If you don’t hear a mention of the word ‘side hustle’ at least five times in a week, you are probably in a very special class. Everyone is looking at opportunities to earn extra income and this, while keeping a steady job going. Side hustles can be an excellent way to supplement your income, explore new interests, or gain valuable skills. Mostly, it is supposed to be easy to handle and often generates income once the structure is mapped out. As the name signifies, side hustles represent jobs that can be done on the side and which can be upgraded to become the main sources of income. The internet is full of suggestions and options; virtual assistance, affiliate marketing, online tutoring, copywriting, transcriptioning, freelance proofreading, coding, data analysis etc are some of the common suggestions. Some of the jobs are said to require zero capital, minimal experience and just a few hours of work input. Interestingly, the payment is mostly in foreign currency.

Sounds quite easy and agreeable, right? Not really!

Side hustles are not quite a walk in the park as people expect. Everything that must work effectively requires consistent, optimal and focussed input. Some people have tried several side hustles without making any headway; some that are successful rake in just a tiny fraction of the advertised projection. This is because there are some pitfalls and hurdles that people, in their eagerness, overlook. Here are some common hurdles to watch out for:

Time Management:

Balancing a side hustle with your main job, personal responsibilities and social life can be challenging. Some people willingly give up on their side hustles because when balanced against the demand on their time, the gain palls into insignificance. A young lady took up a side hustle that she actually felt she could handle, plus it paid well too. Her regular job was quite intensive so she could only pay attention to her side hustle in the night and by the weekend. In three months, she had earned some extra income but had become something of a recluse. It’s crucial to establish a schedule and set clear boundaries to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Insufficient Research:

The information put out over the internet is not always sufficient enough to provide a smooth introduction into the business. People are in too much of a hurry to start their business; they don’t take time to research extensively into the specific rules of the business to ascertain their suitability for the jobs. Fortunately, there are numerous instructions over the web that would help newbies if they can bother to research.

Extensive Commitment:

Some people take pride in saying that they have multiple side hustles. They wear this identity like an honours badge, displaying a level of multi-accomplishment that they hope will impress others. Having many side hustles is indeed impressive and might even bring in the required extra income; however, taking on too many jobs or projects at once can lead to spreading one’s self too thin. This might result in a decline in the quality of your work and level of consistency. It can also negatively impact your main job or personal life.

Financial Risk:

Some side hustles require upfront investments or expenses. Most times, these businesses are conducted online so any financial mishap may as well be counted as loss because it is not easy to bring online fraudsters to book. To navigate this particular terrain, a newbie might need to research the people who are already in the business and who are ready to hold master classes and offer on-the-course assistance … for a fee. Ensure you understand the potential financial risks involved before diving in. Check out the integrity of the persons you are paying money to and the security of the channels that they are using. Avoid getting into debt or spending money you can’t afford to lose.

Legal and Tax Issues:

Certain side hustles may involve legal and tax implications, such as registering a business, obtaining licenses, or reporting additional income. Failing to comply with these requirements can lead to legal trouble and financial penalties. Again, adequate research is necessary to identify these issues and when you do, make sure you deal with the appropriate agencies.

Ethical Concerns:

Depending on your side hustle, you might encounter ethical dilemmas, such as conflicts of interest with your main job or potential issues with client confidentiality. Be mindful of maintaining high ethical standards. If your side hustle becomes too demanding, it could distract you from your primary job or long-term goals. Ensure that your side hustle aligns with your overall objectives and doesn’t divert your attention from your main priorities. Where you need to share your testimonials online, ensure that the client is okay with being mentioned or referenced in any way.

General Well-being:

For most of the jobs, the more hours you put in daily or weekly, the more income you generate. Moderation is the key. Working extra hours can impact your physical and mental health. Make sure to take breaks, exercise, and get enough rest to avoid burnout and maintain overall well-being. Good health is necessary if you want to succeed at your business in the long run so it is important to balance your schedule.

Strained Relationships:

Balancing multiple commitments can take a toll on your relationships with family and friends. Remember my story about the lady that worked long hours at night and all weekend. She almost lost her two year old relationship with her fiancé. Communicate openly with your loved ones to carry them along in your projects and factor in a comfortable social life into your work calendar.  If the extra income is not worth the stress it is bringing, delete the business and look out for others.

Competition and Market Volatility:

Depending on the nature of your side hustle, you may face stiff competition or find that the market seems saturated. Thoroughly research your chosen field and identify unique selling points to help you stand out. Be conversant with changes in the policies guiding the job. Some side hustles might be susceptible to changes in market demand or external factors beyond your control. Be prepared for fluctuations and have a backup plan in case your side hustle experiences a downturn.

The hurdles are out there but so are the opportunities. Explore the ones that align easily with your present interests and which can be accomplished with as little stress as possible.  If your side hustle begins to war with your main business for attention and time, be quick and decisive in maintaining a balance. The idea is to get extra income, not overwhelming stress.

Choose wisely!

Fatherhood with Ibe

Stepdads Also Cry (2)

The widow Anna (not real name), her children and I lived together for years. I made efforts to marry her formally since it was obvious that my first marriage had failed totally. Somehow, Anna was not interested in being married again. I felt a marriage with me was in her best interest and told her that if anything happened to me, she needed the protection of marriage to allow her access to my property. She refused. She said she had promised her late husband on his dying bed that she would not remarry. I was irritated alright but I let the matter be.

The one that used to get me very angry was her long template on how to treat her children. It was always, “my late husband and I had agreed that we would not raise our children with the cane. We agreed to talk with them and make them see reason.” Or, “my husband did not like the idea of sending children to boarding schools. He had a bad experience in one and we agreed not to board our children.” There were so many things that the late husband had planned for his children apparently and although I was the one picking up all the bills, I could not honestly do anything without checking with Anna. My earnings were spent taking care of the children over whom I had no control. The worst one was that the children themselves were quick to remind me that I wasn’t their dad if I tried to enforce discipline of any kind.

In the years that we had been living together, I had no problems with Anna herself. She was a good partner; she was beautiful and I liked having her at my side. She also knew how to get me to do the things she wanted without seeming to challenge my authority. It was so different from my first wife, Rosalind who seemed to love to get into ceaseless arguments with me. Anna would call me pet names and daily remind me that I am the best thing that happened to her and her children. Yes, she ran through my money faster than I could make it and in the years that we were together, the only assets that I held on to were the ones that I bought in my sons’ names while still with Rosalind. For some unknown reason, I couldn’t bring myself to liquefy those no matter how financially tight things got. Anna wanted so many things for her and the children; she had a supermarket that was doing fairly well but all her bills came to me.

I went for most of the children’s school activities. I picked them up from school often and when I couldn’t, I left the car with Anna to make the chore easier for her. I tried to be there for them in a way I never had been for my children and never had the opportunity to be since their mother took them away. I think sometimes, I tried to do so much for Anna’s kids as a way of making up for all the things I couldn’t do for my own children. To be fair to myself, I had tried many times to reunite with my sons but Rosalind’s family formed a wall of resistance; nobody gave me any clue as to their whereabouts. A very unreliable source said that Rosalind had taken the boys out of the country. I gave up.

Anna’s daughter got married in her final year in the university. She was only 20 years old and although I had objected to the marriage, urging her to complete her education and get a little older, no one listened to me. Her betrothed was told about my reservations concerning their wedding so he came to see me as an enemy. He was a business man that was doing quite well financially and he had a very comfortable background, he promised the family that he would take them away and get them their own apartment after the wedding. The wedding was quite flamboyant, of course I even borrowed money to finance a part of it, and Anna was very happy.

Immediately after the wedding, true to his words, the new groom rented a small apartment for his mother-in-law, Anna and her son. Anna told me that they had to move, that it was what her late husband would have wanted, besides, her children were “uncomfortable about me living with a man who is not my husband,” she added.

I practically saw stars! Anna and her children had lived with me for about 14 years. In that period, I had been as much of a dad to the kids and as much of a husband to their mother as any other attentive family man. And whose fault was it that I had not married her? I did not know what happened but suddenly, I had lost another family and this time, through no obvious fault of mine. In the years we’d co-habited, I was very dedicated to the wellbeing of Anna and her children but the minute they got another benefactor, they abandoned me as if I had been a lousy father and partner. This hurt a lot.

My punishment was not over. I felt that the fact that Anna was not living with me did not mean that we could not continue with our relationship but every time I invited her over, she kept giving excuses about why she would not come over to my house. One evening, totally exasperated by her excuses, I drove over to her new home to see her and get a few things straightened up. Her 18 years old son, who had just been a tiny tot when I met his mum, looked me in the eye and told me that I needed to leave his mum alone. He said many things that almost brought tears to my eyes and finally told me to go and find my own family adding that he and his family were not a replacement for mine. My heart broke into fragments.

It’s been six months since Anna and her children moved out. The large empty apartment mocks me all the time. I am a lonely old man and I cry silently, for neglecting my biological family, ignoring all the signals that Anna and her kids were giving me and building a castle in the air, thinking I was building a new home. I wish I can retrace my steps; I wish I had been more reasonable with Rosalind, I wish I had just helped Anna and family financially and never brought them in to live with me, I wish I had read between the lines when she refused to marry me and denied me any say in her children’s upbringing. Above all, I wish I had been a good father to my children; I wish I had fought for a chance to be in their lives; I wish I had shown how much I love them. It too late now.

I spent 14 years being a dad to kids who didn’t appreciate me.

Dads also cry and being a step-dad can be a gruesome venture.