Skip to main content

B2B The Grand Strand

The Importance of the Side Hustle

Jun 03, 2024 05:45AM ● By Jamie Prince

As business owners, many of us harbor mixed feelings about our employees having a secondary part-time active income stream, even if it’s outside normal business hours. As wrong as it sounds, some of us take offense that team members supplement their income doing something other than working overtime for our companies. After all, we do!

Others of us feel slightly threatened by side hustles (terminology that actually dates back to the 1950s) because it can infer our staff’s job insecurity or dissatisfaction, leaving us vulnerable to losing them. Still, some of us, particularly in industries where side gigs are common, have learned to embrace them as an ever growing necessity in today’s inflation economy.

The statistics are remarkable:

·        39 percent of working Americans – or 80 million people – report having a side hustle, including one out of every two millennials and members of Gen Z. 

·        In 2023, Americans created an estimated 3.6 million side hustles, based on U.S. Census tracking of registered new businesses.

·        Myrtle Beach ranks No. 7 in the top 10 cities in which side gigs are two to five times higher than the national average when the data is controlled for inflation. Atlanta ranks No. 1.

·        Google searches of “how to start an e-commerce business” number 24,000/month.

Let’s step back from our feelings for a moment and examine the importance of the side hustle. By shifting our perspective only slightly, it becomes clear that startups stem from side gigs, and startups are essential incubators of innovation. As we know, they begin in our home offices and garages.

Lest we forget, some of the greatest economic, technological, and global progress – Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Dell, Mattel, Amazon and Walt Disney – started from one person or a small group tinkering with an idea that would grow to change the world. Nearly eight out of every 10 side hustles lead to startups, U.S. Census data shows. Did you start your company in this way? And did you do so, at first, while you earned a primary income somewhere else? Many of us would both answer yes and with no regrets.

Google Trends points to July 2022 as the peak for interest in side gigs, but it’s still to be seen if this will prove true. In fact, Startups Magazine reports that “​​The overwhelming majority (92 percent) of startups founded by Gen Z (18- to 24-year-old) entrepreneurs start off as a side hustle, according to new research commissioned by Connectd, the leading platform for managing and growing relationships between startups, investors and advisors.”  

We’re faced, then, with a thought-provoking question: Do we truly want the next generation to stop innovating, to give up on trying to create solutions? Do we discourage people from using their gifts, talents, and passions to make our communities better? I think we’d all agree that that should never be allowed to happen.

So where does that leave us as employers? Well, if we consider the University of Iowa’s findings that “moonlighting” among employees actually improves their job performance, we should breathe a bit easier. Starting a business that survives takes a rare work ethic, is incredibly difficult, and can be humbling (as we well remember). At the least, we can respect the hard work and commitment of our staff members to improve the quality of life for their families, a reality supported by a survey conducted by Side Hustle Nation showing that one out of every five workers with side gigs use them to help make the ends meet. We would never sacrifice our family’s welfare, and we should never expect (or want) our employees to, either.

As founders, all of this data points to our being a lot more similar to those on our teams than we are different. Practicing the kind of leadership that incorporates understanding of our employees’ goals outside of work, as well as inside, and considering serving as an example and mentor to those with higher ambitions in commerce and community service are great places to start.

Jamie Prince is the founder of Flourish, a marketing, PR, and events company in Greenville, South Carolina.


Upcoming Events Near You

No Events in the next 21 days.