Why Do Women Entrepreneurs Have Side Hustles

I don’t know what it says about me that my social media algorithm constantly shows me profitable side hustles. As a full-time entrepreneur, you’d think my hands were already full, but I spent this year as a part-time bartender, designing literary t-shirts, and writing other projects.

For me, separating my time between my business and these side gigs helped me take a break from some work stress. 

The brewery in particular took me out of the house and let me work my people skills while earning extra cash. I felt super energized and excited at having coworkers (#solopreneur problems), and I was able to attack my full-time career with a fresh perspective.

I spoke to fellow female entrepreneurs about this, and it was funny the amount of people who also had stories about side projects and part time gigs. 

I started to realize something. Many of us had a side hustle or part-time job because it filled another need. Okay, having an additional income stream was nice or needed. But for many women in business, finding that additional outlet served so much more.

Necessary Context on Side Hustles

First, let’s talk side hustles. Bankrate conducted a study earlier this year that about 39 percent of adults have a side hustle, and with inflation, 44 percent of adults think they’ll always need one.

We’re also seeing a trend with Gen Z. The same report said that about 53 percent have a side hustle already.

It highlights a bigger issue surrounding cost of living, but the phrase “side hustle” feels more . . . positive? Or at the very least trendy and entrepreneurial.

Growing up, my mom, who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, always had a part-time job, while working as a full-time accountant. I remember her making ribbons for Christmas planters, cleaning a luxury apartment, and working weekends at a department store.

In her case, “side hustle” might sound too simplistic. Her hard work and time away from her daughters generated extra income for the family. And these were all side hustles, despite Inc. Magazine calling a side hustle: “not a part-time job as much as it’s something you create, and it’s disproportionately satisfying.”

I spoke to Jenna Lyles who runs a grant writing practice, Left Align Consulting, and has two side hustles. She’s the owner of Dasein Fragrance and she also has a tiny cut peony farm in North Carolina.

“Unfortunately, I think most side hustles today are a monetization of a contribution you might otherwise make in an unpaid capacity.” She cited art or spirituality as options.

She points out how you’ll see side hustles often in other parts of the world as a result of people navigating their economic landscape.”

Often, side hustles are a response to historical injustice,” she added. “I think about all of the Black business owners who work full time jobs and build assets on the side to create generational wealth in their families and communities.”

Her great grandfather came from Lebanon and ran his own business on the side of the road to send her grandfather to college. 

“I think about immigrant families like mine who have lost home, language, and culture to secure financial and physical safety in a new country. I come from a long line of side-hustlers. The side hustle is how we make a way out of no way.” 

I spoke to more women about their version of side hustles. That side gig helped them find that sense of purpose, offered additional income streams, and a space to make work, work for them.

Side Hustles Help Women Entrepreneurs Take a Pause from Stress

I’m dedicated to my full-time business in freelance writing and social media marketing, but after a huge move, I needed a bit of a break. 

But watching my mom work evenings and weekends, I learned to value working over rest. I adopted her ability to exercise her people skills as a way to rest my brain from full time work.

I spoke to Jess Bahr CEO, co-founder of Aleph One, a marketing agency leveraging AI. She admits, she always seems to be working on something on the side. She’s an Uber driver in Madison, WI on the side.

We talked about how energizing it felt to use other skills and switching our business brains off to chat with other humans, whether that’s pouring beer driving a passenger. But we also admit that we might be work-a-holics too.

For Jess, she looked at Ubering as an outlet the removed some of the stress she felt from building medical bills and the stress of launching her thriving marketing agency.

And she’s always had a side hustle.

Years ago, Jess picked up a cricut cutting machine to create custom stickers as a relaxing hobby on her down time, but her mind crafted a business plan quickly. She figured if she sold enough product she could fund her hobby, so she started an Etsy shop.

It thrived, making about 80 percent profit margins. But she wrapped up the shop last year, because she realized something important.

“I shut it down because I just lost joy. I didn’t like doing it anymore,” Jess said. “But that experience with the Etsy shop really helped shape where I took my career. The thing that I like the most about launching that shop was doing the branding, figuring out the name and the website, the product images and placement. So I leaned into it.”

Jess started her marketing agency in January 2023 and hit $1.2 million in booked revenue in about a month and a half. She focused on execution and making her business successful, so much so that it was acquired later that year. Within that agency, her and her business partner started Aleph One to help businesses bring innovative systems and AI into their marketing programs.

That brought stress of its own and Jess did what she did. She turned to another side hustle.

“I spend so much time on the computer, but I wanted something where I’m not looking at a screen, where I can just get out. So I started doing Uber, and I love it,” Jess said. 

How Female Business Owners Use Side Projects to Find Their Focus

For me, I realized that I was a little burnt out post move. I need an outlet to not be in my head. I also needed to reset on what I was offering.

For Anna Cable, consultant and business strategist helping brands build solutions with social impact, she realized she kept having side hustles because she was constantly searching for that sense of purpose in her business.

“There was a frequency that I was trying to stay in alignment with. I didn’t know what that looked like, but it was a felt thing,” Anna said.

“It was different than just the question of ‘why do you want to go out on your own?’ For me it was: does it feel like my head and my heart are together when I think about this project?  I get lit up when somebody else has a brilliant idea that they really care about, because I’m really good at bringing that idea to life. But how do you monetize your brain?”

Anna’s side hustle honed in on her excitement around launch strategy. Listening to that tuning fork and exploring side projects helped her discover what she’s currently working on, Launchpad, a community for women entrepreneurs within a larger accelerating program. Yes, she helped the accelerator launch this idea as a side project, before they asked her to step in.

At Launchpad she can now help coach women entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.

How Side Hustles Help Women in Business Gain Experience

Much like Anna, my side hustle mindset gave me space to explore my own skills and see what I found exciting. 

Many of the female founders I spoke with had side hustles that helped them explore what they love to do, and that drive is a product of how they grew up.

“I grew up in an environment where you wanted to be the boss, not the one getting told what to do,” Jess, agency owner and Uber driver, said. Raised by her grandparents, she always helped her grandfather with his rental properties, before school or on weekends growing up.

As she paved her own career, she knew she was going to start her own tech company, so she explored as much as she could on the side.

“I told everyone on my team at the time, I’m going to start a tech company. I’m going to do it in 15 years,” Jess said. “So I’m trying to gather experiences. I’m in marketing so what does it look like in sales or forecasting, for instance. And I just tried to find every experience I could to gather as much as I could.”

Find a Side Hustle that Serves You

Speaking to several women in business, many found their side hustles because they wanted to stretch a skill but that also offered a renewed sense of purpose.

Jenna’s work as a grant writer supporting progressive nonprofit organizations secure funding helps companies raise millions of dollars each year. It’s important work and gives her an opportunity to use her skills to support democratic rights in the U.S.

On the flip side, her work as an indie scent brand and a peony cut farm offers her brain new pastures.

“I love the variety, I love that I get to work with such a broad array of people who come from different backgrounds, have different approaches and areas of expertise, and who are all navigating our current economic landscape with ingenuity and courage,” she said.

“I get bored easily, so I love having my hands in the dirt one moment, brainstorming my next fragrance in another, and strategizing about how to secure a grant for a specific project in yet another. I learn so much from my work, and that is important to me.”

And if you’re looking for a side hustle, there are obviously TikTok channels that can help you monetize your skills or create a passive income stream. 

Think making a course, selling a product, or even having an unglamorous business you can develop and make work for you. 

There aren’t hard or fast rules, which might be why the term side hustle feels lighter. There aren’t expectations for it but it should benefit you in some way. If that’s joy, stretching your own business muscles, or earning extra income.

Georgette Eva
Georgette Eva is a content marketer and social media nerd with a passion for women-owned businesses and helping purpose-driven brands shine. Supporting companies that want to help change the world for good is her jam. On her off hours, she’s either listening to a podcast, enveloped in a book, or waking up early to visit a local coffee shop before work. Drop her line or a fun pun if you’d like. She’s a fan of a good turn of phrase.
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