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Hustle meaning & how to start a side hustle in 2019

BY: Brigitte Schwartz|1 February 2019
BLOG| My future career
Hustling… once the word conjured up visions of slick con men and fraudsters. Today, it’s more commonly a synonym for entrepreneurship. Urban Dictionary defines it as ‘having the confidence, self-belief and determination to find – and create – the opportunities you want in life’. Could this be your year to hustle? To start a savvy-side business or alternative income stream? How do you make this happen?


Last year Airbnb turned 10, Upwork turned nine and Fiverr, eight. While the sharing and gig economies are still relatively young, they’ve quickly risen to ubiquity, with much potential still untapped. There are big debates regarding microwork opportunities (small tasks largely completed via the internet), with some arguing that facilitating platforms can encourage exploitation. Intense competition can mean low pay and minimal rights for workers. But, on the flip side, it can also yield big returns

In 2018, Fiverr identified its highest paying hustles. It found that some individuals were making thousands of dollars for high-demand projects – one hustler earned close to US$1 million.

The three top paying hustles were:

  • Video marketing ($300 to $18 000 per project and 111% growth in orders)
  • Website building ($100 to $300 per project)
  • Mobile app development ($300 to $3000 per project)


While hustling is usually synonymous with identifying opportunities to start your own ‘gig’, it arguably also encompasses finding new ways to work for someone else. New collar jobs are taking off in the States.

Essentially, these are roles requiring very specific skills but no qualification. As they require scarce skills, they can earn individuals six figure salaries, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics. The take-out for hustlers? Now’s the time to ‘skill up’ to future-proof your relevance – and potentially earn big bucks.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Reskilling Revolution report found that the portion of work that algorithms perform in the workplace will go from 29% (current) to over 50% by 2026. Many of today’s 950 categories of work will cease to exist and jobs we can’t yet imagine will take their place. The secret to surviving and thriving amidst this fast-paced change? WEF believes it is continuous learning.


Mastering ‘the hustle’ in the age of Industry 4.0 means endlessly spotting and jumping at opportunities. Here are some of the ways to be a hero of the hustle in 2019:

1. Base a business idea on your interests:

It is well-known that when you ski off-piste you can run into trouble. Know your skills and interests and ‘stick to your lane’ so to speak. That’s not to say you can’t learn new skills but try to formulate a business idea around capabilities you already have an affinity for.

2. Learn a scarce skill:

You’re not going to learn to code overnight, but you can start the journey. If you spot a high-demand, scarce skill then it might be worth the investment of starting the process to learn it. ‘Snackable’ online courses are great ways to tackle new capabilities in bite-sized bits.

3. How much would you bet on yourself?

If you have a side hustle idea, but you’re not sure if it’ll work, consider how much of your own capital you’d be willing to put behind it. The amount you’d be willing to invest is usually indicative of how strong you think your idea really is. And the exercise will probably prompt you to do a whole lot more market research into your prospective customer and competition.

4. Network, network, network:

Hustling is all about building a network of ‘useful’ people who you can connect with over commonalities and shared experiences. Ideally, you want to meet prospective mentors who you can take out for coffee to ‘pick’ their brains.

5. Collaborate and listen:

Vanilla Ice had a point. As much as hustling is about seeking out opportunities as an individual, it’s also about forming strategic partnerships to the benefit of all parties. For example, if you’re a videographer, you might want to collaborate with a graphic artist or developer. Create a go-to list of prospective ‘partners’ to team up with when necessary.

Stellenbosch Graduate Institute can help you hustle in 2019... Find relevant online education opportunities (such as "Make Big Picture Decisions")  to encourage your entrepreneurial activities.


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