Why you should have a side hustle, says Richard Branson, who started Virgin as a side gig

You don’t have to quit your job. Virgin itself started as a side hustle. “All of our Virgin businesses started while we were working on something else.”

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Although the world is full of stories of entrepreneurs who turned their back on the workaday world to start their genius idea on their own, the idea of quitting your day job outright is “often an unaffordable an unrealistic luxury,” wrote Virgin Group founder Richard Branson on his blog. Instead, he urges hopeful entrepreneurs to embrace the hustler. And he would know – Branson was a repeat side hustler himself.

Why side hustle, says the man worth $5 billion?


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You probably can’t afford to quit your day job. The hardest part for people just starting a business is “not being able to quit their day job, to spend time developing their concept.”

Luckily, Branson wrote, you don’t have to quit your job. Virgin itself started as a side hustle – “all of our Virgin businesses started while we were working on something else.”

You already have what it takes to succeed: passion. The whole Virgin conglomerate started as a side project of Student Magazine. The side hustle was Virgin Records, which sold records by mail, advertising in the pages of the magazine. The key to its success was that everybody involved was already in love with what they did.

“Passion is the key to juggling work and business,” wrote Branson. “If do what you love and love what you do, you’re more likely to be successful.”

The airline began as a project of Virgin Records, and with just one plane. Eventually, the record company was sold to focus on the airline, which went international.

Side hustling minimizes risk. “The reason we’ve always started a new business while still working on an existing one is because it’s essential in entrepreneurship to limit the downside,” explained Branson.

It also builds confidence. “As a delivery partner for the UK’s government’s start-up loans scheme, we give support to entrepreneurs through access to loans,” wrote Branson. He found that those who worked on their idea while also working their day jobs “are more confident in their ability to manage their money and time.”

Side-hustling makes you a better employee. When you’re working on your own entrepreneurial project, you have to wear many hats – and often quickly learn new skills and do many new tasks by yourself.

“Working across so many areas enables you to learn quickly and broaden your skill set – something that will undoubtedly make you a better employee as well as an entrepreneur,” wrote Branson.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.