The side hustle life is rough yo! Balancing a full time job, building a business from the ground up on a part time business… and you know… live life… is near impossible. Something’s got to give. Shonda Rhimes says in her book “The Year of Yes” that it is impossible balance- your priorities just shift. So that makes me feel a bit better.
Having a job is generally considered the safe option and perusing a business venture is generally seen as super risky. I thought this as well. I thought that climbing the corporate ladder is the way to go- prove your worth to a company and they will promote you and reward you for your efforts. In exchange you collect a stable (presumably increasing) monthly pay cheque. Pretty predictable, right?
It is only when I read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (if you haven’t read it- do yourself a favour and get a copy. It is about R120) did I realize that being an employee is the riskiest option. Kiyosaki explains that by being an employee, you only have one source of income as you literally only have one client. And that client can easily decide to retrench or otherwise relieve you from your duties. We have all seen this happening to skilled and unskilled labour force. This is the harsh reality we live in and it is likely to only get worse with mechanization and AI. Whereas if you have a business, you should have multiple clients and deriving income from various sources.
Beside the risks involved in relying on an employer, the traditional career model is so unappealing– study, get a job, work your way up the corporate ladder, get 2 weeks of leave a year, have 2.5 kids and retire when you are 60 and hope and pray that you’ll have enough retirement savings to sustain until you die. This implies that we are subscribing to the life stages as depicted in the image below. Where in this Adult phase we are too stuck in this rat race that we don’t have time to simply enjoy life. Where we have to wait until retirement to actually have the time but then we won’t have the energy to do fun stuff. What sort of life is that? No thank you. Being a typical Millennial, I’m questioning this and want to flip this model on its head.
Then there is the issue of Impact. There are no shortages of headlines on Millennials who are “purpose driven” and want to use their skills to benefit a cause. I subscribe to this stereotype. In my current 9-5 job, I feel like I am adding value to the company but not necessarily to society at large- if anything it is very indirect. For example, I spend a lot of time preparing a report. It gets read and discussed once, a decision is made and then it is put in the archives for audit purposes. In contrast, I feel that if I write online content (blogs/articles) for Entrihub/ Leaping Sideways, it may actually help some entrepreneurs. Its a gift that keeps on giving and the rewards are reaped in perpetuity (assuming the webstites actually get traction.) But it is definitely worth the effort.
Now, I’m not advocating that we all quit our jobs and start random businesses and/or travel the world. Rather, I would like to highlight the value in the side hustle strategy. While you are earning a stable monthly income and working 9-5, use your spare time and spare cash to find ways to earn some extra cash. Sure, this extra cash may be used to treat yo’self. However, if you focus on growing your business, it may just reach a point where you are comfortable leaving your job and have your money work for you. But remember, if you treat your business as a hobby- expect hobby results!
The side hustle
As the saying goes- only fools rush in. The side hustle offers you the luxury of not being desperate. You are still bringing in a stable paycheck to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly. If you lucky enough, there’ll be some spare change left to plough into your business. This really helps in the early development of your business and in early marketing. If you are desperate, there is a risk that you set your price too low, undercutting its true value, just to secure a few sales because your rent is due. But then again, fortune favours the brave. Maybe one day when I am big and courageous, I’ll take that leap , quit my job and give Entrihub the attention it deserves- but I’m not there yet.
An investment analyst by day and a techpreneur by night- that is my identity now. I’m spending about 40 hours on my day job and other 30-40 hours a week on building my empire (yes, that’s what I’m calling my lil start-up). On an average day, I would wake up at 5am, fit in about 2 hours of work on Entrihub before getting ready for work and then another 2 hours or so in the evening. I love it when the weekend comes because that means that I can work for hours on end for two straight days! So, I am essentially working two jobs. I fancy myself a sort of Zorro- leading a double life and working on my lil start-up in secret! It is tiring but as crazy as it sounds, I’m actually enjoying it! Its no joke balancing it all while also trying to keep sane. This Leaping Sideways blog is, inter alia, meant to be an outlet for all my frustrations.
Chalk and Cheese
Studying towards becoming a chartered accountant (2008-2011) taught me about traditional business. Working in an insurer further cemented this traditional old school mindset. That is outdated thinking. There’s no place for that in the current environment*, much less in the future. Being exposed to the startup world, just opened my eyes to innovative thinking. Reassessing how we look at risk. The passion. The drive. The sweat capital. It’s a breath of fresh air. Yes, studying does provide a nice foundation, but with disruption all around- even first principles are being challenged. And I’m here for it all 🙋♀️ Enough with archaic corporates with their outdated ways and yes to challenging the status quo!
*to be fair, I do have some sympathy for banks and insurers. They have an immense responsibility to safe keep our deposits and policies. And for that reason, there are regulations that limits the amount of risk they can take. They may have some departments that can focus on innovation but overall, banks and insurers are generally risk adverse. If you ask me, I’m happy to leave ground breaking tech to the Amazons, Googles and other startups of the world knowing my money is safe in the bank.
That Work>Hustle>Life balance
The month is October 2019. I just launched last month. If I thought juggling my 9-5 career and my side hustle was keeping me busy before – I was in a for a huge surprise. In addition to product development, I now had to focus on marketing, dealing with customer (Entrepreneur) queries, pitching to Enablers, sliding up in Influencers’ DMs, entering competitions etc. Over and above this, I’m on a 3 month accelerator programme which means online tutorials and report backs. Oh, did I mention I’m trying to finalise my personal blog too? But to top it all off, in the midst of all this chaos, I decide to quickly go backpacking in South America. And this I how enter my 30s.