The rise of the side hustle

According to the Zapier Side Hustle Report, more than one-third of the US population has a side hustle. Also in Britain, almost half the population is making a second income from side hustles (Reference: Startups).

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Abi Ortega
March 23, 2022 6:43 pm

A large reason why people pursue a side hustle is to diversify their income streams. Other reasons aren’t financially motivated, for example, having a yearning for creative output. It’s the sweet spot when you can mesh these 2 together. How many times have we heard of a successful startup that began from a founder’s hobby? We hear it more and more how someone started doing things out of fun and it later became a full-time gig for them. Gamers and content creators have numerous examples.

One downside with this reverence of the side hustle is that we are wired to compare ourselves with others. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. “X,Y, Z earn 6 figures annually from streaming. But I too spend hours streaming every day and barely get any views.

I have a friend who had dreams of becoming a full-time streamer. When he took the plunge he was full of enthusiasm, embarking on a career path that he thought could open doors to a whole new life. He would finish his day at work and then spend up to 4 hours in the evening streaming. It was a tough grind that made him lose all enjoyment of gaming. He kept it up for 3 years before deciding to call it quits.

He feels that years of his life were wasted streaming. Not only did he fail to become a popular streamer but he says his career progression was hindered and his social life affected. He has trouble letting that part of his life go.

I tell him to stop comparing himself to others but he keeps thinking about what would have happened if his streams took off. He could have had sponsorships and played games for a living, like the other big streamers on Twitch and YouTube. I remind him that playing games for a living isn’t as amazing as it sounds. Remember, I tell him, you even said you had lost the fun in it.

I believe with side hustles, great value comes from the lessons of ‘hustling’ even if it doesn’t work out. Instead of feeling sorry for himself and regretting his actions, look at it from another perspective. He was bold enough to make a big move. He put in a lot of effort toward something and while it didn’t work out, that attitude of hard work is admirable. That same attitude can take him places. He’s not a big streamer now but he’s learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t. There are so many lessons you can take from a failure.

Although money is a great motivator for people to start a side hustle, we don’t have to measure our performance by the yardstick of other people’s success. I believe the lessons learned in engaging in a side hustle are just as valuable. 

March 23, 2022 12:57 pm

Side hustles are the order of the day in the Nigerian economy. It’s preached about, sold as an idea and encouraged by all. Most 9-5 workers have side hustles. Of course because of the situation with the economy, a monthly fixed rate doesn’t cut it for families and individuals with responsibilities. There’s no fear of taxes or being caught doing extra work. People even convert their cars to public taxis on their way home from work.

The problem is education is no longer a ticket to employment. 90% of job offers come from connections while 10% rely on good fortune. Though the certificate is very important to have so that you can have a say in society. We youth adopt a quote here:

Go to school, hustle hard to graduate with a good grade. Then, after graduation, drop the certificate and hustle on the street like a drop out.

There are lots of graduates yet to get jobs and it’s becoming harder every day. When there are job openings by companies, the ratio is always like 5000 applicants to 1 position. More reason 70% of Nigerian Youths are into online fraudulent activities called YahooYahoo Scamming. 10% are into legit online business like freelancing, crypto trading, online marketing, shipping etc. And 20% are employed (2% gainfully employed with good pay, 18% employed just to quench hunger). Myself for example, I am an Environmental Engineering graduate with a good grade and am hustling hard any way I can. But the certificate is always important in case there is opportunity. Nigerians don’t stay idle. We hustle hustle hustle till better days come.

Aaron Seleka
March 24, 2022 4:54 pm

As things get tougher for people financially, they resort to a side hustle to make extra cash. In South Africa we’ve had a bit of a conversation around not only whether side jobs should be allowed, but also what is acceptable.

A lot of formal work contracts state that you are not allowed to moonlight on other jobs in unrelated industries after hours, but is this fair? Seems to me that if you have fulfilled your contract with your primary employer, then your time is yours to do what you want.

Another angle is that people can’t seem to compartmentalise side jobs. We had a case a while ago of a primary school teacher who had a weekend sex toy sales gig. She had to resign from her teaching job when people found out about her side hustle. Isn’t this just over-sensitivity?

It’s interesting to hear how ‘normal’ it is to have a side job in other countries. Turning your car into a taxi on the way home is pretty awesome. I’m not saying there are no side hustles in South Africa, there are definitely lots going on, I just think it’s not yet normal, especially for middle class white collar workers to openly state that they have something earning them extra cash on the side. In some ways I think it’s as if it’s beneath certain people.

Then you have the blue collar people who earn a lot less money. Here the informal side job industry is pretty active no doubt, with people selling food/produce to offering expertise such as carpentry, mechanical work and beauty services.

Last edited 6 months ago by Aaron Seleka
Taabia Ahmed
March 24, 2022 1:12 pm

Side hustles are very popular here in Pakistan too. Our primary employer is owner of certain work hours. Mostly 9 to 5. You can do anything you like over weekends or weekdays as part time as long as it doesn’t violate CoC i.e. code of conduct.

We have people from white collar jobs teaching as visiting faculty over weekends. People take up own side businesses related to restaurants, cafes, boutiques etc. Many working females are running own homemade food projects selling cakes and desserts and what not.

Recently a friend of mine launched his dream project; an app to let customers call for house help. He’s working as a HR professional in an MNC as well as giving time to prosper his new venture. The only reason his employer isn’t interfering is that his business doesn’t effect the signed COC. The most crucial part of most of the company’s CoC includes Conflict of Interest. Your own work and business should not conflict with your job description and/or company values.

For example, one may have to forcefully resign (or be terminated) because he or she used employer’s intellectual property (software code) for side work. Similarly, you can’t be head of security department and run own security business at the same time; conflict of interest.

Otherwise, everything is good to go here 🙂

Quinn Ferris
June 10, 2022 8:20 am

Can you blame people for having a side hustle? Sometimes I get the impression that people think the streets are paved of gold here and everyone is rich. The ‘land of opportunity’ moniker could only be kept up if we wrapped a blindfold around our borders. Internet access has enabled people from all corners of the world to see what life really is like in the world’s most powerful country. Like in so many other countries, there is crippling inequality.

Opportunity? Sure. There are examples of those who started from the very bottom who’ve achieved spectacular success. However the deeper we look into this we realize these examples are few and far between. The land of opportunity exists, just not for everyone. In fact research on social mobility in the United States shows that the meritocracy we think we live in is more of a make-belief fantasy.

The US has a Gini Coefficient of 0.434, the highest of any G7 country. If your parents are among the poorest 20% of their generation, chances are you will be among the poorest 20% of your generation. Social mobility and chances of breaking the ceiling imposed by your parents’ wealth is limited. This goes against this belief that we’re the land of opportunity. No matter how much we want to believe it, no matter how many individual examples we use to present ourselves as such, we are a deeply unequal, socially immobile society.

Side hustles are a consequence and necessity of this unfortunate economic truth.