That man went on to co-found the international technology giant, Apple, that’s now on track to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company.
It seems that Steve Jobs was not alone in his philosophy. In today’s culture of entrepreneurship, many of us are no longer looking for a stable 9-5 job, complete with employee benefits and neatly mapped out career progression. Instead, a growing number of people are looking for more opportunities, more autonomy and more flexibility in their work – and many are finding that in a phenomenon nicknamed the ‘side hustle’.
The side hustle is a venture pursued on the side of a current job. The scope is endless; anything from building websites to brewing beer to developing a boutique clothing line. The time invested is entirely up to the individual; some spend an hour or two each week and others put aside several hours a day. But given the time and effort involved, why are people choosing to juggle a day job and side hustle?
The answers to that question are equally diverse. Some want a creative outlet, others want to be their own boss, some are balancing parenting with work and others are looking for some extra cash. Notably, however, the trend is driven largely by desire rather than necessity. According to the McKinsey Global Institute 2016 report on independent work, 70% of people who pursue side hustles do so out of preference – and subsequently report being highly satisfied with their work lives.
Passion was certainly the key driver for the guys behind successful craft beer company Parrot Dog. Matt Kristofski and Matt Warner were both students at Victoria University when they started brewing beer in their basement. Yet despite their love of the beverage, it was never destined to be a full-time career. Kristofski was an auto electrician by trade, Warner was a lawyer and Matt Stevens, the third Matt to join the team, was an accountant at Deloitte. The leap of faith came in 2011 when the trio decided to take their recipe to a commercial brewery. That faith paid off in dividends. The beer that was born – the IPA BitterBitch – was launched shortly after at Wellington’s Beervana festival where it was an instant success, taking out the coveted People’s Choice Award.
Since then, Parrot Dog has taken the craft beer market by storm. In just six years, they’ve won almost fifty awards, including Champion Small International Brewery at the 2015 Australian International Beer Awards. In August 2016, Parrot Dog set up a PledgeMe campaign to fund a new, larger brewery. Within two days, they’d raised their maximum of $2 million, crashed the PledgeMe website and set a new record for the crowdfunding platform. But if you asked the Parrot Dog founders what gets them up in the morning, they would tell you it’s all about fun, excitement and pushing the beer boundaries. As Matt Stevens puts it, “It’s the ultimate fun job going to work every day with your mates.”
For some side hustlers, it’s less about fun and more about flexibility. A 2014 Bentley University study reported that over 66% of millennials – now the largest generation in the workforce – want to start their own business. Given that context, it’s not surprising that our working culture is tipping in favour of independent, autonomous work. Head of Seek Business, Ben Johnston, says technological change is a big driver behind that entrepreneurial trend.
"The cost of many business necessities, like setting up websites and social media marketing, have all come down significantly.”
Today, people are capitalising on new technology to reach a wider audience. Five years ago, Kayla Itsines was working as a personal trainer in an Adelaide gym. On the side, she was designing a bespoke fitness programme for women and using Instagram to document the results. The instant success of that programme allowed Itsines to quit her job and in March 2013, she and partner Tobi Pearce founded the Bikini Body Training company. By October that year, their fitness guides had been downloaded over one million times. Now, Kayla has more than 6.6 million Instagram followers. Her app ‘Sweat with Kayla’ earned more than $17 million in 2016 and at the age of 25, Forbes named her the number one fitness influencer in the world.
This new wave of entrepreneurship is also aligned with the rise of social enterprises. Whilst people continue to value profit, they’re also looking for purpose. That sense of purpose was certainly the driving force for New Zealand marketer and mother-of-three, Lisa King, who set up Eat My Lunch in June 2015 whilst working for a big corporate. Eat My Lunch provides lunches for underprivileged children through a ‘Buy One, Give One’ business model and was a success from day one, hitting its three-year target just twelve weeks after launching in Auckland. Eat My Lunch now feeds between 1,300-1,400 children (and workers) every day across Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton. On top of that, the business has won numerous awards, including the Westpac 2016 Women of Influence Business Enterprise Award, proving that a side venture can grow to make money and make a difference.
With the barrier to entrepreneurship lower than ever and a workforce that is increasingly eager to pursue new opportunities, the side hustle is a fast-growing phenomenon that’s unlikely to slow down. With the traditional approach to work evolving to reflect a new generation of workers, entrepreneurship is here to stay. So watch this space – there’s a side hustle coming soon to a place near you. Maybe even your place.