Side-hustling: How to get it right

Aliko Dangote
Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote (L), Africa's richest entrepreneur according to Forbes ranking. Courtesy Photo.

Kenya bursts with entrepreneurial energy, with Small & Medium Businesses contributing around 90 per cent of GDP. In fact, Kenyans are increasingly choosing to run more than one Small & Medium Business, and many others hold down a job while running a small hustle on the side.

For some, side-hustling is a way to make ends meet in a tough economy, for others it’s about pursuing a passion such as freelance writing or cooking, and for many, it’s an opportunity to share their great ideas with the world. However, managing numerous business interests can be tricky and demands great discipline.

Here are a few ideas about how you can juggle your day job (or main business) and several side hustles:

Don’t lose focus on your main source of revenue

Starting a small business demands a lot of time and you might need to invest some savings in stock or assets. Make sure that you’re on top of your day job or your existing small business before starting up a side hustle.

Don’t try to start two businesses too close together because one or both will suffer from the lack of focus. Ideally, your first business should be stable and providing you with a constant income before you try to launch the next one.

Be choosy

The problem that many entrepreneurs face is not a shortage of (seemingly) good business ideas and opportunities, but an excess of them. Pick your projects carefully and be brave enough to walk away when a side project will not be a success.

There are many great ideas for side hustles – repair services, taxi services, web design, tutoring, trading second hand goods, and more – but you should look at where you have the skills to succeed and where your community has unmet needs.

Share infrastructure and skills where you can

Look at the assets and skills you already have when choosing a side hustle. This is a good way to use the contacts you have and the things you already own to make more money, rather than needing to invest in more equipment or needing to sell into a market you do not know.

Do you have a truck you use to deliver goods to your customers? Maybe it can double as a vehicle for a small office and home moving business on the weekend.

Are you good at writing and already own a computer? Perhaps a part-time blogging hustle is right for you.

Be a time management and multitasking master

  • Use IT systems to save you time — ditch the spreadsheets and use proper accounting software, for example.
  • Learn to prioritise: perhaps focus on sales first, then marketing and admin.
  • Make time first thing in the morning or at the end of the day to take care of admin and email when there is no one else around to distract you.
  • Schedule your time carefully.

Sell and market yourself

If you are starting a new side hustle, be sure to sell and market your service to your friends, business contacts and community.

The web can help you market yourself to the world and to find possible side hustles. is one example of a website that brings together people who need jobs done – IT, customer service, marketing, translation, writing and more – with people who need part-time work.

Closing words

It takes hard work and human sacrifice to turn a dream business idea into a way of life, but it is this entrepreneurial spirit that makes Kenya vibrant and one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

We started small and have grown beyond what seemed imaginable and we take pride in our customers being able to do the same. It is this reason that we continue to support business builders as they power African economies.

By Billy Owino, Regional Director for Sage in East Africa