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INSPIRING WOMEN: CHIVON JOHN, FOUNDER OF SECRETS OF A SIDE HUSTLER

September 13-19 is Side Hustle Week, a seven-day workshop series designed for individuals who want to start and grow their own business in addition to working full time. Side Hustle brings together a like-minded network of people to to inspire, educate and connect.

Chivon John is the Business Strategist and Founder of Secrets of a Side Hustler (and an incredible inspiration at that). We got a chance to speak with Chivon about the various side businesses forming today and the best tips for entrepreneurs.

What is a side hustler?

A side hustler describes a person who has a business venture or passion project in addition to a full-time job. For many folks it’s a great way to test-drive entrepreneurship or set a strong foundation for a business before leaving their full-time roles. For others it can be a way to explore a passion or skill and bring in extra income.

Why are so many women starting side businesses today?

According to a recent Gallup study, 63% of employees are not engaged in their jobs worldwide and 54% are not engaged in the United States and Canada. For many, starting a side venture is a means to feel connected to a passion or purpose that their everyday job doesn’t fulfill. Ultimately I view side hustlers as individuals who are passionate about creating their own opportunities. Women are starting businesses in a record numbers and although we still have more strides to make, there are several support groups and inspiring female entrepreneur role models who are paving the way for others who want to turn their passion into a profitable business. Sara Blakeley, the creator of Spanx, is a perfect example of a woman who took a simple idea and transformed it into an empire. Stories like this serve as inspiration that you don’t have to wait for the perfect job, you can create it.

Can you briefly describe your career journey?

After graduating university with an Honours degree in Information Technology, I worked at one of Canada’s top telecommunication companies for seven years were I held various project and program management roles. My experience as an employee has been one the best training grounds for grooming me in business. A lot of the experience I have now with hosting events and managing projects was learned through volunteering at committees at work and within my community. Today I work as Communication Specialist and credit obtaining this role through my side hustle and volunteer portfolio.

What are five tips you want to give women who are starting their own side business?

  1. Play to your strengths. The most rewarding side hustles are the ones that leverage your skills and natural talents. Having passion is great but you also need to ensure that you combine this with your skills and what people will pay you for.
  2. Do your best on and off the clock. Understand the policies about having a side business at your employment. Some organizations are supportive but others frown on it so ensure that you know where you stand in the event that it’s called into question. Also ensure that you set up your day so that when you’re at your job, you can be fully present. All the days when you don’t feel motivated, re-frame the lens from which you view your ‘day job’ to one of a silent partner vs. the obstacle standing in the way of your business.
  3. Remember that you can’t do it all. No matter how motivated and inspired you feel, a to-do list with over thirty things to do in a day is never a good idea. Don’t forget that when you work full-time, a big portion of your time is already accounted for, so be realistic with your schedule.
  4. Make self-care non-negotiable. Side hustling isn’t easy but don’t buy into the myth that you have to push yourself to exhaustion to be successful. Taking breaks doesn’t make you less dedicated, it makes you more productive by allowing you to re-charge and stay focused. Remember that everything that you want to make happen needs one important thing to be possible: YOU.
  5. Know your why. As Simon Sinek says, ‘Start with why.’ Get clear on the reason and motivation of why you want to start a side business and keep that inspiration close to you.

What have you learned most about yourself since you became an accidental entrepreneur in 2009?

The biggest thing that I’ve learned over the years is to trust myself and my ability to figure things out. Early in my career I was convinced that I was going to rock the corporate world and become the head of a department in a company, not actually start my own. I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur, simply because I followed my curiosity and was determined to do the things I enjoyed now vs. waiting until the ideal time. For instance, when I was told that I didn’t have the work experience to get hired for an event planner job, I decided to plan my own events. My passion started taking on a life of its own and it took the inquiries of others who wanted help with their projects to help me realize that I didn’t have just a hobby after all. It’s an empowering feeling to create an opportunity for yourself that didn’t exist before. There is no way of outlining the perfect plan when you set out on your own journey, but you’ll never go wrong if you’re open to exploration.

What can guests expect to learn at Side Hustle Week?

Side Hustle Week is the first event of its kind for individuals who have or want to start a side business. From September 13-19, attendees will be treated to creative networking activities to connect with other side hustlers in Toronto and learn how to start a side hustle or take their passion project or business to the next level.

There are four live events + a few online happening during the week which include:

  • Sunday Sept 13:  BYOB (Bring Your Own Book) – A networking event and book swap that encourages attendees to bring one of their favourite personal development books to swap with another guest.
  • Tuesday September 15: #sidehustlechat on Twitter – A live discussion about how to ensure that your side hustle doesn’t become an expensive hobby. You can join the conversation at 8pm EST by following the hashtag.
  • Wednesday Sept 16: Dream, Launch, Hustle – An intimate speaking event with all-star featuring a fireside chat with Devon Brooks and presentations from Regina Anaejieonu, Shannon Lee Simmons, Katie Zeppieri and LC Johnson who will be sharing how to grow your business, how to deal with obstacles, and how to create a business plan that doesn’t overwhelm you but inspires you to take action.
  • Thursday Sept 17: Show me the Media (Hosted by Gwen Elliot) – Michelle Crespi, Executive Producer of The Social and The Marilyn Dennis Show, will be joining us to talk about how to get featured in the media and booked as a guest on major TV shows.
  • Saturday Sept 19: Passion to Paycheck Project – A pitch competition and panel discussion with folks who turned their passions into a profitable business.

Details about all of the events and full schedule is available at www.sidehustleweek.com. Get your tickets here before it’s too late!

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