Updated: Jun 4
Whether it was participating in a bake sale in primary, waitressing in high school, or tutoring in University. Many of us can relate to taking on an extra job in order to earn some extra cash. This form of activity is known as a "Side Hustle". As we get older, and our skills and knowledge base increases, our potential for leveling up our side hustles increases as well.
This idea is true for me.
Before I was even aware of the term "side hustle", I was constantly exploring for new and innovative ways to make money in order to fuel my burning passion of being able to afford the latest gadget or gismo that appeared on my television screen. I was every consumer goods marketers dream.
As I got older, and my main activity, which was school at the time, became more time consuming, the entrepreneurial ventures I participated in became more intricate. I went from selling used video games in primary school (innovative right?), to tutoring students in my neighbourhood during my time at high school.
Upon reflection I realised that I had the innate skill of convincing people to part ways with their parents hard earned money to solve my problem of wanting to obtain the latest luxury item - or 'hustling' as I like to call it. As soon as I was released from the shackles of organised schooling, most of my free time was spent brainstorming ideas for my next venture, as the newest and latest edition of the exact same item I had was about to be released. I just had to have the 2012 edition of the 2011 gadget I had just bought because now it had come in lavender.
Looking back, many would argue that I should have used that energy more productively, but honestly speaking, all that time spent hustling had given me the skills necessary for maintaining my now 'productive' side hustle while working at my full time corporate job. These skills included;
Working a 9 to 5 job leaves little time for extra curricular activities. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance while still pursing a side hustle requires adept time management skills. Fortunately for me, my experience in side hustling as a child forced me to develop this skill as failing my AP biology exam in order to sell video games would not sit well with my mother. I had a nifty planner that I used to timebox my activities by prioritising tasks and completing them in order of importance. The grown up version of this can be found on your phone. The notes and reminders app on the iPhone are really handy tools for staying on track with goals.
2. Strategic Thinking
As I child I did not exactly have a board room filled with eager interns ready to show me their ideas on how to market and distribute used video games, so during my lunch periods, I wrote down a logistics plan that included obtaining games, setting a price, and finding likeminded teenagers interested in cheap or discounted video games. Every step had to be carefully planned, as selling used video games was not exactly within the schools code of conduct at the time (apologies Principle Demeo). The grown up version of this is defining a problem and searching for an opportunity for growth or intervention.
In the era of social media, and unlimited data, networking has never been easier. As a child, my idea of networking was attending the local arcade with the hopes of meeting other shy socially awkward teenagers interested in purchasing used video games. In hindsight, I could have thought this one out a bit more, but it definitely worked. Not only did I meet potential clients, I also learned more about my now target audience and I was able to tailor my solution to fit their needs. The grown up version of this would be attending themed events that your target audience is interested in with the intention of either meeting potential prospects or industry experts to gain further insights to expand your knowledge base.
This was a skill that I had in the bag. According to my father, I've been using sales tactics before I could even speak. Apparently I would change the tone of my cries in order to persuade him to get what I wanted as a baby. (How hectic?) As a child I always had the customer in mind, I would pitch different versions of the video game to different classmates, depending on their interests. The grown up version of this is called scamming (jokes!), it is called sales differentiation.
This last skill is arguably the most vital, as it was the driving force that allowed me to push through challenging times. For every deal I closed, there were about three that I had missed. I had to learn how to become comfortable with rejection, as it came with the territory. There were many a times where I had wanted to give up, but the support my friends and the desire adding the new Jordan 11s to my sneaker collection kept me going. The grown up version of this is called social support with a sprinkle of intrinsic motivation.
The rewards from partaking in a side hustle are invaluable. Time management, strategic thinking, networking, sales, and resilience are all attributes that come with the territory. Little did I know that these skills would prepare me for the task of juggling a full time job at my dream organisation while still pursing my current side hustle - brand managing e-commerce fashion brands (a level up from selling used video games right?).