Welcome to the age of the side hustle.

Nearly 44 million US workers are currently running a variety of side hustles.[1]. In Australia, that figure is around 1 million according to a 2019 news.com.au article, and in the UK, Side Hustle Statistics reports 3% of the working population as having a side gig.

Career service, Blue Steps, has identified the ‘flex executive’ as an emerging mega trend coming out of 2020.

The term “side hustle” can mean a multitude of external engagements – paid and unpaid – from being an Advisory Board Member for a start-up, sitting as an Non Executive Director on a not-for-profit Board or organisation, having a separate revenue generating business for a service or product, podcasting, teaching, public or civic service, leadership roles in professional associations and clubs, organising master minds, or speaking at conferences and festivals.

In 2018, as an Executive General Counsel working for a multi-national, I decided to break the corporate mould and launch a side hustle in the form of (my first) e-Book, Legally Innovative together with my own website and blog. It’s been the springboard for starting my own consulting business this year, more about which you can read here.

Here’s five reasons why having a strategic side hustle is the new black:

  1. Making more of an impact

In 2017 when I was toying with the idea of writing and self-publishing my first e-Book on my own platform, it’s not that I wasn’t loving my corporate role, but that something beyond me was craving more.

Following my intuition, I had bigger aspirations – I wanted to have conversations on a one to many basis, and create a call to action on a global scale.

Thousands upon thousands of people have downloaded my products and guides online from all continents across the world. I am grateful for that. (And the salesperson in me says, let there be more please).

It’s that “if she can do it, I can too” ripple effect. Social media helps amplify that in a spectacular way.

It also gives an employer a positive halo effect – and, in today’s highly competitive recruitment market, that kind of employee influence should be welcomed.

2. An Opportunity for Self-growth

Having a side hustle is an exercise in creation and/or transformation.

And gosh, did the creation of writing e-Books, an audiobook, other products, and building a brand teach me a lot.

It taught me to face my fears, follow my passions, trust my intuition, lean into my vulnerability, choose progress over perfection, step into my power and forge ahead regardless of any limiting beliefs, my own and that of others (especially that of others).

A side hustle allows you to learn about yourself in new and unimaginable ways. It allows you to grow on new levels.

Cue all of the inspiring quotes about stepping out of your comfort zone, and the value that adds back to your employer.

3. Expanding your Skill Set  

Learning is like the breath is to the body for me – critical, essential, invigorating.

It’s a big contributor to my motivation, engagement and happiness.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, the pace of change and disruption is making it tricky for management schools, corporate learning departments and executive education programs to keep up.

To that end, a side hustle can help to sharpen one’s intrapreneurial skills, as well as develop greater empathy for the areas of marketing, e-commerce, digitisation and sales.

As a lawyer, I like my mind to feel stretched. I want to put my creative energy to good use.

A Harvard Business Review article describes it adeptly – “Think of yourself as having a portfolio where your job is squarely in the middle, various outside activities surround and complement it, and you deploy what you’ve learned in each realm to others.”[2]

In other words, a side gig can feel like a new source of oxygen – in all pockets of your life.

4. Driving Efficiency

We all have the same amount of time in our days. It’s how we choose to use it. I have always lived a full life, by design.

A side hustle makes you very very very efficient and selective when it comes to how you utilise your time. I never missed a work deadline, and my job was always the priority.

What I did sacrifice is my weekends, social engagements with family and friends, and relaxing on long haul flights (if work commitments allowed).

You know that saying – if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

An employee with a side hustle is likely to be an efficient and productive human – hold onto them for as long as you can!

5. Cultivating Career Flexibility

“A lot of managers and leaders focus obsessively on their current jobs and companies. Many believe they simply can’t be successful without that kind of single-mindedness.

Of course, most people now realize that to advance in your career, especially to the C-suite, you need diverse experiences and should explore opportunities in a variety of functions, industries, and geographies. But the general thinking is that when you get a challenging stretch role, you should give it all your attention to make sure you excel and position yourself for the next step. That approach can pay off in the short term. However, Harvard’s combined work with thousands of executives, it has found that it can stymie your long-term development—and even your career.”[3]

Keeping your career options open and diversifying your experience isn’t smart, said no one ever.

Remember, “good things happen to those who hustle.” – Anais Nin

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

[1] https://hbr.org/2020/03/make-your-side-hustle-work

[2] https://hbr.org/2020/05/the-strategic-side-gig

[3] https://hbr.org/2020/05/the-strategic-side-gig