The Era of the Side Hustle: Bec Evans at The RSA4 min read

Bec Evans at The RSA

Author, coach, and startup founder, Bec Evans explores how to start a side hustle and shares insights into how to build the skills you need to start and grow your side hustle.

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Full Text of Bec Evans’ speech titled ‘The Era of the Side Hustle’ at The RSA:


I was working in innovation, and I remember when I first my first day there, I thought my job was all about coming up with these world-changing sort of products and services. And I realized quite quickly that you can’t disrupt an industry on day one.

What you have to do is build a culture of innovation. My job was all about working with my colleagues and with the business. So they had the skills and the confidence to be able to come up with ideas, choose the best ones, and make them go forward.

And I think that’s the really amazing thing about innovation is it’s a skill. It’s one we can all learn. But before I dig into how to do that, I’m going to talk a little bit about the hustle.

What do you think about when I say the word hustle?

Does it bring to mind the 1970s disco? You know, the dance band McCoy. What about, Con artists, The Hustler out to trick and deceive you. Or how about the kind of startup hustle, called The Grind, you know, the work hard, sleep when you’re dead. This kind of really toxic mantra that’s going around at the moment.

I really love the word hustle because it’s complex, it’s contradictory and it’s changing all the time. But when I talk about hustle today, I’m talking about side hustle. So a side hustle is work that you do in addition to your main job. It’s something on the side that you often do to earn extra income. But it’s also not a couple of things.

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Work is changing a lot now. And the gig economy has really erupted and a side hustle isn’t the same as the gig economy. And it’s also not the same as sort of monetizing a hobby. A hobby is something you do for its own pleasure. A side hustle is most often done for extra income.

So let’s talk a little bit about the era of the side hustle. So there was research done last year by Henley Business School and they found that one in four of UK adults had a side hustle. So a huge number. And it’s not surprising, really. Work is changing so fast, the whole structure of it. The job for life is gone just doesn’t exist anymore. People have multiple jobs. They change their jobs faster. They have portfolio careers. They become what’s called slashes, where you have multiple streams to your kind of job. And that that makes so much sense because we are more than our 9:00 to 5:00. So if you want to do more or be more, it kind of makes sense to go and do something on the side.

And that’s a chance for you to use more of your own skills and experience. But it also gives you a chance to get new skills and experience. It’s a really aspirational thing, which is why it’s different to the gig economy. It’s often forced upon people. So people want to have a side hustle.

So I asked them why.

And I was surprised that the top answer wasn’t about those skills and it wasn’t even about the money, what they were looking for was fulfillment.

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And that is exactly what the HENNELLY research found, which was a much, much bigger study, a much more rigorous 73 percent of people who start a side hustle do so to follow a passion or to explore a new challenge. But were so often held back, we feel that we don’t have the time. We feel we do not have the skills, the experience, the confidence. These things stop us starting on setting up something and exploring new avenues.

I believe that if you do want to make ideas happen, then you can. There are approaches that are used the world over in innovation agencies. They’re taught in business schools and universities that you can learn those and you can build those skills.

So what I was doing my day job was an innovation. But in my spare time, in the evenings and the weekends, I was working on a side hustle and that’s now my business. So it’s not a secret how you do this.

You don’t need to pass the exams. You don’t need permission to do it. You can follow these approaches and build an attitude. And that growth mindset is so important because we want to go out into the world curious and open to ideas and opportunities. And that will also help us build the resilience to cope when things don’t go to plan. Because in innovation and making ideas happen, nothing ever goes to plan. Making ideas happen is really hard work, particularly if you do have a full time job.

If you’ve got family and caring and other responsibilities in your life, it’s not easy. I mean. That’s why it’s a hustle. It’s hard work. But if you want to do it, you can you can learn from the tools and techniques that were available to you. You can build your confidence as you gain new skills and try them out in the world. You’ll grow and learn from the experience and have fun along the way.

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I really do believe that you can have a happy hustle. You just need to start.

Bec Evans


The Era of the Side Hustle: Bec Evans at The RSA