In How to Have a Happy Hustle I share the inside track on making ideas happen. The book runs through the process used by innovation experts and startup founders to increase the success of their products, services, side hustles and small businesses.

But it’s not all about hard work and painful slog. A happy hustle is all about working on a fulfilling side project.

I want to show people how to increase the success of their ideas and keep happy in the process. Alongside the tips and tricks, I draw on psychology and philosophy to keep ideas-makers feeling engaged and fulfilled.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll dig into each stage in more detail by sharing stories and advice you can put into practice. If you’re keen to find out more, check out the book here, or or grab a copy of the paperback or listen to the audiobook.


How to have a happy hustle: section 1 - have ideas

1. Problems

How do you get an idea?

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike or for the perfect idea to arrive fully formed. The best way to have an idea is to go into the world and find problems.

Getting curious will stimulate your brain’s seeking system and release positive-making chemicals to keep you feeling engaged as you start your idea journey. But it’s not all wave-your-hands-in-the-air ecstasy, it helps to get annoyed, so find out what’s wrong and get motivated to do something about it.

2. People

Founder bias can blind you to feedback so focus on the people who have the problem and the customers who use your solution. Don’t fall in love with your idea but the people who need it.

Empathy will guide you to create solutions, so get talking to people, listen to what they tell you, create a persona, build an empathy map and take a walk in their shoes.

3. Solutions

“The only way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas,” said inventor Linus Pauling, and the research backs him up. At this early stage, quantity trumps quality.

Use mind maps to generate lots of ideas, or get social and have a brainstorm, and give yourself the best chance of choosing an idea with potential.

4. Choose

Shifting from divergent to convergent thinking involves making hard choices. It’s easy to get overfaced when there’s so many options on display so overcome the paradox of choice with criteria.

You’ll find an idea which gets you shouting, ‘hell yes!’


How to have a happy hustle: section 2 - hone ideas

5. Prototype

Get your idea out of your head and into the world.

The purpose of a prototype is to share your idea, so give it a name and write a description. Bring it to life with a sketch or presentation, or get physical and make something.

Ask yourself: What’s the smallest, quickest, cheapest version of my idea?

6. Communicate

Now you have a prototype you should get it in front of people to gather feedback. Learn how to pitch. Start honing your message by nailing how you describe the problem, your solution and the benefit to users, then tell people.

At this stage you’re not selling the idea – just getting people to understand what you’re planning. Start with friendly faces, practice on your dog, your family and friends. This will build your confidence for the next stage.

>> Read more: The gap between idea and implementation

7. Test

It’s time to get your idea in front of your target audience: the people who will use and buy it. That means you need to test it. There are three principles to testing:

  • test early
  • test often
  • test with end users.

Creating something testable is a step up from a prototype – known in startup circles as a ‘minimum viable product’. Having an MVP will save you time and money as you experiment with what works as you hone and iterate your idea.

8. Validate

All the steps you’ve taken so far will help you validate your idea.

You’ve gathered data that it works and that people want it. Now you’re ready to sell. Pull a power pose and make a sales pitch.

Get commitment from customers, create a value proposition and soon you’ll be drafting a business plan.


How to have a happy hustle: section 3 - make ideas happen

9. Fail

To be a founder means to fail – the definition of the verb, to founder, is to fall, to sink, become wrecked and fail miserably.

Failing sucks, but it’s better to make mistakes early in the life of your idea, when they are small and far easier to recover from. That means failing fast.

Follow the Learn Startup mantra to: build, measure, learn*. Then build a growth mindset by taking time to reflect, ask yourself:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What can I do better?

10. Pivot

A pivot is a substantial change to your idea so you need evidence to help you make the right decision about what to do next. There’s three typical pivots:

  • Problem pivot where you’re solving the wrong problem.
  • Solution pivot where you have the right problem but the wrong solution.
  • People pivot when you have the right problem and the right solution but the wrong market.

Sometimes, pivoting isn’t enough and you’re ready to call time on your idea. The only option is to quit. Once you’ve made that decision, celebrate what worked, learn from the experience, and plan what’s next.

11. Grow

You’ve reached the fabled product/market fit* now you need to grow.

Not all ideas ‘cross the chasm’*, but by building a community of passionate followers you give yourself a better chance of success. Measure what works and keep on top of those metrics. Who knows, you might go viral.

12. Hustle

Do you have a side hustle or a startup on your hands?

Now’s the time to look ahead and plan what you really want to do with your idea.

If you like juggling a job with a side project, then manage your time and be honest with your bosses. If you want to go all in, you’ll need runway to launch your idea – and that means money. Get the lowdown on investment, from bootstrapping to venture capital.

How to have a happy hustle

I’m not going to sugar coat it – making ideas happen is hard work. That’s why it’s a hustle.

But you can make it a happy one.

Connect with people as you make your idea happen – 70% of our personal happiness is down to our relationships with other people*.

Find people who can help at each stage: ask friends and peers to get involved in brainstorms or in building and testing prototypes. Find mentors to advise you and a network to support you. Working with people in your target market will build communities of people who are really into what you do.

Have empathy for your users. Thinking of what you’re creating for them will bring conviction that what you’re doing matters – not just to you but to others. One day you’ll have customers who love your idea so much they will pay for it or investors who will support you financially.

Happiness comes from doing something with purpose. Nineteenth-century philosopher John Stuart Mill* said that happy people are those:

“who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.”

What are you waiting for? It’s time to find your happy hustle.

If you want to read more, hear stories of success and failure from startups founders, and get practice advice and how-to tips, buy the book. Now available in paperback and audiobook in the UK, USA and worldwide. All the details are on the Happy Hustle website here.

Picture credits: Cara Holland, from Graphic Change for Icon Books

* References: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries; ‘The Startup Pyramid’ by Sean Ellis; Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore; ‘A model-free approach to the study of subjective wellbeing.’ By C. B. Murray and M. J. Peacock; Autobiography by John Stuart Mill.