I can't think of anyone who just has one interest in life, and that's all they want to do for the rest of their life.
[The Way We Work]
Around 15 percent of American workers don't have traditional full-time jobs. They're half-time, part-time, contract workers or temps. The term "side hustle" just seems to fit with this ethos where people are putting together a few different things to make a living.
The word "side hustle" has its roots in popular African American newspapers. In the 1920s, these papers used the word "hustle" to refer to some kind of scam. By the 1950s, they were using "side hustle" to refer to legitimate work, too. A side hustle is a little different than a second job. A second job is about necessity. While a side hustle can certainly bring in extra income, it's a little more aspirational. Side hustle captures a certain kind of scrappy, entrepreneurial spirit.
I've interviewed more than 100 women of color on Side Hustle Pro who started successful side hustles. Nailah Ellis-Brown started Ellis Island Tea out of her trunk. Arsha Jones started her famous Capital City Co Mambo Sauce with one product and a PayPal link. All these women are running side hustles. What exactly does this tell us?
First, that people are seeing opportunity within their communities. The goal here isn't necessarily to be the next Coca-Cola or Google. Scale is great, but there's also beauty in a successful business that's built for a specific audience.
Second, people are increasingly interested in being their own boss. Being your own boss takes discipline. Self-made millionaires tend to have one big trait in common: they make decisions, hold themselves accountable and push through in the face of challenges. A side hustle is a great way to try out being your own boss and see if you have those skills before fully stepping out on your own.
Third, people are multipassionate. I want to stress that not every side hustle is started because someone hates their job. Many are started simply because people are interested in lots of different things. Lisa Price, who started a hair and beauty company, Carol's Daughter, was working in television production when she started side-hustling. She says she actually loved her job. It was the fact that she came home every day feeling good that led her to start experimenting with making fragrances and hair oils in her kitchen. We're always being taught that we're supposed to know what we want to do when we grow up. But when you're multipassionate, you want to dip and dabble in those different things. It doesn't mean that you're not committed to your job, it just means that you have other outlets that bring you joy.
And that brings me to the final thing the side hustle revolution shows us: people want to make a bet on themselves. Side hustles are appealing because it's easier to take that chance when you have some kind of income coming in. Even if a side hustle doesn't take off, it's still an investment in yourself. Forty-one percent of millennials who have a side hustle say they've shared this information with their employers. They're not worried about their managers reacting negatively. They recognize all the learning and growth that comes with running a side hustle. Everyone is looking to feel fulfilled. Thirty-eight percent of baby boomers feel some kind of regret about their career. No one wants that.
The truth is that there are many different ways to find happiness through what we do. Side hustles are about embracing that hope that we can be the ones making the decisions in how we spend our work lives.