Rise of the Side Hustle: Powered by E-Commerce
Insight Canadians are taking advantage of the internet and starting business ventures, from the ease of their own home.
Alethea Robinson was working full-time when she launched a marketing consulting firm and her personal blog See Girl Work, an online community for entrepreneurially-minded women, in her spare time. While Robinson was passionate about marketing consulting and supporting like-minded female entrepreneurs, she wasn’t ready to turn her passion project into a full-time business at the time of launch. “I was confident my consulting business had potential, but I needed time to find the right business model and to explore the viability of self-employment,” says Robinson. After a year of hard work building her brand, network, and business by leveraging online tools, Robinson felt ready to take the plunge — committing fully to life as an entrepreneur.
Before making the switch to full-time entrepreneurship, Robinson was one of an increasing number of Canadians managing and running a small business in their after-work hours. According to Statistics Canada, in the past 40 years, the number of Canadians working multiple jobs has quadrupled of which nearly half operate their own business after their regular work hours. Looking to become their own boss and for extra cash flow to help pay the bills, these entrepreneurs — termed 5-9ers or side-hustlers — are giving rise to a culture of entrepreneurship across Canada.
What are the catalysts for a rising tide of 5-9ers in Canada? Paul Parisi, President of PayPal Canada, believes there are several factors enabling the 5-9er phenomenon in Canada, and chief among them is the thriving spirit of entrepreneurship among Canadians, and the easy availability of technology and e-commerce solutions. “E-commerce enables people like Alethea to pursue their passion projects in their spare time on their own terms, whether that’s in the morning before they start their working day, in the evening, or on weekends,” says Parisi.
Robinson, whose business operates entirely online can attest to this. “I wouldn’t have been able to work full-time and simultaneously successfully grow my business without e-commerce tools,” she says. “I work with clients all over the world. As PayPal is a trusted global payment brand, I invoice my clients and get paid quickly which makes my side business profitable.”
Starting a successful small business from scratch can take a lot of time. Online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, and Kijiji, and digital payment solutions like PayPal offer convenient solutions to entrepreneurs who want to sell their products or services within Canada or to international customers. These tools also offer a platform to launch a lucrative side business with relatively few barriers to entry.
Platforms like Uber are revolutionizing the way people approach how they work. In the last few years, a swath of freelance mobile apps and platforms supporting a wide range of industries — from legal services all the way to dog walking — have popped up, enabling almost anyone to supplement their primary income on their own schedule. “The workplace of the future will be shaped by people’s growing demand for increased flexibility in where and how they make their money,” says Parisi. “Canadian businesses that want to retain top talent with an entrepreneurial mind-set should find ways to support and embrace a rising 5-9er trend.”