Start Your Side Hustle Immediately

How can we get started on our side hustles immediately? What is “freedom time”, and how can we bring it into our lives? Why is a service-based business best for making money quickly?

Nick Loper runs, and was once in a well-paying corporate job with a company car climbing the corporate ladder — until one day — he created his own ladder.

In this podcast, Nick tells us how to take the appropriate steps to escape the 9-5, and sheds light on the “what sucks” method that can help us discover the mission of our next (or first!) side hustle.

Connect with Lambros Photios of Station Five on LinkedIn and Twitter.


[00:00:00] The Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios.


[00:00:06] Taking the leap of faith into entrepreneurship is, well, like challenging, to say the least. One of the main things that people often get scared about is the lack of income, the lack of security. But what they really crave that entrepreneurship tends to offer is that freedom, not financial freedom necessarily, but freedom in general, that ability to go out and build something that you genuinely care about. And one person who I would say is a huge advocate for this, probably the biggest advocate we’ve had on this podcast is Nick Lobar, who, if you don’t know that name. He runs a Web site that you’ve definitely heard of called Side Hustle Nation Dot Com. He’s also the author of The Side Hustle. Nick is on the podcast with me now. Nick, hello. Well, thank you so much for having me. So how did you make the leap of faith? Because I think it’s a story like everyone knows, side, also nation. I think what people don’t know is the story of how you went from the nine to five grind into into the side hustle.


[00:01:02] What I’m going to take issue with that leap of faith, actually, I think I’m going to call it the you know, the the toadie up of uncertainty. I told you, it’s for me, it wasn’t necessarily a leap of faith. There was still, like, definitely a scary move to me to quit my job and turn the keys to my company car and, you know, leave behind like this whole corporate career that I wasn’t necessarily very good at. But like, that’s what I went to school for. Like, it was it was still scary to leave that to pursue my own business, which at the time was a comparison shopping site for whereas for footwear, we’re kind of a random affiliate niche that I happened upon. But it wasn’t a leap of faith because I had built it up nights and weekends to the point where it was at least covering my monthly expenses. Right. It may not have fully replaced my day job salary, but I knew I was going to be okay. I felt confident that I was going to be OK and given an extra 40, 50 hours a week to work on it. I was confident it could get to that salary level and beyond.


[00:02:02] Yeah. Fair enough. So it’s not so much about kind of taking a leap of faith, sacrificing a salary for the next six months, but perhaps tipping the dough in the tuck, tipping the toe in the water, as you say, to the point that you can kind of cover your your your monthly salary or so your monthly costs, I should say, and then kind of taking it from there. And it’s it’s an interesting philosophy, right. Because I think that I think a lot of people who are preaching entrepreneurship are saying, oh, you know, just, you know, build up enough in your you know, your cash reserves and take that leap of faith and just go out there and do it. There’s no better way to do it. And I would I would say that while while that might happen, I tip my hat to those people. I think. I think it’s incredibly reckless as well.


[00:02:42] I was going to ask what your background what your story was really after that, because there are people who just like you described, oh, an entrepreneur is somebody who jumps off a cliff and figures out how to build their parachute on the way down. Sounds terrifying to me, but I mean, people all the time like, hey, there was no other way I had to burn the bridges.


[00:02:57] Yeah. No, fair enough. I mean, my story, I guess, is very different. I actually started off I was also studying at university. Right. And I think at the time I had the option of doing what a lot of university students do, which is like go work in hospitality or something similar. So go work at a bar or work at a cafe or your local restaurant. And it was kind of like, did the conventional path or, you know, go tutor other students, whatever it may be, to get some to get some cash on the side and support yourself? I think that I think where things were different for me was that firstly, like that threshold, I think when you’re when you studying at university, you’re still leading leaning quite a bit, at least within Australian culture, I feel, on on your parents. And it was through that that I really started to, you know, really started to seize the opportunity that was that was presented to me, which was that, you know, you can go out. You can start working. And the amount that you need to generate monthly is less than kind of what you would need when you got there into the real world. And you don’t have those those support networks there to back you financially through that. So the threshold of kind of where I needed to get to was probably lesser than I assume of a lot of our listeners. And then what happened was, you know, by the point that actually exited university, I was already kind of two, three years into into my business. And by that point, it was it was quite well established and got and had and had gotten to that point where it was able to support me. So I think I was blessed by the circumstances. And I know that those circumstances perhaps probably don’t resemble what most of our listeners have at their fingertips. But it was definitely something that, you know, to the university students and college students listening. I think that that’s there’s definitely an opportunity there that if you can if you can leverage the support network that you have, there is there is definitely a strong argument for going out there and doing it early on. I think there are definitely some merits to doing it early on.


[00:04:50] Absolutely. So let’s let’s talk a bit about, I guess, dipping your toe in the water, as you say. You mentioned that, you know, you kind of building both things up to a point where you are covering a monthly costs. And at that point, you kind of went out there and took it further and took a. To the next level, and that’s when you stepped away from, you know, you sacrifice the company car, has it in the case and moved away from the day job. What took us through? What if you were to go through that? If you were to. Sorry? If you were to advise someone on that process. And now how is it that you’d encourage someone to go through that gradual process? Would it closely resemble what you did there, Nick, or would you advise a different pathway?


[00:05:28] Do you think in broad strokes the process is going to look the same, where you kind of have an idea of what you need to support your lifestyle? That’s kind of your monthly carrying costs. Are you monthly that you need to crack and then you kind of reverse engineer? Okay, well, how am I going to get there? Maybe I need two thousand dollars. Maybe I need five thousand dollars. Maybe I need ten thousand dollars. It’s kind of funny. You talked about like it was really an advantage advantageous to start earlier because it’s like the worst case scenario.


[00:05:54] I end up back in mom’s basement or our mom’s couch. It’s like as I’ve grown older and have now a family my own. It’s like that maybe is still viable if they’d have me. But it’s I guess it becomes the less I mean, it’s always a bitter pill to swallow. But your overheads are definitely lower the younger you are. And I think, you know, just as a as a personal example, like in the personal finance space. One mistake that I think I made early on because I wasn’t thinking about it was like after graduation, I was really determined to get my own place, like my own apartment, one bedroom place. I didn’t want to have roommates. And I look at how much that cost me relative to the cost of having roommates. I got to had a much nicer place, probably had more fun, like hanging out with friends and stuff. Instead, I just, you know, was I thought that’s what it what you’re supposed to do. But know, I think that set me back. But you can reverse engineer what you need to what you need to live, what you need to cover in terms of your expenses and then figure out the business model that might get you there. Before we even talk about, like, different business ideas and different side hustle frameworks, probably the big three business models to think of are selling a product, selling a service or selling an audience. And almost any business that I can think of on the planet falls under one or more of those kind of business models. Like we’re practicing the audience business model here on the podcast. But I’ve done my share of service based businesses and product based businesses as well.


[00:07:22] Yeah. No, fair enough. You’re selling an audience is definitely interesting because I think people always try and kind of break down, you know. I’ve got I’ve got a product to sell or I’ve got a service to sell. But I think people don’t perhaps just merit their own ability to kind of go out and share what it is that they’ve learned. Everyone’s got their own perspective, their own stories, their own lessons that they’ve learned on their journey. And that is valuable. And there is there is there should definitely be more, I guess, emphasis placed on the ability to leverage an audience.


[00:07:51] And what I found really interesting there, Nick, is that I think you’ve taken a different perspective to a lot of a lot of our entrepreneur listeners. I think a lot of our entrepreneurs are kind of and I know that I know that there was a long time I fell into this category. So I’m going to tread carefully. But this notion that a business owner and an entrepreneur are the same. I very much and I think that I think that’s what’s really happened is that what an entrepreneur was maybe 10 years ago or 20 years ago even is now classed as a serial entrepreneur. This mentality of it is a personal opinion with this mentality of entrepreneurship is really not necessarily about just starting a business and running a business that’s a business owner and a founder. I find an entrepreneur is really kind of the individual who go out there and won’t just necessarily focus on one idea, but may focus on four or five different businesses into twining of those businesses. Sure, they may link different opportunities that emerge out of them or different opportunities that they’re just interested in exploring that may not even be parallel to the other things that they’re doing. And the reason that I find this, that that I really want to chat about this, Nick, is that I know that you work on about 15 different income streams simultaneously. So, you know, I talk about kind of four or five income streams and and and leveraging that you’ve you’ve taken that to a whole new level. What is your perception on kind of the what I’ve just described is kind of business owner versus entrepreneurship. Would you agree with that, that like entrepreneurs kind of do need to have this, like to be a true entrepreneur? Do you need to have this philosophy of I’m going to focus on multiple different things? Or can you just be focusing on one business for the next 20, 30 years?


[00:09:29] That is an interesting distinction to draw away. OK. The entrepreneur I like I think of somebody who’s raising venture capital and like they’re out there to, like, scale really quickly. But I think thanks to economic factors and thanks to some proactive factors of just being able to do this stuff. I’ve seen that definition of entrepreneurship certainly broadened to be like, I want to start a lifestyle business, like I would call it, you know, fall into that same category. And as it relates to the 15 income streams, we should note, they’re not all very big. There’s a couple that that do really well. And I’m really grateful to have a.


[00:10:04] Platform. That kind of gives me permission to fuel my own entrepreneurial HDD and test out a bunch of different staff, report back on what works, what doesn’t.


[00:10:13] Here’s what I earned over here. It really is an exciting time. My rule for people starting out. Simplify first. Diversify second. So find something that works. Double down on that. Triple down on that focus. Make that your one thing. Make that, you know, practice essentialism until you have it off the ground and then. Okay. Now look to diversify. Make sense.


[00:10:36] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. When you when you speak about these different income streams and completely conscious like 015 wouldn’t be producing, you know, as a salary in and of themselves that could sustain you. And and if they could then respect it. You know, I think it’s interesting because you touched on a point there earlier, which is kind of the entrepreneur is you see entrepreneurship is or enterprises that that those individuals who go out there and seek that have an idea, set up a set up, a team, got there and seek venture capital and take it from there and grow that business and go for fast growth. And I think perhaps serial entrepreneurship is probably what you’d probably more associate with running multiple different income streams simultaneously. Let’s talk about that definition of entrepreneurship going down that path of having one income stream, one business that you try and grow extremely rapidly. I feel like the two are mutually exclusive. I feel like they can’t coexist. And the reason I believe that is I think that with the exception of a few notable public figures such as Elon Musk, I think if you’re to go out there and create create a single business that you build a team around, you get venture capital to support and so on. I think at that point you’ve created an expectation in the eyes of your investors, in the eyes of your team and in the eyes of your audience, that this is what you are living and breathing and doing with every ounce of your existence for the duration of that business until some sort of an exit strategy, whether that’s going public or whether that’s whether that’s an acquisition or whatever else it may be. I feel like the two can’t coexist. But what are your thoughts on it? Can they. Can you have both?


[00:12:15] Yeah, there’s a lot of external pressures there. You got to ask yourself if that is what you want. And for me, it’s like I’ll be much happier taking a slower growth path and being in control of everything and saying, I don’t want to go skiing today because there was an ice storm that came through or like I can take this week off with the family and not have to stress out about what my events when my investors are gonna get it in terms of an exit.


[00:12:41] Yeah, yeah, fair enough. So your your mentality is more so maybe you shouldn’t go down the path of getting external investors if it’s going to lock you into one particular path.


[00:12:49] Yeah, I think for the vast majority people who are you know, they’re just after something to cover their lifestyle and there are a few who are out to, you know, make a dent in the universe. And, you know, this is gonna be the next Uber and stuff like that. And that’s fantastic. But that’s not a necessarily my goal in life.


[00:13:07] Yeah. Very often it’s it’s it’s an interesting perspective. And it’s definitely it’s really nice to kind of disassociate those two because they are very different. But I think they get merged into one kind of umbrella term, which is entrepreneurship. But the two are vastly different.


[00:13:23] I think the deal puts it puts so much pressure on people starting. I want to start a business and make you think that’s the only option. You have to come up with some crazy new technology or, you know, shoot rockets to the moon or drive self-driving cars. And, you know, it can be much simpler than that.


[00:13:38] Yeah, definitely. I’ve always been a huge advocate of, I guess, self-funded going out there and and producing some sort of some sort of return on an idea, whether it’s a product service or, as you say, an audience, and then reinvesting that and bootstrapping off your own off your own revenue and creating something.


[00:13:57] I mean, ultimately, then the only person who you need to be accountable to is is yourself. And if it is, if what you’re going out there for is freedom and this is what I want to touch on next. If what you’re going out, therefore, is freedom, not financial freedom, not to be mistaken, but freedom to do what you want to do and create what you want to create out there in the world, not just from a business standpoint, but for yourself as an individual. I think that people think the only way to do that is to go out and to get to raise capital from investors. The reality, though, is that I think once you actually start to do that, you realize that just like a boss at your nine to five, if you go down the path of raising capital, you ultimately do have people to respond to. You’ve had you’ve got people who’ve put money into your idea and expect a return on investment in the next 10 to 20 years or whatever it is that you promised them in terms of return. So ultimately, if you want freedom. Nick, I really actually resonate much more closely with with how it is you do things, which is this idea of of, you know, creating your own work and escaping, as you say, which I’ve seen. Few of your blogs, the rat race, which is a great which is a great philosophy, so let’s talk a bit about that freedom. How do we know we are speaking to entrepreneurs? How is it that you identify, you know, what this person’s looking for is not to do their own thing or to to build something that’s going to put a dent in the universe. But instead, this is something that, you know, this is an individual who really just wants the freedom to to live life on their own. How is it that people could kind of, you know, also self self assess it? That’s what they want.


[00:15:34] So I think there’s probably a sliding scale or a spectrum of freedom. For me. That’s kind of how I define success is like freedom over my own calendar. Did I get to choose what I worked on today when I worked on it, that I do stuff that mattered? Did I do stuff that I cared about? And, you know, maybe at the far end of the spectrum, you’d love to have 24 hours to just answer to no and do your own thing. Fantastic. But like, you know, there’s family responsibilities. There’s other stuff that you kind of have to do. And so there’s a sliding scale. Right. But even if you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum, you punch in the clock 9:00 to 5:00, you get this commute like you may have some opportunities and are you probably do have some opportunities to carve out little segments of freedom time and maybe you call it that, you know, for motivation. Fifty minutes here, half an hour here. Maybe it’s getting up an hour earlier in the morning. It’s like claiming that time for yourself, practicing this freedom, working on the things that you want to work on so you can move these projects forward because it doesn’t it’s not a flip. The switch. It doesn’t happen overnight.


[00:16:34] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And let’s talk a bit about that gradual process. Let’s say we’ve got an entrepreneur right now listening to this podcast and they’re thinking, yep, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want to start taking taking those first steps. What are some actionable tips we can give them right now, Nick, that they can go and execute on straight away to start doing this? And I don’t mean, you know, I’m going to catch. I’m going to sit down in front of a whiteboard with a few friends on Saturday and and brainstorm ideas about what we think the what we think is going to change the world. No, I’m talking about the people who are I want to start creating just a couple of additional income streams so that I can start to transition away from my nine to five very gradually. What are some tips that you can give them right now on the spot for them to do that, for them to go and execute Sherm?


[00:17:23] So I think if the goal is to begin to make money quickly, your best bet is to start with a service based business that comes from over 300 interviews on the side Hustle show. More of those guests started with service based businesses than any other business model. It’s not necessarily where they ended up, but that’s where they started. And one cool example that I just love this guy’s story, his original side hustle is a mechanical engineer working in Chicago. By day, his side hustle was fixing people’s motorcycles in his garage at night, put an ad on Craigslist. It’s kind of like a classified ad service, like, look, don’t go to the dealership. They’re going to rip you off. Don’t pay those labor rates. Bring it to me. I know what I’m doing. Fix your bike. Hours, four dollars side hustle service doesn’t trump what he did. That was really cool, was kind of speculatively filmed himself doing the repairs. So now he’s got content to put up on YouTube. You had, you know, tens of thousands of subscribers at this point when we last recorded. And so now he’s making ad income from YouTube. He’s selling full engine rebuild videos through, I want to say, Gumm Road, like digital download service or digital streaming service. He, an insurance company, has found his podcast or his YouTube channel. And it’s like, would you like to do some sponsored videos for us or content you’d like to. Yeah. You know, that’s a much better hourly rate than I’m making turning wrenches. And so over the years, he’s gone from one hundred percent hours for dollars to when we last spoke. He’s like, I don’t really do customer work anymore. Like, I’ll buy a project bike if I need to make another video or based on, you know, what the top selling bikes were this year. I’ll find one that’s broken and invite four parts basically. So I have more content to create. But it was kind of this carving out a little piece of the time to turn that income pie from active to pass it. Right. It starts out everybody’s, you know, trading time for money. Like, that’s kind of just the reality for most people starting out. And if you don’t carve out any time to build that passive piece of the pie like it never happened, they kind of the Warren Buffett that if you don’t figure out a way to make money in your sleep, you’re gonna work until you die. And so I thought is was a real creative way to build that passive income piece.


[00:19:40] Yeah, awesome. No, that’s real. And yeah. Nick, really appreciate you taking us through that that that kind of story there. It’s it’s certainly an eye opener. And it’s it is one of those things I think, that people get so caught up in. You know, I could do this. I could do that. I’ve also seen people like I’ve seen some really creative side. Also, I’ve seen people have gone out there and look at things like, you know, sugar cane and found sugar cane they can import. And then they’ve found manufacturers where they can produce product and resell it online at a pretty decent markup. I found people who find produce on Ali Baba and and imported on scale and then and then resell it through really basic systems like eBay that are available to absolutely everybody. But they just think that these ideas are so easy. Like, these aren’t complex ideas. I think people, as you say, very often trying to go out and create like the income stream, like the thing that’s going to replace their day job. But there’s no there’s no harm in creating much smaller, potentially passive income streams that can kind of self operate in the background and maybe will only cover, say, 20 or 30 percent of your monthly expenses. But, you know, if you get into the habit of creating these and learning learning how to do it, it’s certainly a there’s certainly a strong they can certainly start to then be a strong mindset change towards finding new opportunities. I think it just takes that initial. I know you don’t like to use the words leap of faith, but I think just I think taking that first step into doing this is something that anyone can do, really.


[00:21:10] And there’s no excuse if you’re in that kind of idea. Generation Phase one exercise you can do is call it like the White Sox method, where basically over the course of a day or a week or however long you will do this, you just want to make a note, like an actual note. I use the notes app in my phone of what sucks, like what is bothering you at a particular time, like what is annoying, what is a pain in the butt to deal with. And you might find through those that there is a business on the other side of that. And actually just this more, we I believe we connected through podcast guests. Starcom. Yes. Yes, we did. Yeah. Yes. I was talking to the creator of this service of this email list, and he said it started as a personal pain point of his life. He runs a domain name podcast. And after 50 or so episodes, you kind of reached the limits of his network and was like, I’d love to keep doing the show, but I don’t any more people to talk to. Right. And so he started this directory with a Cannex podcast hosts and podcast guests.


[00:22:12] And he’s like he ripped it off of the Help a reporter business model. Right. Is kind of this matchmaking service and help out of order sold a decade ago for who knows how much that the owner said it was making a million bucks a year at that time. Are these revenue wise? So it’s like that’s an interesting model to me. As I started from a personal pain point, the a similar model had been proven out before. So it’s kind of lower risk. And on top of that, people were spending money like a podcast or kind of a rising tide. So as a little bit of a selling shovel’s into a gold rush and it’s hit a lot of different a lot of different things right at the right time and has worked out pretty well.


[00:22:51] Yeah, no. Awesome. Yeah, it’s really interesting. I think I think people need to start taking that leap of faith. And I challenge anyone who’s listening to this podcast now to follow Nick’s advice and to go out there and to try and create that additional income stream. It it’s it doesn’t need to replace the. It doesn’t need to replace your day job. It doesn’t need to provide full financial security. But I think if you target freedom and an additional one additional income stream, I think that that can produce such a huge catalyst for opening up your vote. So I should say shifting your minds into a place where you start to look at these opportunities a lot more readily. And I think that that can be instrumental in in producing ultimately what is more financial freedom and security, but in a way where you have full freedom over your day to day life as well. And as Nick likes, a safe is a good storm. And you just want to go out there and ski or snowboard, then having the ability to do that is something that is something that I’m sure a lot of people aspire to and think is completely unachievable. But with this mentality, with that side hustle mentality, I think it opens a lot of doors and really produces an option to do that.


[00:24:02] And so empowering because for me.


[00:24:07] I don’t know. It was really. Yeah, I don’t know. It just made me feel like weak to have to go and ask. My boss did. Is it okay if I take a couple days off for vacation, like next month? Like it just like I’m like I’m a grown up. Like, why do I have to. It just felt it felt awful. And so it’s like I don’t want to I to do that. And so it was a really powerful driving force.


[00:24:29] But on the flip side, like those first job free dollars are so empowering.


[00:24:33] You always hear stories of like especially an online business. I mean, my first 11 cents from an ad sense click and it’s like all of a sudden you see the light at the end, like it’s possible if I can make 11 cents, I can make you know, I can do that. Lather, rinse, repeat. Right. It’s just kind of getting to that money milestone in whatever business model you choose. So important because that’s, you know, really, really motivating to keep going with it.


[00:25:13] The venture podcast with Lambros Photios.


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