Blog | Entrepreneurship

How Your Side Hustle Can Close the Gender Gap

Step into the side gig economy and create a fair financial future.

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Step into the side gig economy and create a fair financial future

If you’ve been mulling over the idea of starting your own business someday, the logistics can be incredibly daunting. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than a woman who wants to take her financial future into her own hands, pursue a passion, and start her own business.

But how will you afford to pay your bills when you’re in start-up mode? What if it takes years to make any money? What if you never make any money? What if you don’t have enough experience to be taken seriously? What if you make a mistake? What if you disappoint your family? What if you completely fail?

The “what-ifs” regarding entrepreneurship can be so overwhelming, they can stop you dead in your tracks before you even take the first step. And that’s precisely why so many people like to keep a safety net in place before taking the plunge — maintaining their full-time job while dipping their toe in the water on a side gig. I’m especially passionate about entrepreneurship for women because I believe that it is a great equalizer—and a force for change.

The Long-Term Problem of Gender Inequality

It’s no secret that women make less than their male counterparts in the workplace, and it’s a problem that won’t be going away anytime soon, at least if things remain the way they are.

According to an article published by Cosmopolitan, “An American girl born [in 2015] would have to wait until early retirement age to make as much as a man. (And by that point, she won't have enough time to catch up.) That's according to a new report, which projects that the wage gap across America won't close until 2058.”

The article goes on to say that today “Women who work full-time and year-round still make 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.”

So, What’s a Woman to Do?

According to CNN, 44 million Americans have a side hustle. Whether it’s to earn some extra cash, test out a business idea, or a way to see if you can turn your passion into profits, the gig economy has become an important part of our culture. It’s a great way to increase your savings, pay off debt, learn new skills, channel creativity, and diversify your income.

The difference between entrepreneurs and employees

If you want to get out of the rat race, the very rat race that allows employers to pay women less than men in the workplace, you need to change the way you think about making money in the first place.

That, in the end, is what separates entrepreneurs from employees. I made the decision long ago to not get worked up about how unfair the system is and instead chose to use the system to my advantage.

Today, I run a company that employs both men and women—and that pays them equally. In the process, I can guarantee that I make more than I’d ever make as an employee.

What are you selling?

Employees sell their time; and unfortunately, in this marketplace, a woman’s time is worth less than a man’s.

One of the great things about owning your own business is that you sell ideas, products, and services. Entrepreneurs don’t sell time like employees do, and as such, they price their ideas, products, and services at rates that the market will bear.

This technically is removed from gender because people are engaged with your business, not just with you. Between an employer and employee, the relationship is different. Gender is very much an issue because an employer is purchasing you and your time to accomplish and fulfill their ideas, products, and services…not yours.

Side Hustle Ideas

Having a tough time even deciding what side business to start? If your true calling isn’t clear — such as a personal chef, writer, fashion designer or graphic designer — then here are some cash flow business ideas to consider:

  1. Consultant. Love the type of work you’re doing, but not necessarily the company you’re doing it for? Instead of reinventing the wheel, take the expertise and skills you already possess and leverage that into a part-time consulting gig. Companies will be eager to work with you because you have the hands-on experience and you’ll love the fact that it’s a low-cost start-up because you probably only need the computer you already own to get started. Before you know it, you could be juggling so many clients that you’ll have to walk away from your day job to keep up!

  2. Real estate investor. In case you missed my blog about why real estate creates a domino effect that could lead to your financial freedom, here’s a quick synopsis: When you purchase a real estate investment and maintain a tenant, you’ll enjoy a monthly cash flow of income. If you amass enough properties, you could earn more cash flow each month than you spend on living expenses — and you can use the excess money to purchase more properties. Intrigued? Here’s how to get started in real estate.

  3. Multi-level marketing. No matter your interests, from weight loss to nail art, there’s a multi-level marketing (MLM) business opportunity to match. If you choose an MLM with a solid product and strong track record (beware of pyramid schemes!), and commit to growing your business, you’ll begin earning passive income each month. This path often works best for those with large networks who enjoy the sales process, as you’ll rely on your relationships to grow your business.

  4. Turn a hobby into help. Do you love woodworking, taking photographs, pet sitting or organizing closets? These hobbies are a great place to start when looking to earn some extra income — you can build a business right in your own community and begin helping your neighbors right away. Once things take off, you’ll likely enjoy word-of-mouth referrals instead of having to spend money on marketing. As the saying goes, if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life — so it’s less likely to feel like a chore when you’re spending your nights and weekends making money working on a hobby you’d happily do for free.

  5. Driver/errand runner. Everyone is so busy these days, they’re willing to pay a premium to have things delivered. Companies need drivers who can deliver everything from meals and groceries to furniture and documents. Of course, people also need to be delivered to places — like the airport, home from a bar and to work. If you’re a people person who feels at home behind the wheel, driving for a rideshare or delivery company will allow you to work when your schedule permits, ensuring it won’t interfere with your day job.

Remember, money follows money

True, there are still hurdles to be jumped for women in some sectors— especially tech—when it comes to investment money in women-owned businesses. But the reality is that there are many ways to fund a business outside of the traditional VC firm, and there are many different types of entrepreneurs besides the Silicon Valley darlings.

For instance, my business was funded through money I earned as a real estate investor, and those investments were funded by private equity partners who can tell a good investment when they see one on paper.

Ultimately, what investment money is looking for is viability. Money follows money. That’s why starting a small business on the side is a wonderful way of proving an idea, and building your path to financial freedom. If you can show that your business can make money, you will be able to attract money—no matter what your gender is.

The Cure for the Gender Gap

So, what’s the cure to the gender gap in salaries? I think it starts with shoring up the gender gap in entrepreneurship. More women leading businesses will lead to fairer workplaces for all. It’s simple math.

But if you’re still plagued by those pesky “what-ifs” swirling around in your brain, remember that there is both an upside and downside of fear.

By learning to use fear as an asset and overcome the negative side effects associated with this emotion, you’ll be able to start a side business and inch even closer to the financial independence you crave.

I encourage you to follow your dreams, and start that business; it’s not just good for you, it’s good for everyone.

Original publish date: February 28, 2019

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