One of the most exciting things about being involved in the social enterprise community here in Columbus, Ohio is meeting a lot of bright people who are building businesses to transform social issues. But not everyone is able to quit their day job in order to dive into their venture. So what do people do?
They start a side hustle.
This blog is about exploring the power of using a side hustle to create change and lay the framework for a series on how to effectively use a side hustle to build a new career.
What is the Purpose of a Side Hustle?
Fulfill your desire. Typically the purpose of a side hustle is to fulfill some desire that you have to create something in the world without needing to leave behind your job. That is paying the bills. Perhaps it’s a passion project, which just grew into something that was earning an income and it was never intended to support you full-time.
Your stepping stone to success. Or perhaps it’s a stepping stone in order to grow something small to the point that you can leave your regular employment in order to dive into what you want to do full time can also be something that you do as a side project and a portfolio of projects that you’re doing. But the purpose of a side hustle is to develop something small that fits into your life that has many other pieces going on.
Benefits of a Side Hustle
1) It allows you to build something over time without fear of losing your wages or income.
Some of the benefits of a side hustle are that it gives you a path to building something over a longer period of time, without the threat of losing your wages or your income.
In a podcast with the social impact business coach, Trudi LeBron, she explained how she built up her coaching practice to be about 20,000 a year before leaving her full-time job to expand what she was doing.
She set a threshold of around earning 20,000 a year is super helpful in order to have a foundation that you can grow. If you can earn $20,000 through a side hustle that you’re doing 10 or 15 hours a week, then you have a path to grow that by expanding your energy.
Something that the side hustle allows you to do is to develop your business model and understand how your business is actually going to work, what product or service you are selling, and how to connect with the community in order to get sales. It’s a great way to test a concept and get feedback over an extended period of time.
2) It allows you to build both an audience and credibility
The second benefit of a side hustle is that it allows you to build both an audience and credibility around what you’re trying to do.
From my own experience with People Helping People and Wild Tiger Tees, I can attest that it takes a long time to actually build up an audience of people that you know and can connect with. As well as developing that expertise where people recognize you for the skills that you have.
When I started People Helping People, I had no experience with social entrepreneurship. I thought it was cool and fascinating, and I wanted it. No one on the planet would have associated me with a social entrepreneur. But now four years later, people in Columbus, Ohio recognize me as a community leader in social entrepreneurship.
I work with budding social entrepreneurs and helping develop their businesses. I’m involved in events like GiveBackHack, which really introduces a lot of people to the concept. As well as an accelerated program called SEA Change, where I helped facilitate modules.
This podcast has very much been a side hustle for me, and yet it’s given me time to understand where I can help out in the community, what value I can add with my own skills, and how I can best uplift a community that I’m very passionate about.
What I’ve learned is that building your expertise isn’t so much something that you develop in order to wear as a badge of honor on your shoulder, where people will see that and come to you. Instead, establishing your credibility is really about you being able to find the right opportunities, where you can shine and make a difference, which brings me to the third benefit of a side hustle.
3. It gives you some space to explore what you’re passionate about and what you really enjoy doing.
Quite often, we get a job and there are certain requirements and that pull us in a certain direction. It’s very difficult to take that intentional time to really think deeply about what do I enjoy doing and what skills would I like to apply in the work that I do.
But creating a side hustle allows you to do this because you have freedom. You can set the direction, you can collaborate with other people and understand where your skills are aligned with the work that you want to do, and where you can bring in other people to help you grow.
I speak about this a lot, but back in 2005, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I feel like I’m going in the right direction. The side hustle has really helped me refine that and develop my own understanding of who I am.
On the flip side, a side hustle does have some downsides. Quite often, it takes time and work. And by its definition, you’re doing it on the side. Meaning you have other things going on in your life. So time is always a constraint. This means your life becomes a bit of a balancing act, balancing different pieces of your life together.
You need to be very clear about where you’re spending your time and what efforts you’re putting forward in order to succeed. It is a balancing act. And depending on what you’re doing as a side hustle, it can drive you a bit crazy at times.
If you’re using your side hustle just start an entrepreneurial venture, let me tell you being an entrepreneur is hard work, and doing it on a constraint time is really difficult.
Then again, if you can build something up as a side hustle with the time that you’ve got, having that extra freedom around your budget and cashflow can make a huge difference in the long-term legit of your concept.
So stay tuned for this upcoming blog series around ways to use a side hustle effectively in order to launch something and get it off the ground, how to manage your time effectively when building a side hustle, and how do I evaluate when the side hustle is working and when it’s not.