On the next blank page of your notebook, write “Finances”. (Don’t forget to add it to the index.)
This bit is scary. Just writing that word is frightening, which in itself might spawn a series of posts: “Why we are so bad at money.” I digress.
Step 1 is to perform an audit on your personal finances. This process could definitely provide a hundred blog posts. If you are looking for a template/approach, you might do a lot worse than look at “You Need A Budget” (YNAB). What we are trying to work out is how much money we need to live each month. Write “Income Requirement” under “Finances”. Write down all your expenditures. Rent/mortgage, utilities, food, travel, everything you spend.
For most people, this exercise is, in the first instance, pretty simple. Very quickly, they arrive at the point, “I currently earn 1,000 dib-dabs per month, and I could certainly cope with earning 1,000 more, but if I earned any less, there would be trouble.” This post is for those people.
Quitting your job tomorrow to focus on speculatively writing the script for “Star Wars 45 – Facebook Fights Back”, would be very dramatic, and we all love a dramatic gesture, but to be honest, it’s probably not a great idea.
Whether your solo project is a creative one, a business one or a combination of both, it is unlikely to finance next month’s rent. Almost always, going solo begins as a side hustle. You are going to start your new “thing” without giving up your current income.
You may already have known that, but stick with me. This exercise is not about the result, but about the process. You have documented not only your minimum monthly income requirement, but why it’s the minimum. If you have done this properly, you should already be feeling empowered. You know what you need and why.
Now – aside from the income question above, let’s look at capital. Does your solo project need capital? Do you need a start-up fund?
I’m not talking about the money you might need in the future, I’m talking about the money you will need to spend to get your side-hustle going.
I’ll give you a clue. The answer, at this point, is “No. I do not need capital.” I have raised money in the past, to start a new venture, and we’ll come back to that, but at this early stage, we’re talking about a side-hustle.
I often hear objections to the above.
So, let’s deal with those now. Continue your Finance pages with, “Start Up Capital Requirements”. List out all the things that you actually need to start your side hustle and your estimate of their cost. Knock your self out. Enjoy! In minutes, you can get yourself to 50,000 dib-dabs. A new computer, business cards, mobile phone, website, stationery, a desk, gardening tools, new suit. The potential list is endless, and of course specific to your business idea.
Wasn’t that fun?
It’s a useful exercise, and I do not doubt that you do need (or want) all of these things. I believe in you. You will have that Mac Pro. Just not yet.
Before you buy anything, work out who will pay for it.
The device upon which you are reading this post is what you will use to find customers. You may even have more similar devices. Even if you have none of the tools that you need to deliver whatever it is you are going to do, first, get customers. Get commitments.
Before buying a rake for 5 dib-dabs, have someone who is going to pay you 5 dib-dabs to rake their lawn. Then borrow a neighbours rake and get your first job done. Then ask the neighbour if they want to sell you the rake for 3 dib-dabs.
This is important. It’s also not about capital. It’s about a mindset. If you have some money laying about, that you want to invest in your side-hustle, don’t. You’ll just buy stuff you don’t need. Trust me. I know this for all the wrong reasons. You also won’t learn anything. I am prepared to take on trust that you are really good at spending money. We all are. I, for example would consider myself an expert on spending money. What you need to learn is, can you hustle? Can you generate income with nothing more than words?
You can afford to go solo. Because you are not going to spend any money.
Time? Yes. That’s next week’s post.