Should you start a side hustle?
This month, we're celebrating the 7th anniversary of Hollywood Resumes! We are so excited to enter our 8th year in business and appreciate all our loyal customers for your support over the years. When we launched Hollywood Resumes, both of us were working full time -- Angela as a children’s TV development executive and Cindy as an entertainment marketing executive. We really had no idea what Hollywood Resumes would lead to, but we saw an opportunity to help others in the industry with their job application materials and started a business that we felt was desperately needed by many. As it turns out, we were right – we had underestimated the demand for not only resume writing services, but for career support in general, and this is what has allowed our business to grow over the years, including becoming a full-time job for Cindy! As we reflect on our time in business, we find ourselves thinking about the benefits and costs of starting a business as a side hustle.
The most obvious advantage of a side hustle is that it can generate extra income, which is really helpful in an industry like ours with large pay inequities (though we don't think the solution to this system-wide problem is for everyone to work multiple jobs!). It's also really great to have a way to cover hiatuses between freelance roles or employment gaps after a layoff. There are many options for side gigs these days: If you just need some extra cash, you can find gigs on the apps (Uber, Instacart, DoorDash, etc.) or do some tutoring, dog sitting, or nannying. There's also the option to find industry-related part-time work like reading scripts, writing for online outlets, or freelancing on short shoots, which can give you some exposure to new contacts and/or the ability to upskill while you work. Over the course of our careers, we've done versions of the above to help pad our bank accounts, and if you have the time and the need, go for it.
But to start Hollywood Resumes and grow it successfully, we needed to think about more than just money. If you're contemplating launching a side business, it's important to consider how the business fits into the larger picture of your career. What will success look like for you? What interests and skills do you want to lean into in your business? For us, learning how to become entrepreneurs factored in prominently, and ultimately, launching our own business has enriched our lives and careers in many ways.
The fun thing about side hustles is that they don’t have to be even remotely related to your full-time work. Or they can be, but they may let you flex an entirely different set of professional muscles and explore areas the industry you wouldn’t normally be dealing with in your full-time job. For example, we both really love teaching, and we’ve had a fun time leading courses, workshops, and webinars for our customers and corporate clients – something that never figured prominently in our full-time work. We've also enjoyed building relationships with people across the industry outside of the niches of our full-time roles -- we've met people who work in totally different sectors of entertainment, and learning from them has offered us a unique perspective in our own fields. But you might find that you'd love to create a business that allows you to totally disconnect from the industry, and that's okay, too.
One of the main reasons we pursued an entrepreneurial side hustle was because we wanted to build something ourselves and be the chief decision-makers. Even when you love your work, there are going to be times where you feel frustrated with the direction of your department or company, and maybe you don’t feel heard by your supervisors. When this happens, it’s really nice to come home and work on something that you have full control of – your side hustle! You’ll also learn a lot by being in this type of leadership position, and you’ll have a chance to experiment without asking for anyone else’s approval and make mistakes without encountering the wrath of your boss. When you’re feeling small at work, a side business gives you the chance to feel empowered!
Another major benefit of running your own business is that it can enhance your career story. You'll learn a lot about a lot -- for example, we learned how to construct a business plan, create an SEO-friendly website, build strategic partnerships, conduct market research, provide customer service, run digital marketing campaigns, and navigate the legal and accounting elements of business ownership. While these skills aren't necessary for the work we've done full-time, they've presented themselves in a variety of ways in our other jobs, including making us more aware of how companies function day-to-day and measure success. Plus, they've given us great conversation starters when networking and strong talking points for job interviews.
The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is whether you will be able to see your business through. We had no idea that we'd be where we are today when we first started out, but we did have a plan, and we didn't launch overnight. Take time to do your due diligence, outline immediate goals that are achievable based on your current capabilities, and map out ideas for later growth. How many hours per week can you devote to your business? What are reasonable expectations you can set for yourself? What will you need to accomplish before you launch?
If the only thing holding you back from starting a side hustle is fear, we encourage you to give it a shot! And we’d also like to reiterate how great it has felt to help so many of our clients over the years – this has definitely been the #1 most rewarding aspect of starting a side hustle for us. We look forward to serving you for years to come!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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