Why Start a Side Hustle – Even if You Don’t Need the Extra Money

August 29, 2019

Five reasons why you may want to start a side-hustle, even if you don't need extra money
Nowadays, it’s not so uncommon to hear that someone has a side hustle. People use side hustles to learn new skills, explore passions, test opportunities, or start something that could lead to a new career. In today’s changing world of work, having a side hustle is a smart career move.

I joined the workforce before the internet was mainstream. Back then, the main goal was to get a degree, find a good job in a stable company or stable industry, and work up the ladder.

If you were lucky, you kept growing and advancing within the company until you retired or until something really interesting — something you just couldn’t pass up — came your way.

That career model is now as good as defunct.

These days, there’s no such thing as a stable company or a stable industry anymore. Or at least not one that you can (or should) expect to last until your retirement – unless you plan to retire within the next few months!

We are in a constant state of change. Across the board, companies and industries are being disrupted. And no one company is safe.

As Jeff Bezos said about the largest retailer on the planet, “One day, Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt.”

To remain viable, companies today need to continuously evolve and reinvent from within, adopting new strategies, new practices, and new revenue models.

This constant disruption in the business environment has resulted in a changing work and evolving employment landscape.

What all this means for you and me is this: Even if we wished to stay in one place until retirement, chances are we won’t be able to.

This leads me to the other side of this equation. Would you even want to?

Technology changed the rules.

Technology has always been in the news. Lately, much of the chatter is about the impact of AI, robotics, and the digital economy on jobs and the future of work. Some take a very alarming point of view, and some are overly-hyped.

Let me just say one thing I really appreciate. Technology changed the rules and made things that were previously out of reach totally within our grasp.

Technology brought down the walls and lowered barriers to entry.

Gatekeepers across all industries have been disempowered — or their powers diminished, at the very least.
Today, we have access to resources that help us pursue other interests.

We are no longer bound to just do one thing. We can do many things. Different things.

Which is a good thing. Because there’s a good chance that you will outgrow the career choices you made in your 20s.

In times past, we would have been stuck. To make a career change back then would have been so complicated and potentially cost-prohibitive to even consider.

Fortunately, we don’t live in those times. Today, we can choose to go in a different direction and actually have the opportunity to make that happen.

Sure, having a side hustle is good for supplemental income. Most people I knew back in the day, held a part-time job ‘on the side’ for that purpose.

This isn’t the case anymore nowadays.

It’s not so uncommon to hear that someone has a project in addition to their full-time role.

People use side hustles to learn new skills, explore passions, test opportunities, or start something that could lead to a new career.

In fact, having a side hustle is a smart career move. Here are 5 reasons why.

Reason #1- A side hustle can be your entry point to a new career.

A side hustle is a smart strategy especially if you’re thinking of starting a business or going off on your own.

As romantic as the idea is to “leap and the net will appear”, it is not advisable to just quit your day job to start a new business from scratch.

It takes a while to be an overnight success. And you want to have your basic needs met by a stable source of income as you build your freelancing career or new business on the side.

Reason #2- A side hustle allows you to explore a new interest or idea.

You can experiment to see if your idea is viable before you make a full-on commitment. And you can test your own level of interest. Are you really into it? Or is it merely a passing interest.

In episode 99, Joanna Penn shared that she started several businesses on the side, while she had a full-time job. Thru these projects, she was able to test her business ideas. More importantly, she learned what she didn’t like after all.

For example, one of her earlier ideas was to build a scuba diving business. This made sense to her because she was into scuba diving herself and was partnering with a diving instructor. But loving something as a hobby doesn’t always mean you’ll love it when it becomes your job. And her experience with the side scuba diving business proved this point.

Every time I tried something, I learned what I didn’t want. And that’s just as important. — Joanna Penn

Reason #3- It allows you to learn new skills and expand your expertise.

We live in an age when re-skilling and up-skilling is the name of the game.

Yes, it’s always been a good practice to learn new skills. But it’s never been this important or this urgent.
I’m not an alarmist or a doomsday-sayer by nature. I’m a glass-half-full person. And I feel positive about the impact of exponential technologies on the future of work.

I am also practical.

Anything that can be automated will be automated. The technology to make this a reality is already here.

I believe we are at an inflection point and we’re about to experience massive shifts in the way we work.

We must educate ourselves about new careers, new fields of work, new industries and add new skills to our arsenal.

Here’s one recent example. I attended the Podcast Movement a couple of weeks ago. PM is the largest and most recognized annual conference for the podcast industry.

Who knew there’s a podcast industry, right?

Well, let me just tell you, there are over 700,000 podcasts on iTunes and that number will continue to grow. I heard that about 3000 people working in the industry attended the conference, up from 2000 last year.

One of the folks I met at the conference started a podcast a couple of years ago, on the side, and as a hobby. In the process, she acquired a whole new set of skills which presented her with new opportunities. She ended up with a new career she loves, something that would not have been possible had she not started her podcast.

Side projects can definitely be a fun way to expand your expertise and open new doors for you.

Reason #4- A side hustle can be your outlet for other interests or creative pursuits.

Side hustles need not be all about making money. Maybe you don’t even want to change careers or change jobs.

Instead, your side hustle can serve as an outlet for your creative energies or a way to indulge a hobby.

Emmanuelle Galland, who I interviewed for my book, Break Free, taught fitness classes on weekends at her local gym for years while she was a management consultant. She didn’t become a fitness instructor because she wanted to make extra money.

She was serious about exercising and being healthy. So she thought, why not be a fitness instructor on the weekends since she spent so much time at the gym anyway?

A friend works as an electrical engineer Monday to Friday. In his spare time, he builds desks and chairs in his garage. He’s thrilled he gets to work on his passion interest. The money he earns from selling his productions is the icing on the cake.

Vanessa Soto, in Episode 17, shared that starting a side passion project surprisingly reignited her appreciation of her full-time job. With a separate outlet to explore her other interests and growing skills, Vannesa was able to show up at work less frustrated and fully engaged.

Reason #5 – A side-hustle can be an effective risk management move.

We’ve all heard the age-old advice, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

If you think about it, having the one job is putting all your eggs in one basket. No matter how senior or how high up the ladder you may be.

If something were to happen – if the company decides to change direction or goes belly-up (not so far-fetched nowadays) – you’ll be out of luck.

Of course, one way to manage this risk is to put money away and build a security cushion.

Another strategy is to have a side hustle.

Having a side-hustle gives you a level of security and the peace of mind that you’re not 100% dependent on any one company or source of income.

• • •

For all these reasons, Second Breaks is exploring what it takes to successfully start and sustain a side hustle.

From September 5th, the podcast is starting a series of episodes diving into this topic. We will profile folks who currently work a full-time job and have a side gig. You’ll learn how they got started and how they’re managing their regular 9-to-5 and their side projects.

Not everybody starts a side hustle intending for it to become their career, but some have done that. You’ll also be hearing stories of folks who have successfully transitioned their side thing to a new career.

I hope this series will spark ideas, inspire you, and help you plan your side-hustle.

To make sure you don’t miss the series, subscribe, for free, to Second Breaks today.



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A former Big 4 management consultant and IT leader, Lou is a future-of-work enthusiast who has carried out four career pivots. She hosts the Second Breaks podcast, a show that explores how we can navigate the future of work and thrive in our chosen careers. Lou is the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career.

The world of work is changing.

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