Itching to launch a side hustle? Wondering where to start if you’ve got limited cash and no passion project you’re ready to jump into? Want to do all of this without completely crashing and burning out? Mallory Rowan, an entrepreneur, speaker, and content creator, launched a side hustle at 22 that grew into a six-figure business. Then she experienced major burnout. Now, she helps other entrepreneurs and side hustlers grow their income without pushing themselves to the point of burning out. Ahead, we ask the seasoned entrepreneur to share her pro tips for starting a side hustle on a tight budget and sans chronic stress.
Mallory Rowan - Entrepreneur, speaker, and content creator
Do I need to have a passion to start a side hustle?
Passion can come from different places. I used to think I had to find my lifelong passion, aka the one we’re told we have somewhere inside of us if we dig deep enough. But passion can come from being passionate about the type of life you want to live, not just the product or service you want to offer.
If you don’t have a specific business idea that’s calling to you, try asking yourself these questions: “What gets me really excited?” “What is a skill set I could apply to a business in any industry?” “Is there something I currently do for work, that I could apply on my own?”
Starting a side hustle doesn’t have to mean creating a groundbreaking, innovative product. It can often mean consulting in a skill set you already use at work or taking on a few clients in a service-based capacity. This is an especially great approach if you’re not feeling overly passionate about a specific pursuit.
Can I start a side hustle on a limited budget?
While having limited financial resources can make things difficult, I firmly believe it’s one of the best tools to force creativity in your venture and make you the type of problem-solver who will thrive as a business owner.
When I started my first side hustle, a powerlifting apparel brand, my business partner and I were two students with a $0 budget. We leaned into free spaces like Instagram or in-person events to help build our business early on, and we learned to leverage different payment options when it came to sourcing our inventory.
Some of our most successful moments in that business came from asking ourselves what it would take to hit $20,000 in revenue? $50,000? $300,000? Without a budget to blow on ads or a flashy campaign, we had to get creative. Start lean, and stay lean early on. Start with what you’ve got, and you’ll be shocked how far you can take it.
How can I avoid burnout working a 9-to-5 and a side hustle?
Give yourself time. Whenever we’re looking at our career or starting a business, there tends to be an underlying fear of scarcity. I always say entrepreneurship is a bait-and-switch because you think you’re signing up to start a business, but you’re really signing up for a crash course in personal development. It really forces you to look within and deal with a lot of the feelings that come up in the process.
Take it slow, touch base often with your initial goal or reason for starting the business, and focus on making decisions that will have a stronger impact in the long term vs. making split decisions for short-term gain. Your business and your health will thrive when you think long term, instead of focusing on survival in the short term.
What if my first side hustle doesn’t go according to plan?
You are now a scientist, and you see everything as an experiment. Most entrepreneurs do not strike gold with their first business idea. So firstly, be kind to yourself. If a toddler falls when taking their first steps, we don’t say, “Guess they’re not a walker.” We applaud their attempt and watch them get stronger and better with each try. We give them the grace of time to grow.
Think of all the skill sets you built in that first business. Think of the challenges you overcame, the lessons you learned, and the tactical skills you didn’t have before getting into it. Those are all tools that you’ll take with you into your next venture. You’ll be surprised by how much that will impact your ability to move further and faster with your next business.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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