Social media has affected the general public’s way of thinking in so many ways. Like many guys my age, I pretty much think in memes while on Facebook. That’s because social media is a river of fads, and fads are catchy. Some are fun, some are stupid, and some just get under your skin. Right now, the fad that I can’t seem to get away from is the “Easy Side Hustle.” And I get it. Prices are high right now. What could be more attractive than having an easy little job you can do in your spare time that brings in a nice chunk of change? It’s hard not to run into them while online. They’re often presented as TikToks, Reels, or articles. They are big on hype and short on details. The message, however, is clear: Making money is easy if you can find the right angle.
To be clear, I don’t have any issues with “side hustles” as a concept. For many people, window cleaning is a needed side hustle that pays a bill, supports a child’s education, or allows the family or individual to enjoy some much-needed recreation. In that sense, side hustles have been around since the dawn of time. I also don’t have a problem with people being creative and “thinking outside of the box” when it comes to being an entrepreneur. That’s how unique businesses are born and new markets get formed.
What I DO have a problem with is the word “Easy.” I know, I know. It’s just a word, perhaps meaningless, perhaps a half-truth. But ultimately, it is a “throw-away” hook meant not to be thought of again. That is probably true in most of these “easy side hustle” videos and articles. Very few people actually attempt to follow through on these schemes. It’s fantasy, or escapism, meant to take the viewer to a place where a quick errand or an odd chore makes them $85,000 a year with just a little extra effort in their otherwise busy lives.
And there lies the problem I have with the word “easy.” When a person hears “easy” attached to a side hustle, they think it’s referring to the effort needed to do the hustle. It is not. The word “easy” applies to the concept of the hustle. Sure, buying something at a thrift store and selling it online for double or triple profit is easy to understand. It is NOT easy to consistently and efficiently find the products to sell, have the time necessary to post (and repost) online, ship the products for the cheapest price possible, and then keep track of inventory and expenses. That is what you do for a regular business. Because contrary to what those videos try to sell you, a side hustle is just a regular ol’ business, only smaller.
This is especially why I worry about people coming into window cleaning with the “easy side hustle” mentality. As someone who gets contacted often by people thinking about starting a new window cleaning business, there has been a noticeable increase in those who believe it will be a relatively easy venture. And sure, the concept is easy: buy equipment, advertise, clean windows, and make money. However, as most of you know, the stark reality is that getting a successful window cleaning business going, even a small one, is hard work that requires patience, diligence, determination, and some business savvy. I find that few of the people interested in a window cleaning side hustle focus on those qualities. Instead, they focus on their excitement, enthusiasm, potential profits, and sense of accomplishment. The first two fizzle away when those last two don’t pan out. So, here is my advice to people genuinely wanting to start a “side hustle” cleaning windows:
- Get the word “Easy” out of your vocabulary. Nothing will be easy about this, not if you want a healthy and profitable side business. That doesn’t mean it can’t stay small and controlled, nor should it consume all your time and energy. It just means that even small businesses are businesses. You must keep records, pay taxes, buy equipment, and ensure it is worth your time to pursue this business. You need to understand that a poorly run business can have you making less than the minimum wage if you’re not careful. But you won’t even realize it unless you do the work necessary to know. So, do the work.
- Count the cost. Running a business involves doing a lot of work you don’t get paid for, often when you would normally be relaxing. The glamorization of working yourself to death is misguided, especially if your work is not profitable enough. Time is money. Just as spending money on wasteful things, it is foolish to spend time on things that do not truly benefit your business. Learn what things are worth your precious time and energy and protect your mental health by not confusing “hustle” with “burnout.”
- Talk to pros and listen to their advice. Watch training videos on YouTube & TikTok. Join window cleaning groups on sites like Facebook & Reddit. Find mentors in the industry so you can get advice from time to time. Be humble and acknowledge that you have a lot to learn. Show respect to the people who help you by not demanding more time than they can give, and follow through on the recommendations they offer. Remember, they are saving you time and energy by helping you avoid rookie mistakes. The least you can do is not waste their time and energy in return.
- Keep the business in its place. If this is truly a side hustle, don’t let it affect other aspects of your life. A new business has a way of taking over your thoughts and emotions if you let it. So, limit the time you spend on it. Sure, there will be some long days in the beginning as you are trying to get it off the ground. Once it is in the air, don’t let it take away time from the important things in your life. Allow it to grow within its limitations. If later you realize that it has the potential to become your main source of income, revisit the boundaries you set and expand if needed.
- Keep your business income separate from your personal income. Minimize the work you need to do at tax time by opening a separate bank account for your business, even if you decide to operate as a sole proprietor. Deposit all income earned from window cleaning into that account. Pay yourself and your business expenses from that account. If you don’t have the money to pay for something for your business and need to use personal funds, deposit them into your business account first so you can have a record of this deposit as equity or a loan. This will keep the financial detective work to a minimum come tax time, allow clear proof for tax deductions, and allow you to have an accurate grasp of the health of your business.
Listen, have people started a side hustle and figured it out along the way? Absolutely. If you just want to make a few bucks for a few months and get out, then feel free to disregard the above advice. However, if you genuinely want a profitable side gig, perhaps one that could make you 3 to 4 times your current paycheck one day, then detach the “easy” from your “side hustle.” Trust me, the “easy” way is way too hard. Ain’t nobody got time for that.