Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Doing the hustle: Here's why these Charlotte entrepreneurs are always working

In Wednesday's print edition of ShopTalk, you'll meet business owners who work day or side jobs while making their business dreams a reality.

There's a name for it: the side hustle.

Blogger Nick Loper describes it as something you to do earn money outside your day job.

How do they do it, and what drives them? Here's a closer look at three:

Alexandra Zsoldos

Alexandra Zsoldos' side gig took shape at a young age. She grew up dancing, and choreographed dances for the student dance company in college.

By day, Zsoldos, 27, works for a Charlotte marketing firm. At night and on weekends, she runs FirstDanceCharlotte, which she uses to teach private wedding dance lessons out of her home.

"Everyone does a first dance, but it's probably one of the most dreaded or least considered part of the wedding these days," she said. "I want couples to rediscover how fun and special it is to dance together."

Much of Zsoldos' free time is spent listening to each couples' wedding music, working out the timing and steps that work with the music, writing practice notes and working out the choreography. She works by appointment only, she said, so she doesn't overload herself.

"As to whether I will sleep in the future, who knows," she said.

    Scott Jermyn
Scott Jermyn can say the same. 

"Sleep is hard," said the 41-year-old Jermyn, who has spent the last five years creating ShomoLive, an online service that streamlines booking events for local artists and venues.

To stay afloat, he runs a real estate business with a friend and tends bar two nights a week.

"When somebody's entrepreneurial like that, you kind of have it in you to go, go, go and keep pushing it," he said.

Kelly Jo Jefferis
Rodan & Fields

    Hard work was bred into Kelly Jo Jefferis, a 31-year-old mother to a 16-month-old toddler and a self-admitted overachiever. She grew up watching her father work 60 to 80 hours a week at a corporate job.

    "I wanted to follow in his footsteps so I started working at 15 years old," she said.

    She now works full-time as a marketing agent for a national contractor. Earlier this year, she began selling skincare products for Rodan & Fields after meeting a neighbor who decided not to renew her CPA license because selling for the company paid her monthly daycare bills.

    Jefferis spent less than $1,000 to get started. She juggles 12 regular customers, and fits in calls and emails around her day job, often when she's in the bathroom or waiting to pick her daughter up from daycare.
    "I have my rough days, but I am so glad I did it," she said. "I just need a few years to work my business and provide great service and my success will come to me. I'm sure of it."

    Working your hustle

    ShopTalk asked Loper and Jullien Gordon, a New York employee engagement consultant who gave a TEDx Midwest talk on side hustling, about how entrepreneurs should work their hustle. Here's some of what they had to say:

    Know what you like: Loper advises aspiring entrepreneurs to take inventory of their skills.

    "If you've had a job ever you, by definition, have a skill worth paying," he said.

    Scan your resume, he said, and figure out which skills interest you the most. Ask yourself: "Which of those am I particularly interested (in), or can I imagine turning that into a side business?"

    The important thing is to make sure you like what you're doing.

    "If you're an accountant by day and you're skilled at that, but you hate accounting, that doesn't make for a good side hustle," Loper said. "Though you need money, the last thing you need is a second job you hate."

    Adjust your schedule: "We're all dealt the same 24 hours a day," Loper said. His suggestion to making the side gig a little more manageable: Wake up an hour earlier and work in the mornings before your day job.

    Gordon, a father and husband, compares running a side business to preparing for a marathon. People who run marathons, he said, often set time in the mornings and over the weekends to prepare. After work, he said, business owners can dedicate an hour to working their side business at a Starbucks.

    "It's not a piano": That's what Loper's father told him growing up, stressing that mistakes are inevitable. Setting up the side business, Loper said, won't be a flawless endeavor right out of the gate.

    Don't give up, he said, but understand that timing is key.

    "Don't try to be put in a position that it's a life-or-death thing, (like) 'I need to make rent next month,'" he said. "For me, it was three years of nights and weekends before I felt comfortable...to quit my day job."