Side hustles are more important than ever

It helps you be more creative in your 'day job'.

Having a side hustle has been a game-changer for me. It has developed me both professionally and personally, shown me a side of myself that I’d not yet explored and helped me learn loads of new skills. Despite my own positive experience, there are negative misconceptions around the term "side hustle" itself. The biggest one is that if you are doing something on the side, it’s because you hate your day job. I personally love my job; the stuff on the side just feeds it and vice-versa.

My side hustle is a podcast called This Way Up. I interview leading women in advertising about the good, the bad and the ugly of their career. I started it because, early in my career as a young creative, I struggled to find female role models to look up to. This gave me the urge to collect the stories of women who have "made it" so that others can hopefully learn from them.

Why is it important?

Side hustles can make you rich. That’s right – but not necessarily in the way you might think. Although it doesn’t hurt to monetise your side hustle, I would strongly urge you not to make it your primary goal. The reality is that it helps you find the most valuable thing in life: your true voice. It is actually the fact that you are learning to put yourself out there that brings you the most wealth. Among a heap of skills you’ll learn, things that stood out for me were: learning how to brand yourself, how to push yourself outside your comfort zone and how to think like an entrepreneur.  

What’s in it for employers?

According to an Institute for the Future report, "85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven't even been invented". So this means change is coming and it’s going to be rapid. The new skills your staff will learn from setting up these micro-enterprises will enable you to be at the cutting edge of change and help prepare your business for the future.

I’d even go so far as to say employers should positively encourage staff to have a side hustles. You’ll get happier employees; they’ll develop as people and gain new skills that could genuinely help your business. Rather than showcasing awards, wouldn’t it be great to promote the amazing talent in your company?

So how do you start?

Just start. It sounds very simplistic, but it’s true, and it will most certainly be frustrating at first. Maybe you’ll stop and start a new one; maybe you’ll then stop that one and pick up the old one. The goal here is not necessarily to get something off the ground first time (although that would be nice); the goal is to get used to putting yourself out there and to find your voice.

Block out naysayers. Not just colleagues and friends, but also your own voices. "What if everyone makes fun of you? What if this never comes off?" You’ll always get those voices, but remember this isn’t about making millions, setting up a new company or solving the world’s problems; it’s about building new skills. So, if a new skill for you is to learn how to face failures, then take the plunge!

Embrace the ugly. There’s a misconception that you and your side hustle will be the best of friends. Nope. Don’t get me wrong, I love interviewing women for my podcast; it really enriches me, but reviewing edits over and over again is not much fun. Yet I’ve learned how to edit and it turns out it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be. So new skill: editing. New learning: I don’t have the patience for it.

So I urge everyone to take up a side project, however big or small, because the rewards are clear to see. You’ll learn to develop your voice, you’ll get to know yourself better and, more importantly, it’ll get you ready to face the employment armageddon of 2030.

So if you are a wannabe side hustler or are a business that wants to incorporate side hustles as part of your model, I’d love to hear from you and see if I can help. Contact me at rebecca@thiswayup.io

Rebecca Rowntree is a freelance creative director. You can listen to her podcast, This Way Up, on Spotify and iTunes

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