With the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, notices of employment contract terminations, unpaid leaves and pay cuts are now flying all over.
To many Kenyans who have not yet received such communication, it is not a matter of if but when they will receive them. Consequently the spotlight is rightfully shifting to side hustles.
At this point it may be worthwhile to note that many Kenyans consider entrepreneurship and side hustling as synonymous.
For today let us cautiously assume that this is true. It is befitting that we put these hallmarks of hybrid entrepreneurship under a viability microscope.
While as many Kenyan workers engage in some form of side hustle, I want to classify those side hustles into three categories based on their foundation, purpose of existence and age group of individuals behind them. This is my continuum of side hustles.
On the extreme left I have side hustles founded on talents, hobbies, passion and self-taught skills. This kind exists to offer the individuals concerned a level of personal satisfaction (or at least fun) that their day jobs can never offer.
They make their founders feel a sense of purpose and actually provide a route for them to contribute to society. I majorly associate these with the 18 – 35 years age group.
We may older people pursuing their talent or hobby based side hustles but their decision is more often than not a forced one. For example they have been laid off or retired and they find themselves having free time on their hands to try a long held desire.
In this category of my continuum you will find people, who are bank tellers by day and Djs by night, office secretaries on weekdays and fashion models over the weekend, police officers on duty hours and musicians off duty hours.
In the middle of the continuum is the second category of side hustles founded on job experiences, life exposure and (college) training. Their overarching purpose is to supplement income from the day job. These mostly opportunistic side hustles are normally chosen on the basis on income generation.
I majorly associate these with the older generation of 35+ years. They are settled in their day jobs and have gained a respectable level of experience coupled with an accumulating level of expenses in their family settings.
Moving out of their day jobs is considered too risky or too disrupting. In this category you find government employed doctors who do private practice and are also in real estate, university lecturers who run consultancy companies and also operate a hardware shop and company accountants who offer private book keeping services and run taxi business.
To these entrepreneurs, the side hustle is an extension of their day jobs and they are able to do it with minimal incremental investment of their resources.
On the extreme right of the continuum, I have side hustles founded on peer pressure, fads, hypes and mania.
Like the first category, I majorly associate these with the 18 – 35 years age group. This is the age group that craves for instant gratification and is attracted to get rich quick schemes.
Apparently side hustles in this space are formed to hit the proverbial jackpot and make their owners instant millionaires; but alas! They end up in nothing but pain and wasted resources. In this category, you find shady cryptocurrency investors, hyped affiliate marketers and city-based greenhouse tomato or capsicum farmers.
In conclusion I make a vindicated pronouncement that an overwhelming majority of side hustles will never metamorphosis into the main hustle.
In February this year, a research report was released indicating that only a third of Kenyans involved in side hustles were willing and ready to quit their day jobs and fully focus on their side hustles.
I would, therefore, urge growth-oriented Kenyans to run away from the right side of the continuum of side hustles and embrace its left side at best or the middle section at worst.