Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
As you know, one of the core themes of Side Hustle Nation is to control what you can control, even when the world seems to be spinning out of it.
I’m still wrapping my head around what the coronavirus outbreak means for all of us. I mean, we’ve never been through a global pandemic before! We’re all learning as we go.
But at this point, it feels weird NOT to address the issue, so here goes.
In this post (and companion podcast episode, if you prefer audio), I’ll attempt to cover:
- Why I think this is a temporary setback, and how science says we can make that prediction come true
- How to stay sane while working at home
- Businesses that are positioned to thrive in this environment and on the other side
- Some awesome free resources to help if you’re hurting right now
A Temporary Setback
My personal mindset is one of optimism plus preparation.
I don’t see this being the plague that wipes out half the population.
I think this is a temporary setback, and you can kind of already see that in the countries that were hit earlier but got it under control. That’s the optimism part.
The preparation part is in taking stock of the pretty serious damage this is doing and has already done. I think it makes sense to take steps to:
- protect yourself and your family
- protect, improve, or diversify your income sources
Prevention is the best medicine. That means staying home as much as you can.
This seems like an imposition but according to people much smarter than me, it’s the safest and fastest path to getting back to normal. By limiting person-to-person contact, we all work together to slow the spread so that our medical system doesn’t get overwhelmed. This the #flattenthecurve plan and I haven’t seen a compelling counter-argument to it yet.
Remember, other generations were drafted to go to war.
We’re being asked to stay home.
We can do this.
The Pandemic Paradox
That may be the ultimate paradox of the epidemic — if we can convince everyone to take it seriously, it becomes far less serious.
A Path of Destruction
Obviously you don’t need to be infected to be affected. COVID-19 is something that’s having profound and unprecedented impacts on people’s lives and businesses. This has devastated people’s paychecks and livelihoods; entire industries have been decimated overnight.
Travel, hospitality, retail, and events-related businesses have been hit hard, and the ripple effect throughout the entire economy is kind of nuts.
But still, I’ve got to believe it’s temporary—if you can weather the storm.
For example, we still have several trips planned for later this year, and hopefully will be able to make those happen.
Exposing the Myth of Self-Reliance
If there’s one thing the virus has exposed, it’s the fragility and really intimate interconnectedness of our entire world economy. I beat the “self reliance” drum as loud as anyone, but like many others, I rely on lots of other dominoes falling in place to achieve that “independence.”
Do Your Part
We stand a far better chance of beating this sooner rather than later if we all cooperate. Stay home.
Staying Sane at Home
Like millions of others, our family is under a “shelter in place” order by the state. That means not leaving the house except for essential trips — basically to get groceries or go to the doctor.
Thankfully, Bryn and I are both able to work from home — a luxury I know not everyone has.
I’ve been working from home full-time for almost 12 years, but this is still uncharted territory. I’m used to having the house to myself all day!
Here are a couple things I’ve noticed so far:
- The importance of prioritization
- Being either on or off
Busy vs. Effective
What does that mean?
That means if you have limited time, focus on the highest impact work. Ask yourself if you only had an hour a day to work on your business, what would you do?
This is the difference between being busy and being effective.
And the other thing, with the kids home all day, is to either be on or off.
What I mean by that is having clear times that are for work, and clear times where my attention is 100% dedicated to them. Anything in between is a recipe for nothing meaningful getting done, and a lot of frustration on everyone’s part.
Set some boundaries and be either on or off.
(What we’re attempting here is an every other day situation, where I’m in charge of the kids Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while Bryn works, and then she’s graciously giving me Tuesdays and Thursdays to get some stuff done.)
And again, I’m really grateful to have that kind of flexibility!
What Else Can You Do?
If you’re under either a self- or government-imposed house arrest, there are a few things you can do. These are certainly helping over here!
1. Have Some Sort of Schedule
Like I mentioned a moment ago, we’re attempting trading off kid duties and work time, but even inside the days I’ve found there’s a certain rhythm that has been helpful to stick to. For us that might look like:
- outside time
- nap/games/quiet time
- magic school bus
And of course there’s lots of crazy throughout the day, but having some sort of schedule has been helpful.
2. Take Care of Yourself
Make sure you’re eating well and getting exercise. Take advantage of some natural immunity boosters.
I’m making sure to get in some sort of home workout 5-6 days a week, normally first thing in the morning. These are quick, 15-20 minute, mostly bodyweight movements. The goal is a high-intensity resistance + cardio training session all in one.
I find my head is in a much better place the rest of the day when I get this done, and there’s a lot of science to back up as well.
3. Get Outside
We’re still allowed (for the time-being, at least) to go for walks and bike rides and hikes. It’s really helpful to have some room to roam and get some fresh air!
4. Look for Silver Linings and Practice Gratitude
In every crisis, there’s opportunity. (Just don’t by the guy trying to turn a quick profit flipping hand sanitizer!)
When I was running my shoe business, Google shut down my ad account, which was a major crisis for me at the time. I’d just quit job and was banking on that source of profitable traffic.
Although it was a stressful summer, it ultimately turned into an opportunity to remake the landing pages and hopefully create a better shopping experience.
So we’re looking for silver linings, and I think chief among them is that we’re getting to spend more time with our boys than we normally would. They’re never gonna be this age again, and whether we’re out looking for bugs or riding bikes, it’s awesome to see the world again through a more innocent lens.
5. From Obligations to Opportunities
It’s not always easy, but trying to reframe from “have to” to “get to” may be helpful. From obligations to opportunities.
- I get to look for new sources of income
- I get to learn new skills
- I get to try these things I never had time for before
What businesses or side hustle ideas are poised for success in today’s environment?
Let’s take a look at a few businesses that may be recession-proof.
1. Virtual Work Opportunities
I believe this crisis may be the inflection point for remote work. More companies are going to be second-guessing their need for a physical office after this, or at the very least, more open to hiring or contracting with remote team members.
So how to get a remote gig? There are massive lists of work from home jobs online, but I imagine they’re even more flooded with applications than normal.
Instead, with a little creativity and marketing, maybe you can connect with clients yourself.
Here are a couple of my favorite recent freelancing-related episodes:
- 344: Virtual Consulting: How to Start a Location-Independent Consulting Business, with Paul Minors
- 328: How to Start a Service Business to Replace Your Income, Step-by-Step, with Abbey Ashley
And be sure to check out our freelancing archives for lots of ideas and tips to get started.
2. Online Business and Courses
Online education is already huge, and it’s only going to get bigger. If you have extra time on your hands right now, use it to start creating content. This idea of “working in public,” teaching people what you know (or even what you’re learning in real-time), can be really powerful in building a business online.
I made $249 from YouTube last month, and if I’m being honest, that is the $249 I’m most excited about right now. It feels like a completely new frontier for me!
(My video game is admittedly pretty weak, but it’s getting better. And it’s something I get to play around with, not something I feel like I have to do.)
And if you have some specialized expertise, YouTube can sit at the top of your sales funnel for a premium online course and be extremely effective. Check out episode 314 with Nate Dodson for a case study in how that can work in practice.
If you need to make money quickly, product flipping is probably one of the fastest ways to do it. My friends Rob and Melissa from FleaMarketFlipper.com have some great resources on this, including a free online training.
Just be sure to practice social distancing while you’re out sourcing inventory!
And it’s probably worth mentioning that the most downloaded episode of all time on the Side Hustle Show is episode 294 with Rene Delgado, where he walks me through the first year of his bounce house drop shipping business. It’s a good one!
4. Delivery Gigs
With fewer people leaving their homes, that spells an opportunity to bring stuff to them. There are a bunch of apps that facilitate deliveries on everything from takeout orders to groceries, to alcohol, and more.
- Instacart – Grocery shopping and delivery service – Instacart Shopper Review
- DoorDash – Deliver take-out orders – DoorDash Driver Review
- Postmates – Deliver food, groceries, and other items – Postmates Driver Review
Kevin Ha recommended “stacking” multiple apps at once to try and get orders going in the same direction.
The biggest advantage is that these are quick to start and begin earning money.
The downside is your hourly rate will probably top out in the ballpark of $25 an hour at the very high end.
Again, if you choose this path, be safe out there, follow the social distancing protocols, and wash your hands.
5. Cleaning Services
There might be opportunity in the commercial or residential cleaning or sanitization space right now. And as virus fears linger, probably into the future as well.
I see more opportunity in the near-term in the commercial space, just because we actually paused our own residential cleaning service. I’m happy to have them back once it’s all over, but we just don’t want anyone else coming into the house right now.
Helpful Resources for Side Hustlers and Entrepreneurs
In the show notes for this episode I’ve also compiled links to several helpful resources and websites.
- New York Times page on unemployment, student loans, rent or mortgage assistance, and other financial resources
- Inc’s resource page for entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19
- The ConvertKit $50,000 Creator Fund (apply for assistance or contribute)
- Smart Passive Income resource page
- ahrefs Blogging for Business course (normally $799)
- Josh Elledge’s Media Influencer Makeover (normally $1800)
- How to live your best quarantined life (via Morning Brew)
- COVID-19 financial resources (via iHeartBudgets)
- Broke Millennial’s COVID-19 Relief Hub
- Steve Chou on preparing for a recession
- Mary Shaw on working from home
Add your own resources in the comments section so we can keep making this a helpful page for everyone who stops by.
Together, we’ll get through it!
This too shall pass. Everything is temporary, even though it feels like it’s dragging on forever.
In the meantime, buckle up, stay safe, and hustle on!