What you can learn in the hustle economy
How to measure your progress in uncertain times
The “hustle economy’” is upon us: that’s the term that has been thrust upon the thousands who are trying to transition their skillsets into new businesses or hustles due to the pandemic.
For many of them, this is their foray into the world of business, much less going into business for themselves. As such, there may be a number of them worried about their metrics: each person that chooses to sign up or not sign up for their service, or the individual fluctuations in customer base.
But that’s not something you should worry about: if you find yourself up at night worrying about metrics, consider looking at different metrics.
The problem with default metrics
Have you ever run across ‘that one creator’ who was a one-hit-wonder?
They created a single video (or series) that hit it big but repeated the same thing ad nauseam until people grew tired of them.
Countless stories of digital creators simply didn’t know how to deal with sudden (and often random success) who fizzled out soon afterward.
That’s the problem with chasing money or ‘likes’: you may be blessed by the Youtube algorithm/donation campaigns/random events/etc. one time, but your work next month doesn’t even get recognized as people have moved on. Youtube and Google’s algorithm change all the time, meaning the types of videos, posts, and content that they advertise change with it.
Rather than worry about lucky events like that, keep it simple. Polish whatever skills people find valuable, find additional uses for them, and expand.
The value add is fundamentally how all business operates. And to illustrate this, let me show you a few different ways that it can be created.
The growth mindset of Google
Believe it or not, some of the largest tech giants are good examples of growth companies.
It seems strange at first, but to understand this, simply think of the failures they encountered. Google+? Google Glass? If one was going to try and maximize profit, why would you try your hand at many different fields that you were either new to or had little experience in?
Because sometimes it works out. For every Google+, there’s a Google Drive or Google Chrome. So how should you incorporate this of mentality into your work? The primary metric is what you can learn from your failures.
To adopt the growth mindset requires an almost pessimistic worldview: it requires you to say “if this thing doesn’t work out, what can I learn from this?”
It requires you to revisit your past mistakes as well as consider what you can take forward, but as a result, you can learn how to quickly and easily fail and iterate on something.
If you become more adept at realizing that something isn’t working, you can either work to change your approach or scrap this version and iterate on it.
The better you get at failing fast, the fewer resources and time you waste on bad ideas, and the more you avoid productivity killers such as the Sunk Cost Fallacy. But that’s not the only way to succeed.
Translating knowledge for the average audience
They say knowledge is power, but what does that mean? Well, as nations developed, a lot of the economy has shifted away from things such as manufacturing and towards things such as knowledge.
This should be common knowledge: getting an advanced degree such as a Master’s or Ph.D.’s have been thought of as a time-tested and somewhat risk-averse way of dealing with things such as a recession.
However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s enough now: some Asian countries have pursued this method too much, resulting in a highly educated population with not enough jobs to support them.
Even in the US, one doesn’t have to look far to find PhDs looking for work in the recession.
So, the metric you should be striving for is something slightly different: being perceived as a subject matter expert. And to highlight this, let’s go with an example.
Say that you wanted to become known as a top expert in Physics. You did your undergraduate degree in Physics and then went on to get a Ph.D. in the subject. At one point in time, that would have been enough to be considered an expert.
But now, the US produces 2,000 Physics PhDs each year. So how do you stand out amongst them? By producing value.
You might, for example, create Youtube videos that explain physics concepts to the average person.
In this day and age, getting additional certifications is a well-established, somewhat effective way of attaining more success. But it’s not the be-all, end-all: creating a value add from the knowledge is a proven an equally proven track record that one might say results in greater success.
The bottom line
Let’s face it: if you’re trying to start a business right now, you’re at a disadvantage.
In addition to starting in a recession, you’re also starting when many people are turning to side hustles as a way of getting through this recession in one piece.
So if you don’t have a fancy business education, just keep it basic and do fundamentally has been the cornerstone of business for all time: the value add.