Hey, how are you? Tell me what you have been up to. I am interested in hearing your escapades and the fun you have been through. January is over, we thought it would be 150 days of January but as we were making fun of the difficulties the days would impose on us, the clock never stopped clicking. In a few days we will be in February and before we realize it, the year will be coming to an end again. What will we have accomplished?
If you have been following closely and paying keen attention to what I have been sharing over the last couple of months, something should be playing in your mind. You might have even done some due diligence to ascertain if my sentiments were true. Whatever you found out, we can agree that it is possible and exhilarating to start a business that aims at raising revenue as opposed to profits alone. Others have crucified me for attacking employment but that hasn’t been my focus, I only hoped to put the opportunities we forego in the limelight.
Today we will be winding up our Topic of The Month for January which has been Startups. In February we will talk about relationships. I have personally enjoyed contributing to the January series, I have learned so much and ruled out so many prejudices. Although some of the observations were hypothetical. It doesn’t mean they cannot be tested. Today’s topic is about putting all together; careers, employment, self-employment and side hustles. Leo ni mash up. Wakikuyu hii ni stronghold. Kushanganya.
What is a Career?
A career is simply an occupation that someone spends a large chunk of his professional life at. When most people come across the term ‘career’ they think it means something sophisticated. Like being an engineer, an economist or a doctor. But a career is anything a farming career, a brokerage career, a sportsman career and a writing career.
Careers are important because they put purpose in our lives, they make us productive citizens and place a plate of food on the table. They are also our daily source of stress and/or happiness. An average person spends about 30 years of his existence in active career stage. I advice that we be very careful in selecting the type of careers we will be locked up in for the larger chunk of our lives. This especially applies for us millennials who are getting out of school and searching for work. It also affects parents who are investing resources to take their children to colleges and universities. Research more, do lots of soul-searching, skills matching, guidance and mentoring to ensure that the youth fall in the right careers.
Employment and Side hustles
In our African cities, especially Nairobi where capitalism is taking toll, it is nearly impossible to make ends meet from salary alone. Everybody is talking about the after five gig. This has been made easier by the fact that Nairobi and other cities like Cairo, Johannesburg, Lagos to mention but a few rarely sleep and have the necessary environment in internet connectivity, power supply and moderate security.
I will use Nairobi as my case study here. When government and private offices close for business at five o’clock, the city comes alive again with traffic jams and activity. We all think this is because people are trying to make it home. That is partly true but fact is that the people who just want to get home and rest for the day always wait in the office for the heavy traffic to ease. Most people who get in the rush either are rushing to class-as lecturers or students, to the second job of the day that they grind until around eleven in the night, or to meet clients for a tender to supply one or two things. I know people who work online, others who follow their dreams after work and others who have two jobs.
What is the trick about side hustles?
1. Stay in your line.
If you are an accountant, stop trying too hard to be a mechanical engineer after five unless it is a natural talent. The body and mind are drained after five, it is only healthy to work in a comfort zone then.
2. Your boss doesn’t have to know.
It is also possible that your boss has a side hustle. He must be selling cars or something but he pays you to perform. If he sniffs some laxity in your job, he has a leverage if he knows too much about your side hustle.
3. Take a supervisory role.
It is wise to be a director in your side hustle. Get a team to do the technical stuff and use your evenings to go through the work done during the day. When it picks up, get a senior employee to be a manager for you and get reports from him or her.
4. Love what you do, do what you love.
A side hustle should be more of a hobby turned into business. If done well, it becomes a game of golf after work.
5. Be extra assertive and brilliant in your day job.
Your boss will eventually learn of your after five undertakings but he might let it slide if you are also putting your best show in the day job. Remember, most firms have a limiting clause in their contract.
Being Employed is Important
We cannot all start businesses. We all also cannot start businesses straight after school. We need experience, capital, networks, stepping stones and more which we can get when employed.
A job is a transaction in which your boss trains you, equips you and pays you while all you do is to represent him or her. There is a stereotype that a salary is a bribe to keep you working for him. Drop that bullshit notion. Wake up African Child. See the opportunities the boss offers you, grab them and put them close to your heart. They will come handy when you are starting your own firm.
How to start-up while remaining employed.
1. Take a class.
If you still need a few skills to get you started, take a class after five and over the weekends. As opposed to the ideology that jobs take most of the time, jobs actually give us more freedom. When it is five o’clock we knock off regardless of the workload. That does not happen in self-employment. You grit is your meat.
2. Start small.
Start by making savings for the new business and for personal use during the first one year if you decide on quitting your job.
3. Know your tech.
As I said earlier, your main role in a side hustle is supervisory. This will make you put up systems that require technology for easy monitoring.
4. Develop the discipline where you are.
If you are a lousy employee, you will be a lousy business owner. And lousy business owners have no place. Remember, an apple does not fall far from the tree. Do an honest review of your workplace, if your department is working well, there is a huge chance your side hustle will follow suit.
You have done it! I suggest you go through the January series once more. If you do not agree with me, please react and let’s make it perfect, if you agree with me, then go out and make a change. I wish you all the best. February we will be talking about relationships. A healthy relationship equals a healthy lifestyle.