The Paradox of Side Hustle Choice: 4 Steps to Overcoming Paralysis of Analysis

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Ever find yourself thinking about starting a new side hustle, but not sure which idea to run with?

I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and perhaps I’m even compounding the problem with posts like this and sharing a different side hustle business opportunity each week on the podcast.

At once, our limitless options and opportunities are a blessing, but they can also be a curse.

Our world of abundance and millions of different choices can be a curse when hinders the decision-making process. It’s called “paralysis of analysis.”

There are so many enticing choices; how do I know which one to pick? How do I make sure I make the right choice?

I have some bad news: You can’t know for sure.

And you can’t do everything.

So you have to choose.

And it’s not just in business. It’s everything. For example, this is the toothpaste aisle at my local Target:

toothpaste aisle

It’s insane.

I just want something to clean my teeth. Any one of these tubes will get the job done, but now I find myself reading the labels, comparing features, benefits, and prices.

In another example, I’m embarrassed to say how much time I spent shopping on Amazon for an iPad case. An iPad case. Another commodity product where literally any of the options would get the job done.

And it’s not like I was going to stumble on some crazy price/value arbitrage — all the choices were between $20 and $40, just like every toothpaste is between $2 and $4.

On the surface, more choices are a good thing. Right? You’re more likely to get exactly what you want, right?

Well, there’s some evidence to suggest that more choices actually lead to us choosing nothing at all. In fact, you’ve probably read about a famous case study in which a grocery store sold more peanut butter when there were 6 varieties than when there were 24.

Why are we so indecisive when faced with too many competing options? The fear of making the wrong choice is scary!

OK, now back to the business stuff.

How can you overcome the paradox of side hustle choice? Here are my 4 steps to break though the paralysis of analysis and get on with life.

1. Just Pick Something!

Get started. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Like stressing over the right tube of toothpaste or the right iPad cover, it doesn’t matter.

Everyone who started a blog this year wishes they’d started it last year. Everyone who started a podcast this year wishes they’d started it last year.

Consider this: Have you ever heard ANY entrepreneur tell their story and say, “I really wish I’d waited another few months to get started.”

No way!

(You can listen to all 300+ episodes of Entrepreneur on Fire w/ John Dumas if you don’t want to take my word for it…)

Someday starts today.

My wife and her friend are the perfect example of this with their photography business. They could have let the excuses bog them down:

  • We’re not good enough yet
  • We don’t have the right equipment
  • We don’t have a portfolio

But instead they took a stand and got started. They started advertising their service, booked clients (at a steeply discounted rate), and by the end of the year they’ll have 9 weddings under their belt!

After all, what better way to:

  • Improve their skills
  • Fund the right equipment
  • And build a portfolio

than by actually doing the work? By starting this year instead of next, they’re a year ahead of where they’d be in both experience and pricing power.

Switching gears, let’s say you’re interested in building a niche site, like Spencer described in last week’s podcast. You now know the exact steps a seasoned professional takes to get started. What’s stopping you?

2. Go All In

By “go all in” I don’t mean risk everything or invest your life savings.

I mean “go all in” in terms of effort and focus. Basically, don’t half-ass it.

If you half-ass it and fail, you’ll never know what truly doomed the project; your effort and execution, or the idea itself.

Learn everything you can. Implement the best practices and apply the top strategies of those who have gone before you. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

3. Measure Your Progress

Give yourself a measurable target to shoot for. It can be anything objective you can gauge progress against.

Examples of measurable side hustle progress might be:

  • 100 website visitors a day
  • $100 in adsense earnings in a month
  • 2 recurring clients paying at least $500 a month

Find out what metrics are important to you to measure initial success. This is called a KPI (key performance indicator).

As you track it, and the work that influences it, you’ll see a meaningful impact toward building a sustainable and profitable side hustle.

4. It’s Just an Experiment

Remember, when it stops being fun or interesting, you should probably stop and try something else. The last thing you need is a side hustle you begin to dread.

I like to look at each new project as an experiment. It’s a chance to try something new.

If it works, great! If not, hopefully I learned something I can apply to the next one.

And on to the next side hustle idea I go.


12 thoughts on “The Paradox of Side Hustle Choice: 4 Steps to Overcoming Paralysis of Analysis”

  1. I can definitely relate Nick. I am always having ideas running through my head and not knowing what to pursue. The problem would lie in not doing any one of them. However, I now decide on what one thing to pursue and focus on that before trying anything else. It is not until you try when you know if it’s worth pursuing.

  2. Love the lead-in full of psychology, of course! To Point 1 I would add that if you’re struggling with which side hustle idea to run with, go with the one about which you feel the most emotion. Talk about the options to a close friend or unbiased family member and ask that person to reflect back to you which topic you had the most energy about – in your tone of voice, speed of talking, and use of emotion language. I’m a big believer that often there’s only one REAL choice we want to run with, and we just talk ourselves into thinking there are many because we’re afraid to commit! (I’ll be posting a video on this soon, in fact, since it’s such an important topic!)

  3. As a person who has stood in a cereal aisle for 20 minutes trying to decide on a cereal, this is something I tend to struggle with. Thanks for sharing some great thoughts.

  4. Hi Nick,
    Thank you for interesting blog posts – i have read many in recent days, since I have decided to inform myself about the topic of a “side hustle”.

    From all the information that I have read I couldn’t find (maybe I missed somewhere?) some thoughts on how far should one be prepared (knowledge, skills, market analysis etc.) before he “is ready” to start his side hustle. I consider starting a production business (physical products) – I know there is a market, the technology is felxible and allows me to comply with customers needs, I don’t see any problems with storage, shipment, logistics (I guess you will say – wait till you start :)). The only Problem is that initial investment would be about 20k $ and thats a lot. I can not go with “just pick one!” on this project. But without the equipment I can not even start. What knowledge is the most important before making such a decision? How can I prepare myself to avoid making big bag investment? Thank you for opinions!

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