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3 Myths About Side Hustlers Debunked

12/15/2014 06:04 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST
Andrea Chu via Getty Images

"You're always so busy!"

I get that a lot. And you probably do too.

If you're anything like me, the moment you tell someone that you're a side hustler it elicits a response of awe and wonder...or maybe it's well disguised pity that you're filling every waking moment with work.

Filling your days with extra projects in the hopes of kick starting your passion or transforming that passion into your paycheque is foreign to some, but its steadily becoming a reality for many.

You could even think of it as the new economy. Personally, I see it as a movement of creating opportunities instead of waiting for them.

My side hustle journey

A quick peek into my past reveals I had a side hustle before I knew the official term for what I was doing. My hustle of choice? Building websites for folks back when Tripod and Geocities were still reigning (remember those days?).

Several years later that innocent curiosity of wanting to use my html skills after school, has blossomed into many hustles of consulting, coaching, event planning and community building.

Throughout my years of navigating the double life of employee by day and entrepreneur by night, morning and weekends, I've experienced the ups, the downs and everything in between. In building a new community for my fellow side-hustlers, I've quickly learned that we have a lot in common in our experiences but also in the assumptions that folks, including ourselves at one time have made about our daily hustle.

From the desire to escape cubicle nation to the dreaded side hustle shame, it's easy to get lost in a sea of misinformation about folks in this new economy.

MYTH #1: Side Hustlers are not real entrepreneurs

Where do I even begin with this one? Yes folks actually believe that starting your biz as a side gig gives you less street cred in the entrepreneurial world. Maybe it's because articles such as this one and this one get hundreds of likes and a collective "hell yes" as we lament the struggle of making our dream come to fruition and rejoice that someone finally admits that "this ish is hard" out loud.

The Truth: Full time entrepreneurs and side hustlers each have unique challenges and advantages. But business isn't a game at the Struggle Olympics so comparing who has it worse won't get you anywhere.

It's time to push side hustle shame to the side and recognize that the thing you see as your Achilles heel is actually an asset. A recent study entitled "Should I Quit my Day Job?" published in the Academy of Management Journal revealed that businesses that are launched while the founder is employed and only later become their full-time gig, are one third less likely to fail than those begun as full-time enterprises.

So despite the maverick narrative that glamourizes leaping from the ladder and struggling your way to success, side hustlers are in fact creating real and sustainable ventures by taking the time to learn before they make the leap and doing it on their time frame.

MYTH #2: All side hustlers want to escape cubicle nation

Yes it's true. As sexy as the "fire your boss" narrative sounds, the end goal of side-hustling is not always full time entrepreneurship.

The Truth: Financial columnist Kimberly Palmer devoted an entire chapter in her bookThe Economy of You to the long-term goals of the side hustlers she interviewed. What she found was many revealed that they had no plans to leave their full-time jobs. Instead opting to continue the balancing act because of the satisfaction they received from building financial security and making a difference in someone's life.

Some side hustlers readily admit to loving their full-time jobs but make the leap because their side gig has eclipsed the earnings of their full-time role or ignited a new career passion.

So, if the endgame isn't to work full time why do folks start a side hustle? Well as Palmer's book illustrates, many side hustlers are seeking to design and secure their future. A 2012 Gallup survey revealed that three in 10 workers worry they will get laid off, and four in ten fear a reduction in benefits. Instead of waiting for something to happen, they take their careers in their own hands and reap the added benefit of trying a new experience, learning new skills and in some cases discovering a new career path.

MYTH #3: Side Hustlers hate their jobs

Because that's the only reason someone would want to start one right? Nope. It's vital that a side hustler understand the policies about side gigs at their organization but some companies do support and encourage their employees to have outside interests.

The Truth: Side hustlers may find that not only can a side hustle enrich their personal lives but it can also lead to new opportunities in their careers. Bay Street Senior Manager Karlyn Percil's side hustle as a Leadership Coach has crossed over to various opportunities of leading leadership development initiatives at her company. My blog and side hustles were a topic of conversation at the interview for my full-time gig and I'm fortunate to have a supportive leadership team that supports my events and even attends them.

Although some folks are not as lucky to have bosses or organizations that may applaud your side hustling ways, you'll have greater success if you choose to see your full time job as a silent partner or angel investor in your business rather than a handicap. If your end goal is to eventually escape the nine to five, show up everyday, over deliver and see first hand how a successful organization is run. On the flip side if you happen to be a side hustler in a job that you dislike, use the experience as a lesson for the behaviors and practices that you'd change in your own business.

Above all, even if you don't have the desire to join the side hustle community or become a full time entrepreneur you'll quickly learn that you'll give yourself an edge if you think like one.

In his book The Start-up of You, co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman points out "To adapt to the challenge of professional life today, we need to re-discover our entrepreneurial instincts and use them to forge new sorts of careers. Whether you're a lawyer, or doctor or teacher or engineer or even a business owner, today you need to also think of yourself as an entrepreneur at the helm of at least one living, growing start-up venture, your career."

Translation: Step up and be the CEO of your life.

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