Kick-start your side hustle

In these challenging economic times, having one source of income is not enough. Everyone should consider supplementing their income with a side hustle. That’s the message from Nic Haralambous, a passionate serial entrepreneur with a knack for starting, developing and selling businesses.

Call for entries

Side hustler with a business or an idea you would like to get funding for?

Nic has spent 20 years building businesses – he started his first when he was only 16. He’s had to learn the hard business lessons while figuring out what it takes to launch a side hustle. Along the way, he’s also become a gifted motivational speaker and the bestselling author of How to Start a Side Hustle: A Playbook for a New Economy. He talks from experience.

He’s also the creator of The Slow Hustle with Nic, an online platform dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start successful side hustles. Nedbank partners with Nic in this initiative to train and fund new side hustlers, so we interviewed him to find out more about it.


Why are side hustles so important?

Nic defines a side hustle as ‘anything that adds to your existing income stream’. That could be actively investing in the stock market. It could be a skill that you market on weekends, like music, deejaying, or photography; maybe woodwork, metalwork or other arts and crafts; perhaps a food stall at local markets, or functions catering. It could be any product or service that you sell outside your normal working hours. He believes side hustles are vital for 2 reasons.

Firstly, as many of us learnt during the lockdowns of the past 2 years, having diverse income streams protects you during sudden economic upheaval – if one stream is cut off, it’s easier to survive if you have money coming in from other sources. Secondly, Nic is convinced that South Africa’s unemployment crisis cannot be solved by big businesses or government alone.

The small-business sector has a vital role to play, which is why Nic is so determined to get more people generating their own income streams with a side hustle. If they can turn their side hustles into successful, sustainable small businesses, not only will they be securing their own incomes, but will also be creating jobs as their businesses grow. South Africans are naturally entrepreneurial, he believes, but only because we have to be – side hustles and small businesses are the only employment option for many. Still, he reckons we need to increase our crop of entrepreneurs tenfold in the next 10 years if we hope to make a serious dent in our unemployment figures.

The Slow Hustle, and Nic’s online Side Hustle Academy, are his contributions to growing our entrepreneurial base faster. He uses his own experiences to inspire other side hustlers to follow in his footsteps, and his training helps them recognise opportunities and avoid pitfalls when building a business – in the hope that they become as passionate as he is about starting new ventures, if not more so.


Persistence and consistency are more important than funding

Nic knows first-hand how hard it is to turn a dream into a reality; to suffer for a vision; to scale and fail. He can remember just 3 ‘positive exits’ – businesses that became successful enough to sell at a profit – from the 20 or so businesses he has founded. It’s a grim reality that most small businesses fail within 18 months, and most of the rest go belly-up within 5 years.

That’s why he insists that consistency is the most important quality a side hustler can have. Decide how much time you can devote to your side hustle every week, or every day, and then stick to those hours. Decide what your success and failure triggers will be – if you reach your success trigger, it’s time to sell that business and start your next one. If you hit your failure trigger (say, you’ve decided to invest a certain amount in a business, but no more, and that limit has been reached), close that business and try again with a new idea. And if that one fails, start another …

But consistently sticking to your side hustle plan, and your success or failure triggers, is key. It is even more important than getting funding for an idea. In fact, Nic discourages going into debt to fund a side hustle before you’ve proved the concept and generated sales. When you’re starting a business, he says, ‘the best kind of funding is sales. The best businesses that go out and do raise funding on good terms are profitable businesses.’


Win a business!

Nedbank is a keen partner in The Slow Hustle with Nic, because we’re as committed as he is to entrenching a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa. The help available through his online Side Hustle Academy course includes training, financing and mentoring – and once in a while, even the chance to win your own business.

Nic’s latest start-up, Bye Nausea, imports a range of anti-motion-sickness glasses – which he’s road-tested himself, because he’s prone to nausea on any form of transport. The new start-up made its first sale within 5 weeks of its creation, and now Nic is going to give the business away to one lucky entrepreneur – go to slowhustle.org for competition details.


Making the time is about your priorities

The speed with which he operates bears out another of Nic’s beliefs about side hustles: ‘I don’t have the time’ is not a valid excuse. ‘You don’t have a time problem; you have a priorities problem,’ he says. ‘Remember, if everything is a priority in your life, then nothing is a priority in your life.’ You need to make that side hustle a top priority – even if you can really spare only 2 hours a week. If it’s a consistent 2 hours and you make sure you stick to it every week, it’s a more proactive plan than postponing your side hustle until you find ‘enough time’.

In a slowing economy – and in the wake of devastating social unrest earlier this year – boosting entrepreneurship to build hopeful communities and a better country has never been so urgent. It’s a question of knuckling down and doing what’s right week in, week out – Beke le Beke.

Nic had many more interesting experiences and lots of solid advice to share with us in our video chat, so why not sit back and watch the whole interview? You could be inspired to start your side hustle today.