Let's Change the Way We Talk About Side Hustles

The Beginning

Ten years ago, we moved to a new town. With four young kids, making friends was easy. All I had to do was shuffle down to the bus stop every morning and a half-dozen other bleary-eyed moms stood ready to greet me. We chatted for a few minutes (or half an hour), sometimes went for a walk, sometimes had breakfast. But now the kids are older. Two of them drive themselves to school, and as the neighborhood demographic has shifted, so has the bus route. The moms don’t have time for leisurely morning chats, and exercise and breakfast have given way to hurried greetings as we’re letting the dogs out for their morning pee and apologetic texts about too much to do and too little time.

I found myself wondering, “Where did all my friends go?”

Then I realized that most of my stay-at-home mom friends have gone back to work, and many are also devoted to growing side hustles.

Side hustle.

The phrase is as common to modern vernacular as the social networking platforms that keep them in business. We know what it means to be hustled—to be pressured, urged, and coerced—into doing something we might not like.

But I want to turn this phrase on its heels.

Let's change the way we talk about side hustles.

Side hustles are a lot of things, but one thing they aren't--they aren't bad.

A New Definition

Hustle: [hus uhl]

Noun/ hus* tled, hus*tling

An enthusiastic enterprise;

Verb/ proceeding with determination toward work that matters.

An Enthusiastic Enterprise

Nowadays, it feels like almost as many people have (side hustles) enthusiastic enterprises as they do regular jobs. I used to get invited to Pampered Chef, Discovery Toys, Tupperware, and Mary Kay cosmetics parties. Sometimes I purchased products, and sometimes I didn’t. I didn’t understand why so many people were selling things I didn’t even know I needed. And yet, I wrote checks like it was my job. 

Fast forward a few years, and it seems the party scene is going by the wayside but quietly—at PTA meetings, in the gym, at church, on social media—I’m being invited to participate in other new and exciting ventures. Rather than rebuff this onslaught of vast purchasing opportunities, I’ve decided to embrace the new world order as an experience worth exploring, not because I need more stuff but because I miss my friends. Community looks different than it did twenty years ago, and I don’t want to be one of those people who stays stuck in a decade long past.

Perhaps you don’t, either.

Our Shared Experience

When I was talking to my friends about this post, I knew they were going to tell me how great it was to have "the extra money,” but I was awed by their enthusiasm for the work. They told me stories about how the "side hustle" became so much more than they could have ever imagined, how, in some cases, this new work literally saved them from themselves.

This is what it means to proceed with determination toward work that matters.

Nicole Flint, Mom & Interior Designer
Enthusiastic Enterprise: Rodan & Fields

1.My side hustle creates a plan B for our family
2. I love seeing how this ‘side gig’ blesses other families financially and most importantly, I love having the freedom to make my own schedule. So many of my friends and mentors have been able to walk away from grueling working hours and mom guilt because of this business.  
3. I love that this business forces me out of my comfort zone, makes me stretch myself, lean into personal development and has created a leader I didn’t realize I was capable of being. 

Ashley Russ
Enthusiastic Enterprise: Nonprofit Photographer & Community Advocate

Little by little, a little becomes a lot.  I am passionate about helping to give a future to at-risk, high-achieving kids in Georgia. A lot of these children have mentally overcome a physically desperate situation, only to discover that they are confined financially. For fifteen years, I have taken keepsake portraits of homeless children in shelters who don’t have money for basic needs.  From the first time I looked into those soulful eyes, I knew I had to help. These children are so hopeful and grateful for any assistance from the community. Every little bit we all do can make a big difference. Being part of the CARE and EMBARK programs, gives me the opportunity to give back via marketing, creating websites, fundraising, developing at-risk scholarship funds, taking pictures, and brainstorming ideas.  It is awe-inspiring to watch as 100% of these children who were given a chance at life come back to help others.

 Jill Newkirk, Mom & Elementary School Teacher
Enthusiastic Enterprise: Plexus

Plexus came to me during a dark season in my life. The products and the people I have met along my health journey are God-sends. I work my business to give hope and encouragement to other people. Plexus is about so much more than gut health supplements. It’s about giving back and serving other people.

Eric & Jennifer Tilley, Landscape Company Owners
Enthusiastic Enterprise: Isagenix

What started out as an accidental part-time thing quickly turned into a full-time thing. Knowing I have an opportunity to make a positive impact in someone’s health because of our nutrition system gets me up every morning.

Allison Hodges, Mom & KidStuf Actor
Enthusiastic Enterprise: LuLaRoe

I love it when a woman who hasn’t smiled at her reflection in a very long time finds herself smiling before she even sees the mirror—because of how she feels in the garment—and then when she does see herself in the glass, there is a pause. Almost a new recognition, and then the smile gives way to teeth and a bit of a sway. That. That’s why I love LuLaRoe.

Amber Humphries, Singer/Songwriter
Enthusiastic Enterprise: Beach Body

I love helping people realize their full potential. Be it poor health, financial stress, or self-doubt, I love getting to play a part in people breaking free from the things that hold them back.

The Easy Yes, The Gracious No

(Side hustles) Enthusiastic enterprises get a bad rap. We think our friends are going to peer pressure us into purchasing the thing they’re selling because they are 100% committed to their product, service, lifestyle, etc. Does that mean we should think it's awesome too? I don't know--maybe we should.  I’d be worried if my friends didn’t think what they were selling was the best. But enterprising entrepreneurs are doing a whole lot more than bringing in extra money for their families; they’re inviting us to be a part of something that fills their hearts with longing and purpose. It takes courage and vulnerability to do that well. In an era of over-commitment and value propositions that don’t really add much value, I’d be remiss not to lean in.

You can learn a lot about a person by watching what they do. Their lives will mirror what they say they love. What resonates with you will be an easy YES, and what doesn’t will be a gracious NO (We’ll talk more about saying yes and no in another post).

What the World Needs

I'm not a customer of every one of the products listed above, but I trust each of these women implicitly. They are the real deal--curious, genuine, and brave. They are mission driven in the best possible way. If you’re looking for an outlet that fosters community, a way to express your creativity, or an opportunity to impact the world, you might want to explore an enthusiastic enterprise of your own. The options are limitless. It doesn’t matter what you studied in college or where you live. Resources are everywhere, and you’ve been building your tribe all your life. You can be a small part of a bigger company or you can start your own thing doing something you love. Trust the process; I promise you'll find your people too.

The world needs more people who care, not only about each other, but also about their communities.

What we do together matters.

It matters a lot.

Questions to ponder:

What are you excited about?
What are you going to do about it?
Who can you invite to join you?
When will you begin?