Head trash and what it takes to make a side hustle or small business work

Because those lists are wrong. There’s only 1 thing you need.

Linda Caroll
Dec 10, 2019 · 7 min read
photo from unsplash

was talking to a lady that wants to start a solo business. She’d read one of those articles about what it takes to run a business, and then took a quiz and failed and was feeling uncertain.

Mind if I rant?

Those lists are crap. I don’t even care what you do. Maybe you’re a writer, or an artist. Maybe you want to start a dog-walking business. Or sell your books or a course or something you make. I have no idea. Doesn’t matter.

Here’s what I know. All those lists that tell you the traits you need to run a business or be self employed? Pure crap.

If you went to the library and took out a book from 1978, they’d say the same stuff. It’s all just regurgitated advice from before there was the internet.

The side hustle is reality for a lot of us

Who gets paid enough, anymore? CEOs. That’s who.

In the last 40 years, CEO salaries have grown 1,007.5% while the wages of average workers have increased only 11.9%. In 40 freaking years.

But if you listen to the advice givers of the internet, they’ll tell you all the qualities and traits you need to learn first, if you’re going to make it work.

You need to have passion.
And you need to be driven. Also, motivated, and a risk taker.
Because people who run businesses are risk takers, right?


23 years of experience tells me they are dead wrong

I’ve been working with small business owners for 23 years and I don’t know very many people who would pass those “entrepreneur” quizzes.

Let’s start with the risk taking one.
It’s about the only one all those gurus agree on.

People who aim to make an income on their own aren’t taking a risk. Just the opposite, my friend. Most of the people I’ve worked with learned, the hard way, that it’s damn risky to put their financial fate in someone else’s hands.

One layoff at the wrong time and you’re in big trouble.

To them, putting their financial welfare solely in the hands of one random person that they probably don’t even like — that’s what’s risky.

Are they wrong?

Most millennials will have 13 jobs or more in their life. It’s not 1957 anymore. No one gets one job for the rest of their life and retires with a gold watch and the mortgage paid off. That era is done.

Do you know what it takes to make a side business work? One thing. Just one…

You must be willing to deal with your own headtrash.
That is it, and that is all.

That’s not to say it will be easy because it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But if you’re willing to deal with your head trash, that’s all it takes.

Because the one thing most likely to destroy you isn’t the economy, it’s not the odds, it’s not the competition.

It’s your own ego.

Ego is the enemy

According to the US Small Business Administration, the top 2 reasons businesses fail are 1) Lack of funds and 2) Entrepreneurial Ego.

That same glorious ego that allows you to have the fortitude to strike out on your own in the first place is the very thing that wills strike you down.

Because you know what ego is made of, right? Beliefs.
And the crap you believe is always why you struggle.


For some reason that I can’t explain, I was foolish enough to offer to speak at a small business conference. I was supposed to speak about the importance of digital marketing, since that’s what I’ve done for 23 years.

We got off to a great start. Perhaps you can hear the sarcasm.

One fellow said he don’t need no digital marketing on account of he’s a farmer. I wanted to ask him why he bothered attending, but instead I asked how many farmers we had in the crowd. A few hands went up.

So I started talking about a client that’s a farmer and used digital marketing to go from pending bankruptcy to over a million in sales in under 2 years.

From the back of the room, I hear a little voice say:
I’m not that greedy.

Did I really hear that? So I asked him to repeat it. He did. Loudly.

So I asked who else thinks that. Who thinks making a million dollars is greedy? And a whole lot of hands went up.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

That’s what I asked them. Suddenly, they had lots to say. They’d buy a house for their kids. Or send their kids to school. Or they could afford better care for their parents. All these wonderful things they’d do if they won the lottery.

So I asked them if winning a lottery is greedy. They shook their heads no.

So I asked why it’s greedy to actually work for money but it’s not greedy to have the same amount if you won it.

No one had an answer. Well, except me. Tells me something about how they think business works, hmm? You just assume businesses that make money are doing something corrupt?

How are you going to grow a business if you think you have to be corrupt to do that? They got real quiet.

Greedy isn’t a financial status.

Greedy isn’t a financial status, it’s a moral failing and you can be greedy whether you have money or not.

And that client of mine? Yeah — daycare, healthcare, dental care. All provided. Daycare at the farm, so their staff could bring the kids to work. Have lunch with them.

I told them about another client that donates so much to charity it swells my heart. How are you going to do that if you’re bent out of shape about people with money being greedy?

and more headtrash

So instead of talking about digital marketing, we talked about headtrash. And I said I bet we can play a game. I’m going to call out a problem, you put your hand up if it applies….

— You don’t have time.
— You’re not good with computers.
— You have no budget to hire the help you need.
— You hate marketing
— You’re bad at marketing
— You’re not even sure this is a viable idea
— You’re not sure there’s a market for it.
— You’re not sure your work is good enough

Headtrash, all of it.

You don’t have time to go find the customers who will pay you? Great. Me, neither. No one “has” time — you make time.

You’re not good with computers? Great. No one is saying to build computers or write code. It’s not 1997 anymore. If you use Facebook and email, you have all the technical skills you need. The rest is just learning.

Have no budget? Time and money are interchangeable. If you can pay someone to do it for you, then do. If you can’t, then learn to do it yourself.

You hate marketing? That’s because of what you think marketing is. Yes, some marketers are bottom feeders. No one says you need to be. Ditto if you’re bad at it. You’re bad at it because you don’t like what you think it is, so you don’t do it. It’s usually not that you’re bad at it, it’s that you’re not doing it. Because of what you believe it entails. And you’re wrong.

All the other crap — is it good enough, is it viable, is there a market for it? How many billions of people on the planet? Of course there’s a market for it. There’s some lady out there making an income selling yeti porn. A guy doing pencil sketches of costume porn. There’s a market for everything.

So I spent 2 hours talking about head trash. Because that’s what’s kills businesses and dreams and ideas.

Belief is all there is, and not the flaky way

I’m not part of the “believe hard enough” crowd. If I was, I wouldn’t still be self employed 23 years later. You can’t wish things into happening. If you could, there would be no starving babies in the world.

Not that kind of belief. But more, sniffing out headtrash.

Maybe you’ve heard the Roger Bannister story. In the 1950s and before, doctors believed it was not possible to run a mile in under 4 minutes. They told athletes they’d die if they tried. The human body couldn’t do it.

Until Roger Bannister did. And within a month, 2 more runners had done it. And from then to now — over a thousand more.

It wasn’t about what they believed was possible.
It was about what they believed was IMpossible.

Sniffing out headtrash.

That’s what it takes to make a side hustle work. The willingness to start unpacking your baggage. Figure out which thoughts and beliefs are standing in your way. Because the only thing that kills businesses faster than anything is our own headtrash. Every single time.

If you’re willing to take that on — you’re already miles ahead of the people who will die holding on to the headtrash that held them back.

Thanks for reading! ❤



The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

Linda Caroll

Written by

A notorious bad influence. Canadian. Get writing and marketing tips on Fridays at https://lindac.substack.com/

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade