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BOOK REVIEW: Side Hustle – Build a Side Business and Earn Extra Cash, Without Quitting Your Day Job by Chris Guillebeau

| 21 March 2018 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Side Hustle – Build a Side Business and Earn Extra Cash, Without Quitting Your Day Job by Chris Guillebeau

Pan Macmillan
September 2017
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Non-Fiction / Business & Management / Small Businesses & Self-Employment


If anyone was qualified to write books on the successful start-up or side hustle then it’s American entrepreneur, Chris Guillebeau. This guy is the ultimate slashie who has already accumulated a lifetime’s experience as a self-employed businessman, writer, and traveller even though he’s not yet 40. Side Hustle – Build a Side Business and Earn Extra Cash, Without Quitting Your Day Job takes the task of creating a side hustle – or money making project you can pursue on the side while working a day job – and breaks it down into a series of steps designed to be followed over the course of 27 days. While Guillebeau’s advice is relatively practical and sensible overall, you can’t help but wonder whether it is over-simplifying this whole process and focusing too heavily on success rather than offering a more truthful reality of the fickle business environment.

These stories, all true, represent the way of the side hustle: defined as a moneymaking project you start on the side, usually while still working a day job. In other words, it’s a way to create additional income without taking on the risks of going full throttle into the world of working for yourself…
But what if you could get a profitable idea off the ground with just a minimal investment of time money, and effort—and you could make that happen alongside your stable and steady job? This book shows you how to do exactly that, with a step-by-step guide that takes you from idea to implementation in just twenty-seven days. The guide is designed for the busy and impatient. It’s a detailed road map that will allow you to brainstorm, select, launch, and make money in under a month.

This book is divided into five separate parts which build sequentially. First you work at building up, brainstorming or even stealing ideas (yes, Guillebeau is fine about this morally-questionable practice). Then you select the best course of action to pursue before preparing and ultimately launching the product or service. You finally embark on a process of refining, auditing and regrouping at the end.

Along the way, Guillebeau offers a series of different tools and pieces of advice that can be employed. He also offers some anecdotal evidence from those who have reportedly succeeded with their own side ventures. They have previously been discussed by Guillebeau on his podcast and while they sound impressive, a far more compelling argument would have been made if Guillebeau had added some links or references to these real-life case studies in the book, because at times it sounds and feels like it’s a little too good to be true:

Others built their side hustle to a point where it could operate without them, and then they went off and did other things, like Tim Aton (Day 23) who designed a series of résumé templates. When we last left off, they were making $450 a month…
For others, having a hustle helped them in different ways, like providing security through a time of life transition. After selling her restaurant, Julie Wilder (Day 18) continued building her astrology calendar hustle, with the aim of finding success in an entirely new career, becoming a market leader in something totally different, and reaching many more people. Newlyweds David and Praj (Day 10) used their hustle to create social good by importing cashmere shawls from Nepal and investing in girls’ education.
Here’s the thing about a good side hustle. It can help support your life, but it doesn’t have to be your whole life. In fact, thanks to the project they’ve built most side hustlers are able to enjoy more of their life.

The main aim of this book is to motivate people to get them implementing their idea. Guillebeau does this is through informal and conversational writing, as well as offering up many words of encouragement. He also plays up the idea that there are a low list of prerequisites to get started and plays down the things that people may suspect they’ll need to get going. While this may be true in some instances, it is interesting that there is no reference made to the sobering statistics that are available about first-time businesses (for example: a quick Google search reveals that the Australian Bureau of Statistics says that 60% of businesses will cease operation in their first three years and this figure would likely be in the same ballpark for the United States).

There are very few prerequisites to side hustling. To be successful in using this model, mostly you need:
– The right frame of mind
– The willingness to act

As you can see, the list of prerequisites is pretty basic. The list of what you do not need is far longer. This is important, because many people think that the ability to earn money outside of their day job is out of their reach. Luckily, these people are wrong. Let’s get this right out of the way right from the start:
– You don’t need much money
– You don’t need much time
– You don’t need a business degree, or any kind of specialized education
– You don’t need employees, assistants or business partners
– You don’t need experience starting a business

There are some parts of this book that offer advice that you could probably find elsewhere if you were to research microbusinesses in more depth. Some of it also borders on common sense (it seems obvious that one should consider an idea that will actually make them money rather than a hobby that typically costs people money). Even though Guillebeau states that you don’t need a business degree as a prerequisite to begin, a lot of this book could actually be found in the curriculum of introductory marketing, accounting and business courses, so it seems obvious that this knowledge would in fact be useful to people starting out, which contradicts Guillebeau’s assertion.

Just as no two recipes are exactly the same, the recipe for every side hustle is different.
Your ingredients may vary from those in these three plans, but here are some common ones.

WEBSITE: Many, if not most hustles these days should have some kind of website. A website is essentially an online home—and you probably don’t want to be homeless. A website has several components: hosting, where the website lives; and a content management system like WordPress or Squarespace, that makes it easy to publish pages and posts. Don’t overpay for a website: you can get all the bandwidth and space you need for as little as $5 a month.

SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES: Don’t worry about trying to be everywhere in the social media universe at once. Pick one or two networks and spend your time on those. However, do register your name (or your hustle’s name if appropriate) on the most popular networks—even if you don’t intend to use them—to make sure no one else does first. Search “social name checker” to see several directories that will allow you to check for availability on many networks at the same time.

SCHEDULING TOOL: This is important for coaches, consultants or anyone who makes time-based commitments that involve other people. Avoid the endless back and forth of “What time is good for you?” with a program that will display mutually acceptable times for each party.

WORKFLOW: A detailed sales or service process, or an on boarding campaign for your new customers. You’ll learn how to make these on Day 15.

PAYMENT SYSTEM: This could include a shopping cart on your website, a PayPal account, an invoicing system, or any of the number of options you’ll learn about in tomorrow’s lesson.

There is no question that the side hustle sounds like it could be an ideal venture in theory – one could supplement their income and have the freedom to pursue more should they wish. But whether the reality lives up to this rather rose-tinted view is another story. Guillebeau’s book is ultimately a practical introduction for those interested in pursuing this particular line of enquiry and its big strength is that it breaks things down into steps that seem easy enough to follow and understand. This guide is also an inspirational enough motivator to get some people started but there will no doubt be sceptics out there who will be curious to see how many ventures actually get off the ground as the result of this and of those, how many actually succeed? Because while Guillebeau has proven that it can be done, whether his readers can replicate his success is an entirely different story.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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