My neighbor has a massive grapefruit tree in his backyard. When I first bought my house in Los Angeles, I would sneak over to the side of the backyard, steal his grapefruits with a long fruit picker, and make grapefruit cocktails. It was exhilarating. I knew that he could see me at any moment and there were only a few grapefruits that were within reach of my over-the-fence fruit picker. In short, the grapefruits were scarce, and snatching them was risky.
Months later, my neighbor casually mentioned that he leaves his gate unlocked (not the smartest in Los Angeles) and that I could let myself in at any time to grab a grapefruit. I have never taken a grapefruit since. The scarcity and the urgency were gone. Those grapefruits were no longer exciting.
The world of the business in which you will probably create your side hustle is most likely similar to the process of stealing grapefruits from my neighbor’s tree in Los Angeles. Many of us assume that customers are going nowhere and that we have all the time in the world to create and grow our make-money-while-we-sleep side hustles.
There is not a finite number of jobs as bloggers, there are not a finite number of stores on Etsy, and on online course creation sites like Kajabi and Teachable, the more the merrier.
This seemingly infinite lack of scarcity can sometimes breed complacency. If you can start a new course, sell a new product, write a new article, or create a new website at any time and you know people will always be around to view it, then what’s the rush to get started? What’s the rush to grow? Why not spend the next ten years gathering your first 1,000 contributors on Patreon?
In the past, it was helpful to believe that there were enough grapefruits in Los Angeles for everyone because that mindset was contrary to conventional wisdom. Today, there are so many dang grapefruits that often, we can’t choose which one to eat first.
The term “scarcity mentality” is a little bit old school. And, in today’s world of the online content creation side hustle, avoiding a scarcity mindset just might hurt your productivity rather than help it.
The idea of a scarcity mentality became popular with the introduction of Steven R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey says, “Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everyone else.”
This sounds like a good principle. And yes, some parts of it resonate today. But the book that introduced this principle was written in 1989 and it may not really be as applicable to side hustlers and freelancers as we might think. Here are some facts about the environment in which Covey’s scarcity mentality principle was created:
- Blogger (and, thus, the blogosphere) launched in 1999 — ten years later
- Covey’s scarcity mentality largely applied to the workers of the late 1980s — salaried 9 to 5'ers who worked for one company
- Here are five jobs that didn’t exist when this book was written — social media influencers, app developers, web content creators, SEO specialists, and 3D printing professionals.
It’s a new world, folks. And some of the older ideas might not be as useful anymore.
The point is that we all know that there is more than enough for everyone in Los Angeles and in the world at large. The internet has blown apart the traditional structure of the corporate world. There is literally a job for anyone that has a computer and internet capabilities. Scarcity is no longer a thing any rational human is worried about in the world of side hustling.
We side hustlers have bigger fish to fry, Mr. Covey.
So, how does a side hustler in Los Angeles create a scarcity mentality that will help boost their side hustle productivity? Well, first of all, remember that there are some positive aspects of Covey’s principle that we should keep:
- There is enough grapefruit for everyone, so don’t be a brat about sharing with and supporting others.
- If you find your niche in any field, it is highly likely that you will be able to earn some money.
- Most things aren’t a one-to-one competition, so if someone is already doing what you’re doing, there is most likely space for you both. Whatever you create will have your own personal spin on it which will always make it unique.
Yes, there are more than enough opportunities in Los Angeles and in the world for all of us. The key is to confidently step into the world of the online side hustle with an openness to collaboration and a mind toward creativity in whatever space you plan to inhabit.
Unfortunately, the idea that there are more than enough opportunities and the fact that they are all always available to all of us can lead to procrastination and ambivalence. When we can have any grapefruit at any time, it’s not exciting to try to snatch them anymore.
If you happen to be one of those folks in Los Angeles who has been dragging your feet in creating a side hustle, you might benefit from a little bit of a scarcity mentality. Creating a mindset that imbues urgency and even a little healthy competition just might be the spark that you need to ignite your side hustle money-making potential.
Here are a few ways you can cultivate a positive scarcity mentality to jump-start your side hustle:
- Create a time constraint. Sure, you may have all the time in the world, but if you give yourself a hard deadline, you might get more done. Set up a video viewing party, announce on social media that you’ll be launching a product, or do a pre-sale of a course. All of these things provide not only external accountability but they also give you a hard and fast timeline in which to complete your project.
- Manifest a competitive mentality. Finding someone that is doing what you want to do and setting them up as your competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re not openly combative with other folks, running an imaginary race with another creator, writer, company, or online side hustler can help you to be creative about finding ways to one-up the competition. It can also inspire you to work just a little harder to stay in the race.
- Compete for your customers. Whether you’re a freelance writer or a social media consultant, realizing that you have competition for the attention of your consumers can be motivating. While no one should trash talk or discredit any other hard-working side hustlers, it can inspire you to imagine that you’re working hard to win the attention of the same people that others are. You just might come up with a creative new way to woo folks to purchase or utilize your products or services.
It’s a very different world than it was in 1989 when Steven R. Covey wrote about a scarcity mentality. Today, the world is our veritable side hustle oyster, but because we are inundated with opportunities, it doesn’t mean that we will always take it when it comes along.
If you can create a positive scarcity mentality in your approach to your side hustle, creating time constraints, manifesting a competitive mentality, and competing for customers, you just might be able to create the motivation to jumpstart your progress.