By Lauren Williamson
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Entrepreneurship isn’t a new notion, but the term and trend of having a “side hustle” has taken off in the last few years. Job insecurity, constant connectivity, and a generational preference to align work with passion and purpose are some of the factors driving our increasing interest in finding additional income streams in our spare time.
What is a side hustle?
A side hustle is a job you work on top of a full-time gig. It could be anything from creating a game-changing innovation to dog walking for your local community.
Why start a side hustle?
Before investing time and energy in extracurricular employment, it’s important to dissect your why and plan accordingly. Choosing something that makes a difference to your bank account might look very different to something that makes an impact on your soul.
1. Make some extra money
Sometimes keeping up with the escalating cost of living can require more than one job and a successful side hustle can help cover your costs. Late-stage capitalism, huh.
2. Transition to self-employment
Sick of slogging it out for the man? Starting a side hustle with the aim to ultimately make it your sole stream of income could be a solid option. It’s also an ace way to give a business idea a test run before your mic drop resignation moment.
3. Pursue your ~passion~
Not everyone has the privilege of making their 9-to-5 a deeply fulfilling vocation, sometimes it’s just gotta pay the bills. If you’re feeling trapped in your current role and a career switch isn’t an option right now, creating a side hustle that more aligns with your interests and aspirations can scratch that itch.
4. Learn something new
Want to pick up a new hobby? Whether it’s pottery or playing an instrument, turning it into a side hustle can help you cover your costs or even make a profit. It can also help diversify your skill set, increasing your employability. But don’t fall into the trap of commodifying all your hobbies, feel free to do something just because you bloody enjoy it.
What it’s really like to start a side hustle
When former Digital Content Manager Lottie Dalziel was tasked with replicating Mark Wahlberg’s routine for a story, she wasn’t expecting the outcome to be the birth of her business Banish. Yep, amidst one of her 4 am wakeups (Marky Mark’s gotta start those sit-ups with the sunrise) she was struck by how hard it was to live more sustainably.
“One of my many New year resolutions in 2018 was to reduce my waste but it wasn’t until I started making a more concentrated effort that I realised how difficult it was,” Lottie says. “Waking up so early gave me the time and headspace to explore this, but it wasn’t just hard to find credible information on the current environmental situation, it was tricky to find products that were legitimately plastic-free.”
So, she started Banish to help educate people on how to do better and give small, eco-friendly businesses a platform to speak to audiences at mass.
“A typical day for me would be waking up at 4 am working until 6:30 am then a quick gym session and into the office by 9 am,” Lottie says. “I’d spend some lunch breaks working on my side hustle then when I finished work I’d often do more!”
Although it was intense, it was a good starting point for the business.
“It allowed me to start working on Banish with no real financial pressures which meant that I could focus on building our brand messaging and core,” she adds.
“The worst part was the juggle, I’d feel like I would really be getting somewhere with my side-hustle then would have to stop to focus on my full-time job. I also would find it really hard to get my creative juices flowing after a big day in the office. There is no such thing as work-life balance when you’re juggling both.”
After nine months with a side hustle, she decided to quit her full-time gig.
“Banish wasn’t financially ready to support me but I was fortunate enough to be able to do some freelance and part-time work on the side which helped sustain my lifestyle until Banish could,” Lottie says.
Her advice for anyone sitting on a side hustle idea is to take the risk but do the research.
“Take the plunge and give it a go,” she says. “There’s no perfect time, so act on your instincts and try it out! Don’t worry about failing or what other people think. You don’t have to invest your life savings into the business but test the market and grow your audience without the pressure of having to be always selling.”
Phoebe Grealy, who started her organic flower and seed company Salisbury Grange in 2019, did her side hustle a little differently.
“I had the idea many years before in 2015 and sat on it for so long that I got pushed out of the nest by the universe with an unbelievably toxic job,” Phoebe says. “I quit and finally decided to finally put my idea into action!”
Phoebe used a small “FU fund” (that’s a bit of money stashed in case you need to say fuck you to a certain situation) to cover h
er for six months, in which she worked on setting up the business and building awareness but eventually went back to contract work to save up more funds.
“Rather than working a full-time job and doing my business on the side, I worked for a bit and then did my business for a bit initially,” Phoebe says. “For me, the empty space of no work allowed creative ideas to come through. When I had time off, I wrote 12 e-books which came out of nowhere because I had the space! Now I’m more established, I’m able to run my side hustle and let it grow at its own pace while working full time to support myself.”
The aforementioned FU fund is Phoebe’s biggest bit of advice.
“It’s so hard to be creative or proactive when worrying about finances,” Phoebe says. “I also think it’s important to choose a side hustle where you can do most of the elements yourself, even if you get help down the track later. Most importantly, understand that building something new takes time. The quote “the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit” is a good reminder! I work with nature every day so I know that the most beautiful incredible flowers eventually grow, but there are lots of stages along the way.”
Side hustle ideas
Think about your skills, your interests, and what the world needs a little extra of right now. Draw on conversations with your community and a bit of research to form the foundations of your side hustle, and ensure you set aside time to work on it regularly.
Here are some side hustle ideas to get you started.
Dog walking or pet sitting
Setting up an OnlyFans account
Sell your old gear on eBay
Paid market research
Drive for Uber
Rent a spare room on Airbnb
Create an online course or eBook
Babysitting or nannying
Become a virtual assistant
And just remember, adding extra labour to your plate can make that elusive work-life balance even harder to attain so keep your wellbeing top of mind.