The gig economy is alive and well and many people are taking control of their professional lives by activating a side hustle to add a supplemental income stream or flex entrepreneurial muscles.
Nick Loper identifies himself as a Chief Side Hustler and created Side Hustle Nation to help those committed to the side hustle career journey.
People choose to engage in a side hustle for a variety of reasons like the opportunity to earn more or learn new skills. Others want to use their free time more productively. Some are eager to escape the treadmill of frustration embedded in many organizations due to the lack of career advancement or the opportunity to reinvent.
Plan C Professional
I celebrate my side hustle as a Plan C Professional and enjoy the classic full-time job with benefits (healthcare and retirement) while also pursuing my consulting practice simultaneously. Dr. Erin Albert wrote about this alternative career option in her book, Plan C Professional: The Full Time Employee and the Part-Time Entrepreneur.
This option is a great way to test-drive and refine an entrepreneurial venture without the risk. In reality, careers are rarely linear and professionals change jobs and career fields many times throughout their working lives. The Plan C option empowers you to try new things while defining your personal definition of success.
Additional Income Streams
You need not start a new business in order to get your side hustle on. Millions of Americans are earning additional income in creative ways you may have never considered. A recent Entrepreneur article featured 50 lucrative ideas for a side hustle and here are just a few:
· Sell items on Ebay or Craigslist
· Rent your spare room on Airbnb
· Tutor over Skype
· Become a house sitter
Get Control Back
As a career coach, I speak with hundreds of people who are miserable in their careers. I’ve always said that bad bosses, bad jobs, and poorly run organizations happen. Suffering is optional!
Take advantage of a side hustle to test drive new career opportunities, expand your skills and grow your network. It’s a great way to investigate a change without fully committing and it will build your confidence as you explore new opportunities and learn how to truly play to your strengths.
Mergers and acquisitions are happening faster and more frequently than ever in this tumultuous career world. Advancements in technology and innovation may make your current side hustle obsolete in years to come. How will self-driving cars impact the on-demand ride and logistics industry, for example? Having a variety of freelance options can keep your side hustle earning power nimble when things happen beyond your control.
If you are contemplating a career change or reinvention, the side hustle exploration expands your network and your experiences allowing you to be seen and heard by additional influencers beyond your current professional community.
If the thought of finding your career passion freaks you out then start simply with what you like and consider a side hustle as an opportunity to test-drive and enhance your professional development and career options.
Scale Your Business
Perhaps being a full-time entrepreneur is your ultimate goal. Starting with a side hustle allows you to learn the business ropes without all the pressure of it being your sole career.
Mashable shared excellent resources for the novice side hustler ready to break into the freelance world. Side hustlers will benefit from resources and a community while navigating this new journey.
· Shared working spaces are growing in many cities, and can be great options for anyone in a work-from-home employment situation looking to socialize or network. WeWork and Grind are popular examples.
· MeetUps offer networking and social opportunities for professionals or neighbors seeking like-minded members of their communities
Yahoo Finance reported that nearly one in seven Americans make money outside of their full-time job. If you want to join the side hustle revolution or if you already participate in the gig economy, you need to know that burnout is your biggest threat.
I speak from personal experience when I say that self-care and wellness need to be a top priority. You alone have control over how you honor your health. There may be times when you are burning the candle at both ends so build in regular rest and decompression time so your body and your mind have the down time to refresh and reboot.
If you are unhealthy, sick, or debilitated – you won’t be able to work so take burnout prevention seriously before it gets the best of you.
Be wise and also tell your full-time employer about any side gigs you pursue. Disclose any conflicts of interest and have an honest conversation about how you plan to manage both so you can mitigate any concern your boss may have about performing optimally at your day job.
A side hustle takes a lot of moxie, endurance, resilience, and energy and is not for everyone. Get your rest, be clear about your goals and be adaptive when things change. The side hustle inspiration blog is a great resource for fellow side hustlers dealing with the challenges and also reaping the benefits of the gig economy. Hustle on!
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the 2nd edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. She hosts and produces an online show: Thrive! about career & life empowerment for women on YouTube. Caroline also hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life - on iTunes and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.