From tussle to hustle

Apparently over 40% of people in Britain. are currently running a side hustle alongside their day job. As someone who is entirely risk adverse, never been interested in owning a business and has no exciting hobbies or skills (aside from the classic ‘I love to socialise with friends and go out for food’), I never expected to be one of them. But through a series of random opportunities, I’m now the owner of a (albeit very small!) fitness franchise that I run alongside being a qualitative researcher.

In addition to being the proud owner of 20 mini trampolines, running a business alongside my day job has a lot of benefits, both personally and professionally.

It’s been great for my mental wellbeing. As we all know, working in market research can be quite full on and I struggled to switch off after work. There would always be something that I’d be worried about or thinking through after logging off, and this got worse during lockdown when boundaries between work and home got even more blurred. Having a set day a week where I have to finish on time and go and exercise is a great way to switch off and make sure I have a better work life balance. And having something that is totally my own and I’m solely responsible for its success has made me more resilient.

sometimes things go wrong or don’t go as planned, and that’s ok

Part of the motivation for starting to teach a fitness class was to get more experience public speaking. I was always a nervous presenter and actively avoid it where possible. But once you’ve got used to shouting instructions on a Britney mic twice a week while jumping up and down, presenting a research debrief seems a lot less daunting. Although this might be because there is less risk an attendee is going to break an ankle!

It’s also helped me be more business minded. I got into market research because I’m interested in people, rather than having a strong business drive. But managing my own franchise has made me a lot more aware of the challenges businesses face and made me more sympathetic to my clients. Particularly those working on the social media marketing teams – coming up with new content all the time is a nightmare.

There are definitely some downsides. Some days the thought of having to be sociable and energetic after a full day of work is too much, but the minute I get there I don’t regret it. And I’m very lucky to have a flexible employer that makes it possible for me to have a weekly commitment outside of work by enabling me to work from home and flex my hours as needed. So if you’re deciding whether now is the time to give something a go alongside work, it’s definitely worth a shot!!