I’ve been a hustlapreneur ever since I could cash a paycheck. I have vivid memories of academically grinding in high school and rushing to part-time jobs and dance practice after class ended. Once I got to college, I attended full-time while working two, sometimes three, jobs. My hustlapreneur life continues into adulthood; giving me the agility, motivation, and energy to grind and succeed.
What exactly is a hustlapreneur, though? A hustlapreneur is someone who's about their cash, coin, and professional repertoire. Hustlapreneurs work hard, run their own side gigs, and try to help others succeed. By day, I am a human resources professional in New York City. I also run @TheColorMeB, a nonprofit committed to providing an avenue for Millennial women of color to succeed professionally. By night (and weekend) I am an independent stylist for Stella & Dot.
I have a lot going on, all the time. That’s OK — because another characteristic of a hustlapreneur is our tenacity. Hustlapreneurs gain their strength from years of overcoming obstacles and barriers. As a female, Millennial hustlapreneur, I experience competing in corporate America through a totally different lens than most of my colleagues. After 10 years of working in the workplace as a Millennial Black woman, I know it can be rewarding and also difficult. I have experienced and heard countless stories of mishaps in corporate America involving sexism, racism, microaggressions, and more.
But as a hustlapreneur, I’ve decided to leverage challenges and use them as opportunities to help others and myself — and you can too. Below are a few tips I have for becoming a successful hustlapreneur.
1. Create a strong network & find a mentor in your field.
Especially if you are a minority in your field, creating a strong personal and professional network is very important. It is beyond great to have a mentor in your field who can relate to your experiences and provide guidance. Having a strong professional network helps you find jobs, learn about training opportunities, and seize professional development opportunities. Your professional network also helps you build your personal brand and reputation within your industry.
It is equally important to have a strong personal network, because adult life is hard! It's imperative to have a group of girlfriends/boyfriends that will be there when you work with a terrible boss or when you get a promotion and need to celebrate. Your close friends will remind you that there is life outside of work — and that it is equally important to be engaged in it.
2. Be FLY.
I am not ballin by any means — but I do include “shopping” in my budget every month. I also joined Stella & Dot as a stylist so I can get free jewelry to compliment my work wardrobe in expensive NYC. A hustlapreneur leverages every opportunity to its maximum potential.
Over this past winter in NYC, I learned that productivity at work is directly correlated to my mood. I am much more productive when I feel good, and for many of us, when you look good, you feel good. I try to keep my work wardrobe chic, fresh, and professional. Since I'm sticking to a budget, I am not usually purchasing full suits or pricey dresses. I tend to buy separates and really cute accessories, so I can mix and match the separates. I can make the outfit really pop with big, fun accessories.
3. Find a company with a culture that's comfortable for you.
As Millennials, we’re really focused on getting a job, doing it well, and moving up in the company. Sometimes we forget that we're young and have plenty of time to test out different professions and companies.
Feeling comfortable at work should be a must. If you need help finding what kind of company works for you, there are resources out there to help you. After working at the public school, I moved back to New York City and started working with a staffing agency to find a new job that was a better fit. There was no charge to me, and the staffing agency helped match me with a company that meets my needs. Another resource are Millennial-focused job boards such as The Muse, where companies that post are already looking for Millennials.
4. Seek out professional development opportunities.
Professional development helps you cultivate your current skills, teaches you new ones, and shows your employer your commitment to your job performance. Search for a professional association that caters to new and mid-level professionals in your field — Meetups.com is also a good place to start. You can also ask your supervisor for suggestions; your department might already have membership to your local organization, and volunteering to represent your company shows great initiative.
Another type of professional development is external training. Sites like Lynda.com offer hundreds of courses for your professional development. I recently signed up for a course on onboarding new hires. Onboarding is one of my responsibilities at work and signing up for this course shows my supervisor that I am committed to improving our current systems. Your company might even pay for courses that will teach you a new applicable skill. Attending a training session also gets you some time away from your daily routine and hopefully will spark your innovation and curiosity.
5. Prioritize self care.
When you’re balancing multiple projects and trying your best, life can be overwhelming. Try not to let things get to that point. We can all incorporate some more self-care into our daily routine. Try some yoga or go to the gym. I started my nonprofit, @TheColorMeB, to feed my passion of helping women of color achieve their professional goals. And when an obstacle gets this hustlapreneur down, I pray. I pray for peace and understanding.
Whatever it is, identify a healthy stress-relief mechanism that works for you and employ it regularly. Balancing priorities and managing time effectively is what makes a hustlapreneur’s life doable.
Images: Pexels; Courtney Ball; Giphy