The one reason most people start a side hustle

June 27, 2019

The most common reason for people turning their side hustle into a small business isn’t extra cash. It’s passion. The passion to help others, to create something that’s uniquely yours, to be your own boss. The 2019 Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business Study™ found that 54% of those who started a side hustle that later became a small business did so because of their personal zeal. For 30% of respondents, it was the dream of starting their own business that drove them; the rest wanted to follow a personal passion. 

From the state department to tutoring

Take Tina Tran Neville, for example. She and her family came to the United States from Vietnam when she was a young child. Her father worked a full-time job and then helped her mother in their family-owned convenience store, so he had the first side hustle in the family. Tina had a career in the U.S. Foreign Service and then as a teacher before she turned her tutoring side hustle into a small business, and, like 24% of the entrepreneurs we surveyed, passion was what drove her. 

“What drew me to teaching was a deep passion for education,” said Tina. “When I was in the Foreign Service, you work on grand policies. You work on government-to-government relationships. In Pakistan, we were working on how we could support aid to Pakistan. In Iraq—it was 2006 and 2007 so we were in the middle of the Iraq war—we worked on big-picture policy. The one thing that was missing for me was, how does this impact individual people’s lives?”

When Tina left the foreign service to come back home to the United States, she wanted to work in a job that would let her have an impact on people’s lives. “For me, that meant education,” she said. “So I was a teacher in Washington, D.C., where I could really see the impact I had on my students. And that was really humbling for me.”

Extra income was just the start

Like many entrepreneurs, Tina started a side hustle to earn extra income. “I had just left a full-time job with the State Department, with benefits. I started teaching initially as a substitute teacher, and then as a full-time teacher. I just basically needed to pay my bills in Washington D.C., so that’s why I tutored on the side.”

But her motivation quickly morphed from earning money to helping people. “I saw that these students deserved tutors who wanted to truly help them,” said Tina. “I also saw that some of my students couldn’t afford private tutoring and that really spoke to me as an immigrant who grew up in the United States who maybe didn’t have a lot of access to resources growing up. How could I help my students, whether they were at public schools or private schools, receive high quality tutoring outside of school? That’s something I really thought about and it eventually became my own company, Transcend Academy.”

From tutor to CEO

Although Transcend Academy has grown significantly since she started it as a side hustle, Tina admits that following her passion hasn’t always been easy. But she wouldn’t change her path. “I really like impact and I really like scale, so what really drives me is growth. I love helping my students in the classroom but then there are other students I want to help. That need to really touch people’s lives and impact more and more people is really what drove that desire to grow. But I also know that not all entrepreneurs are like that. And so for me over time I realized that is how I like to operate. But there were a lot of lessons I needed to learn along the way and I’m still learning today.”

Hear Tina’s story on the Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business podcast, and learn more about how to turn a side hustle into a small business. Download the study, subscribe to the podcast, and get behind-the-scenes looks at entrepreneurs who’ve done it.