The Art of the Side Hustle

The Art of the Side Hustle

1 in 2 millennials have a side hustle, according to the New York Post. The Post justifies that we’re doing it for extra income. That’s valid, but I don’t think it paints the whole picture.

What is a side hustle?

Side hustle (noun): a way to make some extra cash that allows you flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in

At least, that’s why people think we do it. Let me explain.

Why are millennials so attracted to side hustles and entrepreneurship?

Purpose. If you read all of the blogs out there about millennials — we’re the generation that’s driven by purpose. So, it makes sense that the 9-to-5 job, working for a paycheck mentality just isn’t enough. We care about how we spend our time, and if a typical job or school schedule isn’t fulfilling, we find our purpose elsewhere — cue the side hustle.

Side hustles are real. When I look at my peers, we all seem to have something crazy going on the side — starting your own record label, building a retail brand based on self-confidence, a thriving fashion or food blog, and the list goes on.

Side hustles, and its parent — entrepreneurship, allow us to pursue our passions relentlessly to the point that 14 hour work weeks are the best times of our life. We are our own bosses and at the end of the day, we’re working for ourself and something we care about.

But what’s really exciting is what we can gain...

Self discovery through pursuing passion projects. This was a big one for me recently. I started a small venture with a friend (jokingly calling it my side, side, side hustle) to see what it was like to do e-commerce. One of the best (and worst) things about doing your own venture is exactly that … you’re on your own. That means doing things you haven’t done before, and may or may not like. I couldn’t agree more with the frequent advice that “sometimes, the best way to figure out what you want to do with your life is to figure out what you hate first.”

Job opportunities — ugh lame, but true. Beyond the personal benefits, I believe side hustles are, and will continue to be, the differentiating factor in the workforce. The days of following the corporate path to a tee are over. If you want to stand out, you need to be different. Top companies emphasize and value entrepreneurial characteristics in their employees and you often get bonus points if you’ve pursued your own venture. Having a startup, blog, or any form of entrepreneurial experience signals to employers that are you are passionate, can handle ambiguity, and will hustle to get done what needs to get done.

So, how do you get started?

There’s a principle I’ve come across recently that I think perfectly encapsulates millennial motivation — the “Do Something” Principle. If you’ve had an entrepreneurial itch, or even just a fun idea for a side project, the best way to motivate yourself is to just do something, no matter how big or small.

Here’s a few ways to start channeling your inner entrepreneur:

  • Start a blog by taking something your passionate (food, fashion, travel, etc.) and start writing! You’d be surprised with how liberating it feels to do something for yourself that’s also providing value to others.

  • Build your brand by becoming a freelancer or consultant. Create profiles on sites like UpWork and ask your network if there’s opportunities for you to apply the skills you’ve learned in the classroom, at internships or jobs in a consultant or freelancer role where you’re your own boss!

  • Launch a product or app if you’re feeling really ambitious. You never know until you try, and there really is no downside — you’ll get great experience regardless of the outcome.

Millennials love purpose. And what better way to find professional and personal purpose and fulfillment than through entrepreneurship? Be your own boss. 


Rachel Downs


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