Every year around tax season, entrepreneurial minded people try to think of ways to use their tax refund money to make more money. Black millennials, who are masters of side hustles, are no different.To help you use that money to make some money, here are a few ideas on how to use your tax refund for entrepreneurial purposes:1. Start an Online StorePhoto Credit: SRG FinanceThe skies are the limit with online businesses! Almost 80 percent of Americans shop online and that's just the U.S. Imagine how many customers await around the world! With a small startup budget for inventory, marketing and administrative costs, you can sell a product to anyone worldwide via marketplace sites like eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Craigslist.For aspiring clothing designers, craftspeople and other creators who have manufactured a product, sites like Big Cartel, Squarespace and Shopify are good choices. With a great eye for what people want, a few bucks for marketing, a social media following and a website you can set up shop online and start generating a consistent income without rent or lease costs that weigh down with brick and mortar businesses. Minimum Estimated Startup Cost: $100-$50002. Buy a home & turn it into a rental propertyPhoto: Columbia PicturesReal estate will always be one of the most viable investments you could make because people will always need a place to stay. Throughout the nation, cities hold auctions for real estate properties starting low as $500. Be sure to have a plan for renovations and unexpected costs like emergency repairs. Once those things are taken care of, real estate could take you into a world of generational wealth.If the start-up costs seem daunting, find a partner, or two or three to spread the risk and lighten your load. Just bear in mind that you'll also have to split the wealth. Minimum Estimated Startup Cost: $500-$50003. Turn your trade into a businessPhoto: BlackGirlLongHair.comAre you good at doing hair? Nails? Handy work? Tax preparation? Any skill you have can be turned into a hustle going into the future. Use your tax refund to buy supplies, equipment and to pay for marketing. Leverage social media to gain exposure cheaply. Just make sure you actually have the skills to pay the bills. Minimum Estimated Startup Cost: $100-$15004. Become a Media StarPhoto: Tribeca Film FestivalIf you are a creator (rapper, singer, comedian, educator etc.) you can use some of your tax refund to build a media platform to display your talents. All you need are social media accounts. With a YouTube channel, a high quality camera, and fan engagement through platforms like Twitter, you will position yourself to gain exposure and (maybe) blow up. Be aware that this route takes time and persistence. If you want immediate returns, this probably isn't for you.Minimum Estimated Startup Cost: $100-$2000All that being said, you know and I know that having money in our pockets can sometimes lead us to make questionable decisions. So, what shouldn't you do? These things:1. Give money to a con artistPhoto: Getty ImagesYour cousin may come to you and tell you he can flip your money a few times. But did he successfully slip his own? Your Instagram follower might tell you that she can turn your $500 into $5,000 in five days. If she was really a financial wizard, wouldn't she be too busy to comment on your pictures of your lunch every day?Your chances of having a positive return on investment are much greater taking a real entrepreneurial risk than investing in these types of schemes.2. Pay off ALL of your debtPhoto: CBS NewsThere's a high probability that your current debt (student loans, credit card and car payments) may far exceed your tax refund returns. Therefore, instead of handing over your entire check to debtors, set up a payment schedule, paying your debts off in installments. This will give you more financial breathing room in the months to come. And, you could even use the money you usually set aside for bills to start your business.3. Save it allPhoto: The RegisterOne of our greatest financial minds, Warren Buffett, has said, “money is the worst investment anybody could have!” We can't ignore the need to have cash on hand for emergencies, but if you believe you're helping yourself by cashing your tax refund check, putting into a saving account (or under the mattress) and leaving it alone, you believe wrong. Very wrong. Real hustlers are going to always have some money invested, because investing is the only way to turn that money into more money.So there you have, my fellow black millennials. It's not just about having money, but putting the money you have to good use. With careful planning, anyone can create an entrepreneurial opportunity out of the stimulus of funds we receive every year for tax season. Use that money wisely will bring you one step closer to financial freedom and happiness, just like these...
Every year around tax season, entrepreneurial minded people try to think of ways to use their tax refund money to make more money. Black millennials, who are masters of side hustles, are among this large population of Americans looking to “come up” from the tax season year after year.Here are some ideas on how to use your tax refund for entrepreneurial purposes:Start an Online StoreeCommerce is one of the most convenient business ideas today. The sky is the limit with online businesses because close to 80 percent of the country's population shop online and that's just here. Just imagine the remaining parts of the world! Too much potential!With a small startup budget for inventory, marketing, and administrative costs, as well as patience, you can sell a product to anyone worldwide via marketplace sites like eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or Craigslist.For inspiring clothing designers, crafters, musicians, or other creators who have manufactured a product, sites like Big Cartel, Squarespace, and Shopify allows customized sites. With a great eye for what people want, a few bucks for marketing, a social media following, and a website you can set up shop online and start generating a consistent income without rent or lease costs or huge expenditures associated with a brick and mortar business.Minimum Estimated Startup Cost = $100-$5000Buy a home & turn it into a rental propertyInvesting in real estate will always be one of the most viable investments anyone could make because people will always need a place to stay. Throughout the nation, cities hold auctions for real estate properties starting with as little as $500. With a plan for renovations and unexpected costs like emergency repairs, real estate could take you into a world of generational wealth. Maybe if you found a partner, or two, or three, you'll spread the risk, lighten your load, and spread the wealth. Minimum Estimated Startup Cost = $500-$5000Turn your trade into a businessAre you good at doing hair? Nails? Handy work? Tax preparation? Anything that you're skilled in, can be turned into a hustle going into the future. You can use your tax refund to buy supplies, equipment, pay for marketing, and even continuing educational materials for your given trade. With the internet and social media, you would be able to gain exposure fast and cheaply. Just make sure you have the skills to pay the bills.Minimum Estimated Startup Cost = $100-$1500Become a Media StarIf you are a creator (rapper, singer, comedian, or educator) you can use some of your tax refund to build a media platform to display your talents to the world. All you need is some social media accounts, grow a following, a YouTube channel, a high-quality camera, and you are positioned to gain some exposure and blow up.Minimum Estimated Startup Cost = $100-$2000What you need before you receive your tax refund?Before you receive your tax refund, you should have both a business plan which maps out your upcoming moves and a financial plan (also known as a budget) which outlines your financial goals to fund your newly formed business, all while continuing to maintain a living. Your business is going to require money to start and operate but you still need funds to survive so make sure you have your roadmaps completed before setting up shop.What NOT to do with your tax refund?Many times, a person’s paper chase could lead them the wrong paths resulting in bad investments. Make sure you DO NOT:Give money to a finesse artistYou don't need to give any money to your drug dealing cousin who tells you he can “flip” your money a few times when he couldn't flip his own money or your Instagram follower who tells you she can “turn $500 into $5000.” Your chances are much greater in taking a real entrepreneurial risk than investing in those types of schemes.Pay off ALL of your debtThere's a high probably that your current debt (student loans, credit card, car payments, etc.) may far exceed your tax refund returns. Therefore, instead of paying out your entire check to debtors, you should set up a payment schedule to start paying your debts off in installments, which allows you to have the needed money to start your business.Save it allSome of the greatest financial minds and practitioners in world history, like Warren Buffett, will tell you, “money is the worst investment anybody could have!” We can't ignore the need to have cash on hand for emergencies, but if you believe that you are helping yourself by cashing your tax refund check, putting it into a savings account (or under the mattress) and leaving it alone will only work to your detriment. Real hustlers are going to always have some money invested in making more money.SummaryThe message translates to not just having money but putting it to good use. If managed correctly, anyone should be able to create an entrepreneurial opportunity out of the stimulus of funds we receive every year for tax season. Use that money to maintain but to also build an additional stream of income that will bring you one step closer to financial freedom and...
They say that life can be a journey and you should do all you can to explore it, travel the world, and live it to the fullest. Lauren Miller does exactly that and then some. Her brand literally describes her lifestyle. She can’t stay put. Her mission in life is to educate, inspire, and influence people to live their lives with purpose, to be unapologetically confident in oneself, live your dreams, and to ultimately live a #cantstayput lifestyle. Blavity’s Creative Society got a minute to catch up with Lauren for an AMA and to gain insight into her many life experiences.
From a very young age, Lauren Miller has been quite used to traveling. She has been flying by herself since the age of 5 and has seen her fair share of airports. Her mom lived in Atlanta while her dad was in Washington, D.C., so she racked up her fly miles very early in life. This eventually led her to have a profession that centered around this lifestyle that she was all too familiar with.
She had a college degree and a good job, but like many people, wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t something that she really wanted to do. There was something missing. I’m sure a lot of people can relate. When asked about how she took the steps to create her #cantstayput lifestyle brand, she said she made tons of sacrifices to start.
“I gave up as much of my expenses as possible when I started… so I broke my lease, moved my stuff to storage, and was living on couches and guest rooms for close to four years. I changed my way of thinking. I think that was key. Understanding that journey was going to be tough and not to associate things getting hard with giving up… going through tough times is in fact a part of the journey. Also having strong belief in my vision and my dreams.”
She had a moment of realization at 25.
“It was like something clicked and I started yearning for more. More purpose, more fulfillment… I had a good job. But it wasn’t specific to who I was. I felt as though anybody could do it…” At the age of 25, she had a moment of reflection, and like most people, started evaluating what she was doing and where she wanted to be in life. “The whole year leading up to my 25th birthday I shared with people close to me how depressed I was and that if I spent my bday in California, which was where I worked at the time, I would have a nervous breakdown.” For her birthday, she was gifted with a trip to Maui and she traveled to the Aloha state with a close friend and a coworker. “It was there where I prayed to God to please reveal my purpose to me. I promised him I would run 100 mph toward it. It was the most sincere prayer that I had ever said. Once I got back to Cali, I put in my notice. Still didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do but I knew I needed to do something big to show God and the universe that I was ready so they could start conspiring.”
After she made this decision, as a gift to herself, she went on a trip back to Maui in order to get back to the place that inspired her to transition into this new life change. While she was hiking through a scenic bamboo forest, she realized that she wanted to be an inspirational explorer. She thought back to when she was little and had so much experience with traveling due to the distance of her parents’ professions.
“ It was then that I realized the privilege I had experienced and I vowed to use that privilege to help people.”
When asked about how she makes this a living and how she monetizes her brand, Lauren said by selling apparel, public speaking, life coaching, creating content, brand partnerships, as well as through other opportunities that come her way. “When I first started, it wasn’t about the money so I didn’t start with a business model. My intent was to help people, so for the first few years, I was hustling, working various gigs, but also doing research and development to determine why people would seek me out for various different services and then from there, developed my offerings.” From there, she began repositioning herself and her brand to a bigger and greater cause. She wanted everyone to live a Can’t Stay Put lifestyle. She didn’t want people to think that because they weren’t traveling as much her that they couldn’t live this lifestyle. Lauren uses travel because it is specific to her. Everyone has their thing that they do, that they are good at, and that allows them to live the lifestyle that they always wanted. #cantstayput.
Photo: cantstayput.com“I was very candid about my journey, about the hardships, setbacks, the successes, and always offered motivation and inspiration to people who wanted to pursue their dreams or already were. Over time, people started to reach out to me for life coaching advice vs. travel advice and that’s when I realized that can’t stay put wasn’t about the travel, it was a lifestyle. Travel was specific to me, but anyone and everyone can be living a can’t stay put lifestyle… a photographer, a business owner, a real estate agent… people making moves every single day to explore the realms of their own greatness.”
As far as the future, it looks bright for Lauren. She plans on further building her brand and her business. She’s going through another transition in her life to which she calls from founder to CEO. She sees Can’t Stay Put one day being a global brand with a collection of various companies under its umbrella. You've got to dream big. “Always make moves to create the life you want.”
What is your passion? Are you living a Can’t Stay Put lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below!
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Nicaila Matthews starts her day as a senior manager of social media marketing with National Public Radio (NPR), and by night, she's the creator and host of the popular podcast Side Hustle Pro — which debuted in the top 20 of the business category on iTunes. Matthews has established a platform that spotlights black women entrepreneurs who have successfully turned their passionate side hustles into thriving businesses. She shares weekly episodes to help listeners learn applicable strategies and to help get their hustles jumpstarted. Matthews took the time to chat with Blavity’s Creative Society to share some of her knowledge and expertise.
Why you need one too
Not only does she have a side hustle of her own, she strongly encourages everyone to have one as well. Including you.
“It’s an absolute MUST for everyone to have a side hustle. Side hustling helps you build up your skills outside of work, which makes you more marketable.”
It also expands your portfolio of interests and projects of your own. It builds a plethora of skills, increases confidence, and can even strengthen your character. It might even lead you to owning your own business where you call the shots — away from your usual 9–5. Plus, it can be fun exploring something that you are truly passionate about, and in turn, making a profit.
“I can’t emphasize enough that a job can be taken from you at any time, with a side hustle, you always have something in your back pocket.”
Why Everyone Needs A Side Hustle — Side Hustle Pro
Nurture your interests outside of work as a side hustle. Keep your skills sharp and you will always be confident in the value you bring to the table.
Balancing the side hustle with the main hustle
For most of us, having a full-time job is already tough enough. We have our plates full most of the time. It’s enough to get us by, pay the bills, and keep us well occupied. Plus, it's extremely time consuming. 40+ hours a week is no joke. Because time is such a precious thing, we should never waste it.
“It’s about how I squeeze time in the morning, during my lunch break, and then after work (I try not to go home first otherwise I’m headed straight for the couch).”
Matthews makes time when otherwise there is none. It’s about how you wake up, the commute to work, the commute back from work, and what you do in the meantime. A typical morning for her starts with her centering herself by reading The Miracle Morning Techniques by Hal Elrod. She later takes time from her usual lunch break and heads to a Union Station or coffee shop to get work done. Any time is a great time to start working on your side hustle. You just have to allow yourself to make time throughout the day. It is called a hustle after all. She even has an episode on her podcast devoted to this specific topic:
How To Side Hustle When You Have A Full-Time Job — Side Hustle Pro
Working a full-time job while having a side hustle is not for the faint of heart. Here’s how she juggles my main hustle with my side hustle:
Have a strategy
With any idea, you need to have some sort of strategy in order for it to get started. Matthews found ways to market herself and the podcast.
“My strategy was to be more consistent with content and be intentional about it. I planned out my feed and graphics. I also zeroed in on who my target audience was, and began “introducing” myself to these people online via social media follows, etc.”
She had a very small audience when she first started her podcast, but slowly gained attention — especially through Instagram. When asked about how to manage everything, she replied by saying that you need to “keep a notebook with you and write it down.” Journaling out your thoughts, especially in the morning, is vital. Anything that comes to mind, jot it down on paper. She seeks help from a core group of friends to let out frustrations and to also share her struggles. In terms of managing the hustle, she has looked toward automation tools. One in particular that she uses and that has been very helpful is Asana.
Big goals for the future
As you can tell, Nicaila Matthews is a busy woman. Her next big goal for herself is to start to create digital products.
“I realize personal branding is one area I take for granted, but could really assist others with. Additionally, I would love to create live events and opportunities to bring people together.”
With her podcast, she created a sort of imagined community where people can listen to influential black entreprenuers tell their stories as well as her own, but she also likes to interact with the actual community as well. One-on-one interactions are very enlightening, she says, and help establish a rapport with the core audience. She creates ways to challenge herself as well as her listeners.
“I currently think about the fact that I’m building a community and a movement. And I’m like, 'this is pretty darn cool and unexpected!'”
When asked about her elemental strategies for community building, Matthews had this to say:
“Just being transparent. I could pretend to have this ish all figured out and brand myself an “expert,” but instead, let everyone in on my journey as I figure stuff out, whether it’s how I grew my following or how I learned what equipment to get in order to do a podcast. Sometimes I feel like, 'should I be sharing this? Does this mess up my credibility if I don’t know the answer?' But at the end of the day, it’s real, it’s what I’m going through.”
And with that, we say thank you for sharing your story and the stories of others. Thanks to Matthews for the honesty and the valuable expertise. Keep hustling, Nicaila Matthews!
What is your passion? Do you have a side hustle? How are you taking steps to make it come to life? Let us know in the comments below!
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When I told my mother I wanted to quit my job on Capitol Hill to write full time, she was apprehensive. I’d been at my job for three years and I loved my boss, the people I worked with, and the work that I did. I even saw a clear path for upward mobility in my career there, and had devised a plan for it the moment I walked through the heavy wooden doors of the Rayburn Office Building. But then I began writing again, and my first love quickly turned from a pastime to a side hustle. Then it started to consume my daily life, forcing me to ask myself some hard questions. In the months before I left I'd sit at my desk contending with the thought that perhaps the job was more of a marker for where I thought I should be rather than my true purpose. Finally I got to a place where I came in and did my work, but otherwise felt like dead weight. And that's when I decided to go.
My choice to leave was made even harder by the fact that I knew my feelings could be tricky sometimes. When I was 15, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and being impulsive is one of its most definitive traits. The diagnosis had come at a time when I was performing locally as a hip-hop artist, totally ignoring my mental health and getting into a lot of trouble. I had a baby at 21 years old and dropped out of college. I married his father, but we separated soon after. I still wrote music and worked odd jobs, but I felt like nothing had turned out the way I’d planned and it was truly depressing. So I withdrew from my family and friends and stopped making any big plans. In fact, there were some points during that time when I battled bouts of indecisiveness so crippling that I felt my best recourse was to stand still. Luckily, even though my husband and I were living separately at the time, his parents offered to help with my son and encouraged me to go back to school and finish my undergraduate career.
So I did just that.
It was the first goal I’d stuck with and accomplished in a long time. Though issues that stemmed from my disorder threatened to derail the last two years of my studies, I worked hard and graduated with an English degree. Right before I graduated, one of my professors encouraged me to apply for a congressional internship, and a few months later I was an official part of a congresswoman’s staff. It was only part-time, but it was salaried, and I didn't mind either way because I was happy to get my foot in the door.
Then I did everything I could to kick butt in that office. In such a small press shop, there was a lot of work to do with her social media, but I did it. Our office won two awards for social media engagement while I was there, and the changes I suggested for her website are still in place today. Another bonus was that the women I worked with were strong, capable, and drama-free. I learned so much from that office about writing and editing that after awhile I decided to start writing again. I had written for my college paper and won awards for some of my short stories, so I thought it'd be a good hobby for me. So I dove back into my old blog and got a few articles published, but tried to quell any desire to write full-time.
My reason for this was simple — despite reading stories about other women who’d managed to launch successful writing careers while holding down a day job, I told myself that I wasn’t like them. Having bipolar disorder had kept me on an emotional balance beam for most of my life, and I wasn’t ready to fall off of it again. Those thoughts were inwardly devastating for me, but I accepted them as my truth for a long time. Even after I took advantage of the great healthcare I got through my job and went to talk therapy, I was hesitant to make any drastic changes in my life. Surprisingly, what snapped me out of that mode was the realization that I was inadvertently doing something extremely selfish and potentially sabotaging my own growth.
Really, sitting at that desk even though I’d lost all passion for the job months before was one of the most selfish things I've ever done. I watched desperate interns who would’ve given their left kidney to work in that office bust their butts the way I did when I first came to work, and I knew they were doing it because it was their dream to be there. It just wasn’t my dream anymore.
I knew it had gotten bad when I began to view staying at my job the same way I view holding onto someone with whom I have no real plans on staying with long-term. Once I stopped being invested in the work I was doing, I knew that it wasn't right for me stay in that position. So, I stopped being a placeholder in that office and made room for the next person who’d give it their all.
I left on good terms, too. One of my favorite coworkers made cake, I received Hallmark cards scribbled with warm goodbyes and a kind send-off that makes me smile whenever I think back on it. But now I’m settling into my new reality, and I feel complete. I kept a side-gig putting together proposals for a government contracting firm, and I'm able to do that from home. The income from that enabled me to start my own company, and ultimately, my goal is to work solely for myself and travel the world. Even my personal relationships are better since I stuck with my counseling.
Although I don’t know what my life’s going to look like a year from now, I can at least say that this fresh start — and every fresh start I’ve ever given myself — has brought me nothing but growth. I’ve even learned that stumbling along the way is not necessarily a result of my disorder, but it is a result of me being human. Today I see that I was never meant to be a placeholder in anything I do, and I really don't think that should be anyone's goal. There's always someone who's hungry enough to fill your shoes, so slay or get out of the way.
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When I was a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to Urban Fiction through my best friend. I had a pretty rough childhood, so reading and writing had always been my escape, but when I read books such as Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree and The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah, it was then that I really connected to the stories. In some ways, I saw myself in those characters, in those situations, and it became addictive. As I got older, I wanted to try and see if I could create something like my idols before me, not for the fame or fortune, but for the love of writing.
In 2005, I started my first book Counterfeit Dreams as a personal challenge. I let my best friend and a few of my family members read the story as I went along, but I never had the intent on taking it any further than that. Seven long years later, I completed the book and felt a pride that I had never felt before, but I still wasn’t ready to let the world in on my little secret. It wasn’t until everyone around me encouraged me to self-publish Counterfeit Dreams that I found that courage within myself to take a step out on faith. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but my dream of becoming a writer completely overshadowed that.
I never would have imagined what putting out this book would mean for me. After a lot of trial and error, I now have a series that I am more than proud of, I am the author that I always imagined being, and I am also the owner of my own publication company with 10 books under my belt. It scares me to know that I almost let these opportunities slip through my fingers because I was afraid of what people were going to think.
Here are a few tips that I live by and that have helped me along the way:
1. Tell EVERYONE, “I am a writer!”
Yell this from the rooftop if you have to. This should be a part of your daily mantra. Speak it into existence.
2. Study your craft and the business side of writing
This is a tip that I wish someone would have shared with me when I was first starting out. I think a lot of new authors get into this industry without having a solid foundation to stand on. The English language is a living, breathing thing, and is constantly changing. This means that you will need to change along with it. Stay on top of your craft by studying grammar, story architecture, syntax, etc., but also skill up on basic business concepts. Whether you're looking to self-publish, start your own publication company or be signed with someone, there are a lot of dos and don’ts that you want to be mindful of so that you’re not on the losing-end of the stick.
3. Socialize with other writers
This is very important to do, but please don't misconstrue this as you must become a part of some “clique.” When you're starting out as a new author, it's good to have as much support around you as possible, and who better to have than people who may be in the same shoes as you? Building a network of author friends is also beneficial when it comes to promoting. You’ll find that a lot of authors are willing to post/re-post your books or links to lend a helping hand, which is always a good thing.
4. Work with a mentor
Working with a mentor is great. It’s very helpful to speak with someone who has been in your position before and can help you avoid mistakes that maybe they have made in the past. Remember, you're not alone in this.
5. Do what works for you
I can’t stress this tip enough. You’ll get a lot of advice from people, some wanted, others unwanted, but you have to remember that at the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you. This industry is by no means a “one size fits all” industry. Learn as much as you can but apply what appeals to you. Remember, you are the writer. Don’t be afraid to stand on your own two feet.
6. Never give up!
This is the most important tip I can give to an aspiring author. The road might be bumpy along the way, but you must never give up! You never know who you could be inspiring on your road to success.
If you have a dream, whether it be to become a successful writer or anything else under the sun, I say go for it. Nothing worth having is going to come easily, so you shouldn’t expect it to. But through hard work and determination, you can achieve the impossible! Remember, it all starts with that first step.
Sasha Ravae is an Author, CEO, and Founder of Black Eden Publications. You can follow @black_eden_publications on social media, and to purchase books go to BlackEdenPublications.com/shop. Stay tuned for part 5 of her best selling series Counterfeit Dreams 5 releasing October 1st.
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After conquering a mountainous achievement such as graduating from college, you’d think one would be on the highest of highs. And with a heart full of confidence and anxious hands, you’d think one would be ready to work in the real world, and be able to seize their career in its purest form. But it doesn’t work like that. Those dreams can be crushed easily by a two-line rejection email or by no response at all. Why won’t anyone hire me? you think. And then you begin second-guessing your skills, experience and ultimately, your worth.
Depression does not have a blunt personality.
Instead, she’s more the gradual kind. She slowly settles into your life like weight gain or hair growth. You don’t notice her progressive intrusion until she slaps you hard in the face. And then you have to acknowledge her. I realized that I was dealing with postgraduate depression six months after graduating. Although I was employed at the time, my job had nothing to do with my degree and it was one of the lowest entry-level positions within the company. So there I was, working a repetitive nine-to-five desk job, gaining absolutely no experience in my field. And to add to the stress of not working in my dream career, I essentially had no close friends who had moved back home like me. It felt like everything that I had worked for and all the wonderful friendships that I had made within the past four years were removed from under me. My degree no longer stood as a symbol of achievement to me, but rather a mockery.
Why not apply for another job? you’re probably asking. Well, of course I did that. But most of my energy was exerted toward my job at the time because that was my main responsibility. And as for pursuing my dream, it had to wait until after 5 p.m. on the weekdays or be scheduled for the weekend. I was literally penciling in my dreams and it made me very irritable.
Fast-forward to seven months later and I finally gathered up the courage and savings to quit my job.
It was mainly because I was tired of working there, but also because I was presented with two writing opportunities, that would’ve been a pay decrease- but at least I would be doing what I love. But within the first two weeks after my last day of work, one of the opportunities was taken away from me. I was offered a remote writing position, but the company had to reverse their offer because of their tight budget. Basically, they couldn’t afford to pay me. So there I was, essentially unemployed. The next few weeks tested my faith and mental strength.
I began to heavily search for writing and marketing positions within my hometown and outside of it. Most of the positions I was well qualified for, and with each cover letter and resume I sent off, I had a surge of confidence. Within a two-week span I sent out more than 15 applications, half of which sent a general response of "We’ll contact you if we see a match." The other half, I heard nothing from. So I sent follow-up emails to these potential employers I hadn’t heard from, and I still never got a response. Meanwhile, the other writing opportunity remained and I accepted, which made me feel extremely happy and useful.
But then two months later, life got real.
I was working on my first round of stories for the publication, but like most freelance gigs, you don’t get paid until after your story is published. I was able to continue paying my bills with my savings, but with nothing to replenish it with, my funds became very strained. At this time I felt like I was in a fight that I was just then realizing I had lost.
Then in December, my grandmother passed away from cancer. And I couldn’t pay to travel to her funeral. This felt like another blow to my stomach. I felt defeated. And I knew that my emotional wellness was slowly sinking.
My ah-ha moment was when I heard a pastor on the radio say, “You don’t have to be strong.”
And that wrecked my mind. And I started releasing my anxiety by writing about it and by taking mental breaks where I would only allow myself to focus on irrelevant subjects, i.e., watching television, exercising and hanging out with friends.
This is also around the time when I began to see the value in gratitude. I started to realize that depression and gratitude can't coexist together; they can only grow exclusively. If one is growing, the other is starving. Gratitude causes you to be more positive and not dwell on the negative. It makes you focus on what you do have instead of the lack thereof. Therefore, it has the power to help cancel out sadness you're feeling.
I’m happy to say that I am no longer overwhelmed by my postgraduate depression, but rather still coping with it. It still creeps up on me sometimes, but I’m able to use my gratitude as a weapon of choice. And by doing this I am learning that just because I am coping with depression, doesn't mean that I can't be happy at the same time. On the contrary, my happiness propels me to cope with my depression.
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One Saturday night at 9 p.m. EST, I found myself curled up in front of the television intently watching a movie that I've easily seen a dozen times. Although my mind was telling me to scan social media for the many events occurring in the city that evening, I just couldn't will my body to move.
In my head I was ready, willing and able to get up and get out. But my body wasn’t havin’ it. I was exhausted and I didn't even realize it. My body was giving me an eye-rolling, finger-waving, neck-twisting tongue lashing that my mind chose to actively ignore. There was a full-on dancehall party going on in my head that the rest of my body apparently wasn't invited to. Being an entrepreneur, I spend my days and nights working, vowing that I will give myself a “break” when I reach certain financial goal.
Because I could in no way will myself to get off of the couch and I couldn't fall asleep, I spent the next few hours reading Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. The musings of a socially-awkward, introverted and successful black woman is my idea of a good read. In the first few pages of the book, Rhimes made a statement that snatched my edges so violently you would have thought I was at a Beyoncé concert sitting front row center. One chapter into the book, she tells a story about being broke and having to choose between one of her favorite treats and a necessity — wine and toilet paper. In telling this story she made the realest statement I've heard in a while, “sometimes the toilet paper does not win.”
Laying on my sofa, so physically exhausted that my body was in hibernation mode, I realized I passed up many moments when the wine should have won.
In my quest for success, I failed to understand that sometimes your sanity means more than “the grind.”
I should have said yes to happy hour and yes to that movie or yes to dinner instead of constantly burning the midnight oil.
Being a creative, employee, mother, activist, or whatever combination of things you spend your days doing can be stressful. For entrepreneurs and professionals alike, it's important to take a moment, an hour or even a day to do you. Our culture of the constant hustle and the notion that getting no sleep is a catalyst to success causes us to forget about the fragility of our mental health. It’s as if we're in a competition to see who reaches the Jack Torrance-level of insanity first, sacrificing our mind, body and will to move just to be able to say we've achieved something.
Well, all work and no play makes Bukola a dull girl.
Yes, you should always remain focused and you should always be about your business no matter what that business is. But it's always important to remember that, “sometimes the toilet paper does not win.”
Buy the wine, sip and be happy.
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During a time when the cost of living is constantly on the rise, side hustles seem to be more a necessity than a choice. The successful side hustler will have certain traits that definitely translate into dollars. Here are the traits to turn up the volume on when you're trying to make your hustle work for you. People with successful side hustles are:
Ambition is a no-brainer. Hustlers with the most ambition often turn their side thing into their main thing. They put in so much effort and have so much vision around what they're doing that people trust and believe in them to do even more!
How can you take the marketplace by storm if you don't even know where you fit within it? Curiosity will keep you asking the questions to translate your business into a clear solution to a problem in the marketplace. You always want to be filling the hole that no one else saw was there.
Who is your competition? Has anyone tried to do what you're doing in the past, and did they succeed or fail? What avenues are out there to promote your product or service? Do people even want what you're offering? This research is vital to the success of all hustles, and if you choose to skip it, you're kind of wasting your time (and ours).
No one likes a rude hustler. No one likes an overly-aggressive hustler. No one likes a desperate hustler. Be confident, cool and be likable. You want to build a relationship that makes people feel great about your product or service, but also about you as the purveyor of said product or service. School is always in session on the charm tip!
Even though I just said no one likes an overly-aggressive hustler, that doesn't mean that you should be lazy or lack persistence. Taking no for an answer from one person doesn't mean taking no for an answer in general. Stay out there and pound the proverbial (or actual) pavement, because if you have the rest of these traits, someone will eventually say yes.
Side hustles need collaborators. This is the two heads (or two products) are better than one theory. What product or service would complement yours? If you can link up with another hustler, you can both have access to each other's networks and you're doubling the amount of energy that comes from each of you. Don't be afraid to work together with other people in your field of hustle.
You don't need to be everywhere all of the time to get your point across. You'll burn out quickly trying to show up to everything, and you'll likely start seeing the same people anyway. This is where research really comes into play. Instead of going to 10 parties and events per week, what three events can you attend that will maximize your word of mouth? Networking is important, but the most focus should be on ensuring the quality and consistency of your product or service.
There will be times when people will tell you "no," they will insult your product or service, they will take shots at you personally, and whether you're perceived as a success or as a failure, they will talk down the former and talk up the latter. Remember that talk about your product or service leads to curiosity about what you have to offer. Brush the haters off and keep it pushing. Trust in your hustling instincts.
This should go without saying, but you need to be creative about your side hustle. Sometimes, especially if you work in corporate, you can sneak your side hustle into your day gig and get paid for it. Are you a graphic designer, but you work in HR? Make a mock-up of something promotional for your job and see what the creative team thinks! You might find your hustle turning into a consulting position. Never be afraid to put yourself out there.
When issues come up, don't look at them as problems, view them as opportunities. Being solution-oriented will have you quick on your feet when something unexpected comes up. Having problems with your shipping carrier for a product that was promised on a certain date? Keep money set aside for emergency next-day mailing promised items to keep your customers happy with you. Website crashed? Keep a Mailchimp account to update your customer base about any unforeseen occurrences. If there's an issue, you can solve it.
Hustling is a contact sport. Sometimes, you've gotta call an audible. If you have many hustles, their popularity will ebb and flow and you will need to quickly adjust to which one is the most poppin' and which one needs the most attention. This is a balancing act, as you might want to grow the hustle that's struggling, but you also want to keep the one that's popular. In the case of multiple hustles, a huge dry erase board will help you visualize and adjust how you need to move at any given time.
So what traits do you possess? Which are you working on? Let us know in the comments below!
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“It’s business, so we’ll understand if you decide to leave us. We wouldn’t want to keep you from a better opportunity.”
This is what my coworker relayed to me after her big meeting with a higher-up in the company we worked for. Needless to say, she didn’t get the raise she was expecting to hear about in that meeting.
We often spent a portion of our lunch break talking about the businesses we wanted to start. After the way she’d just been spoken to, it seemed to me she needed to start looking out for herself ASAP — these CEOs ain’t loyal.
But because the job was keeping her so busy — running a department on too small of a salary and all — and because she didn’t know how to get started, she figured the “time wasn’t right” to start building something of her own.
We had this conversation about a month before I left the company—two months before they laid her off.
I spent some time thinking about the reason my former coworker didn’t get started with her business idea as a side hustle when I warned her to (or sooner, for that matter). She would research her ideas (read: Google and daydream), but never take that first step into making a profit. Meanwhile, I actually had a side hustle while we worked at that company. Why did she think it was so hard?
For me, having a side hustle was normal. My family was broke growing up, so I had to find my own lunch money. But, I get it — we didn’t all learn to make money. We were taught to do well in school, get into a good college, and then get 'one of them good jobs.'
Most of us tried really hard to do just that, but some of us actually did it. A few of us actually do have that elusive McDonald’s money we’ve been waiting our whole lives for, but we also have some grown ass bills (McDonald’s at the house doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?). And let’s not forget that Sallie Mae chick calling us everyday like a crazy ex-lover who thought Netflix and chill meant long-term relationship.
But, this is the dream, right?
Making just enough to get by and maybe a little extra for a bottle of wine. Traveling very occasionally. Squeezing family in “when we get a chance." Depending on our day jobs for all of our money.
That last part, for me, is the real nightmare.
Depending on one source of income is terrifying, to me. Your job might seem secure today, but so did my friend’s. This is why I believe everyone should have at least one other stream of income. So, I made a decision.
I decided to use my background in 'Side Hustle Economics' to provide the education we didn’t get — the one I think every full-time worker needs (full-time moms included). This summer, in Side Hustle Summer School, I’m teaching people how to make their own money. My students are going to learn how to turn what they love doing into money in the bank.
And they’re going to learn it for free.
My hope is that a layoff, getting fired, or 9-to-5 burnout won’t be enough to break you financially. It’s also nice to have another skill-set that you can prove you’re good at should you ever want to change careers and not start over as an intern.
I can’t stop you from getting laid off. And no, I’m not promising you that you’ll be able to quit your job and fly off to Bangkok next month (although I’m living proof that you can). What I can promise you is that when you’re done with Side Hustle Summer School, you’ll have options. You’ll be able to create more income. You’ll be more confident in your ability to make your own money.
And you’ll know where to start.
So keep dabbing your way up the career ladder if that’s your desire, but stay woke to the fact that you actually can be your own boss — even if you already have one.
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Like most, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do during my undergrad career. I knew I loved art, music, events and planning stuff – that’s about it. I went from being interested in interior design to human resource recruitment to wedding planning. I worked full-time jobs throughout college in the hospitality industry, and by the time I was a senior, I knew enough to build a restaurant business from scratch.
It wasn’t until I got my first 'office' job that I knew that’s exactly where I DIDN’T want to be for the rest of my life.
I snagged my first job as an event coordinator, which is when I really fell in love with organizing and running events. For me, it opened a lot of doors and I met a lot of amazing, iconic people, but after a bit I definitely felt I needed more. I started looking for my next, and in the back of my mind, I set a goal while at Essence Music Festival that I NEEDED to work with the brand at some point in my life. Four years later, I landed a gig there.
Working in NYC in your early 20s will expose you to a lot. Especially in the entertainment/publishing/fashion industries – you begin meeting a lot of people who are in your age bracket who are doing some amazing things they created from scratch. Although my father owned his own business, I saw the good and bad of working for yourself and it was honestly something that I never consciously wanted for myself. But the deeper I got into the scene and even my own professional career and the more truths I learned about working for “the man,” I started to really see that you’re basically screwed either way.
I had done a few events for friends (such as fashion shows and artist showcases) here and there and enjoyed them, but once I realized I was in this world dictated by tenure employees who didn’t want to hear my ideas for fear of losing their own relevance, I knew I would have to take things into my own hands. I learned very quickly how insanely important networking would be on a personal level, as well as a professional being.
Networking will give you opportunities that you didn't even know existed.
Once I realized that just talking, connecting and not being shy to share your abilities was a major key alert, you couldn’t tell me nothing!
My connections got me paid and began shining the light on what a relevant side hustle could bring me. I had always bartended and waited tables on the side, but making your side hustle something that you love — this makes the additional hours after the nine-to-six not really feel like work. I did this for four years until I felt that “I need more” feeling again. This time for my “more,” I took it back to my first loves — art and music. With music, I grew up playing several instruments and found a sanctuary in music for a lot of low and high points in my life.
A guy I was dating at the time put the idea in my head that I should try DJing. He told me my love/music knowledge was above the norm and I should test it out – so I did. I found myself at a Scratch Academy event in summer ’15, and they were teaching anyone interested a quick lesson in DJing. I jumped on the turntables and everything just felt right. I decided I would enroll in a three-month program for that fall.
I felt like this was a great time for me to enter the industry given the sudden rise in the popularity for women DJs. My only regret is I wish I knew earlier so I could have started much earlier, but I don’t let that idea deter me from my current goals. I want to contribute talent and music knowledge to the current pool. I don’t want to be the girl who just shows up with a playlist and can’t set up equipment or doesn’t even put her headphones on. Fellow DJ Tiff McFierce once told me about "respecting the craft" and it has stuck with me during this journey. Music is a very serious thing to me, and I just want to bring humans and dope music together because it saves lives. Because of my background in marketing and events, I do have an advantage of knowing how the industry works, knowing some amazing people, having experience with venues and knowing how people generally like to party.
Ideally, I would love to team up with an artist and tour with them. The connections I made through networking really paid off because I’ve been able to find my first gigs through them. Some of these opportunities have been pretty big for me just starting out.
If I have learned anything in this process it's:
Just try it out. What’s the worst that can happen? That you love it?
Don’t be scared of what you love having the possibility of being great.
If you want to be great, it’s going to take time, work and consistency.
What you put out in the universe will materialize.
How do you do this? Write down your goals and three steps to achieve them. Break up your goals into quarters for the year, and hold yourself accountable to them by checking in frequently.
I’ve honestly been very fortunate to have a lot of people around me who believe in me and are willing to give me a shot.
I take nothing for granted and plan to grasp every opportunity I receive and make the best of them.
I’m not perfect, I’m still learning, and I know I have a long way to go to get to what I envision for myself as a DJ, but I plan to take this week-by-week, appreciating the unknown while walking in faith.
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There comes a time in a person’s life when they’ve paid some dues, worked under the guidance of the experienced and realized their potentials in learning environments. Jay-Z practiced working a large crowd by performing songs between Big Daddy Kane’s concert sets. Shonda Rhimes sharpened her on-set skills interning at Denzel Washington’s production company. President Obama made his first political speech as a student at Occidental College where he called for the Board of Trustees to divest from South Africa during its Apartheid days.
The list goes on, but what all of these successful people have in common is that they eventually took a chance on themselves and their ideas. Once they built enough muscle under practice, they were confident to step out and present quality. Of course, they didn’t become household names overnight, but their boldness led them to where they are today.
Recently, I took my first step toward a greater purpose inside me calling for more and I left my job of three years to travel for four months. During my time as a nomad, I wanted my travels to have some meaning beyond me posting photos of myself at tourist destinations. I wanted to use my gifts of writing and reporting to give back. I am doing this through my multi-media identity series “The Questions 100.”
In my previous job, I spent countless hours writing articles about police brutality and Black Twitter’s lashings on mainstream media outlets’ cultural insensitivity. I also wrote some positive stories about individuals changing the world in their own way. Many of them were millennials who I felt didn’t get the shine they deserved. And I often read articles about millennials and how lazy and unprepared they were for the world because of their instant gratification syndrome and their constant need to be validated on social media. Although I do know people like this, this narrative of all millennials living this highly-entitled carefree life is not real. Many of them are pushing to survive and shifting norms for the better as we speak.
Millennials of color in particular still face a unique set of challenges beyond not being able to pay student loan bills. Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland were black millennials whose lives were interrupted and stolen in racially-charged incidents. Every year there are dozens of black transgender women who are killed and their stories go unreported. Muslim students are facing Islamophobia on their campuses and have to deal with presidential candidates that stir up this prejudice even further. Afro-Latinos are looking to expand the conversation surrounding their identity that is often very limited. Asian millennials are not seeing themselves represented in the mass media although their cultures continue to be appropriated. And Native Americans are given almost no spaces to share their voices whatsoever.
[caption id="attachment_52049" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Photo: Hearts converse “The mainstream media wants people of color to lead daytime shows, nighttime shows. [But] I think we can go a lot further now.” - Omari, No. 2 in “The Questions 100” series.[/caption]As a black content creator who is well aware of many of these challenges from real life experiences and reporting in my previous job, the real tea is that more desperately needs to be done to amplify the voices of millennials of color. This is why I launched the multimedia identity series “The Questions 100.”
I felt it was time for me to step out and take a chance and here I am at the very beginning. This is a spinoff of a series called “The Questions” I played with back in 2012, under my brand Hearts Converse. I wanted to expand the idea and make it bigger. And so with my love of travel and culture, I have embarked on this journey to interview 100 millennials of color and ask them 100 questions before the end of 2017.
It was important for me to take advantage of doing this work internationally, to show that many of the issues are not exclusive to America. We are diving in on heavy topics such as racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, religion and politics, but we’re also capturing universal emotions such as romance, self-love, grieving, passion and purpose.
So far “The Questions 100” has documented the voices of four millennials. We’ve discussed black excellence, the desire to see more multi-dimensional characters of color on TV, how race intersects with sports and how yoga transforms self-awareness.
Right now I am in Johannesburg, South Africa, interviewing and dropping these videos and photo essays as I move along to Europe next month.
When I return to the states, I want to visit as many cities as possible to expand “The Questions 100” series. Currently, I am raising money to join the Millennial Trains Project in August. Every year 25 millennials travel to five cities on an Amtrak and implement their unique ideas. Joining will allow me to tell the stories of millennials in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Anyone backing my journey on the Millennial Train Project will help me ease the financial costs of producing this project. I have until May 21 to reserve my spot on the train.
There are so many brilliant individuals out there and they happen to look like you and me, and I want this project to reflect them.
I hope to get your answers. #HC100Q.
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