The traditional office nine-to-five is fast becoming a thing of the past, with many people choosing to work flexibly or remotely.
A growing number of people now also have a “side hustle” in addition to their “day jobs” — around two-fifths of UK workers run a business outside of their primary job, according to one report.
The study of more than 500 business leaders and 1,100 adults by Henley Business School found people are motivated to run a business on top of their day job due to increased uncertainty about the security of work — but that’s not the only reason.
Half of all employees with a secondary income do the extra work because they need the money, the researchers found, but many also do so to follow a passion or explore a new challenge. Around 45% of those with a side hustle consistently work more than 40 hours a week — and a quarter work more than 50 hours a week.
It’s a growing trend, too, with more than half of the UK population expected to take on a side hustle by 2030. So if you’re starting a new business on the side, what should you expect — and how can you make it work for you?
Lucy Mullins is the co-founder of Stepladder — a new platform helping millennials get on the property ladder — which she runs alongside her job as an executive coach.
“Many of our salaries cannot accommodate for basic living requirements anymore, leaving us scrambling to find other alternatives, which includes taking on a side hustle,” Mullins said.
“This sounds very exciting and there is a wealth of information available about how to gain extra revenue by monetising our hobbies or executing that ‘big idea.’ However, there are a few basic things you need to consider before embarking on your side hustle.”
One of the key things is to be organised, which is essential if you’re working longer hours on different projects. It can be easy to feel like you’ve taken on too much and become exhausted if you have a side hustle alongside your day job.
“When you’re juggling extra responsibilities and expectations along with your daily life it's easy to be overwhelmed. Plan your time and focus on one job at a time,” Mullins said.
Although it can be exciting to start a new project, it’s important to keep working at your day job as you would do normally.
Business leaders who are supportive of the trend believe there are big benefits, according to the Henley study. Nearly half of those surveyed, 49%, said allowing side hustles helps retain their best people, and 60% said it makes employees happier and more productive. Your boss won’t be impressed, however, if you’re falling asleep at your desk, or working on your side project when you’re supposed to be doing your job.
“Don't let your side hustle impact your main source of income,” Mullins said. “It will probably be necessary to adapt your lifestyle to accommodate your new venture and you'll need to put in the work in order for it to flourish.”
Networking is also key. Research by LinkedIn found 85% of all jobs are filled by networking — and it’s not just about meeting as many people as you can at an event, or throwing out business cards.
Networking is about meeting a few people with useful connections who are willing to refer you to others.
“Love it or hate it, but you're going to need to network, or what I like to call chatwork! You need to tell people what you are doing and spread the word,” Mullins said.
“From going to industry events to engaging with your peers’ social media posts, when starting any business it's important to make yourself known to the industry you’re entering, and discover any opportunities along the way. Last but not least, be confident in yourself, and your new side hustle.”
With so many people taking on side hustles, Henley also advises that more businesses make changes too — such as setting up formal policies on side-hustling within employment contracts, and encouraging honest dialogue between employer and employee.
More than half of business leaders are “ambivalent” about the benefits of side hustles and over half have no formal policy around it, the study found. This could cost UK businesses £340 million a year if employees leave to pursue jobs with more supportive, flexible employers.
“With 25% of adults side-hustling today, there is no way back. Those who have the appetite and confidence to go it all alone as an entrepreneur, will not let the chance slip,” professor Bernd Vogel, founding director of the Henley Centre for Leadership, said.
“We can expect growth in side-hustling, possibly even doubling, in the next 10 years, especially if Human Resources in organisations makes side-hustling an element of its toolkit and facilitates outside and internal side hustles as instruments for purpose, rewards, and innovation.”