If you’re a regular reader of Beyond the Tenure Track or you read my column in The Chronicle of Higher Education, you know me as the career coach to PhDs. I travel all across the country each year and speak on college campuses to provide career strategy to academics. I also provide one-on-one consulting to clients, build online courses, and author publications to help academics achieve their career goals. As my clients and colleagues have watched my company grow each year, I’ve started to get more questions about my actual business–how I built it and how I’ve gone from a Cultural Anthropology graduate student to a consultant to national philanthropies and government agencies with contracts upwards of $30,000 each.
I’m not at all surprised by this influx of entrepreneurial interest. While some readers who follow my business may think that I’m solely focused on helping academics leave the academy in favor of industry careers, what we do is much broader than that. Our mission is to equip academics to see, explore, and (be prepared to) take advantage of opportunity wherever it exists. And there is tremendous opportunity in entrepreneurship–especially part-time entrepreneurial endeavors that don’t conflict with your work as an academic and can exist alongside or outside of it.
Though my personal story is about moving from academia to a nonacademic career to entrepreneurship, I am always very clear with my clients: I’m not suggesting that they leave their jobs to start a full-time business. Instead, I’m helping academics to create an additional stream of income that can be done alongside their current academic careers to increase exposure and to gain more experience.
Should You Have a Side Hustle?
I believe that Ph.D.’s are almost perfectly suited to have “side hustles:” businesses that allow you to provide consulting, speaking, or other services while you’re still working your full-time job. The skills that we develop in the academy, among them self-sufficiency, time management, and communications, translate well into micro-businesses and sole-proprietorships.
Why? At Beyond the Tenure Track, we believe that academics have a diverse skill set and that our work, perspectives, and expertise have great value to address cross-disciplinary and cross-sector challenges. What’s more, we believe that academics can improve their quality of life, expand their social impact, and broaden their professional reach by offering their services and skills beyond the academy. Your relevance and skills are not limited to traditional roles of academic teaching and research. Earning money outside of your normal position is empowering and helps build professional skills, confidence, and choices.
My New Blog Series: Building Your Side-Business
Over the course of a new, three-part blog series, I’m going to show you how to start, build, and grow your own part-time small business. During the series, we’ll answer these commonly asked questions:
“How did you start your business?”’
“How does consulting work, and what type of pricing structure should I have?”
“‘How did you learn to run a business and to pitch your services?”’
“How do I ‘level-up” my small business so that I can make enough money to survive and to feel respected for the work I do?
I’ll tell you how I started my business and provide tips on how you can begin your entrepreneurial pursuits. During this new series, I’ll want to hear your comments and questions on the blog or on Facebook. You can catch me on Facebook Live, where I’ll give you a sneak peek into my day-to-day activities as a full time entrepreneur.
Have you ever considered starting a side-business? If so, which type?