Side hustling is a way of life for more than 44 million Americans. Here's why:
The phrase “side hustle” has gained popularity over the years. What started as a term referring to making a little extra money outside of a day job has turned into a way of life for many.
According to a 2017 study from Bankrate.com, more than 44 million Americans have a side hustle, which can range from working on freelance projects after hours to driving for ride-sharing companies on the weekends. Of the 86 percent of side hustlers who earn extra money from a side job every month, 36 percent make more than $500, the study found. Making ends meet was the main motivation for the majority of side hustlers and may be one of the key reasons you need a side hustle, too.
However, side jobs aren’t just for covering expenses. There are several reasons why you should start a side hustle, even if you can live comfortably off of your primary income.
1. Full ownership and accountability
As a business owner, there’s no one to tell you what to do and no one to blame but yourself. This is scary and uncomfortable when you first start out in your side hustle, since you’re so used to having someone telling you what to do – from your parents to your teachers to your manager. If you can push through that, though, it is hugely motivating and empowering. It will boost your confidence in your own abilities, as well as building your resilience as you (inevitably) fail and you (if you can let go of your ego) get back up and try again.
2. A steeper learning curve
Starting your own business immediately puts you onto a steep learning curve as you try to navigate the complex world of entrepreneurship. This brings you all kinds of new skills and experiences that will challenge you and make you stronger and more capable as a result. There’s a huge amount of growth and development that comes from stepping out of the comfort zone of the job description that you have now and have probably had for a while.
3. Self-awareness and -development
Exploring and working on your own ideas can teach you all sorts of things about yourself and about what you like and don’t like. Aside from the hard skills you’ll learn as you run your own business, you’ll also be investing in your own personal development. In a corporate job, it’s easy to rely on the training programmes that happen to be offered by your employer. As a business owner yourself, you’ll develop much faster and become far more well-rounded in your softer skills and understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses.
4. A sense of purpose
A common feeling that people get when they’ve been in a role for a long time is that they have lost the meaning of their work. Having a side hustle will reinvigorate you with a new sense of purpose and energy as you focus on something you’re really passionate about. When you’re running your own business, you’ll be interacting with clients and customers directly and you have an immediate and tangible impact on everything you touch in the business.
5. New contacts and opportunities
The simple act of researching and talking to people about your idea will put you in touch with new connections and create opportunities that you never could have predicted. The whole experience will also give you a competitive advantage as you stand out from the crowd with your resourcefulness and creativity in starting up on your own. Whatever happens with the business itself, this is bound to set you up for future success in your career.
But why start this business alongside your full-time job? Well, again, regardless of what happens with the business itself, there are benefits to having a side hustle alongside your job – benefits both to your side hustle and to your main job, in fact!
6. Peace of mind
Having the security of a regular income from your day job gives you the freedom to experiment and learn without having the pressure to make a large amount of money right away. Even if you had significant savings that would make you feel comfortable enough to quit your job, you’d soon feel the fear creeping in and that can be absolutely debilitating and, ironically, distract you from making your business a success. Validating your business idea alongside the comfort of your existing job is a far more comfortable way of doing things.
Starting a business while still in your corporate job helps to assure you of your worth on the one hand (thanks to the responsibilities and the respect you have at work), while your regular salary means you won’t be dependent on money coming in through the new business. This gives you the confidence to charge higher prices and a willingness to walk away from a project if necessary. Otherwise, when you have nothing else on, you’ll find yourself feeling compelled to say ‘yes’ to anything that comes your way.
8. Work-life balance
Finally, while it may feel like adding more work to your plate will create additional stress and reduce your free time even more, ironically, it can actually help you achieve that elusive ‘work-life balance’. Now that you have something to ‘get to’ after work, something you’re passionate and excited about, you’ll be better able to set boundaries and make sure that you’re not letting your office job spill into the evenings and weekends.
9. Opportunities Will Come To You
The more you make and share with the world, the more opportunities you create for yourself. Regardless of your goals, having a side hustle is all but guaranteed to create unpredictable, exciting opportunities that come in unimaginable ways.
You’ll meet new people that you otherwise wouldn’t have met, relationships that can last a lifetime. Companies that like what you’re doing with your side hustle, and can see a clear demonstration of a valuable skill or ability, will reach out and want to hire you.
You can use your side hustle to pitch the current company you work for, on a change of title or role. It can help you leverage a raise if you’re able to demonstrate a clear connection to how your side hustle can enhance your work at the company.
10. You’ll Mitigate the Risks of Being an Entrepreneur
I don’t know about you, but I hate taking risks. That’s a difficult conundrum for an entrepreneur, especially if you’re still learning whether or not the entrepreneurial lifestyle is for you. There are up’s and down’s. High’s and low’s.
Here’s the reality though, most of us can’t just quit our jobs today, to pursue an idea. Blowing through your savings isn’t an attractive prospect, so you want as close to a sure thing as you can possibly get before you axe your full-time income. By working on your idea as a side hustle for a few months or a year to gain some traction, you’ll give yourself the opportunity to boost your income to a level that’s equivalent to what your day job is paying you.
Then, once your side hustle is consistently bringing in enough money to justify making the leap, you’ll be much more confident in it’s future.
11. Multiple Sources of Income Gives You Options
A side hustle gives you more flexibility to create the lifestyle you want. To go on more vacations with your family each year. To take your parents to visit Paris. To randomly treat your significant other to a fancy dinner on a whim, without having to worry about money.
To know in the back of your mind that if things really go sideways, and you lose your job or have large unexpected medical expenses, you won’t need to go into debt.
Starting a side hustle is also a great way to test into seeing if you’ll like a new line of work. If you’re ready to make a career change, having a side hustle that helps you build relevant skills is crucial. And if it’s paying some of your bills, it can buy you precious time to take classes, gain experience, search for the right job opportunities, and transition gracefully into a new field.
12. Finding Purpose and Meaning
If you choose your side hustle wisely, and pursue a genuine interest rather than just a pure market opportunity, you can derive a lot of purpose from it.
Even after landing my dream job, I still didn’t like the idea of working so hard, 5 days out of my week, to build someone else’s dream—it was a draining experience despite loving the people I worked with. So, I started freelancing on the side of my job, taking on a handful of writing projects I was personally interested in.
Because I had my full-time gig keeping the bills paid, I could afford to charge what I wanted and create a plan for how I’d get enough clients to make the leap to self-employment. Eventually, I built a diverse portfolio that’s brought me more projects, and I’ve been able to grow my consulting practice into my main focus. Now, I’m in control of deciding when I want to work, where I do it, and who I want to work with.
13. Having multiple sources of income is empowering
Nick Loper, creator of the Side Hustle Nation podcast, spends his time interviewing people who earn money outside of their day jobs. His aim, in part, is to show his 60,000-plus followers that there are many ways to make time for a side hustle and numerous reasons why you should start a side hustle.
“Of course, making extra money never goes out of style, and that’s probably what draws most people to create a side hustle,” Loper says. “Other benefits might include learning or practicing new skills, exploring a passion of yours or just empowering yourself to find you have economic value outside of your day job or paycheck.”
14. You can use the extra money to pay off debt
Paying off debt is, for many people, among the top reasons you need a side hustle. If you’re paying off debt and don’t feel like you’re making any headway, you may benefit from the extra money you can make with a side hustle.
That’s what Gerald Zingraf decided to do when he was looking at $85,000 worth of student loans. Zingraf, 29, is a product manager for a technology company based in Arlington, Virginia. Although he had always made good money, it wasn’t enough to pay down his debt, cover his living expenses and reach his goal of becoming financially independent by 35. He ran the numbers and they didn’t lie—he needed to make more money.
“I was going to be paying student loans for a long time unless I could supplement my income somehow,” he says.
So between 2015 and 2017, he started not just one, but three companies on the side of his day job. His companies include two e-commerce sites—one that sells healthy office supplies such as standing desks and another that sells baby products. His third company is a subscription box service that provides the “ingredients” (not always food, by the way) for creative date nights for couples. Thanks to these companies, Zingraf was able to pay off his student loans in three years.
Assessing your debt and your financial plan to pay it off could become a reason you need a side hustle.
15. You can use the extra money to build wealth
If you’re not working to pay off debt, then you may want to find ways to make time for a side hustle simply so you can build wealth faster.
Whether it’s boosting your savings for emergencies or maxing out investment accounts, making extra money can help you reach those financial goals much quicker than if you rely only on your primary career.
This is exactly what Zingraf does with his side companies. What began as a way to make extra money to pay off debt has turned into a vehicle for him to reach financial independence in his 30s, where he’ll have enough income to pay his living expenses for the rest of his life without having to work full time. Zingraf is on track to reach his goal of financial independence in six years by the age 35.
Learning a new skill can help you find your true passion—and may be a good reason why you should start a side hustle.
16. It could turn into a job you love (if that’s what you want)
If you’re looking for reasons you need a side hustle, the internet is full of stories of individuals who started a business on the side because they were passionate about something and then it turned into their full-time job. If making money doing something you love isn’t one of the best reasons why you should start a side hustle, what is?
Chenell Tull, founder of Hustle to Startup, did just that after working for AAA’s e-business department for seven years as a Google Ads and SEO specialist. She had helped her stepfather with his online presence for a marketing company he’d started and shared the experience with her networking group. This helped her secure another client, and soon she was working with three or four clients on the side of her day job.
“I decided I loved this so much that I wanted to leave my day job,” Tull says. “I worked to save up eight months of expenses, which took about one-and-a-half-years.” In June of 2017, Tull quit her job to focus on her business full time.
Loper also turned multiple side hustles into his full-time career. To make extra money, he started his first side hustle in 2006—a comparison shopping site for footwear. He went full time with that project in 2008. In 2013, Loper started the Side Hustle Nation podcast, which became his main focus one year later, and by 2017, he said he was earning $15,000 a month.