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The side hustle generation: here's why people do it, and how to get started

Friday, 10 December 2021

The side hustle generation: here's why people do it, and how to get started
Simo Mkhize, Chief Commercial Officer at Cell C

Long before the first coronavirus case was discovered on our shores South Africa was battling in and out of technical recession. Retrenchments, job losses and difficulty finding a job in an environment with an increasing unemployment rate dominated headlines and conversations pre-Covid 19. This caused financial strain which only worsened when we entered a full-blown pandemic. Job losses intensified, and many people were forced into salary cuts.

Even though incomes may be reduced, slashed or taken away, the cost of living has not reduced with it. While we know that over-indebting oneself to pay for living costs is a recipe for disaster, many felt they had no other choice. However, the trend of having a business on the side, commonly known as a side hustle has rapidly increased in popularity. In fact, according to a report, almost four out of every ten employed people you meet has a second, or third, income stream. Beyond just as a hobby. For some, this is not merely a side venture, it is the only thing putting food on the table.

According to a BrandMapp 2021 research report, 35% of middle-class South Africans have a smaller, side business. This is significant.  Intuitively, we know that it is not just middle-class people that have decided to take matters into their own hands – where people start home-industry, baking, repairs, nanny work, and much more, in addition to their primary jobs. Spare a moment to appreciate people who do this but don't have the luxury of working from home, meaning their hours are even more stretched.

We're in the side hustle age. A report in Time said that as the pandemic drags on and people are under increased pressure the number of people with side hustles was expected to increase.

And it makes sense – think about it: if you cannot make ends meet on your main income, if you cannot pay school fees or buy groceries, if you cannot service debt repayments, what options do you have? Try find higher paying work, which as we know is very difficult in this climate, stand to lose what you love, or exercise your entrepreneurial spirit and start a side hustle.

A simple glance through Facebook community groups and Marketplace will pull up people who design websites on the side, build patio furniture, sell confectionary, gift sets, and more. Recently, when ordering from Mr D, a colleague told me that the driver – who arrived in a small hatchback car – explained that she was a delivery driver to earn extra income when not working shifts in her main job. The creativity appears to be boundless, and it is inspiring.

Being on the pulse and understanding the reality of our customers, Cell C knows that a second or third-income stream is not just a fantasy, but a lived experience by many South Africans, which is why we looked at creative ways to make this dream a reality.

Cell C's 2021 Summer Campaign is giving away prizes with purpose, geared to enable customers to create an income if they are unemployed or to start or support a side hustle to supplement their income. They are prizes to change their world.

If you are considering starting a side hustle, which if the stats are anything to go by, a large proportion of the people reading this are, what do you need to do? How do you get started? First, define whether your intention is to monetise a hobby, make enough money for a defined goal, or whether you intend growing your project into a serious business and eventually scale it and grow it into your main income.

Once you've decided how you intend growing the side hustle, here are three things to think about:

1.Don't be afraid to charge for your services

The whole point of a side hustle is to make money. This can be difficult for people who are not used to selling – do a little research and find a fair price. Some app-based opportunities offer fixed percentages and tips, while if you do it alone, find out what the going rate is, and set it fairly.

2.Start small

You are starting a second income stream to supplement your main income. This means you may not be cash flush, so don't go out and make more debt that you may struggle to service. As you start getting customers and making money, you can gradually invest more into the side hustle so that it grows. Many of the most impressive businesses in the world started this way. Lose nothing, gain everything.

3.Don't do something you hate

You might think there's great money in building furniture, but if you hate using wood or steel and are not proficient at using tools, consider something else. You must love what you do and be good at it to keep going day after day. Instead, you may be passionate about teaching people how to speak your home language – pursue that instead and grow a language school. Customers will sense your passion.

4.Be disciplined and back yourself

Set times to run your side hustle – that don't endanger your main job - and stick to them. Have self-belief and do it – this is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the Summer Campaign, seeing winners believe in themselves and turn their vehicle prizes into money-making assets.

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