So, why start a “side hustle” in the first place? And what exactly is a side hustle anyway? And can I run this alongside my normal day job?
Before I answer those questions (& others you might be asking), a bit of a back-story: back in 2008 I was spending a lot of time learning how to control a telescope via the internet (for real!). It was about as nerdy as you can possibly get: take pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and more from a telescope on a roof several miles away, from the comfort of my own home.
Pretty much light years away from anything to do with a side hustle, you’d agree.
So what happened?
I got mail!
Specifically, my brother in law sent me something through the post: a DVD (gasp!) and a small advertorial-type newspaper promoting this company.
I wasn’t even looking for ways to make additional income. But the attraction of being able to do work just once and get paid over and over again proved to be too powerful to ignore, so naturally I put my research-science hat on, investigated, and eventually signed up.
Now I not only knew nothing about sales, but also had no particular interest in business, or, dare I say, even money itself. I was a Physics teacher after all.
But eventually it dawned on me that I knew that the teaching was getting harder as I got older (more tired) & it was only a matter of time before the cons would outweigh the pros. So, began the long journey out of a “safe job” and in to the world of self-employment.
Three years later, and having tried out many side hustles, both the first mentioned above, and others (most of which, including the original, are still up & running), I walked away from my career as a teacher to join a start-up, which promptly fell through.
Being left with no stable income & in my 40’s was daunting, but also a blank slate.
And so the adventure in to the world of business began.
Whilst my journey into entrepreneurship isn’t exactly typical (whose is?!), I would say, in answer to the first question posed at the beginning of this post, that, in the words of an ancient saying – it’s always a good idea to dig your well before you’re thirsty.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or even an astronomer) to figure out that the global economy is going through a pretty bumpy ride on many fronts at the moment, with many squeezes happening due to rapid change, automation, machine learning, and so on – so, if you’re still of the view that your job is secure, you’re either in a very rare space employment-wise, or you’re possibly in a tad bit of denial about how things might pan out over the next 5 to 10 years.
So what exactly is a side hustle then? My simple definition is an extra source of income that you can tap in to when you need to, whether it’s starting up an airbnb, selling digital marketing services, helping others save money, designing your own custom glassware & jewelry, or even creating an unattended contactless payment platform for the cleaning industry … you get the idea. It’s something that you should be able to do that doesn’t interfere with your normal day job (if you have one), and doesn’t compete with it in any way (your employment contract probably has something to say about this too).
Being able to run this alongside a normal job is, almost without exception, a very, very good idea, as it takes the pressure off your immediate finances in the case your employer goes belly-up, and it also gives you some sense of peace of mind that, if your job satisfaction heads south down the line (or is already going that way!), you have a plan B already in place – a well, as it were, to draw water from.
So, who should have a side hustle?
Well, if a nerdy Physics teacher/astronomer had one for 3 years alongside his teaching job, (& I know of head teachers, police officers, heating engineers, carers and more who are also running their own side hustle), then maybe, just maybe, it’s something you should consider investigating too.
The key, as far as I’m concerned, is that whatever side hustle you start, if should give you the flexibility to pick it up & put it down as life allows.
So, don’t wait until you’re thirsty before you dig your well is my simple thought on this.