Take note! Advice from four professionals with thriving side hustles

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There’s no denying that in the last few years we’ve seen a boom in the number of people embracing a side hustle. A global survey released by Kantar in February 2023 shows that 30% of the current workforce already have at least two different roles. And the side hustle revolution is not just being embraced by the younger generation. According to Kantar, trends are spanning generations, with 21% of boomers, 30% of GenX, 36% of millennials and 40% of GenZ embarking on a portfolio career of sorts. 

© The Portfolio Collective 2023

In the past, justifications for having a side hustle have been largely attributed to the workforce wanting and often needing to earn more money to supplement lower wages. And whilst there’s no denying that the cost of living crisis is one of the reasons why people are turning to side hustles for extra income, other factors, such as learning new skills, not being satisfied with one job role and yearning for increased job security, are all being cited as just some of the reasons to start a side hustle. 

A recent article from the BBC stated that pursuing passion projects is a huge reason why the side hustle revolution is booming, particularly amongst young workers. Embracing flexible work patterns enforced on individuals because of the pandemic, gave people more time to embrace their passions, think creatively and kickstart their own businesses based on things they enjoy. With flexible working here to stay, these trends have continued to soar, as seen by the +170% surge in searches looking at the phrase side hustle on Google. 

But where do you begin? It can often be tricky when starting out, to know which direction to turn. The beauty of side hustles and portfolio careers is that they are flexible. But that same flexibility can often be what leaves people scratching their head, unsure of where to turn first. 

Hear from those already embracing their own side hustle

For this week’s article, we sat down with four community members with a side hustle of their own. From those who have started their own business alongside their main gig, to those that juggle working in a full-time corporate role whilst growing their side hustle – we wanted to give you the perspectives of those already doing the work. 

Alicia Burke

Alicia balances working in Product Marketing 3-4 days a week at a startup and running her own website design business.

Davide Gallo

Davide works full-time at The Portfolio Collective and diversifies his career by picking up gigs as a public speaker.

Egle Holton

Egle embraces her side hustle as a growth coach and consultant, whilst working as an Operations Lead at a tech giant.

Guy Denison-Smith

Guy juggles his side hustles as an army reservist and expedition leader, whilst running his own recruitment business.

Whether you’re thinking of embarking on a career change and kick-starting a side hustle of your own, or are just curious about the plethora of options available to you, take a read about what Alicia Burke, Davide Gallo, Egle Holton, and Guy Denison-Smith have to say before deciding your next steps. 

Hi everyone, please could you tell us a little more about your side hustle?

Alicia

My side hustle is no-code website design for new, small and solo businesses. I mostly work with Squarespace and Elementor for WordPress. It’s the perfect balance of following a standardised process and using creative problem-solving skills. I love collaborating with clients to drill down on their offerings and goals, and then translating that into a simple yet impactful website. It’s incredibly satisfying to see a client’s vision come to life in such a tangible way.

Davide

Currently my main side hustle is delivering seminars to young students – high schools, mostly – with a company called Elevate Education. They’re mainly focused on study skills for students, centred around subjects like time management, organisation, stress management, how to take notes effectively and acing your exams. I probably do one gig a week although this can vary and get up to about 3 a week!

Egle 

My side hustle is being a professional growth coach and consultant. I am currently running a coaching business aimed at working professionals called Career Design Circle.

Guy

I actually have a few, which is exactly how I want it to be! I spend about 75% of my time in my recruitment business, but I’m also a reservist in the army after serving for over 25 years and I also set up an expedition called Yukon 700 for wounded veterans. I’ve also just closed down my third side hustle, which was my wine business Blue Ice Wine, which imported and sold wine from Croatia. 

Afonso Pereira © The Portfolio Collective 2023

We’d love to find out a bit more about what made you want to have a side hustle in the first place.

Alicia

I come from a marketing and communications background where I was often the sole marketing lead looking after everything under the sun from content, social, and email to community, product and ops. Naturally, launching, redesigning and managing  websites was a large part of that. And it kind of just dawned on me that I’d been picking up all of these skills and I thought “you know what, I can build websites now!” I was very burnt out and wanted to take a break, but I also wanted to explore this side hustle experiment and keep earning extra income. My network and online communities really pulled through in winning my first projects, and the rest is history!

Davide

I think it’s really important to have a side hustle. Not just because it’s another thing you can monetise, but also because it gives me freedom and peace of mind that if anything were to happen with my main gig, I have something else to fall back on. It’s impressive how much my perspective changed when I started having a side hustle. It makes me enjoy my main gig even more because it’s a choice. I do it because I want to, not because I need to, and I know that I have my side hustle should anything change. 

Egle 

I started a side hustle, as I wanted to diversify my portfolio. I have worked at multinational companies for over 10 years and recently I witnessed how multiple layoffs in the tech industry have served as a wakeup call for many individuals. The layoffs are inviting people to look at their career choices and look for ways to diversify their careers. I see a fundamental mindset shift as my clients have turned their career questions from “How do I get promoted?” to “How do I diversify my career portfolio?”.

Guy

I’d always wanted to start looking at doing things myself. Although I enjoy my main gig, my side hustles are the things I do because I really enjoy them. My first side hustle, my wine business, actually started off as my main enterprise, before it then morphed into my side hustle, along with the other things I’ve picked up along the way.

And, what’s your favourite thing about having a side hustle?

Alicia

It’s just enjoyable. I get to throw some tunes on and be creative. I’ve improved my workflow to the point where I minimise time spent on admin and I know exactly what the next steps are, so I get to focus on being present with my clients and doing the actual work. I’m very project oriented, so it’s motivating for me to have a beginning and an end. I’m working on that balance where I streamline my process enough to reduce the time it takes me to do certain things, whilst still delivering an amazing outcome. It also doesn’t hurt that my startup job is all about meeting productivity and streamlining workflows, so there’s a lot of overlap there.

Davide

My two jobs are in completely different industries, doing completely different things, so I enjoy the ability to switch off and do something completely different. I’m switching off my laptop and speaking to a class of students, in-person, which I don’t get to do in my main gig. I love using my voice, so being able to do that is something I enjoy a lot. 

Egle 

The access it gives me to a broader network beyond the immediately available corporate bubble. I love learning and some of the most significant learning opportunities, freshest insights and inspiring conversations presented themselves through people I’ve met whilst running my side hustle.

Guy

I get bored quite easily and I like the challenge of having a number of balls in the air that I’m trying to control. It’s also about the ability to be the master of your own destiny – there are obviously factors outside of your control, but you’re still in charge of what you do. Working for yourself and doing your own thing is quite exciting, it’s given me a sort of energy I probably haven’t experienced in the last few years.

Afonso Pereira © The Portfolio Collective 2023

At the other end of the spectrum, is there something you find difficult about having a side hustle that you think other people should know about before embarking on theirs?

Alicia

To be honest, I’ve struggled a lot with perfectionism in the past – and it’s still something I have to work on. Ironically, trying to make everything perfect is a surefire way to get absolutely nowhere. I used to spend ages drafting ideas and plans for my business and website, obsessing over every little detail. I’d get lost in a maze of Google Docs, Notion wikis and endless brainstorming, forgetting that the most important thing was just to take action. It took me a while, but I finally learned that things don’t have to be perfect to be successful. You just have to show up. Now, I focus on taking imperfect action and enjoying the process of creating and learning along the way.

Davide

Sometimes the transitions can be difficult. Being able to manage your time and also get comfortable with switching. I might have just finished giving a talk in a school and then suddenly 15 minutes later I need to be in a client meeting. Having a side hustle forces you to be good at time management, but it’s a challenge I chose to tackle.

Egle 

Time management. Working full-time in a high pace environment while running a side hustle and managing parental commitments feels like a significant balancing act.  In all fairness, having only a fraction of time dedicated to a side hustle, as opposed to working on a project full time, sometimes feels like a very long, strenuous, and unrewarding journey. That being said,  I’ve been amazed how small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time enhanced my learning, created multiple networking opportunities and made a significant difference་in my professional life.

Guy

For me, it can be quite lonely. I’ve spent my whole career surrounded by people I can turn to, if I come up against a brick wall and need help breaking through it. I was shocked when I started by the fact that there’s not always somewhere you can go to for help. That’s why I think community and networking is so important. Another for me is the factors you can’t influence. I experienced that a lot when setting up my wine business, when issues with the bank delayed my launch by three months meaning I missed the busy Christmas period, which was incredibly frustrating.

And finally, what piece of advice would you give to someone looking to start a side hustle?

Alicia

Just do something, take it one step at a time. As I said, things don’t need to be perfect. Set a time limit for yourself, create a simple landing page, draft a message, and reach out to your network to start getting feedback and leads. When I landed my first client, I didn’t have anything set up, but I used that opportunity to start building my processes. Start small and improve as you go.

Take stock of your skills and what you enjoy, and see how you can present that as a tangible offering (it can be as simple as 5 bullet points to start). Be mindful of your routine, your time and your processes. And finally, lean heavily on your network and communities.

Davide

Just do it – the world of work is changing and it’s crucially important to have a side hustle, as we no longer have linear careers. These days we have to be flexible, not only because companies fail, but because the level of technology disruption is huge. Half of our jobs will not even exist in 10 years time, so having a side hustle is a great way to build and embrace this flexibility. 

Ask yourself “what’s your why?”. I would not be able to wake up at 5:30am to travel to a school to lead a talk, if I didn’t know why I was doing it. I also wouldn’t be able to put in the effort to manage my calendar and to organise my time, if I didn’t know why I was doing it. So clarity of why is absolutely key, even when you’re starting out. Your first task should be to ask yourself why.

Egle 

Set clear goals for your side hustle. If you’re considering starting a side hustle, I suggest identifying clear goals and expectations for your venture. Are you looking to generate income? Do you want to gain new skills? Or are you looking to test a new business idea? A clear purpose will help guide your decisions and actions and will help you avoid any disappointment.

Guy

The main piece of advice for me is network, network, network. It’s always good to run an idea through your network, to get people’s opinions and to brainstorm off of it. It’s also a great way to sell and gain exposure. But it’s important to not make it transactional – as soon as you make it transactional you turn people off. Networking should be about making connections, asking people for advice, and giving it in return.  I’m a great believer that most people are inherently kind and that they’ll always be happy to provide a little support. 

Another practical piece of advice is that you’ve got to be prepared for a lean start. Your side hustle is unlikely to make you money overnight. That’s okay, but it’s something you need to be prepared for. 

Ready to make the leap?

If Alicia, Davide, Egle and Guy have proven anything, it’s just how different side hustles can be. Sure there’s similarities and it’s refreshing to hear about some of the shared challenges they face as side hustlers, but a huge takeaway from hearing their advice is that a side hustle can be exactly what you make it. 

With the future of work being more flexible and the side hustle revolution here to stay, it’s only a matter of time before the majority of the workforce turn to side hustles or portfolio careers as a way to diversify their earnings, increase job security and learn new skills. 

If you’d like to learn more about taking the leap and starting your own side hustle, feel free to post a question in our community. And why not reach out to other portfolio professionals within our community – there’s at least 4 side hustlers ready to connect and say hi! 

Think this sounds like the right path for you? Come along to our monthly Get started event for new members to find out what a portfolio career could look like and how The Portfolio Collective can help you take those first steps towards professional success – and don’t forget to connect with our community!

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