“My plan to offer high tea catering and hire, plus small-group occaision-specific catering and events, bubbled away for a while, after the birth of twins and then a third child. In the end I needed someone to push me off the cliff, and it was a dear family friend who got me my first job and threw me into it.
I wouldn’t consider leaving my part-time job [as an account manager with a communications firm]; I enjoy its challenges and intellectual stimulation, but there’s a different kind of satisfaction in running a side hustle and saying ‘I can do this’.
I love entertaining and curating occasions for friends and family, but doing it for a paid client is completely different. It’s a commercial agreement and your audience is far less forgiving. It may look like a glamour job, but it’s demanding. I carry the risks alone and much of my work is in isolation.
I’m continually learning and seeking to find a balance between work, family and other commitments. You learn what your priorities are and those priorities will change over time. There’s a tipping point between reward and burden, depending on what’s going on in your life, and it shifts.
Sometimes it means pushing really hard and going for every opportunity. At other times, it means pulling back a little to catch your breath, which is what I’m doing now after a period of really high tempo. There’s a lot of family sacrifice that comes with having a side hustle, particularly if it’s hands-on like mine. It extends into your family life in lots of different ways and you have to be prepared for that, and have those open conversations.
A lot of people are side hustling for a little extra money. After 18 months, China Billy is not exactly adding to the family budget. But whether you’re making money or not, a side hustle can also enhance your vocation satisfaction. Everyone benefits from a little variety at work and that can be easier to find if you have two jobs.
Being involved with the SRI has brought the accountability that I needed to keep pushing forwards and introduce me to the right people for guidance and direction. Those continued business-minded conversations have been really valuable and helped me turn China Billy into a legitimate business that fits a niche within our regional community and provides me with a continued sense of achievement and satisfaction.
It’s certainly been a rollercoaster.”
In part 3 of this series we will consider the financial implications of a side hustle.
The University of New England’s SMART Region Incubator (SRI) brings together academic business research, business mentors, corporate and community partners to help start-ups get off the ground and grow.