The latest “it bag” is affordable, accessible, and counts Beyonce as a fan. Here’s what its business model is doing right.

Telfar
  • Fashion brand Telfar is rewriting the rules of luxury and it’s not hard for other brands to follow suit.
  • With its Bag Security Program, customers have a better chance of snagging the brand’s high-demand products.
  • Experts explain why it’s paving the way for next-gen luxury consumers and entrepreneurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tianni Graham, 27, remembers the “before times” – that is, the harrowing months before Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program.

It was early last summer and she, along with thousands of others, was stuck testing their luck each day trying to buy the wildly popular Telfar handbag whose celeb fans include Beyonce, Selena Gomez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Solange. But they often sold out before anyone could click ‘check out.’

It turns out, robots and resellers were buying products in bulk, making it harder for real customers to purchase them. So, last summer, Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program, in hopes of giving customers better access to its bags by allowing patrons 24 hours to pre-order any bag on the site, with no limits on how many can be purchased. The bag is then made to order, and shipped directly to the customer.

Its first drop, which happened last August, brought in about $20 million – about 10x what Telfar made in all of 2019.

Suddenly, Graham, who is also a fashion archivist and consultant, had her green Telfar bag. It arrived right before Christmas and was a “present to myself,’ she told Insider, adding that other brands could benefit from implementing a similar program. “It would make things so much easier and make the customer feel like you care.”

The program’s success shows how a luxury brand can create accessibility without losing the allure of exclusivity. The old-school model for luxury brands states the product should be scarce and elite, but the next generation of high-end consumers and entrepreneurs are taking a different route.

What’s more, Telfar is growing its exposure by becoming an official sponsor of the Liberian National team for the Olympics – Clemens is of Liberian descent. Additionally, the brand released collaborations with Ugg and Converse, accessible brands that are affordable to a mass audience, rather than Louis Vuittion and Supreme or Dior and Nike partnerships, which target the aspirational class.

Teflar is rewriting the rules of luxury, and this time, it’s not too hard for other brands to follow suit.

Telfar ‘white glove treatment’ is what next-gen luxury shoppers crave

Young consumers look less at price tags and more at brand values when determining where to spend their money; these next-gen consumers want sustainability, inclusivity, and a sense of community. The new “white glove treatment” when it comes to luxury shopping is a speedy online checkout from a brand that cares.

For Telfar’s latest drop this week, customers had the option to use the payment installment plan Klarna, making it even easier for those looking to obtain a bag. While customers will have to wait a few months before receiving the bag, people often spend years on a Birkin bag “waiting list” and most will probably never get one.

Shortly before Telfar’s program ended this week, a spokesperson for the brand told Insider it was, already, “going very well.”

Telfar started with an aim of inclusive luxury

Telfar was founded in 2005 by its eponymous founder Telfar Clemens and has dedicated the past two decades to building an inclusive business model.

In 2014, it released its now-iconic vegan leather handbag, which takes inspiration from a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag. The bags became widely available around 2018 after Telfar won $400,000 from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, allowing the company to expand production.

Clemens described his brand to The Cut as being “genderless, democratic, and transformative,” purposely seeking to challenge the notion that high fashion is only for a certain group of people, with the brand motto being “Not For You – For Everyone.”

Telfar

Now, Telfar bags come in three sizes, with prices ranging from $150 to $257. (For comparison, Birkin bags go for at least $12,000 while Black-owned luxury brands such as Brother Veilles go for at least $1,295.)

As reported by FT, handbag sales in the US declined 18% between 2016 and 2019. Yet, Telfar stood out – in 2016, the brand earned $102,000, growing to earn $2 million in 2019. Last year, New York Magazine deemed its bag the “Bushwick Birkin” and the brand was on pace to earn eight figures, even as the fashion industry was expected to take a 90% loss in profits due to the pandemic.

Boston Consulting Group’s Head of Luxury Sarah Willersdorf told Insider that Telfar has checked all the boxes on what it takes to connect with next-gen luxury shoppers. She said the brand has a narrative that “evokes emotion” and properly intertwines timelessness, creative partnerships, and culturally relevant authorities. GQ pointed out Telfar’s customer base was built, not through influencers, but through “customer aspiration alone.”

Telfar
Telfar Clemens.

Raising the bar for next-gen luxury

Brands like Telfar are important in proving accessible business models can be just as lucrative. Willersdorf expects other brands to follow similar strategies in a post-pandemic world, as shopping continues to pivot online.

In the old days – a pre-millennial world, perhaps – having too much of a product is thought to dilute its value. The Bag Security program defies that. But even the most tech-savvy luxury brand is often behind the curve, as Insider has previously reported.

“Luxury brands are always nervous,” Joseph Yakuel, CEO and founder of consulting firm Within, told Insider last year. “There’s so much risk to them tarnishing their brand reputation because luxury brand price points are only supported by their perception, and if their brand perception goes down market, their price point gets eroded very quickly.”

Clemens and his artistic director, Babak Radboy, said they aren’t worried about oversaturation. It’s about community, now. The new “white glove treatment” is making sure everybody gets a pair that fits perfectly.

Read the original article on Business Insider

6 ways to test out your business idea before spending money to officially start it

Adjusting computer volume
Before investing your own money into a small business idea, test it out with your target audience.

  • Having a business idea is easy, but putting that idea to the test is where the real work comes in.
  • Entrepreneur Jen Glantz says aspiring founders should test ideas thoroughly to vet their viability.
  • Write out a business plan, research competitors, and ask your target audience for feedback.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When I first had the thought seven years ago of starting a business where strangers could hire me to be their bridesmaid, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. So before putting any money down, I decided to figure out if people would actually hire a stranger for their wedding day.

jen glantz

I did competitor analysis and couldn’t find any similar businesses online, so I took it a step further and asked my potential audience. After posting an ad on Craigslist, I received hundreds of messages from people all over the world who wanted to hire a professional bridesmaid.

I decided to invest in making a website, build a business plan, and create a list of different services I offered. Fast-forward, I’m now running a successful business that works with hundreds of clients every single year. Here are six ways I recommend fellow aspiring entrepreneurs test out new business ideas.

1. Write out a business plan

Map out a business plan that includes details about your target audience, industry analysis and research, how you could scale the business in six months or a year, and what your competitive advantage would be.

As you go through this process, your idea might pivot as you find out about similar companies or emerging industry trends.If you’re not sure where to start, download a free business plan template and brainstorm how you’d fill in each section.

2. Figure out the problem

Ask yourself two questions: What problems does this business idea solve, and do people actually care enough to spend money to solve these problems?

This a brainstorming gut-check to see how urgent of a business idea you have.

For example, I was thinking about starting a business around a glove for carrying a cup of hot coffee, rather than a cardboard sleeve or a cup that traps the heat that may burn your hand. But after writing down my answers to the two questions, I realized it was unlikely people would buy something new like this when other solutions out there fixed the problem well enough.

3. Research industry trends

As you’re building your business idea, keep a pulse on what’s going on with the industry. What new technology is being introduced? What does customer behavior look like this quarter? What new companies are emerging?

Read industry blogs or publications weekly, subscribe to podcasts from industry experts, and set free Google Alerts to get a daily recap of what’s happening.

4. Eyeball potential competitors

When I was thinking about my coffee glove business, I made a list of competitors who were also solving the problem of coffee cups being too hot to hold.

I researched each company, noting things like their branding, marketing efforts and social media, user design flow on their website, and customer experience. I made a list of what each company did well, what they did that wasn’t so great, what my company could do that was better, and any other competitive advantages.

5. Ask questions to your audience

Getting feedback, suggestions, and even hearing excitement from your potential audience is a great way to gain perspective on your business idea.

Find where your potential audience is having conversations online and join in. For example, I use Quora, Reddit, and Facebook groups to locate my audience, browse the questions they’re asking, and use that insight as a way to enhance my business.

6. Find beta testers to test out your idea

This step requires that you have something for people to test, whether it’s a sample of the product or a soft-launch of the website or mobile app you’re creating.

Set up a way for them to give real-time feedback during every step of the experience. This information will help you fix any holes in your process and get your business ready for more consumers to enjoy.

Having an idea for a business is a powerful and exciting moment. Before you put money behind the idea and launch it, spend time experimenting to see if it’s a viable business that will be as successful as you want it to be.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How the Black tech community is leveraging business models that made hip-hop become a massive cultural and business phenomenon

Josh Otis Miller
Josh Otis Miller is a filmmaker and director of the upcoming documentary “Fund Black Tech.”

  • Lauren deLisa Coleman is a trend analyst and author at the intersection of pop culture and emerging tech.
  • Coleman says business patterns in Black tech are reminiscent of the hip hop industry in the 90s.
  • For Black founders “it’s about moving strategically and blowing up,” says Coleman.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Forget the former tech mantra of move fast and break things. For Black tech entrepreneurs and founders, who receive less than 1% of venture-capital funding, it’s about moving strategically and blowing up.

Lauren deLisa Coleman
The author.

As an AI entrepreneur with a background in the hip-hop music industry, I’ve started noticing business patterns in Black tech that look a lot like what I saw during the golden era of hip hop in the 90s.

Strong business models coupled with sheer talent enabled hip hop to become a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Hip-hop artists’ unparalleled, multi-pronged approach to the business grind almost never slept. Many recording artists were also CEOs of independent labels. They may have also had a promotional company or graphic design firm, as well as a clothing label or accessories line in partnership with streetwear designers.

They were veritable factories of business and selling. And then this was all amplified by “the crew” – or in mainstream speak, a collective.

The unmatched Wu-Tang Clan was and continues to be its own kind of crew from that era; the Dogg Pound Gangstaz went beyond duo Daz and Kurupt to include artists Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg, and the D.O.C. You get the idea.

But these legendary crews weren’t just about creativity and recognition – they were also about sales. Hockey-stick earnings growth followed, coming from a self-supported, self-directed business approach that made many in the hip-hop industry very successful.

Read more: A Black founder raised millions from VCs. He shares his best tips on how to overcome investing bias and succeed in Silicon Valley.

Now, we’re beginning to see various ‘crews’ and collaborations emanate from the Black tech space.

A perfect example of this is the Black NFT “crew” Crypto for Black Economic Empowerment (CBEE) led by finance whiz Erikan Obotetukudo who partnered with Cuy Sheffield, a CryptoArt collector and acting head of crypto at VISA.

Obotetukudo launched the CBEE as a place for Black crypto entrepreneurs to connect and share tips. Through Sheffield, it also provides introductions and collaborations to amplify projects deemed worthy for certain entrepreneurs outside of the group.

Recently this crew banded together by pooling resources and leveraging notable names like rapper Pusha T and model Tyra Banks to support the drop of ex-Dodger MLB player-turned-artist Micah Johnson’s NFT art debut, which ended up selling out at $1.4 million in seven minutes.

And then, there’s Trillicon, a collective of technologists, photographers, and designers known as the Wu-Tang of tech.

“‘Trillicon’ is a play on the phrase ‘Trill’ or true and real,” Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden told Insider. “In 2014, as a faculty member at Stanford, I began to connect with other like-minded individuals. We formed a collective as an extension of my private design and business strategy practice.”

Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden
Trillicon CEO Jason Mayden.

“We all ran in adjacent circles; some of us went to college together and others were friends of friends. It was our faith, personal ethos, and collective aspiration to be servant leaders to advance tech and entrepreneurship,” said Mayden.

“For founders of color, our challenges and emotional and mental toils have varying degrees of complexity and nuance that result from generations of disenfranchisement. As an outsider, it was important to define my unique perspective to ideating and problem-solving.”

As much as hip hop is beloved now, initially it was very much considered persona non grata in both the major music industry and culture at large.

Kino Childrey, a manager in the music industry who’s worked artists like 2021 Grammy rap nominee Royce da 5’9, told Insider, “Hip hop was considered outside the typical recording industry parameters. We were kept out for a long time, (as) outcasts. People didn’t get it.”

Childrey says many in hip hop realized that collaboration was the key to success. By working together, artists could motivate major record labels to get on board, with the liquor and fashion industries following.

Josh Otis Miller, a filmmaker and director of an upcoming documentary entitled “Fund Black Tech” echoed these sentiments.

Josh Otis Miller
Josh Otis Miller is a filmmaker and director of the upcoming documentary “Fund Black Tech.”

“Hip hop emerged out of Black voices being suppressed,” he said, “and what is happening in the tech scene is Black voices, Black ideas, being suppressed. Today, hip hop is the biggest income generator in the music industry, the biggest culture-setter in the entire world. Imagine a world where Black ideas and Black tech businesses get a voice.”

When even the National Science Foundation SBIR grants for tech founders holds over years at an average of only 8% of award for all others than Caucasian males, you’ve gotta get creative to find your way as a founder of color.

“Tech is about reimagining,” added Childrey, “so this hip hop approach is demonstrative of that. It’s about taking the path of least resistance in order to survive and overcome those trying to hold you back.”

Lauren deLisa Coleman is a digi-cultural trend analyst, author, and speaker within the intersection of popular culture, emerging tech, and the impact of such trends on business and governance.

Read the original article on Business Insider

MAKING BIG MONEY: The ultimate guides to breaking into careers with 6-figure salaries

Caroline Stokes
Caroline Stokes is the CEO of talent agency and executive search firm FORWARD, and an expert on growing your career in management consulting.

  • You want to increase your salary but don’t know how to get that promotion or land that job.
  • These guides will point you in the right direction by shifting to freelance or learning new skills.
  • Insider regularly interviews experts about making more money. You can read them all by subscribing to Insider.

Looking for a career move that can boost cash flow? These professions and positions help add the good kind of zeros to your salary. Read these articles to help you combine a career you love with a paycheck you want – and for advice on how to get there.

Full-time gigs

IT professional: 3 IT professionals who didn’t get a college degree and are now making 6 figures reveal how to succeed in their field

Management consultant: How to get onto the partner track at McKinsey and make millions, according to 3 management-consulting headhunters and a former McKinsey HR manager

Engineer: The best way to teach yourself to code and land a six-figure job, from 5 people who’ve done it

Marketing consultant: The ultimate guide to breaking into marketing consulting and making 6 figures, from people who did it

VC: How to break into venture capital and land a job at a top firm, according to recruiters, managing partners, and executive coaches in the VC space

Crisis manager: Crisis managers are taking center stage during the pandemic – and can make a lucrative living. Here’s how to break into the in-demand role, according to 5 veterans in the industry.

Software engineer: 3 software engineers reveal the steps they took to move up in their careers to make 6-figure salaries

Executive in gaming or esports: The non-engineer’s guide to landing a 6-figure job in online gaming or esports, according to senior executives and CEOs in the space

Freelance or independent gigs

General freelancer: The ultimate guide to going freelance – and making more than you did at a full-time gig

Software engineer: Freelance software engineers making over $100,000 a year reveal how they got started, find clients, and set their rates

Ghostwriter: How to become a freelance ghostwriter, according to someone who left her $50,000-a-year banking job and now makes $80,000 a year on her own time

Graphic designer: The best way to build a client base and make 6 figures as a freelance graphic designer, according to 6 people who are currently doing it

Web designer: How to find clients and market your business as an independent web designer, according to 6-figure freelancers who did it

Presentation designer: The exact email one freelance presentation designer uses to increase her rates – and how she plans to make $400,000 this year

Independent consultant: How 5 executives who left their jobs to become independent consultants now make 6 figures on their own time – and how you could do the same

Real estate agent: How to make 6 figures as an independent real estate agent, according to someone who did it

Dietitian: How to earn a 6-figure salary as a dietitian or nutritionist, according to 4 renowned entrepreneurs in the industry

Personal trainer: How to earn a 6-figure salary as a personal trainer, according to 3 people who are doing it

Online tutor: How to become a highly successful online tutor and make a lucrative living as virtual learning becomes the norm

Poshmark seller: The ultimate guide to earning 6 figures on Poshmark, according to star sellers who’ve done it and gained boatloads of customers

Ecommerce seller: The ultimate guides to using popular platforms like Amazon, Depop, and eBay to start your own online business, sell to a massive audience, and make big money

Massage therapist and birth coach: A New-York-based doula and massage therapist reveals the exact formula that’s helped her build an almost 6-figure business solely by word-of-mouth referrals

Upwork freelancer: Self-employed professionals who’ve made over $100,000 on Upwork reveal how they built lucrative businesses in just a few years on the freelancing platform

Freelancer.com freelancer: How to land gigs and build a 6-figure career on Freelancer.com, according to the CEO and freelancers who’ve done it

Fiverr freelancer: 6-figure sellers on the freelancing platform Fiverr share how they landed clients and built successful businesses online

Read the original article on Business Insider

How one Durham-based foundation is investing in North Carolina’s entrepreneurs and growing the state’s innovation footprint

Thom Ruhe and Roy Cooper in suits
Thom Ruhe and Roy Cooper.

  • The NC IDEA foundation supports entrepreneurship and economic development across North Carolina.
  • Using grants, seed funding, mentoring, and other programs, NC IDEA helps entrepreneurs directly.
  • Some initiatives include the NC Black Entrepreneurship Council, NC IDEA SOAR, and NC IDEA LABS.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

From a non-dairy cheese brand and sustainable oyster-production company to many software, hardware, and social-media firms, the nonprofit NC IDEA invests in a variety of businesses across North Carolina.

Thom Ruhe of NC IDEA headshot
Thom Ruhe.

“It’s a shorter list to tell you what we wouldn’t fund than what we do fund,” Thom Ruhe, NC IDEA’s president and CEO, told Insider.

The Durham, North Carolina-based organization supports entrepreneurship and economic development across the state through grants, seed funding, mentoring, and other programs. Last year, it distributed about $3 million to entrepreneurs – and plans to provide $3.5 million more this year.

Durham is a “national case study for what an entrepreneurial ecosystem can do,” and the region has long been a center for innovation, Ruhe, who previously directed entrepreneurial programs at the Kauffman Foundation, said.

“There’s a lot of collaborative energy here, more than I’ve experienced in other markets,” he said. “It’s refreshing and productive. I know it’s cliche to say, the rising tide argument, but it really has helped here.”

Here’s a look at how NC IDEA invests in entrepreneurs, who the organization believes transform communities and boost local economic development.

Broadening its reach to help more entrepreneurs

NC IDEA is a private foundation that was created in 2006 under the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, a nonprofit connecting North Carolina entrepreneurs to the resources they need. It became independent in 2015.

Unlike other foundations, such as the Gates Foundation or Kauffman Foundation, NC IDEA doesn’t have a benefactor, Ruhe said. The primary source for its endowment came from an equity investment that the state of North Carolina made in the 1990s and liquidated in the early 2000s.

To protect the investment, the private foundation was established to economically empower people through entrepreneurship. NC IDEA’s endowment is invested, and the investment income funds the organization.

Recently, the organization began fundraising, which Ruhe said is “very unusual for private foundations because we’re considered self-funded.” NC IDEA wants to increase its budget so it can fund more companies and cover the administrative cost of reviewing additional applications.

“We could see a greater return if we simply had more budget to allocate,” Ruhe said. “We’re trying to take that message out into the economic development and philanthropic communities within North Carolina to say, ‘If you think there’s value to North Carolina and the activity that we do, you can help us increase the yield by just increasing our programmatic budget.'”

Giving grants to businesses and organizations helping startups

Many foundations either operate programs or provide funding. NC IDEA is unique in that it does both, Ruhe explained.

“Our grant-making is better for what we learn in our programmatic activities, and vice versa,” he said. “All of our programs and grants are targeted at helping people live up to their entrepreneurial potential, and in a broader context, make North Carolina the best state in the nation for people to start and grow firms of economic impact.”

NC IDEA operates two categories of grants. Seed grants and micro-grants of $50,000 and $10,000 are provided directly to entrepreneurs or startup founders.

Grants are awarded to founders to whom the money would “at this particular time be very impactful in their ultimate success,” Ruhe said. It provides assistance to get ideas off the ground or help companies scale to the next level so they can create jobs and generate tax revenue for the state. The grants don’t need to be paid back, and the organization doesn’t receive equity in the business.

Another category of grants is what Ruhe calls B2B, where NC IDEA supports other organizations that help entrepreneurs, such as universities, two-year colleges, cities, counties, and others. The organization has about 60 partners in its network.

Supporting underserved communities

NC IDEA recognizes that economic development in North Carolina is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and the organization strives to support underserved communities. Grants are distributed based on what’s relevant in different parts of the state, whether it’s educational programs, access to capital, or mentoring.

“We have to meet people where they are and help them from that starting point,” Ruhe said. “The best way we could do that was the creation of this ecosystem partner program where organizations that are on the front lines in various parts of the state say, ‘Here in our corner of the state, this is what’s most needed.'”

NC IDEA also created the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council and has committed $1 million to advance Black entrepreneurs in the state. The council and foundation will work together to identify and recommend programs, grant recipients, and partners.

large group of people around table in board room
NC IDEA SOAR Day May 2019.

Another program, NC IDEA SOAR, aims to support women in entrepreneurship. The program offers networking, professional development, and connections to resources to help female founders grow their businesses. There’s also a four-week program called NC IDEA LABS that’s open to anyone wanting to take their business to the next level.

Group of men around a table with laptop
NC IDEA LABS fall 2018.

SOAR and LABS are “traditional accelerator”-type programs, Ruhe said. “It’s specific business-growth assistance around market valuation, customer discovery, lead generation, revenue generation – all the nuts and bolts,” he added.

NC IDEA delivers its programs at no cost, but Ruhe said there’s a competitive application process that involves companies providing details about its founders, the company as a whole, revenue, funding, and the type of grants they’re seeking. The organization receives hundreds of applications during each application period.

Growing North Carolina’s innovation footprint

Since its beginning, NC IDEA has provided about $15 million to companies and partners throughout North Carolina. Ruhe added they’ve supported nearly 500 companies, which have created more than 3,300 jobs and brought many benefits to communities.

Marrying innovation and entrepreneurship offers the biggest economic impact, and he said the state of North Carolina does well cultivating both. As word gets out about the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and it keeps attracting major tech companies like Apple and Google, the region has even more potential for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

“The greatest natural resource that exists is the entrepreneurial spirit of people,” Ruhe said. “It’ll be entrepreneurs who will solve our biggest problems. It’s entrepreneurs who are creating the companies that create the jobs we so desperately need. That’s why we do what we do.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to take your business to the next level with livestream shopping

Hand holds a cell phone in front of a pink background with a dress, shoes, FunkoPop, chair, heels and lipstick.
Livestream shopping allows business owners to show products to customers in real-time.

  • Livestream shopping is about to get a lot more popular in the US.
  • Real-time shows let you tell the story behind your brand and products.
  • We break down what livestreaming is and how to use the technology for your business.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Livestream shopping in the US is estimated to become a $6 billion market this year and $25 billion by 2023. Originally popularized in Asia, this method of ecommerce is like a modern QVC show meets Instagram live.

Small businesses, resellers, and collectors are using livestream shows to make thousands of dollars in sales. Boutique owners can show off their latest products or auction off collectibles in real-time, establishing a new way to reach customers at home. Now a store located in one city can reach viewers across the country, vastly widening its net of loyal customers.

See how business owners are using livestream platforms to broaden their customer base and sell their products.

How to get started selling on livestream platforms

You can start livestream selling by either launching a new business or incorporating it into an existing company. Either way, it’s important to identify the niche you’re serving by looking at what your customers and followers are interested in, livestream entrepreneurs told Insider.

You don’t need much more than a smartphone to start livestreaming, but there are a few tools you can purchase to elevate the experience for viewers.

Read more:

Apps and platforms to know

There are several apps and platforms that offer livestream shopping technology, but it still hasn’t quite reached mass adoption in the US. Plus, building up a loyal following is imperative to seller success. Before you get started, learn which platform best suits your needs and audience. Some platforms cater to niche communities of fans or collectors, while other offer special features and tools.

Read more:

Sellers give their tips for success

Insider talked to sellers who average $1,000 to $9,000 in sales per livestream. They gave their tips and advice for getting started, building your audience, and hosting an engaging show.

Read more:

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 ways to decide if starting a side hustle on top of your full-time job is right for you

woman typing on laptop
Many Americans have taken on side gigs as a way to earn extra money.

  • A side gig is a great way to add extra income or explore your passion outside of a full-time job.
  • Look at your savings and current workload to determine if the gig economy is right for you.
  • Network with other creatives to get a sense of whether or not the financial rewards are worth the extra work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Side gigs can be a lucrative way to earn extra cash or expand your horizons – but is it worth the extra stress to have a side hustle and a full-time job?

Although the last decade has seen “the gig economy” blossom and prosper like never before, the concept of the side gig has existed for ages. Anyone looking to earn more money has found that an additional job of some sort is the quickest and easiest way to gain additional financial security.

With the pandemic, millions of Americans began picking up extra “gigs” working for companies including Instacart, Amazon, Uber, and countless other businesses that filled an important niche during COVID. Women were already at the heart of the gig economy long before the pandemic, and many more found themselves starting new side jobs over this last year and a half – perhaps while also holding down full-time positions and caring for loved ones … But working a full-time job and side hustle can be incredibly time consuming, and not always doable with everyone’s schedule. Here’s how to know if doing both may be right for you.

Working “second shift”

Before COVID, many women were likely already working a “second shift” as the primary caregiver for loved ones (such as children and aging parents) and were acting as the caretaker of their home. Once the pandemic hit, millions of women added “teacher” to their list of jobs, and the lines between work life and home life became particularly blurred … Even if your partner worked from home, you most likely continued to do a majority of the domestic work. As a result, it might not be possible to put extra time and energy into a side hustle right now.

And even if you have time for a side gig, taking it on might not be the healthiest option. Over time, it can become just one more ball to juggle rather than a financial relief or a place to put your passion and energy. Finding the elusive “work-life balance” – which, by the way, is a misnomer – becomes even more of a challenge and can take a toll on your mental and physical wellness. In fact, research shows that people who work more than 55 hours a week develop depression and anxiety at a higher rate than those who work standard hours.

We all need to give ourselves a little more grace and realize that working a full-time job, a side hustle, and taking care of a household isn’t always the right choice.

Is the side gig economy right for you?

If you’re deciding whether adding a side gig to your plate is the right move, consider the following:

1. Do you have an emergency fund?

If you have an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months of non-discretionary expenses, that’s great! And it might mean that you don’t need to take on a side gig for the sole purpose of gaining extra income.

If you don’t currently have an emergency fund – or if it’s not enough to cover the essentials for a few months – then a side gig could be beneficial. Regardless, consider putting your emergency fund in an online account that generally pays higher interest.

2. How much do you have saved for retirement?

Ideally, you should save at least 15% of your net income for retirement. If you have access to a 401(k) through your full-time job and your employer offers a match, try to contribute enough to reach your match – and don’t forget that whatever your employer is contributing counts toward your savings target!

If you don’t have a retirement plan or can’t save 15% right now, that’s okay, too. We’re all at different places with our careers and savings goals. A side job that helps you bring in extra money can help boost your savings.

3. Can you devote energy to a side gig?

Extra money is certainly nice to have, but that is only one piece to consider. A side gig takes a lot of energy, resources, and time. Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about because there will be setbacks and days when you don’t feel like you’re making progress. Research and network with people who have similar side jobs to determine what it will take to add the job to your current load. If it seems like the side gig will add too much stress or unhappiness to your life – and take away from what you’re already doing – it might not be right for you.

Ultimately, it’s important to determine whether the financial rewards of a full-time job and side hustle outweigh the potential downsides. Burnout is real and very prevalent right now as people take on too many responsibilities. It’s important to make sure you have the time and energy not just for work and home life, but for yourself as well. If your side gig becomes successful enough, however, it might just be your ticket to pursuing your passion full time.

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5 tips for using your professional expertise to launch a profitable business

businesswoman
Professionals can turn academic expertise into a business if they’re willing to take risks.

  • More trained professionals are turning their academic expertise into businesses, says entrepreneur Cohin Kakar.
  • You don’t need formal business training to be able to identify consumer demands and needs in your specialty.
  • Once you’re an expert in your craft, plan your business venture carefully but also be willing to take risks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The American education system is set up to teach and train individuals to become experts and key thought leaders in the specific fields that they choose. Given the rising costs of education, rarely can students choose more than one area to specialize in. If and when the day arrives that one wants to start a business of their own, it is quite the challenge to learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship later and confidently do so. Additionally, many people have been trained in the sciences or the arts, so finance and accounting seem like foreign languages to them. So how are so many specialized healthcare professionals creating booming privately-owned businesses across the country?

As a formally trained Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.), I had a unique advantage with an MBA in Entrepreneurship before enrolling in Pharmacy School. This opened my eyes and gave me the knowledge and inspiration to one day be able to start my own business. When most people hear of the Pharmacy profession, generally, they think about their local community Pharmacist at a nearby retail location. However, the skillset attained within school goes beyond the community realm and can be extremely useful in other areas. My career, post-Pharmacy School, began in industry where I learned more about the business of pharmaceuticals which gave me the knowledge base to co-found our own health and wellness company. My advice to all of the current students that ask is that they should focus on understanding the science and craft of therapeutics, as opposed to the specific job description that they think they may land after school. Once you are an expert in pharmacology, that skill set translates into many areas from community, clinical, industrial, and yes, entrepreneurial.

Many healthcare providers have taken a similar approach, including Dr. Akash Bajaj – a pain specialist and anesthesiologist who is the founder of Remedy Pain Solutions in Marina Del Ray, CA. Dr. Bajaj and I work together with brands TIDL Sport and CytoCx, where he serves as the Medical Director and has dual degrees with an MD and MPH. Physicians like Dr. Bajaj, who has been featured on the CBS TV hit series ‘Doctors,’ have had to build the plane as it is flying and have done an incredible job in the private practice space. No matter what the specialty, individuals can leverage these tips to make the most of their expertise and turn it into a profitable business while still serving the greater good:

1. Become a master of your craft

The first step is to immerse yourself within your training and specialty and have the confidence to be a key thought leader in the space. Do the extra research, spend the time to learn all of the new information and data in your field to truly understand the opportunity within. “I have been fortunate to be involved with several top academic institutions during my training. While the training was fantastic, there were areas that I felt could be improved for the ultimate outcome of increased access to high-quality healthcare,” said Dr. Bajaj. “Thankfully, this vision has resulted in great outcomes and happy patients.”

2. Identify the needs in your specialty that are currently not being addressed

The expertise and experience will help you identify specific pain points within the area. As we see more movement towards plant-based solutions in diet and general health, there is a need for true regulation and compliance within the industry. Taking a quality-focused pharmaceutical approach has become a core initiative of ours. It results in safe products for consumers and efficacious through the pro-quality approach that we take – a unique approach within the wellness industry.

3. Plan responsibly, but develop comfort with risk

“Ready. Fire. Aim!” as Dr. Bajaj puts it, “Time was not waiting for me to be fully prepared. Sometimes you have to take the leap.” In entrepreneurship, there are no guarantees, which is quite different from some of the career paths that we have trained for our entire academic life. Guaranteed salary, retirement plans, and annual bonuses are far from promised in your own business, and it is important to adapt accordingly. Everything will not go according to plan, and it is important to find comfort with that. As long the launchpad for growth has been established – patience is the biggest challenge, not security.

4. Be an expert in your craft, and a student of your business

One of the biggest challenges that many well-trained professionals face is going from being a teacher to being a student. Expertise in science does not translate to expertise in business. Entrepreneurs must be students of their business, regulatory bodies, and the market to be nimble enough to adapt accordingly. “Issues arise, and sometimes we feel like we have no idea how to deal with it, but it is important to be open-minded and learn from those that have gone through it. If they can do it, so can I,” said Dr. Bajaj. Additionally, it’s important to respond to the market and consumer base. Many experts may have a vision of what they believe is an ideal business, but no business is successful without consumer demand, so you must be open-minded enough to cater to that.

5. Part ways with traditional structure

Hourly shifts, call schedules, and a strict 9-5 are out of the window at the exact minute that you decide to start your own business. Instead of reading about drug facts or clinical guidelines, you will find yourself learning more about customer acquisition costs and digital marketing strategies – which can go well beyond traditional working hours. Any entrepreneur will tell you, be ready to work overtime until it is normal time week in and week out. This tends to be a large part of the struggle for professionals that have come from traditional work structures into the start-up space. Nights, evenings, and weekends are no longer blocked off. However, they serve as incredible times to get things done. In retrospect, as you build a business, these are the times you cherish, “I have learned to love the journey, not the destination. Even the bumps in the road are challenges that can teach you,” advised Dr. Bajaj.

We are fortunate to be a part of a generation where we see some of the most well-rounded people ever. The key characteristic that they all have in common is the versatility to not only specialize in different areas but also take calculated risks as they pursue new technologies and ventures. If you dare to think outside of the box, your expertise can carry you to places that you would have never imagined, and the best part? You are still, and always will be, the subject matter expert.

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JOIN OUR LIVE EVENT ON JULY 1; How to sell on livestream

Vivian Nguyen holds up a toy in front of a phone and ring light.
Vivian Nguyen sells squishy and plushy toys on livestream shopping app Popshop Live.

Livestream shopping in the US is estimated to become a $6 billion market this year and $25 billion by 2023, according to research firm Coresight Research. Originally popularized in Asia, this method of ecommerce is like a modern QVC show meets Instagram Live.

Small businesses and resellers are using livestream shows to personally connect with their customers in real-time. Several apps and platforms offer the technology, but it still hasn’t quite reached mass adoption in the US, which means you have a chance to get ahead of the curve by building up a loyal following now.

Join us for our free event on July 1 at 1 PM EST/10 AM PST. We’ll explain what livestream shopping is and ask sellers for their best tips for gaining loyal viewers and making sales.

Meet our panelists:

Vivian Nguyen is a YouTube influencer and sells toys, accessories, and snacks on the livestream shopping app Popshop Live. In 2020, Nguyen’s business, Cyndercake, made more than $60,000 in sales on the app. It’s helping her pay for college and her rapid growth led her to open her first ecommerce site this year.

Miguel Rivera is the collector and seller behind Master Poppins Collectibles. He auctions off FunkoPop figurines on the livestream shopping app Whatnot.

Kelley Cawley is the owner of a women’s apparel boutique and retail store in LaSalle, Illinois. Cawley began hosting livestream shopping shows on Facebook during the pandemic and it’s now become the bread and butter of her business.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • The basics of livestream shopping – what is it and how to use it.
  • Differences between various livestream shopping apps and platforms.
  • How sellers and business owners use livestream to connect with their customers.
  • Advice on hosting an engaging livestream show that people will want to watch.
  • Tips for making sales and building your audience.

If you’d like to submit a question to be answered, please fill out this brief form. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions live during the webinar.

You can sign up here for our event.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Raleigh-based nonprofit RIoT is boosting entrepreneurship and job growth in the city

Rachael Newberry, RIoT's program director, connecting virtually to a cohort of startups during pandemic gathering restrictions.
Rachael Newberry, RIoT’s program director, connecting virtually with a cohort of startups during the pandemic.

  • RIoT is a nonprofit organization driving innovation and entrepreneurship in the Raleigh area.
  • One program, RIoT Your Reality, is a competition where teams pitch AR ideas to improve the city.
  • Other initiatives include an accelerator program and a data-centric stormwater management project.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

In July, six teams will demonstrate their ideas for how augmented reality can help solve some of the challenges facing Raleigh, North Carolina, and the surrounding areas.

Through the program RIoT Your Reality, the teams are examining ways to improve diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in city programs, promote workforce development, and reinvent the Raleigh Convention Center to drive economic development.

Tom headshot
Tom Snyder.

“It’s the intersection with government,” Tom Snyder, executive director at RIoT, a local nonprofit working to advance innovation, told Insider. “The city of Raleigh and town of Cary together posed a few problem statements that they’re looking for help on. And we’re running a challenge where people are developing new prototypes of augmented-reality applications to serve those challenges.”

RIoT Your Reality is a partnership with RIoT, the city of Raleigh, the town of Cary, Google Fiber, US Ignite, and Facebook Reality Labs. It kicked off in April with several teams pitching their AR ideas. Six were selected to receive $1,000 to build a prototype, which they’ll demo during an event on July 27. A final winner receives $40,000 and a spot in the RIoT Accelerator Program to launch a new startup.

Snyder said the goal is to create a municipal pilot project and learn how to scale a startup to assist cities beyond North Carolina.

The AR competition is just one of the ways that RIoT works to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the Raleigh area. Here’s a look at some of the organization’s other major programs.

Helping businesses create new tech jobs

RIoT was founded in 2014 as part of the larger nonprofit Wireless Research Center, located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, which works to advance wireless technology innovation.

Originally, the name was an acronym for Raleigh Internet of Things, then Regional Internet of Things. Now it just goes by RIoT.

“Our grounding thesis is that the best new jobs are created at the forefront of emerging technology,” Snyder, who helped found the organization, said. RIoT’s programs help entrepreneurs start companies and established businesses grow through new technology adoption, all of which creates new jobs.

Being headquartered in Raleigh offers advantages, Snyder said. The area is home to several top universities, including Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, which fosters a talent pipeline. Several major tech and data companies, including IBM and SAS, have a presence in the region, creating a “great diversity of industry” within the tech sector, he said.

“There are just massive industries and a really nice balance here that makes it a more attractive place for people to be,” Snyder said. “You can’t just job hop during your career, but you can industry hop successfully. And that brings fresh ideas and really makes us a strong place to live.”

RIoT has another location in Wilson, North Carolina, though its presence extends beyond the state. The organization hosts events around the country and is planning to establish new offices in Colorado and Virginia.

Enabling startups to get off the ground

One of RIoT’s programs to boost economic development, the RIoT Accelerator Program, connects entrepreneurs with partners in their industries and gives them access to prototyping tools and other resources.

RIoT
RIoT Accelerator winner Michael Bender, founder and CEO of Intake, a healthcare analytics company, holding the RIoT championship belt.

The accelerator is currently on its eighth cohort. Snyder said RIoT is purposeful in supporting underrepresented groups when selecting startups to participate, and about 60% of the companies involved have been run by women, minorities, and veterans.

Since 2014, the companies participating in the accelerator have created more than 200 jobs, generated more than $100 million in revenue, and earned millions in grant and venture funding, he said.

Growing the accelerator to help more startups is one of its goals. By the end of 2021, Snyder said the accelerator will be offered in multiple cities.

To help startups prototype and experiment with ideas without having to spend money on equipment, RIoT Labs offers hardware, wireless, and software prototyping tools, including a 3D printer, electronic equipment, soldering irons, and more.

“We can provide that equipment for you to go create your new connected device, do the performance testing on the front end, do the regulatory certification testing on the back end, and get it to market,” he said.

RIoT works with government and corporate partners, including Cisco and SAS. Snyder said the organization is always on the lookout for new ones willing to support the entrepreneurial community.

“We want Raleigh to be the place that anyone in the world who wants to participate knows if I come here, I can find the partners that I need to be successful,” he said.

Making Raleigh the center of the ‘data economy’

RIoT worked with Raleigh and the surrounding communities on a data-centric stormwater management project.

Partnering with local startup GreenStream Technologies, they used water-level monitoring sensors to better understand water movement and predict when to shut down a street before it floods or dispatch emergency responders before flooding reaches emergency levels.

Snyder said Raleigh has done a good job of thinking about how to make data collected at the city level accessible – and has the potential to be the “center of excellence of the data economy.” Processing and measuring data depends on the advancement of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and automation technologies.

“We’re moving from a world where the economy was driven by the internet to now one where it’s being driven by real-time data,” he said.

Through programs like RIoT Your Reality and the water management project, Raleigh serves as a testbed to experiment with new ideas and technologies.

“When we can do that successfully, not only are we solving the city’s needs in a way that they can remain focused on their day-to-day operations, but if it’s a local company that provides for those needs, we’re creating jobs here in the community,” Snyder said.

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