You Don’t Need Multiple Income Streams to Build Wealth

You Only Need One Income Stream. Just ONE

You Only Need One Income Stream. Just ONE.

Yep that’s right. I said it. You only need the ONE.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not against multiple income streams.

In fact, I built my entire career with a side hustle that grew into a full-time job, followed by another side hustle that eventually jumpstarted my joining a startup that I helped grow into a multi-million dollar business.

But the thing is, I had a purpose, and I had a vision.

I wasn’t side hustling to make a bit of extra cash – I was side hustling to level up and grow my primary income stream.

The more income streams you have, the more complicated your life becomes.

Why ONE Income Stream is Better

Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.

– Greg McKeown, Essentialism

Focusing on building up one truly kick ass income stream is going to pay dividends far beyond what you can do with multiple income streams.

Here’s why:

  • Multitasking will actually hinder your performance.
  • You protect your reputation at work
  • You’ll avoid burnout by focussing on ONE thing
  • Your job/career is your best income stream

When you focus on being the best you can be in the career you have now, or at the business that you are working on growing, you will yield a far better outcome than someone who has too many balls in the air.

Why? Because multitasking doesn’t work.

Multitasking Hinders Performance

Lucky for me, I’ve never been very good at multi-tasking.

In fact, I am pretty famous in my house for being able to tune out any distraction, sound, crash, explosion, or really anything else happening.

Unless the fire alarm is going off, I am pretty focused.

I don’t even attempt to multitask. And you shouldn’t either…

One study found that just 2.5% of people are able to multitask effectively. For the rest of us, our attempts to do multiple activities at once aren’t actually that.

Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work, Cleveland Clinic

I don’t know about you, but 2.5% is really bad. Multitasking doesn’t work!

Now, multitasking and building multiple income streams don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand…

But if multitasking doesn’t work, imagine the overload on your mental load from trying to juggle too many things at once.

So-called multitasking divides our attention. It makes it harder for us to give our full attention to one thing.

Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work, Cleveland Clinic

The more you try to manage on a daily basis, the less performant you will be any one task.

Long-term you will tend to focus in on the thing you care about the most anyway, so you might as well focus on that from the start.

You Protect Your Reputation at Work

To make your side hustle a success, you need to put in the time. This can be trickier than it sounds, especially when you’re working full-time. What will you do if your part-time gig takes off, and you need more time to fulfill orders or meet project deadlines?

How Your Side Hustle Can Hurt Your Career, The Balance Careers

I know this from personal experience.

When I was working as a software engineer after the sale of my first startup (side hustle) didn’t work out, I was bored and depressed.

I wasn’t engaged and everyone on the team knew it.

I cared more about my new side gigs even though they were earning me pennies compared to my full-time job.

My ability to move up in that company was harmed by my side hustles.

Fast forward to my time running my last company…as a boss and employer, I would often hear that XYZ person had a side gig.

It happens a lot with software engineers, because it’s easy to make some extra money on the side when you have an in-demand skill.

But there is a certain line of trust that can get crossed, and as an employer, I would rather have an employee who is fully committed and has no other side gigs.

Guess who is going to be more in-line for a promotion? Someone who is fully committed or someone with their foot half out the door?

You need to protect your reputation at work, and focusing on one income stream does just that.

You’ll avoid burnout by focussing on ONE thing

The following factors may contribute to job burnout:

– You have a heavy workload and work long hours
– You struggle with work-life balance
– You feel you have little or no control over your work

Job burnout: How to spot it and take action, Mayo Clinic

I’m a big fan of Gary Keller’s book The One Thing and his corresponding quote:

What’s the ONE Thing I can do / such that by doing it / everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

– Gary Keller, The One Thing

When I ask that question to myself, it not only helps me to focus on the truly most important tasks for anything I am doing, but it also helps me to focus on ridding the excess in my life.

If you are spending a lot of mental energy researching and analyzing dividend stocks, building websites at night, or pushing affiliate programs on Twitter – I am going to bet that you aren’t truly sitting around crushing your job and working on maximizing your single best income stream? Your ONE thing!

Your job is likely bringing in 90% of your income, yet you might be spending 90% of your mental energy elsewhere.

To me, that doesn’t make sense.

Avoid burnout by focussing only on your ONE thing.

Your job/career is your BEST income stream

What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.”

– Cal Newport, Deep Work

No matter how you slice it, for the majority of people your job/career will be your single best income stream. I know mine was.

So why risk it by taking your foot off the gas, or spending your mental energy on things that don’t truly matter?

If you are ignoring your primary income stream, then you are ignoring your biggest path to building wealth.

Once I found my path and joined up with the company that I loved and was committed to, things really blossomed for me.

Work didn’t feel like work, and yet I was able to grow my income year after year without any issue.

In your career, even more than for a brand, being safe is risky. The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable.”

― Seth Godin, Purple Cow

Year after year, my commitment to ONE thing paid dividends (just not the stock kind).

Yes, I side hustled my want into my career, but after that I built a remarkable career by saying no to everything else.

Having five income streams spread you thin.

Building one remarkable income stream is all you will ever need

When Do Multiple Income Streams Work?

Though I truly believe that most people are better off focusing on their primary income stream, there are certainly some exceptions to the rule:

  1. Your second income stream is completely passive: earning dividends from Index Funds, rental property with a great property manager, etc.
  2. You dislike your job and are working towards switching careers
  3. You are doing something you love, and it happens to make you money

Again, I am not against creating a second income stream.

My argument is simply that you are going to benefit in the long-run by focusing on your best income stream

I’m sure there are things you can do to level up in your job.

Instead of a second income stream, you may benefit more from a job change and corresponding salary increase?

Or perhaps you need to completely change your careers and your side hustle is a jumping off point? I think that makes complete sense (it is what I did after all).

Lastly, if you are pursuing your passion and it happens to make money…win/win.

But all the hype over multiple-income streams ignores the fact that your career/business is your single biggest potential wealth builder.

Focus on ONE thing.

Make it remarkable.

The money will follow.

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4 comments

  1. Nice, nobody ever says that but I found it to be so true. I was only great at one thing, my career. And I was able to leverage my talent to go from 1X to 24X pay which dwarfed what likely side hustles could have gotten me. Had I spent much time in real estate or dog walking it was unlikely I could have made it from summer intern to becoming the top boss. Side hustles can become like magic for some, I grant that, but if you are on the fast train to success at your main career then I say, go all in!

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