How to start a side hustle

UQ graduates share their top tips

Are you looking for more meaningful work? Want to monetise a passion project? Or simply curious about starting your own business? Follow this advice from UQ graduates who have done exactly that!

At the recent ‘Starting a side hustle’ UQ Young Alumni workshop, we spoke to three successful UQ graduates who have not only established their own side hustles, but grown them into successful, commercial businesses.

Read on to hear from:

  • Holly Hunt (Bachelor of Business Management ’10), the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hunt & Co Recruitment and Women in Digital;
  • Pablo Farias Navarro (Master of Business and Information Technology ’11), whose online learning academy, Zenva, has helped over 1 million people; and
  • Dr Josh Case (Bachelor of Science ’15, Doctor of Medicine ’19), whose software development side hustle has led him to step away from his full-time medicine career.

Watch the full event recording or keep reading the advice from Josh, Holly and Pablo.

    How do you know if your idea has a market?

    Holly: Be in touch with the people you’re trying to solve a problem for. What are their needs and how can your services meet them?

    Pablo: I was the target market, so I developed something for ‘past Pablo’. Offer a solution to a problem you once faced by providing something you wish you had yourself.

    Josh: Market research is important, but you must ask if they will pay for it. This validation process is an important step in protecting yourself from risk. If your idea’s not very risky, then what are you waiting for? Just do it.

    What are your tips for working for yourself?

    Holly: Every morning I create a ‘to do’ list and prioritise each item as either A, B or C. A’s are non-negotiable, B’s are nice to have and C’s can be moved to tomorrow.

    Pablo: Find the routine that works for you. Whether that’s early mornings, strict lists, calendar blocking. Use your preferences to your advantage.

    Josh: When you’re working for yourself, there’s no set start or end time. So set one. Add ‘work’ days into your calendar and make a conscious choice when to work on your side hustle.

    Image: Holly Hunt (Bachelor of Business Management ’10), founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hunt & Co Recruitment and Women in Digital

    Portrait image of Holly Hunt.

    How do you stay motivated and accountable to your goals?

    Holly: Find an accountability buddy. Someone you can agree to meet regularly, share your goals with and who believes in your idea.

    Pablo: You’ll always find motivation difficult if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. At the very start, make sure you choose something that interests you.

    Josh: Work on the things that matter. It’s easy to be distracted by secondary tasks. Avoid this by setting an agenda and sticking to it. Your energy is a precious resource – put it into the things that matter most. Also, celebrate the small wins and let them sustain you!

    How do you navigate an industry or area you’re not connected to?

    Holly: Consider finding a co-founder who has that knowledge and skillset.

    Pablo: Ask for advice. People are generally generous with sharing their insights, so be genuine and ask them.

    Josh: Be cautious. It’s easy to incorrectly assume the issues and barriers for a domain you’re not familiar with. Insider knowledge is crucial.

    Image: Pablo Farias Navarro (Master of Business and Information Technology ’11), founder of Zenva.

    Portrait image of Pablo Navarro.

    When do you know it’s time for your side hustle to become your main hustle?

    Holly: My passion for my side hustle completely distracted me from my full-time job. For me, it wasn’t if I took the leap, it was when and how. Surround yourself with likeminded people who have made that leap before.

    Pablo: For me, it was a slow process and I wish I had made the leap earlier. However, not all side hustles have to become your main hustle. A side hustle can be anything, maybe simply something you enjoy.

    Josh: Plan your transition, understand the risks, and have a back-up option. You might realise you don’t have as much to lose as you expected.

    Any other advice?

    Holly: Choose something (one or two things maximum) that you want to be known for. Be consistent with those things – let people know what you represent.

    Pablo: Collaboration is better than keeping your idea to yourself, especially in the beginning.

    Josh: Document the process of creating your side hustle and share this. It’s the most authentic way of storytelling and inviting people to join your journey. There are people in the world that want to know the things you know. The internet can help you find them.

    Image: Dr Josh Case (Bachelor of Science ’15, Doctor of Medicine ’19), software developer and doctor.

    Portrait image of Josh Case.

    If you had to summarise your advice in a hashtag, what would it be?

    Josh: #JustDoIt – nothing can happen until you start.

    Holly: Prioritise your efforts and #Don’tTryToDoItAll

    Pablo: It shouldn’t feel like work all the time. If it’s the right project, some of it should #FeelLikeFun.

    Watch the full young alumni 'starting a side hustle' workshop here

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    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of The University of Queensland.

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