14 Ways Entrepreneurs Kill Their Side Hustle – Without Even Trying

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Side hustlers are full of fire.

They want to change the world with their big ideas and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of side hustlers relying on instincts and bad advice.

They’re doing things that seem like solid business moves at the time, but those choices end in disaster; leaving the side hustler confused and frustrated – and the business in shambles.

Oddly enough… It can happen before you even know you’re in trouble.

If you’re one of the side hustlers working an extra 6 hours a day and weekends to grow your side hustle, but it isn’t stable or profitable enough for you to quit your day job yet, it won’t be long before you’re fighting burnout.

But what can cause you to fail in the first place, and what are the traps and pitfalls you should avoid?

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Most Side Hustles Fail

1. They Don’t Have a Clear UEP

Your Unique Expert Position (UEP) is that sweet spot where your Proficiency (expertise), Profit (money-making options), and Passion meet.

Unique Expert Position

Without a clear UEP, your business plan isn’t going to have a solid focus, your messaging is going to be all over the place, and your offerings are bound to serve some of the UEP pieces well, but not all of them.

You’re going to continue to struggle and eventually… you won’t have a business.

If you don’t have your UEP dialed in, you can’t build a scalable business.

2. Total Burn Out

If you feel like you’re on the verge of breaking down, you’re not the only one.

If your business isn’t stable, you’re working full-time, and devoting all your “free time” to your side hustle, that means you don’t have much time left over for your friends and family.

According to a survey conducted by Kabbage, 29% of small business owners work more than 50 hours per week; 86% work on weekends and almost half (47%) of all Small Business Owners use personal savings to pay for aspects of their business. 

Those are just small business owners. They aren’t even side hustlers.

Unlike you, they don’t have to juggle a full-time job on top of their side business.

That’s just a recipe for disaster – unless you can get your business to scale quickly.

3. Practicing the “Treadmill Effect”

If you’re on the side hustle treadmill, that means you’re busy doing work, work, work, work, work… but you never move forward.

You’re not getting any traction and the little forward momentum you find only lasts for a short time.

You’re like a juggler keeping too many balls in the air…one missed catch away from disaster.

Without a system and a strategic, focused plan, you have no clear way to move forward. That’s going to keep you from getting traction and your business will eventually fall.

If you’re a side hustler working hard and getting nowhere, you need to get off the treadmill.

4. Building Without Focus

Limited time and tight resources can make you feel desperate to try anything – hoping something is gonna hit.

Your working hard, head down, nose to the grindstone.

But truth be told… you’re not sure where your business is at or what moves to make next.

You don’t really have a clear direction and you don’t know how to define success for your business.

Let me ask you a question.

If you don’t know what success for your business looks like, how do you know what you need to do to build it?

Let me ask you one more…

What’s your plan for scaling your business if you don’t have an outcome to focus on?

If you’re not building strategically and with a focus in mind, you’re playing business Jenga.

5. Tunnel Vision

This one is the exact opposite problem to building without focus.

Tunnel vision will leave you so focused on one idea that you miss opportunities, you won’t recognize when you need to shift, and you can’t see where you’re going.

It’s good to be focused, but when you hyper-focus on building one thing and following one idea, it can lead you down the wrong path.

You could even end up wasting a ton of time and resources building something no one even wants.

6. No Recurring Revenue Stream

This is a big trap that most side hustlers fall into at some point.

Hell, I’ve done it.

If you don’t have a revenue stream that’s bringing money in on a regular basis, it’s all going to come tumbling down as soon as you hit a bump in the road.

Believe me, it’s a different world when you aren’t getting paid on a regular schedule and everything is on your shoulders.

You need a plan that’s going to allow you to grow and scale your business – bringing in consistent, predictable income – if you want to have a successful business.

7. You Always Have to Build More 

Instead of creating a product or service and optimizing the hell out of it, you’re constantly reinventing your business and building something new.

Unless you’re constantly chasing prospects down, you’re not bringing in money on a regular basis.

You’ve got it in your head that success and greatness are just one more step away if you could only figure out how to tweak your business or build up that new idea you just had.

You can’t scale if you’re constantly reinventing your business or you’re busy trying to build more.

8. Bad hiring decisions

You know you’re going to need help and you won’t be able to grow your business alone – and you’re right.

If you’ve got your heart set on building up a team to take over so you can remove yourself from running the empire day-to-day, you may have made one of these hiring mistakes:

  • You’ve hired people that are cheap, but under-qualified.
  • Built a team bigger than your needs.
  • Hired the first person that seemed to loosely fit your qualifications.
  • Gave a job to a friend or family member and overlooked lazy behavior and missed deadlines.

Rather than taking a shot in the dark, or wasting months of your time and money, find a recruiter with a solid reputation to help you expand your team.

9. Overspending

Instead of streamlining your limited resources to give your business what it needs right now, you’re spending your money on things you don’t need.

Maybe you’re signing up for your 6th mastermind this year – hoping it’ll be the answer to fix all your business problems.

Maybe you’re overinvesting in the highest tier possible of that amazing SaaS platform you just found because you “just know” you’re going to need that level as soon as things take off next month.

It’s like buying a fleet of Lamborghinis when you only need something to take you one town over.

10. Stuck on Trying to Get the “Big Victory”

You need a big win – like yesterday.

Whether it’s because your business is on the brink of disaster or you’re just so damned tired of working yourself to the bone and getting nowhere – it’s easy to fall into the “all or nothing” trap.

The best advice I’ve ever gotten was from a 9-figure business owner who came back from nothing:

“Small wins lead to big victories.”

Winning is a habit you develop. Focus on the small wins. Your business will grow faster and last longer.

11. No End Goal in Mind

What’s the point of building something – taking time away from your family and possibly alienating your friends – if you don’t have an end goal to push for?

Are you doing all of this to sell your business in 5 years?

Are you hoping that your son or daughter will take it on?

Hoping that a promising CEO will rise up from the ranks and keep your legacy going?

When you have no idea where the business is heading, it’s easy to forget “why” you started when your burnout is greater than your desire.

12. Lone Wolfing It

When you run into an issue in your business, you have a tendency to isolate yourself instead of asking for help or seeking advice from mentors that have been there before.

Maybe you want to be able to say you made it on your own.

Maybe you just feel like you should be smarter than your problems.

Here’s the thing:

According to the Small Business Administration, 70% of small businesses that have a mentor survive more than five years – double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses.

That same survey found that 88% of business owners with a mentor say that having one is invaluable.

Even if you’re not sure a mentor is the right move for you, being in a group of like-minded entrepreneurs can benefit your business growth.

Hell, we’d love to have you in the Hustle & Scale Community.

We bring together people still working their side hustle with those that have made it into the 6 and 7-figure brackets.

It’s a great place to get support – and a kick in the ass when you need it.

13. Failing to Build an Evergreen Lead Generator

You need a main lead generator that works every day, week, and month bringing in consistent leads.

It has to be evergreen and always working – without needing to be redone or renewed.

Otherwise, you’re going to get sucked into reinventing the wheel over and over again.

14. Failing to Automate

You’re putting in a ton of effort, instead of creating an automated system that you can setup once to do the repetitive “chores” for you.

Creating an automated system to serve your clients – from the opt-in to the final offer – is the best way to make sure you’re putting your time and attention where it counts the most.

A survey by Thomson Reuters showed 77% of business owners believe that automation saves time on monotonous tasks and 70% said it eliminated human error.1 

What to Do if You’re Stuck in One of These Traps

It takes strategic action to get real traction in your business.

You need a plan.

I know that sounds like an obvious statement, but the problem is that most side hustlers falling into the traps I’ve listed are mistaking ideas for plans.

Plans take strategic development and involve detailed execution.

They have stages set up that bring in revenue every step of the way with an end goal in mind.

Strategic planning is the key to creating a product that generates recurring revenue.

Personally, my favorite “front of funnel” tool to generate leads on a constant, ongoing basis is running a virtual summit on autopilot.

If you want me to walk you through the whole process for using virtual summits, sign up for my Masterclass: How to Scale Your Side Hustle with a Virtual Summit.

Is there a business killer I didn’t include?

Let me know in the comments, and I’ll update this post with the best ideas (and a link crediting you). 

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