With the pandemic continuing to wreak havoc on businesses of all sizes, South Africans are taking matters into their own hands, with a recent Gumtree poll revealing that 31.5% of South Africans have either started a side hustle, or have turned their side hustle into their main source of income in the last year. A further 46% are considering doing the same.
A side hustle is a business you run in your free time while maintaining your day or night job. For some, it’s become a necessity to make ends meet, while others do it to explore their creativity or with the aim of making it their full time source of income.
“Small and medium enterprises contribute to approximately 20% of South Africa’s GDP and employ around 47% of its workforce – clear proof that we are truly a nation of enterprising people. We always somehow seem to make a plan to carry on when the going gets tough, with side hustles being a major source of income for many,” says Estelle Nagel, brand marketing manager at Gumtree.
We chatted to two South African side-hustlers who offer their advice to others thinking of building a business out of their hobby, or of changing direction completely to build a new career.
Kay Ntshulana-Bhengu (27) is the founder of Glacier Gang SA, a mobile ice bar that began operations in 2019 to provide ice at live events in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, and Johannesburg. She came up with her side-hustle idea when she attended events where the bars always ran out of ice, and it’s now a successful business.
Her top tips:
- Don’t just hone in on what you enjoy – find something that you’re good at, because the two are often connected.
- Don’t wait until you’ve got enough capital – you might wait forever. Start with what you’ve got and keep going.
- If you’ve got an idea that requires production, advertise it and take pre-paid orders. That way, you know how many to make, and won’t waste.
- Don’t be scared of the unknown – you’ll only know if your business idea will work once you’ve put it out there to the public.
- Advertising has never been easier – or cost less. Sites like Gumtree are set up with small businesses and side hustles in mind. The truth is, the biggest investment in a side hustle is time.
- Step boldly out of your comfort zone and into uncertainty – that space of discomfort is where you’ll grow.
Michelle Kahn (29) is the founder of Running for Cake, a programme that helps beginner runners go from their couch to running 5km and beyond.
She thinks that one of the reasons people are scared to start something new is that they perceive there to be saturation in their sector, and they worry that they’ll have nothing new to offer. She eventually started her side-hustle after an overwhelmingly positive response from a community Facebook group.
While Kahn still works full time, the extra money she’s made from Running for Cake has been vital. For instance, when an apartment she owned stood vacant for two months because her tenant gave notice sooner than anticipated, she had the money to carry on paying the bond until she found a replacement.
Her top tips:
- Listen to what your target market wants. While there are loads of couch-to-5km apps, Michelle’s community wanted a place to connect in real life, run with like-minded people, and where they could take their dogs too!
- Do it for yourself. People are not just attracted to products, they’re also attracted to what a brand stands for.
- Doing something that helps others makes your side hustle even more meaningful.
- The only way to find out if something will work, is to try it.
Both Kay and Michelle speak with one voice though: don’t wait for the perfect time – there won’t be one. Just start. And then continue!