• Eve Arnold

The Side Hustle Generation – 61% of Millennials Would Join the Gig Economy

The side hustle generation.

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

Welcome to the world of having a ‘normal job’ and having a ‘side hustle’. Over recent years, the idea of the ‘side hustle’ has become popularised. For those of you not familiar, a ‘side-hustle’ is working outside of your normal day job, typically but not exclusively, online. Online suits most side hustles because the internet never sleeps.

The gig-economy, much like a side hustle, is getting paid for a ‘gig’ or a block of work unlike traditional 9–5 where you employed continuously. Uber and Deliveroo are examples of ‘gig-economy’. So to is freelancing.

A recent study by Deliotte found that 50% of millennials would consider joining the gig-economy in lieu of full time employment.

With 61% saying they would join the gig-economy alongside their day job.

Why Are We Willing to Work More?

It begs the question of why? Why would we choose to spend more time working outside of our day job? How come we are so eager to work harder and more hours than any generation before us? The typical working week is around 40 hours, why would we want to add another 20–30 hours on top of that for a few extra quid?

Being a millennial myself and having a ‘side hustle’ (although I think we should all collectively rename it because side hustle makes me cringe) I can offer some insight.

1. The Ability to Dream

It’s no secret that you probably won’t get rich working for someone else. You might be comfortable, nice car, nice house, 2.5 kids — that sort of thing but you won’t be rich. And by rich, I don’t mean money. Money is an obvious upside but I don’t think us millennials are really chasing money, not really. It’s nice to have a bit of money in the bank but pursuing a side hustle allows us to have a rich life. Rich in terms of time, rich in terms of self-belief, rich in terms of freedom.


Pursuing a side hustle gives us one important thing, the ability to dream. Working within a corporate, the ropes are pretty steady. We all know the score. Work hard, climb the ladder, work harder, manage some more people, become the big boss. And that’s cool if you want to do that. It’s structured and fairly secure.

However, with a side hustle, the world is your oyster. We are excited by the prospect of things taking off. The upside is really exponential if you work hard enough. It awakens us to the possibility of the world. Very soon the words of Steve Jobs:

“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Start to resonate. All of a sudden you’re thinking, yeah Steve, you’re right, I’m capable of anything. Once you realise that nothing bad happens from posting an article, making a YouTube video, creating an online shop you are freed to follow whatever path you want. All of a sudden you find yourself dreaming and imagining your life without a full-time job.

The Tiny Things Aren’t so Tiny

The little things like avoiding rush-hour and sitting in traffic for hours on end. Going to get the food shop when it’s quiet, nipping over to your parents house to say hello at a reasonable hour, rather than after work when you are so tired you nearly fall asleep on the way there. It’s exciting to dream about what life would look like with no 9–5 block to tend too. Don’t get me wrong, the 9–5 has it’s upsides but we can’t help what it would be like to be on our own. Making money on our own terms.

Starting a side hustle gives us one thing, the ability to dream bigger than the carved out life we have in front of us. That is reason enough to continue on with it. Even if you never get there. Even if you work your arse off and it never comes to anything, no-one reads your work, no-one watches your videos or buys your stuff. That’s okay is the thrill of chasing the dream.

This side hustle generation is because of the freedom it gives our minds to dream.

2. To Fulfil Your Passion – Side Hustle

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”-T.S. Eliot

What a quote that is. In the 9–5 world, we feel like work pretty prescribed. It’s safe. Which isn’t a bad thing but it also doesn’t allow us to stretch, to test, to learn, to create. Not a lot of people are passionate about sitting behind a desk all day and emailing. We all get frustrated by needless meetings and time wasted having conversation about things that will never happen. We don’t feel the fire in our belly’s and we don’t feel like we are really taking on the world.

And that’s fine. That’s corporate life to an extent. Some days you get a little flame, some days you feel like you are pushing yourself but not enough. However, your side hustle, well it’s all self-made. You are the person that will be solely responsible if you sink or swim. It’s scary but it’s thrilling. The feeling of being able to conquer your own destiny.


You don’t know the ceiling to your capabilities if you’re always sitting on the floor. Your side hustle allows you to step up, stand on the table and see how far your arms stretch. We are the side hustle generation because a side hustle allows us to understand where are real passions are.

I think we all have this feeling inside us that we could do it. We really believe it, we know deep down we are capable but we’re scared. We want to go at it alone, we want to start something, be the CEO of our own littlesomething or our own big something. Not because we are self-serving and self-obsessed but because we want to be able to go it alone and say “I did it”.

Working for someone else is great I wrote an article on it but knowing if you could do it alone is always a question in the back of our minds. We think we can, a side hustle allows us to understand if we really can.

3. Freedom – The Side Hustle

We are pretty free spirits us millennials. We want to be able to work 9am — 2pm, go do whatever between 2pm — 4pm and then work 4pm — 6pm. It is hard to understand why you need to sit behind a desk for certain hours if it doesn’t suit your energy levels. It’s hard to understand it because it fundamentally doesn’t make sense. The world we live in today says that you need to work 9–5, regardless if your most productive hours are 6am-9am. Even if you knew you could get more done between the hours of 6am to 9am then you would all day between 9am — 5pm, it doesn’t matter. That’s frustrating.

Working for yourself allows you to work on your own time, to your own schedule. It means you are free to talk to your mum on the phone for a hour and then get back to work. More than that, it means you can align your energy levels to your tasks. You can work a lot smarter because you have the freedom to and consequently it means you’ve got more time to do the things in life that fulfil you and bring you joy. Added to that it means you miss rush hour traffic. You can work from wherever which suits us too. If you wanted to go spend a month near the beach because you love the beach in the summer you can. Take away the element having to be in the office and whole world opens up to you. All of a sudden you can go to France to take a holiday but work whilst you’re there.

It flips the world on its head. All of a sudden the possibilities are endless. We are the ‘side hustle’ generation because of the freedom it allows us. Before the conversation was ‘travel or get a real job’ now the conversation is ‘work out a side hustle and travel’. It facilitates the life style that we want. A rich life.

The other benefits?

Why else? Apart from the freedom, the ability to dream and to fulfil our potential, why are we the side hustle generation? Why are we becoming curious about what else is out there and not satisfied with the 9–5?

Well there are a few reasons:

  1. It’s progressive — Having a side hustle makes us feel like we are growing and developing much more than we could in our day job alone.

  2. It’s a creative outlet — I’m not sure what you guys do for a day job but for me it allows me to be creative in a way I can’t be in work and explore topics that I wouldn’t normally in the working day.

  3. Develop a sense of self-awareness — Because a side hustle is self-sustaining there is no one to rely on. You are solely responsible and therefore it magnifies your strengths and weaknesses.

  4. Complete ownership — No one else is steering the ship because there is no one else. There is only you. Say goodbye to being told what to do, you are on your own which gives you freedom like you don’t experience in your day job.

  5. Purpose renewal — When you’ve worked in the same role for a while it’s easy to lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing. Working on a side hustle gives you a renewed sense of purpose and gives you a deeper focus.

Changes to Come

I think more than ever, the way we view work is changing. Before there was this idea that you slog away for 8 hours a day, come home, repeat until Friday. Over the weekend you’re allowed to have fun, then back to it on Monday, where you hate your life until Friday again.

Now, people are waking up to the idea that you can actually enjoy your job. In fact, you should enjoy your job. Instead of seeing a job as merely a financial dependency, people are becoming wise to this idea that enjoyment might trump cash in the bank. I’m not sure that was a conversation before. I’m not sure enjoyment came into it.

Now people are questioning whether they want to work 9–5 in an office block, 2 hours commute from there house, wearing strict office attire. Before it was thought as a sacrifice you have to make if you want to work for a prestigious company. Now, I’m not sure there is the same value on it.

Getting Wiser

We are getting wise to this idea that living someone else’s dream is a wasted life. So what you if earn an extra £4,000 a year and you drive a BMW, are you happy? And that’s the question isn’t it, are you happy? Does your career bring you fulfilment is now a question on the table, and I think it will soon become the question to answer. We’re realising that life is about living, enjoying and finding something you love. It’s about creating, developing and learning. We want to know that this job, whatever the job is, is going to bring us a sense of fulfilment.

I’m hoping over the next ten years the next generation starts only asking that question when trying to figure out what they want to do with their life. Slowly we will peel away this idea that you have to do life a certain way to abide by societies chains. You can live life however you would like to. There is a societal pressure to get a ‘good job’ but I’m a firm believer that we should aim higher than that. If people pursued what lit them up rather than what your parents thought was a good idea, then we would find that people are much happier in life in general. We’d find more millionaires too. People in job that they love will just naturally work harder. It doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy it. If you enjoy it you will always work harder than someone that just sees it as a job.

I think a side hustle is the most sustainable and smart way to figure out what you want to do with your life alongside your day job. It’s a balancing act but if you want to do it you can. And there are some serious upsides to being part of the side hustle generation.

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