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SMEs digest: Using your networks to grow that side hustle

Wednesday June 16 2021
Sidehustle pic

Experts in agriculture discuss various issues at their past networking event in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | FILE

By RICHARD LUYOMBYA

Kampala. Ms Gorret Nanyanzi, a teacher at Bunga Hill Primary, has been teaching for 15 years. During her free time, Ms Nanyanzi bakes cakes which she sells mostly to the school.

The school has been Ms Nanyanzi’s immediate customer for the last four years. Just like other full-time employees with side businesses, Ms Nanyanzi’s free time is taken up in baking.

“If I get an order within the week, I bake at night,” she says.

The business is not yet at the level she wants it to be but the meagre success she has realised in baking cakes is owed to the school that has provided ready market.

Ms Nanyanzi is one of the many full-time employees, whose side jobs rely on networks. Networks are primarily workmates who are the immediate customers. They are the first people to approach when selling a product or service.

Networks can be the easiest way to get customers especially for full-time workers running side jobs.

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The networks also comprise friends and family who should perhaps be on your speed dial in case of new stock arrivals. If you want to be an entrepreneur, there are many reasons you should start small with building your side hustle customer-by-customer from the ground up. For one, the prospect of making more money on top of your regular pay is a powerful incentive, especially in a volatile economy. A long-time hobby can also motivate you to grow a business around things you love.


Side hustle

Aspiring entrepreneurs with a strong drive can look to a side hustle as a stepping stone toward financial freedom. Your side hustle can also allow you to focus on what you are most passionate about if you do not get that satisfaction from your full-time work.

Ms Faith Nantume is another example of a full-time employee running a side job and anchoring much of her strength of the business on networks. Ms Natume is a cleaner and sells honey on the side.


Growth

To grow your side job well, Mr Ronald Mayanja Omugalanda, a life coach at Ability Explored, says there is a need to open up to all categories of people including neighbours.

“Open up about your side hustle to all these categories of people because people you least expect are the first to support,” he says.

Many customers love tasting before buying. This is common among immediate networks.

“Offer as many freebies as possible because it opens doors. Also, whenever called upon, take it as a golden opportunity to offer your best,” Mr Mayanja says. Networks are the basis for future recommendations. However, these networks are abused.

According to Mr Mayanja, some people get too comfortable with customers and wallow in debt.

He explains that some people get presumptuous as a result of getting too used to customers.

“They do not respect a relationship by delivering late orders in favour of a new customer,” he says.


Service quality

He adds that the quality of services and products of such businesses tends to deteriorate.

Nonetheless, networks also abuse a relationship they have with the service providers.

Mr Mayanja says this is common among family networks who may delay payments or underestimate the quality of service their siblings provide. He says such side hustles are bound to collapse because they are built on sentiments but not professionalism.

“I can now pay bills. I no longer borrow money because the side business is bridging the gap,” Nanyanzi says. A customer as described by many is always the king regardless of the relationship. Therefore, it is important to maintain standards and professionalism at all levels if a side job is to grow.

In addition, Mr Mayanja says despite the challenges that come with family customers, it is crucial to inform them of the side job.

“Relatives, friends and work colleagues can be a good source of market and support for your business,” he says.

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