what I want out of life is different from others. You have to decide what matters to you.

  • What type of career you are building

He recommends us also to re-evaluate this every year. This is because companies; leaders and our environment are not static.

I think knowing yourself and what you value is key: There was once where someone approached me on LinkedIn to ask about working at my company. This is for a junior role in the organization.

I was taken aback and shocked when the person asked about “what are the benefits like"? She then went on to explain how great her current company benefits were. Out of our 30 minutes chat, she spent 1/3 on this topic.

I have never in 9 years of work in my current line of work cared about benefits. My focus was on money; growth; learning and impact. Why care about $150 gym reimbursement when one can make so much more after exceeding their KPIs?

I realized then, everyone just values different things in life.

I told her to think about the top 3 things she valued the most and if this role could really give her what she wanted.

It is useful to really think about the top three things which matter to you at this point in your life. No job is perfect.

Hope you found the guiding questions above useful.

If you enjoyed this post, please do forward this link to your peers

Hit reply to let me know your biggest takeaway and which point resonated the most with you.

Subscribe to keep reading

This content is free, but you must be subscribed to All-Rounder to continue reading.

Already a subscriber?Sign In.Not now