'Scandal' Lesson: What Side Hustles (and Relationships) Have In Common
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Is it me, or is there an increased popularity in our culture with “sides”?

Side hustles.

Side chicks.

My favorite TV show, “Scandal” and Olivia Pope—the side we love—is premiering this week. So, I’ve been focused on the challenges with having side … ventures.

Typically, “sides” represent your passion, and they are wonderful diversions from your “9 to 5.” But, be careful: Rarely do “sides” become permanent, full-time or lucrative. Here are four issues that prevent side hustles from becoming primary ventures:

1. You Have A Lot Of Passion For Your “Side,” But Not A Lot Of Time. Side hustles are sexy. They usually embodied your dreams or fantasies: “I’ve always wanted to open a day spa.” In the beginning, all you can do is think about that business. And you’ll work on it—when you get off…work. Your passion is already taking a backseat to your real priority–financial security. So, unless you have a plan for initially replacing your income (i.e. investors, bank loans, partners, and/or savings), your dream is reserved–for after hours.

2. “Sides” Require Little Financial Risk. Side hustles are alluring because they don’t require substantial financial investments. Hey, you have your 9-to-5 to fall back on, remember? Security and the fear of losing it is the central reason why few people completely invest in side ventures. “What if it doesn’t succeed?” “What if I go bankrupt?” “I can’t lose my pension if it doesn’t work out.” By contrast, entrepreneurs don’t obsess on the “what ifs”–they factor them in and strategize accordingly. Plus, they are just crazy enough to believe that the idea will work. Note: Many great businesses were born after people were fired–they no longer had anything to lose!

3.You Are Afraid Of Commitment. Two words that don’t go together: Sides and Commitment. The flexibility is the most attractive characteristic of a side–you can do it when you want (pun intended). You can “see” if it will work out. Most people think this is a prudent strategy. If the ultimate goal is to make this your livelihood, however, that mentality won’t get you there. 100% commitment and fortitude will. Down times and risk are major parts of the entrepreneurship game, and those that dig in and ride it out, win.

4. When The “Side” Becomes Too Demanding, You Quit. There is a phase in all relationships where the novelty wears off. It’s no longer fun. It becomes too demanding. It needs…more (i.e. money, stability and effort). Think about it: A side is rarely profitable. If it were, why is it a side hustle? Be honest: You know it requires more, but you don’t want it for that purpose. Then understand, it is a hobby or just something exciting to do to “make a little extra money.” And that’s fine-unless the side’s expectations change. When that happens, you have two choices: Be “all in” or quit. That’s the quintessential element of what distinguishes a side hustle from a primary business.

Where there is no investment, there is no reward. Thus, lasting businesses and relationships succeed because they are rooted in unconditional love and commitment. When the going gets tough, the initial passion is replaced with a dedication to nurturing the endeavor and seeing it grow. That is a necessary element that sides do not possess and is why they typically fade over time.

Nicole Cober, Esq. is a partner at Cober Johnson, a law firm focusing on trademarks, brand licensing and small biz consulting. She is a former small biz owner of the award winning chain, Soul…Day Spa and Salon. She is also a Legal Consultant for Washington DC’s NewsChannel 8 and author of the soon-to-be released book: “CEO of My Soul: The Dos and Don’ts of Small Biz.” Follow her on Twitter @CoberJohnson and like her on FB @CoberJohnson. Visit her website at www.coberjohnson.com.

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As a trailblazer in the small business community for nearly a decade, Nicole Cober is an advocate for the small business community. For eight years, Ms. Cober owned and operated a day spa and hair salon chain that served as a revitalization catalyst in a developing area of the nation's capital. During that time, she received national media coverage regarding small business management and entrepreneurism in various publications such as People, Essence, Allure, Entrepreneur, The Washingtonian, The Washington Post, Upscale and Black Enterprise. Ms. Cober was also featured on the CBS Morning News, BET and the reality show, "Ambush Makeover." The salon and spa received recognition by the Washington City Paper as "The Best Stylist" and "Best Spa" and Ms. Cober's commitment to the community was on display annually when she used her business for philanthropy by provided complementary services to Rachael's Women's Shelter. Ms. Cober blends both her legal and business skills together to offer a uniquely powerful list of services for clients. Affectionately known as "The Lawyer-preneur," she now seeks to empower start-ups and local small businesses with by creating effective business, branding and growth strategies. Ms. Cober is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley as well as Howard University School of Law. She was a judicial law clerk for the Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals and worked for a number of years at Dickstein Shapiro as a litigation attorney, specializing in employment and insurance coverage law. Currently, she is a regular contributor to Black Enterprise and Citibank's Women and Co. as well as a legal consultant for NewsChannel 8 WJLA. Ms. Cober is also a public speaker, coach, a contributor to Pulse Magazine, a publication devoted to international spa management, and soon to be author who will publish a book later this year titled “CEO of My Soul”, which chronicles the do's and dont's of her early days as an entrepreneur. Follow her on twitter @CoberJohnson


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