You Need to Stop Calling It a Side Hustle

Courtesy of Juliet Collados

What would you call a 30 year old woman who makes vegan snacks, records work out videos from her home, and sells them via her social media platforms… a passion-preneur? A #bossbabe?

Now, what if I told you that said woman is worth millions of dollars and her passion project afforded her two luxury homes in London and Ibiza? I bet that would change your labels.

This is the case of Caroline Deisler, a woman from Germany who has made millions off of her “side hustle” making healthy food and fitness videos that she posts to her Instagram.

It is not just Deisler who is taking the world by storm, Tara Bosch started a side hustle in her kitchen selling sugar free gummy bears and just sold her company SmartSweets to TPG Growth for $400 million.

Millennials and Gen Z are on track to start twice as many businesses as previous generations, however despite this we are still not calling them what they are: entrepreneurs.

Rather, we are labelling others and even labelling ourselves with terms like “mom-preneurs”, “passion-preneurs”, and “side-hustlers”.

There is nothing wrong with throwing a hashtag on something to include yourself in a community; however, you should not let this hold you back from the truth. If you are running a business, no matter how big or small, whether it is social media based or not — you are an entrepreneur.

When I hear the term side hustle I think “less important than my other job”.

Maybe this is true to you, but if it is not, here is why you need to start owning it.

Language Is a Lens Into Behaviour

Studies have shown that the slightest nuances in language can effect our biases and behaviours.

When you prequalify a business or delegitimize it by calling it something that it is not, you are sending a strong and clear message to other people that your endeavour does not need to be taken seriously.

-Roger Patterson, Entrepreneur Magazine

A couple of years ago, I completed Cornell University’s plant-based nutrition program and began offering plant-based consulting services. Imagine if I presented my services the two following ways:

  1. “Let me side hustle my way into your kitchen — I am so excited to now be offering my plant-based consulting services!”, versus
  2. “As a Cornell University graduate, I am thrilled to introduce my new plant-based business — I will be hustling my way into your kitchen, offering consultation services for both individuals and small businesses!”

Which would you contact and which sounds more legitimate? Both announce a new business, but the vocabulary is very different.

There is also a very practical side to having linguistics on your side. Correctly labeling your business can make you eligible for government grants, tax benefits, and even things like bank loans that are designed for small business but that you otherwise would not qualify for.

Loss of Earnings

Harvard Business Review conducted a study with over 1,000 individuals who held a variety of full time jobs and side hustles. The researchers and authors found that many individuals used dismissive terms because they thought their projects did not meet outdated standards — for example, they did not have things like a business degree, a team, or commercial store front. As such, they labelled themselves as side hustlers.

However, this could be severely hindering their earning potential.

Entrepreneurs could be turning people away by giving the impression that if their endeavour is not even worth their own time why would it be worth someone else’s?

This can quickly turn people off and cause them to choose an alternative— likely one that is advertised as a “legitimate” business rather than a side hustle.

When a consumers chooses a competitor over you it means one thing and one things only — a lot of money lost for you.

Cost You Like A Hobby

There is a popular saying that goes:

Treat it like a business, and it will pay you like a business. Treat it like a hobby, and it will cost you like one.

A real estate investor I work with closely said this to me countless times and it wasn’t until I got serious in my own business that I realized what this term really meant: it is all fun and games until the bills roll in.

A lot of people create a side hustle with the goal of having that income match or surpass the money that they make from their regular job.

This is a huge ask! So why, as entrepreneurs, would we not give our businesses the respect that they deserve?

This leads me to my final point…

Treat Your Business With Respect

Would you show up to your regular nine to five job late every day, watch Netflix, not return calls or emails in a timely manner and still expect to be paid?

Of course not. You would not survive in that world for a day and your boss would have you out of there in no time.

The only difference when you are an entrepreneur is that the boss is you, and the market that you are trying to penetrate will have you out of there in no time.

Treating your business with respect means calling it a business.

Final Thoughts

We live in the era of side hustles. They can be hugely beneficial as they allow workers to reap the benefits of independent work while retaining the stability of a traditional role.

However, how you manage your side hustle is what will bring you maximum benefits.

If you are serious about building a business — one that pays you — you need to think of it as a business and not a side hustle.