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KF #5. Business Insight Archives - How to be Awesome at Your Job

456: Finding Enrichment Through Side Hustles with Nick Loper

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Nick Loper says: "Think of your side hustle as an experiment... you take something away from every experience."

Nick Loper discusses the many benefits to having a side hustle—and how to start yours.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How side hustles can empower you as a professional
  2. How to turn your ideas into low-risk side hustles
  3. When to turn a side hustle into your main hustle

About Nick 

Nick is an author, entrepreneur, and a lifelong student in the game of business. His latest role is as Chief Side Hustler at SideHustleNation.com.

He’s been making his living online since before it was cool. Along the way he’s picked up a thing or two about small business, marketing, and outsourcing—and is happy to share the experience with those working hard to make their side hustle dreams a reality.

As the host of the top-rated Side Hustle Show podcast, Nick explores a different business idea each week and helps listeners discover the path to income streams.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Nick Loper Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Nick, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Nick Loper
Well, thank you for having me. I’m wondering if I’m qualified because I don’t know if I’ve ever been awesome at a job that I’ve ever had. But I appreciate the invite, man.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think you’re awesome as a podcaster and a reviewer, and so I think you’re very qualified. And, speaking of qualifying, I love the weird segue, I understand you had some success in an early job of swimming, and you went all in with the shaving and everything. Tell us all about this.

Nick Loper
That’s true. I don’t know if this was really necessary for the district and state level at the high school swimming. This is not Olympic trials or anything. But I was a decent freestyle swimmer back in the day, and what was really fun and interesting about this was being able to continually shave, maybe pun intended, time as fast as you thought you could go, “Hey, this is a dead sprint,” and then the next week being able to beat that, and the next week being able to beat that. It was really, really kind of eye-opening. And the coach was like, “You’ve been dogging it the whole season, man. What’s going on?”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that is cool and rewarding. And I think that it’s really exciting when there is some sort of a, for me at least, there’s like a number that’s associated with performance. And you do some things and you feel different, but then there’s also a number reinforcing it, whether it’s a revenue figure, or what the scale tells you, or something, that just lights me up too.

Nick Loper
Yes, it’s a very quantifiable sport, and that was one of my dad’s points very early on when I started swimming, he’s like, “Look, you’re only really ever racing against yourself. You can’t control what the guy in the next lane over is going to do, so just try and beat your best time.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s a good lesson. That’s a good lesson. And, another weird segue, you share a lot of good lessons on your Side Hustle Show podcast, and that’s a topic of interest for our listeners. So, I want you to orient us from the beginning, first, can you define for us, precisely, what is meant by the term side hustle? And maybe do you know where the term came from because I see it all the time now?

Nick Loper
Well, for me, a side hustle is anything that you’re doing to earn money outside of traditional employment, outside of your day job. And, in previous generations, maybe this was called moonlighting or a second job, but to me there’s a more entrepreneurial connotation than just delivering pizzas or bartending as a second job.

There’s this upside potential where it’s like, “Okay, maybe this could be more time-leveraged or maybe this could be a business that grows beyond just time for money,” and that is really exciting and empowering to me. The side hustle term itself, I found some etymology that dated it to like the 1950s but it’s really been over the last 5 or 10 years where it’s kind of become part of the national parlance, I suppose, and that has increased in popularity.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s right. And I guess I find that interesting because I think the word hustling in some communities can refer to illegal activity but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Nick Loper
Yeah, it’s very much, at least in my case, comes from an old baseball coach of mine who’s like, “Look, you’re going to have bad days at the plate, you’re going to have bad days in the field, but hustle never slumps.” Like it’s the one thing you can control your own effort. And so that’s kind of where the term really comes from, for me, not like hustling, like I have to scam anybody, but like, “Look, I’m going to control the effort that I can control in the time that I have.”

Pete Mockaitis
Totally. And you’ve had a wide variety of side hustlers on your show, and they’ve got some really fun stories. So, I’d love it if you could share with us maybe just a few of the more noteworthy examples of side hustles you’ve encountered from your guests.

Nick Loper
Yeah, there are so many. A lot of them kind of in the online business space, “I built a blog and I sell advertising,” right, whatever. But some of them were just like plain old brick and mortar, like you hang up the call, and you’re like, “Well, crap, I could do that.”

For example, one guy I met, he called this America’s simplest business, and he’s been in business since the early ‘80s, just picking up trash from parking lots, and he built this to like a $600,000 a year operation by the time we talked last year. And he outsourced the trash pickup by that point, but he called it getting paid to take a walk. And he says, “It’s the perfect side hustle because you got to do it early morning or late at night when the cars are in the parking lot.”

And he called up a property management company, and says, “Hey, who handles your liter pickup?” The landscapers don’t want to do it, and he had all these reasons, but it was a cool little business. So, that one comes to mind.

One of my favorite guests is Rob “The Flea Market Flipper” Stephenson out of Orlando, Florida, just a crazy take on the buy low, sell high business model, the same business model as Walmart, same business model as every retail store in the history of business. But, in his case, looking for really weird and random items that most people aren’t going to give a second look, a lot of cases big bulky items that the seller doesn’t have room to store, or they’re kind of afraid of how much it’s going to cost to ship, he’s got relationships with uShip.com was the site that he recommended for over land inexpensive cross-country shipping.

But he had some crazy stories about a prosthetic leg for 30 or 40 bucks at the flea market and turning it around for a grand the next day on eBay. Like, “How do you know what the stuff…?” and he’s like just walking around looking at what the comps have gone for on eBay, like a Husqvarna concrete polisher, just whatever random stuff he could find.

And I asked him, “Like, are you afraid of the deals drying up?” because he’s quit his job, he’s doing this full time, six-figure business, “Like, what happens if you don’t find the next concrete polisher or the next…?” what was the other one? It was like an exercise bike, like for physical therapy offices, “Like, what happens if you don’t find that deal?” And he’s like, “Look, my limit is not the deals. My limit is like the time and the inventory storage.” I think he ended up getting a warehouse to deal with some of the inventory storage or a storage unit or something.

So, that one is super fun, kind of in the product space. One in the online world that was really eye-opening to me was a drop shipping example. So, drop shipping is e-commerce but you don’t touch the inventory. You set up relationships with suppliers or distributors, and they ship the product to the customer on your behalf.

And this guy that I talked to was selling these giant commercial bounce houses. And he’d gone through a very specific product research process where he’s like, “I need the product to be over $500. I needed to get X amount of searches in Google every month. I need it to be not something that’s readily available at Walmart, even Amazon.” And so, he’s selling these like multi-thousand-dollar giant plain old bounce houses, and he said he sold over $300,000 worth of them in his first year, driving traffic primarily through AdWords and how like pay per click advertising but now investing more into SEO. And so, I was like, “That’s crazy. Like, never had to touch the inventory himself.”

Pete Mockaitis
That is wild. And I didn’t even know that there were concrete polishers and I’m wondering if my concrete is a little lackluster if I can polish it after the fact, or is it more so at an earlier stage of concrete production?

Nick Loper
Yeah, I’m not in that industry. I couldn’t tell you.

Pete Mockaitis
You made me feel mad about my concrete. It doesn’t shine the way it probably used to. This home was built many years ago. Well, so that is wild. And so, I want to get your take then, whew, so I guess, of course, of all the benefits to be gleaned from side hustling, I mean, one is, hey; money, two is, I guess, stories or exercise or fun. But I guess I’m thinking for folks who do not aspire for their side hustle to go full time, does it enrich the experience of the worker at work having a side hustle going?

Nick Loper
I think it definitely made me a better employee because, in my corporate world, in my corporate life, I was like at the bottom rung of this Fortune 50 company where if I didn’t show up, it would make zero meaningful impact to this business.

Pete Mockaitis
That doesn’t feel good.

Nick Loper
You hit your numbers, you don’t hit your numbers, like it’s not a blip on the radar, versus when I come home, nights and weekends working on my side business, which was a footwear comparison shopping website at the time that would make affiliate commissions from Zappos and Amazon and these other online shoe stores. If I spent the weekend hustling and making a ton of new ads and updating the inventory, I could see the benefits of doing that to my bottom line for the rest of that week, the rest of that month, versus at my day job, where it’s like I was going to get paid the same whether or not I worked really hard or didn’t. It was a kind of weird relationship.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s like the movie Office Space.

Nick Loper
Yeah, but being the CEO on the side kind of helped me see the bigger picture at work too and, especially, because in my job I was interfacing with car dealers as a manufacturers or reps for Ford. And so, some of these dealers had been in business for generations, some of them had their charter signed by Henry Ford. And to come in in his early 20s and tell these guys how to do their business, it was a weird kind of place to be in but I kind of speak in their language a little bit because I have this business experience on the side.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that is handy. So, you got some global perspective in terms of how the business is operating maybe a bit more strategically. You’re able to inform better connections with some of the folks here that you’re reaching out to. And how about some of the others, like your guests, have they shared some either skills they’ve acquired that were serving them at their day jobs as well?

Nick Loper
So, probably the thing that draws most people to side hustling is the extra income component. And when you’re starting out, I kind of frame it as a side hustle snowball kind of a reversed Dave Ramsey type of deal where it’s like I’ve itemized out my expenses, smallest to largest, and then I try in like a line item, erase them with non-job income streams, maybe that’s dividend investing, maybe that’s a little bit of freelancing over here, like, “What can I erase?” especially if I have an annoying expense, like, “Oh, my gosh, my car insurance just bothers me that I have to pay this. I want to cross it off and make that free.” I think it’s kind of a fun way to build it up.

But, like you mentioned, building skills, working on something that’s meaningful, that’s challenging, that’s impactful, that’s creative, all of that stuff really plays into what is a benefit of doing a side hustle. On top of that, really empowering to earn your first income outside of your day job, and to say like, “Oh, I’m worth more than what it says on my business card. Like, I have value in a marketplace outside of my own paycheck.”

I know for my wife that was really empowering and kind of a big confidence boost for her. But let me flip it around. Like what drew you to starting the podcast on the side? Like what benefits have you seen, if any, for work?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing. Well, in a way, I was sort of already self-employed doing my thing, and I thought the podcast would be cool in terms of generating leads for training services and whatnot. And so, it’s a little bit of that, but it’s really kind of going in new directions. I think that’s what’s been fun, is the surprises in terms of I do not even know what I was really getting into, but then it sort of sparks all kinds of cool things like I’m talking to fascinating people like yourself. And then I’m learning all sorts of things from those people as we’re chatting in terms of real skills as they’re sharing what they know.

And then sort of developing some expertise because I’ve been kind of clueless sort of when it comes to marketing, I think, and now I’m getting a bit more sophisticated in terms of I can more readily I think call out, it’s like, “No, that’s absolutely not worth it at all. I’m going to pass on that.”

Nick Loper
Well, you’ve clearly done something right. Like, I’m curious, what do you think attributes to the growth of the show?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing. Well, I think that, well, I was going to ask you about idea validation as well for side hustles, but I think I started a number of businesses that didn’t really produce revenue, if you will.

Nick Loper
Sure. Sure. I think we’ve all been there.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve had some folks say, “Oh, you shut down because you weren’t profitable.” I was like, “No, no, it’s not that the profit was zero. In fact, that was negative. It’s that revenue was zero.” And so, even partnering with brilliant people, you know, all the right credentials in terms of like fancy consultants, fancy business school degrees, just brilliant intellects, and we had an idea, and I think a couple in particular.

One was called Launch Point, and that was to prep folks, post-high school pre-college, in that little interim summer, it’s like, “Hey, let’s get you a bunch of skills you need to excel in college and not drop out.” And it was interesting that folks weren’t really biting on that a whole lot. Later, I learned that even some prominent marketers have tried that concept and not had as much luck.

Another one was low-cost online math tutoring using workers who are smart, are in the developing world, and can have a great living wage at a smaller price point. I thought, “This could be really cool.” But then it’s even like those who were low income already had sort of free tutoring services, and those who are high income wanted the very finest and they have no qualms paying 50, 60 bucks an hour for a tutor for their folks.

So, I think the difference here was, for the success of this show, was that I just refused, I just got fed up, it’s like, “I am not going to build something people don’t want even if I’m super excited about it and think they should want it, I’m just not going to do it.” So, I went a little bit, I wouldn’t say overboard, but I spent some real time in terms of I used three different quick survey tools to assess, “To what extent do people have an interest in listening to a podcast about skill-sharpening insights? And to what extent is that kind of similar to some shows but also unique?”

And when I saw that those numbers looked really compelling, I said, “Okay, folks genuinely want this. It’s not just something I think would be fun,” but I do, I think it’s fun. And so, I was raring to go. I think that made the difference. It’s like folks are fundamentally interested in this concept, and I see it even with my Overcast advertising, if you’ve ever done that, is that my taps and my clicks and my subscription rate, amongst other podcasts that are advertising on the platform, are like way higher than what they project.

So, it’s like, “Okay, this is a resonant concept anywhere you slice it.” Oh, you got me going, Nick.

Well, since we’re flipping tables back and forth, I want to get your take. When it comes to a side hustle, I think it’s very easy for folks to get super excited about something they’re into, fill in the blanks, artisanal candles or something, and then they maybe want to go big and say, “This has got to be huge.” How do you recommend mitigating risks and validating ideas before you lose all your money?

Nick Loper
Sure. Well, that’s the beauty of side hustles, almost by definition it’s got to be low risk because it’s on the side from your day job. Ninety-nine percent of people I talk to is all bootstrapped self-funded businesses, not taking in outside investment capital or anything like that. So, it’s like, “What can you get off the ground? How can you prove with the model quickly, inexpensively, and see what’s going to work?”

The biggest risk, especially for people who are still working in jobs, especially a job that they love, is like, “What if my boss finds out? Like, what is my employer going to think about this?” Like, that’s one of the bigger issues that tends to come up although with the data, I think, it’s like half of all millennials have some sort of side hustle, 44 million Americans overall have some sort of side hustle. It’s becoming more and more commonplace where it’s like, “Okay, look, your employer doesn’t own 24 hours of your time, energy, and attention.” It’s like, “Hey, look, they’re paying you for these eight hours, and after that, whether you run a marathon or run a business, like what business is it of theirs?”

But on the idea validation side, the quickest thing that I found is like to actually ask somebody to buy. And we’ve seen this in the physical product world that’s like, “Okay, I’m going to make a small bet on inventory upfront rather than like I’m going to buy a warehouse, or I’m going to buy a container shipment from China. Like, okay, how can I validate this on the cheap, on the kind of audience-building side, the blogging, podcasting, YouTube side of the world?” It’s kind of like, “What content is already out there that people are paying attention to? Can you tell if these people have been at it for a while? Does it look like they’re making money or does it look like this is just a hobby for them and kind of get a gauge based on some statistics?”

Similarweb.com might help you kind of gauge some traffic. Tubebuddy.com like for YouTube can kind of give you a gauge, although YouTube is pretty public about like, “This person has seven million views,” because they want to pump that person up too for social proof. And then, on the service side, it really is just like, “Here’s what I can do for you. Here’s the price. Would you buy it?”

A friend of mine hosts these urban hiking tours in San Francisco, and she saw walking tours, and Segway tours, and bike tours, and bus tours, and she’s like, “Well, shoot, I’ll throw my hat in the ring. How about a hiking tour?” She loved going hiking in all these different trails within the city limits, and found a handful of people who were like, “Yeah, that sounds awesome.” Those people seeded her profile on TripAdvisor and some other sites with the initial reviews, and she started to get some traffic organically after that. But she had paying customers from day one.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, absolutely. I think the key, as you say, “Would you buy it?” It’s not like you’re speaking in a theoretical context, it’s like, “No, here and now, are you going to part with your cash for what I got?” because there can be a world of difference between survey hypotheticals and, here we are, trying to exchange.

Nick Loper
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so then, that’s great and I think that may take a bit of courage for some who maybe are reluctant to engage in some of the sales conversations. Have you encountered that and do you have any pro tips for folks who are taking those first steps into selling?

Nick Loper
It is an awkward thing or can be an awkward thing to stick your neck out in a way and ask for money and have confidence in the value that you’re going to provide but it gets easier over time. And you kind of recognize that nobody is awesome at it right out of the gate, and it gets more comfortable, like I‘ve sold some advertising on certain sites, and it’s nice to be able to say like, “Here’s the rates. Here’s the PayPal link, go. If you want this, I’ll plug it in for you right away. Otherwise, hey, no hard feelings.” So, it can be as simple as that.

Like, I used to sell house painting, and the close was always like, “What do you think?” It’s like the lamest close ever instead of like, “Okay, I’m going to leave, my trucks parked out front. I’m going to leave in 10 minutes. It’s this price.” It’s kind of a low, a casual way to have a conversation, like, “Look, we’ve been talking for an hour, I’ve walked all around your house, this is what you told me you wanted, here’s the price. What do you think?”

Pete Mockaitis
Yep, all right. There you have it. And it’s just so simple, and I like that. I’m really putting myself in that moment and think about a painter, and “What do you think?” is it also feels a lot less cheesy than, I don’t know, you might encounter any number of pieces of advice associated with, “So, when can I schedule you for your dream painting or something?”

Nick Loper
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
“That’s cheesy and that is pretty presumptuous, I didn’t say that.”

Nick Loper
Yeah, “When can I get you on my calendar? When is it good for you? Like, I got the first week of June open.”

Pete Mockaitis
“What do you think?” All right, just that simple. That’s cool. I want to talk a little bit about the time element. So, you mentioned that you’ve got a number of hours outside of the eight-ish that you’re doing work at your day job, and you’ve got some expertise when it comes to leveraging your time with virtual assistants. Can you tell us a little bit about this and how that might be an effective way to get more hustling on the side with a limited number of hours?

Nick Loper
This is one way to kind of add some leverage to your day in that you don’t have to be the one doing all the work. I think, in the early days, it probably makes sense for you to be doing it provided it’s something that you know how or can reasonably learn how to do. My first hire was like a web development team, so I was like, “If I learn how to do it myself, the site probably still wouldn’t exist.” So, there are certain cases where it’s like, “Oh, I just got to hire an outside expert.”

But there’s other cases where it’s like, “Okay, I’ve been doing this myself, I have a process in place, but it’s not rocket science. I don’t need to be doing it myself. I could bring on some help to do that.” And this is really where I’ve had the most success in hiring outside help is plugging people into a specific role or task where it’s getting hours of work off of my plate in exchange for just a little bit of upfront training, and say, “Here’s the process. Can you follow this recipe?” And you’re providing feedback and training, coaching, of course, but ultimately saying, “This is your responsibility now.”

Pete Mockaitis
And so, you’ve taken a look at a lot of services that provide this. Have you found some that you are pretty reliably high quality and you dig?

Nick Loper
I have a dedicated service for podcast editing, that’s called Podcast Fast Track. I’ve got a kind of a website maintenance service, I consider it kind of like a website insurance at this point where if something breaks or if I want to change something, they’re kind of on call 24 hours a day, and just send them a note, “Hey, can you move this thing?” Because I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of trying to tweak things myself and hitting refresh and being like, “Oh, no, I got the white screen of death in WordPress. This is bad news.” That’s called Zen WP is a service I use over there. They’ve been really good.

But it’s really kind of itemizing out where your time is going and saying, “Okay, could somebody else do this as well or better than me? Or is my time better spent elsewhere?” And it’s kind of how I’ve gone about the delegation phase, and still learning. So, I just got off a call this afternoon about like, “Do you really need to hire like the executive assistant right-hand person type of role? And here’s why. Here’s how to do it.” So, that’s probably next on my plate.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, cool. Cool. And so then, I’m thinking, if folks are, they’re eager, they’re hungry, and they say, “You know what, side hustle sound really cool. I’ve got a number of ideas,” what do you recommend might be some of the very first steps and if you don’t have a whole lot of extra time or money but you want to get a taste? What are some of the starting tidbits you’d recommend?

Nick Loper
Starting points. If you’re in the idea searching phase, I encourage you to hit up SideHustleNation.com/ideas. That’s my constantly updated laundry list of part-time ways to make extra money that you can start today. No opt-in required over there. If you’re the person that has a handful of ideas and you’re trying to debate, “Well, which should I take action on? Which would be most worthwhile to pursue?” you can create kind of a weighted decision matrix with a handful of questions that might be pertinent, like, “How excited am I about this? What’s it going to cost to start up? What’s the profit potential long term? Is this scalable or could I eventually remove myself from the day-to-day operation?”

You can come up with 8 or 10 different questions, kind of along those lines projecting out 12 months or 24 months, and kind of assign a number score to each of those and see what the little matrix spits out. And you might find, “Well, that’s not what I really want to work on.” It’s like, “Well, go with your gut in that case.” So, if they’ve gone through that exercise a handful of different times and your gut will tell you if the numbers lie.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, I’ve done that exact thing and, boy, I remember exactly the context when I was in college and I had to figure out, “Okay, I got summer options, there’s some travel, there’s some trips.” And then I thought about, “Okay, what are my criteria? What am I going to score them at?” And then as I really just thought and just forced myself to think through them just made me realized, “I don’t think they’ll be that much fun. I don’t want to do that.” I was like, “How did this even get to be a finalist in the first place?” And so, yeah, I love that. It’s like you do the numbers but you’re by no means a slave to them. It’s just the process itself can be rather informative.

Nick Loper
And the last thing you need is a second job that you hate, so I think that’s a really important piece especially if you’re in the position of like, “Hey, it works okay, it works good, it’s paying the bills. I’m not struggling to make rent next month,” like, okay, then don’t start a side hustle doing something that compromises your enjoyment.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I’m with you. And let’s say you’re a little bit farther down the track, you’re like, “Holy smokes, it looks like people are really into this side hustle. Maybe it should be my full hustle.” Are there any sort of telltale signs or indicators that it might be a nice time to jump?

Nick Loper
Telltale signs. Probably a couple. The first is their track record of revenue. So, a lot of people are out to replace their day job salary which is awesome but kind of hard to do on a part-time basis. If you think about it, like, “Man, you’ve built something that’s legitimately time-leveraged if you manage to do that.” Probably the more important metric is to cover your expenses, like, “Does this cover my monthly fixed costs?” If so, fantastic, especially given an extra 40, 50 hours a week to dedicate to it.

Like, look at the upside, right? Like, if I’ve been able to get it here part time, think about what I’d be able to do when I go full time. The second thing is like if you can’t stop thinking about it, if you only had more time, like if you’re super energized and energetic about it, and it’s like, “Okay, now is the time to make the leap.” Some friends of ours gave the example of like they’re quitting their job to pursue some business in like electronic motorcycles or something. And they’re like, “Well, what happens if it doesn’t work out?” “I’ll go get another job. That’s okay.” And so, it’s kind of the think of the downside, think of the downside risks. Usually not as life-threatening or as damaging as we probably make it out to be.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear that. It’s like, “Worst case scenario, I’d burn through my savings and I had one, or two, or three years of fun with these motorcycles and we can resume.” So, that’s good. And maybe this is a nitty-gritty question, but I know some, when considering making a leap, health insurance in particular as a sticking point. Any pro tips on that front?

Nick Loper
A lot of my friends in the personal finance space use a health-sharing service. It usually has a Christian component to it, like you got to swear on the Bible to uphold Christian values. Liberty HealthShare is one that is probably less Bible thumping than Medi-Share which is the other popular one. But those two have significantly lower costs than going on the national healthcare exchanges. The risk is it’s not insurance, and they won’t tell you that it’s insurance, and that’s how they get around the federal mandate loopholes, but the cost savings are attractive enough to have a lot of people are putting their trust and faith in those.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure thing. And I guess so it’s not insurance but, I mean, at the end of the day, they pay your hospital bills, right?

Nick Loper
Yes, so they pay your claims. The question is just how long. I’m curious, like, how big is your risk pool? Somebody gets terminal cancer. Like, what are you going to cover? It’s a weird thing where it’s a little bit scary to me. I still have health coverage through my wife who works full time, so we look at it as a team sport. But if she was ever to leave that job, we would probably just go with one of the off-the-shelf plans and just chuck that up as a crazy expensive monthly expense.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear you. But I guess, now I’m thinking, you got my wheels turning, just like when you said, “Hey, what’s the worst that can happen?” I guess maybe it’s like you got to buy real insurance over the long term.

Nick Loper
Yeah, which is a significant number to add to your line item budget. And for our family, the last I looked it’s probably 1200 bucks a month minimum for pretty crappy coverage.

Pete Mockaitis
Such is the American challenge.

Nick Loper
I know. Your Canadian listeners are like, “What are they talking about?”

Pete Mockaitis
“What’s that about?” We love our Canadian listeners. Thank you. Well, tell me, any other things you want to make sure to mention before we hear a few of your favorite things?

Nick Loper
The biggest thing for me is to think of your side hustle as an experiment, kind of put on your scientist hat and say, “Okay, my hypothesis is this. It’s going to work. But if it doesn’t, that’s not the end of my experiment. Like, I’m going to go pivot back to something else, taking what I learned from that, and move onto the next thing.” So, in that way, like what I’ve really found is that failure is inevitable in a lot of cases, like you’re probably not going to hit a homerun in your first bat. But, on the other hand, it’s also impossible because you take something away from every experience.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. Well, now, could you share a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Nick Loper
The one that I probably point to is Thomas Edison’s “We don’t know a millionth of 1% about anything.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I find that comforting actually. And how about a favorite book?

Nick Loper
Favorite book for me is The Go-Giver by Bob Burg.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah, we had him on the show.

Nick Loper
Oh, nice. Yeah, so you know all about it. It’s about providing value first, being helpful first, and that really kind of solidified a mindset shift for me. I was like, “You know, I got into the business for the noble purpose of like, ‘How do I make extra money?’” And I was like, “Well, money follows value. Like, how can you be of service to others?” And so that was an important read for me.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Nick Loper
How about TextExpander. Actually, I got some of these. TextExpander is awesome for like these keyboard shortcuts and snippets, and LastPass is something that I probably couldn’t live without.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Nick Loper
Go-to habit is the practice of naming your top three priorities for tomorrow the night before so when you wake up you know exactly what to work on and in what order so you don’t have this 45-minute ramp-up period of like, “Well, what should I do today? Let’s see what’s going on on Facebook.” It’s like, “No, yesterday Nick said this was what’s important. Let’s go.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And is there a particular nugget you share that seems to resonate with folks, they quote it back to you a lot?

Nick Loper
The Side Hustle Show soundbite I probably refer to most is from Ryan Finley way back in episode 72 when he said, “The best opportunities aren’t visible until you’re already in motion.” And when he said that, and this was probably 2014, I was like, “Yeah, that sounds kind of hippy.” But, over the years, I’ve really recognized that to be so, so true. Once you get started, it’s so much easier to stay started. And the conversations that you have and the ideas that come up as you’re working, as you’re doing it, like never would’ve come to you had you just still been sitting on the sidelines.

So, the best opportunities aren’t visible until you’re already in motion. So, that’s my biggest challenge, like getting people off the sidelines and into the game, because once you do it, it’s like you can see the matrix, all the lights go on.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch with you, where would you point them?

Nick Loper
SideHustleNation.com is the home base. I mentioned SideHustleNation.com/ideas as a good place to start, and just nick@sidehustlenation.com as email.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Nick Loper
Yeah, maybe you could consider this as the challenge, is to think of the skills and interests and areas of expertise that you already have, and see how that might apply to a side hustle. So, for example, on my resume in the past, I was a ski instructor. So, I could say, “Well, what if I did private ski lessons?” I was working as a cashier at a restaurant, I was handling money, like, maybe I could do bookkeeping for certain businesses. Not every job or not everything on your resume is going to naturally translate to a freelance service, but I think you can get the creative juices flowing with, “Okay, what inventory of my existing skills has demand in the market?” And that’s probably a good place to start for looking at a potential side hustle.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Nick, thank you. This has been a treat. I wish you tons of luck as you’re side hustling and equipping others to do the same. So, keep it up.

Nick Loper
Thanks for having me.

160: Sizing Up Big Picture Strategic Challenges…FAST with Paul Szyarto

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Paul Syzarto says: "If you know there's a problem, state the facts and stick with it."

Paul Szyarto talks about his templates for overhauling businesses, the root of common business problems, and how to identify improvement opportunities.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How to assess root problems quickly
  2. Why identifying current facts is more accurate than relying on history
  3. The underlying source of tremendous confidence

About Paul

Paul Szyarto is a renowned business transformation expert. He is currently the CEO of Campana & Schott Inc., controlling all operations throughout the United States. He holds numerous degrees and certifications, including an MBA from Oxford. He is also a Lecturer at Rutgers University Continuing Education and The Wharton School, a member of the Advisory Board for Argus-Soft and DELCON Construction, and a practicing martial artist. He also teaches Krav Maga and tactical training as “The Combat CEO” at his VMMA franchise locations.

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