“I’m a full-time nurse but I also run a baking business.” How many times have you heard a reply like this when you ask someone what they do? Welcome to the world of side hustling, which is transforming the way the UK works.
…in the last decade, this work trend has contributed £14.4 billion to the British economy…
A side hustle is generally temporary work that someone does alongside a regular full-time job to earn extra income, pursue a passion or take up a new challenge. A quarter of Brits working 9 to 5 work again from 5 to 9 or during the weekends to pursue a job on the side, according to a recent poll. In fact, a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research states that in the last decade, this work trend has contributed £14.4 billion to the British economy with every 1,000 side hustles creating 876 jobs.
This new working structure is popular all over the country, particularly among millennials whose jobs aren’t paying enough to make ends meet, according to research conducted by the Henley Business School at the University of Reading.
Pay or Passion?
Before industrialisation in the 19th century, additional work was commonplace, with many people taking on multiple jobs to simply earn enough to survive. But the aftermath of 2008 financial crisis once again resulted in a large number of people earning income from an additional job. Advances in science and technology have also boosted the culture of side hustling by making it easier to start businesses on the side such as online retail shops and blogs. Many people also take up virtual training jobs as side hustles, for example, teaching languages online.
“Some of my customers send me letters telling me how their kid or partner loved the penguin gift and that gives me more satisfaction than a promotion in my regular job would.”
Research from GoDaddy revealed that the majority of employees with a side hustle earn anything from £500 to £5,000 in extra income annually. Take Sophie Gibson, from Sheffield. She was working as a digital marketing assistant when she began her online business, The Penguin Patrol, on the side in 2016, selling penguin-themed soft toys, stationery and jewellery. Gibson began this business purely because of her love of penguins, but it has earned her extra income that helps her pay back her loans. Last year she earned around £5,000 from The Penguin Patrol.
“I love penguins and wasn’t sure my business would turn into anything that massive, but I started generating some revenue and it does serve as a nice bit of extra income,” she said.
Gibson, who now works as an SEO account manager, said her side business also brings personal satisfaction. “I spend lots of time in the post office during my lunch break, wrapping up the penguins, writing my little notes and mailing them to people all over the country,” she said. “Some of my customers send me letters telling me how their kid or partner loved the penguin gift and that gives me more satisfaction than a promotion in my regular job would.”
“I see my day job as an enabler, financially at least, to keep pursuing my passion…”
Besides the lure of money, 73% of side hustlers are following a passion, all the while learning skills that could benefit their regular jobs. For Rumbie Shearer, it was her strong passion for food that led to her side hustle. She works full-time as a management consultant in London, dealing with implementing technology into banking and financial services, while her additional job is running UK Supperclubs. Here she organises pop-up dining experiences all over the country.
“It was really a passion project,” she said. “I see my day job as an enabler, financially at least, to keep pursuing my passion. In my day job, I love bringing together different teams to solve complex problems. Through my side hustle, I’ve been able to showcase some inspiring talent and innovative cooks.”
Shearer’s employer has also been supportive of her side job and has helped her grow her business by spreading the word on social media. Delighted with this support, she is keen to continue her additional business and has been able to manage her time efficiently.
“My job is quite busy so that takes priority, as does family life since I have a toddler. But I easily find the time to build my passion and my network through UK Supperclubs in the evenings and over the weekends,” she said.
Can a side hustle become your main job?
Working an additional job, either for financial reasons or to pursue a passion, has become the new norm. But a recent report found that 31% of British women aspire to grow their side hustle into a full-time job. Amel El Achkar is one of these women.
El Achkar works as a business development manager for Mediterranean Foods. The mum of two from Berkshire also runs her online business, Kind Words for Kids, which sells affirmation cards that support children’s mental wellbeing. Having suffered from depression and anxiety as a child, El Achkar is keen to give children tools to help them cope with life’s challenges. Her affirmation cards are designed to boost self-esteem and encourage children to talk about their feelings.
“Be honest with your employer about what you are doing and how much you can commit to your job.”
El Achkar would love to turn her side business into her full-time job. “My side hustle has enough work for me to work on it full-time, but to be honest that is not enough. To finance my dream, I took up my full-time job,” she said. However, her employer recognises her passion and is very supportive of her extra work. Her company allows her flexible working hours and she also has the option of working from home, which helps her cut out on her commute time and fit her working hours around her lifestyle, juggling her family, her full-time job and her side hustle.
“Be honest with your employer about what you are doing and how much you can commit to your job. Many employers are trying to work towards flexible working so see if this is an option for you, if you want to pursue your dream business,” she said.
Isn’t it exhausting?
69% of side hustlers feel more positive about life for having their two roles…
While working on the side can have both financial and personal benefits, it can also be taxing. In the UK, the average working week is 48 hours, so having an additional job means investing your down time, working over the weekends or even on holiday. But a study found that 69% of side hustlers feel more positive about life for having their two roles and the additional work doesn’t seem to stress them out. Their side hustle helps them take their mind off their regular day job.
Honesty is key
“Side-hustling is a little like an ‘open relationship’: both parties know they are seeing other people, but they also know they both get something from each…”
One of the main ways that a side hustle could become easier is if businesses see the positives in this way of structuring work life. “Side-hustling is a little like an ‘open relationship’: both parties know they are seeing other people, but they also know they both get something from each other which is worth keeping! Trust needs to be built between bosses and employees with a side hustle. Both sides need to show they have the right level of commitment to each other, by creating a ‘new framework of work’,”said Naema Pasha, director at Henley Careers, in the Side Hustle Economy report.
Research but make it fun!
“Let go of the guilt and ask for help and support, you can’t do it alone…”
Gibson emphasises the importance of researching the kind of side businesses to pursue. “I kept researching before I decided to start Penguin Patrol,” said Gibson. *“It’s important to do research, see if it adds any value to you and gauge if your work will resonate with other people.”
The culture of side hustling also appeals to different sides of an individual’s personality. It can bring you satisfaction as well as teach you skills that could benefit your day job. But it is important to find the right balance between a regular job and your side hustle. As side-hustler El Achkar said that it needs to be fun. *“Your side hustle or your job—or, if you are lucky, both—need to be things you enjoy so they don’t feel like work. That way you are able to work 6am till midnight while taking care of your family in between and feel happy and fulfilled. Let go of the guilt and ask for help and support, you can’t do it alone,” she says.
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