True Story: From Banker to Auctioneer Entrepreneur

July 24, 2019

Former banker starts side hustle

If you have a side hustle, or you’re thinking of starting one, you may feel the need to do what you know – to draw on the knowledge and experience you’ve gained in years, or maybe even decades, of working for someone else. But there’s no rule that says you can’t do something completely different. 

Did you know? 55% of people started their side hustle in a different industry than they were working in at the time. 

In fact, according to the 2019 Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business Study™, we found over half of those who had a side hustle they turned into a small business did it in a different industry than the one they had previously worked in. In a quarter of cases, it was an industry that was related to the one they were experienced in, but 30% of respondents started their side hustle in an entirely different line of work. 

An accidental auctioneer

TiWanna Kenney is one of those people. She was a banker when she started a side hustle as an auctioneer – almost by accident. “We were finishing up our last meeting with Leadership Austin  and they had a talent show. I said, ‘Guys, I don’t have a talent to show anyone, but I do talk fast, so what if I get up there and pretend to be an auctioneer?’ One of my classmates made an origami ball, so I stood up and I sold her origami ball. And someone actually gave us the money for it. So we had this impromptu auction that people started donating items to. We ended up raising money for the scholarship program for Leadership Austin. At the end of the night, we raised $8,000 on the spot without any planning.”

TiWanna found that her fast talking could open up a whole new world – and a whole new business – for her. But she had a lot to learn. “Who would have thought that to be an auctioneer you don’t just have to talk fast?” she said.  “But I had to go to an actual auction school where they teach you how to be a fast talker and the ins and outs of the business. It was super amazing though. The class is 80 hours and then you have to take a state examination. If you don’t pass, you only get to take it one more time before you have to wait a year. Luckily I passed my first go-round and here I am today.” 

Where she is today is Owner, Consultant and Principal Auctioneer at Astounding Auctions & Fundraising Strategies in Austin, Texas. TiWanna and her team of auctioneers is disrupting the perception of auctioneers by bringing diversity to the field. Each member of the team is dedicated to volunteering in the community and supports various causes. 

Helping people and living her dream

As a child, and later in the U.S. Army Reserves, TiWanna always wanted to help people. By helping non-profits hold fundraising auctions and consulting with them on fundraising techniques, she’s realizing that dream. “As a fundraising auctioneer, I always look for a way to help people, to help make a change in the world,” she said. “I’m helping non-profits who are helping hundreds and thousands of people in their endeavors to become better, to save lives, to change lives, to make an impact. So my childhood dream has come true. And I get to live it every single day.”

Learn more about TiWanna and how she turned her fast-talking side hustle into a small business on our podcast. If you have a side hustle you hope to turn into a small business, download the study, subscribe to the podcast, and get behind-the-scenes looks at entrepreneurs who’ve done it.