While a business degree can be valuable to your career growth, there are plenty of real-world examples that make it obvious that a degree isn’t the be-all end-all to a burgeoning career. Bill Gates famously dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft. Steve Jobs dropped out of college and went on to found Apple, Pixar and more. Neither of these savvy entrepreneurs had their success tied to a college degree. They turned a side hustle into a successful career, either through unforeseen circumstances or a passion for something outside of a classroom.
Of course, not everyone experiences these newsworthy levels of success. But in the long run, a side hustle provides additional value that may not be found within the confines of a classroom.
Here are just a few ways focusing on a side hustle can make a difference for your career:
Learn new skills
Taking classes can teach you valuable skills and knowledge, but there’s a significant difference between classroom learning and real-world application. A side hustle gives you the opportunity to learn and develop essential entrepreneurial skills in real life.
Just think of the skills needed to start a successful business. Email marketing, employee management, contract negotiation—the list goes on and on, and is quite varied. Chances are, not all of these skills will be covered in the classroom. Taking the initiative to learn and develop these skills on your own in a real world setting will put you ahead of your peers and help you understand what is needed to succeed.
Even if you don’t plan on having your side hustle supplant your current full-time job, demonstrating your real-world experience will make a strong impression on potential employers. Not only does it help you develop skills you might not learn in the classroom, it also displays your initiative and drive—appealing attributes to any employer.
Many people are reluctant to dip their toes into the side hustle world because they think having a 9 to 5 job leaves them financially safe and secure. The reality is that this isn’t always the case. Companies go out of business, and people get let go from their positions. Then there’s income stagnation—while living expenses continue to rise, many employees find that their income remains the same.
Any of these situations can cause severe financial strain, and while a business degree may look nice on your wall, it’s not going to protect you from these setbacks. On the other hand, having a side hustle that generates extra income (even if it’s not very much) can provide much-needed financial security should any of these problems affect you. An established side hustle could make all the difference when you need to pay the bills after losing your 9 to 5 job.
Even if you’re financially secure, a little extra income is always a welcome addition. After all, by saving that side hustle money now, you can leverage the power of compound interest for some major returns later.
Starting a side hustle isn’t just about developing new skills or improving your financial security. Perhaps the greatest benefit of a side hustle is that it gives you the chance to break free from the rat race in order to live the lifestyle you want.
When you’re your own boss, you have the final say in your business decisions. You don’t have to deal with red tape or office drama. You decide your schedule, and you control how much work you’ll do each day. If you conduct your side hustle online, you can choose to live wherever you want!
While it requires discipline to keep this freedom from becoming a stumbling block, there’s no denying the satisfaction that comes from having total control over your work life.
According to Tarek El Moussa of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” and SuccessPath, “How much you get out of (your side hustle) is directly linked to how much you put in, but that doesn’t mean you have to put in 80-hour weeks to get great results. It just means that you get to figure out how to work smarter instead of working harder, and you can enjoy the lifestyle you want while you make money.”
A business degree can give you the credibility you need to get your foot in the door at your first job. A side hustle is what really opens up your opportunities to do the work you want, where, when and how you want to do it.