A new survey found parents with kids under 18 were more likely to start a side gig for reasons other than just making money.

By Anna Halkidis
February 08, 2021
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Like many other parents during the pandemic, Rhiannon Menn says she found herself feeling helpless, and with so many families around her struggling, she wanted to do something to help. "I wanted to find a way to support the families in my community while also keeping my own family safe," says the San Diego mom of two with one on the way.

She decided to turn her love for cooking into a charitable business called Lasagna Love, which launched in April 2020. She and her daughter began making and delivering lasagna to moms struggling, whether economically or emotionally. Why lasagna? "When I think of lasagna, I think of a family sitting around a table sharing, laughing, and spending time together," says Menn. "That's what I wanted to send people: not just a meal, but also warmth and kindness that can be so powerful during a difficult time."

The mother and daughter duo started posting on local Facebook groups for moms to find those in need. It wasn't long before the initiative took off. "What started as my daughter and I making a few meals has since turned into a national movement of kindness with over 15,000 volunteers," says Menn.

She's one of many parents across the country who have started a side hustle for reasons other than solely financial gain in the past three years, according to a recent online survey of 2,000 Americans from Zapier, a company focusing on easy automation for small businesses.

The survey found that parents with kids under 18 years old were almost twice as likely than those without to have a side hustle—49 percent compared to 28 percent. And parents were more likely to start the gig to test a business idea—24 percent versus 10 percent—and to develop a new skill or experience—36 percent versus 22 percent. Of course, financial gain is still a big motivator: 42 percent of the parents said they started a side hustle to create passive income compared to 49 percent.

Credit: Getty Images.

"Side hustles are a great way to learn new skills, diversify your income, or test the waters for a business idea," says Wade Foster, co-founder and CEO of Zapier, a company which started as side project in 2011 and now employs hundreds of people around the world. The company works with customers, including Menn, who use Zapier to run their side business. "Some pursue a side project to give back to their community like Lasagna Love. Others completely automate their side hustle to make passive income," adds Foster. "Today's side hustlers could be the next wave of American entrepreneurs and small business owners."

Tips for Parents Who Want to Side Hustle

For parents who want to start a side gig, just go for it, advises Menn. "I think it's easy to get frozen in the 'how' stage, and a lot of times that freeze happens out of fear. Whatever it is you want to do, just get started. Do one thing. Then another. And another," she says. "Yes, you'll make mistakes. But you'll learn along the way."

And don't be afraid to ask for help and accept it when it comes your way. "I think a lot of times we parents feel like we have to do it all our own, but there are people that want to help. This was a huge adjustment for me," says Menn. "Whether it was a law firm offering to help us with our nonprofit status or my mother-in-law offering FaceTime storytime with my kiddos, Lasagna Love wouldn't be where it is today without having a lot of help." If you have a partner at home, make sure to also get on the same page and ask them to step in when needed.

Don't forget about digital help either. "When you're running a side hustle, chances are you'll find yourself doing lots of manual, repetitive tasks. Automating things like lead management, sales processes, project management, or any other task will take work off your plate, so you can focus on more important tasks—like spending time with your family, or experimenting with creative new ideas," says Foster.

For more inspiration on starting a side hustle, check out our tips to make it happen.

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