It is common for people to end up in unrewarding jobs. But those courageous enough to pursue their interests in their spare time can find fulfillment by solving problems they care about. This is why side hustles often work so well — they allow people to align their interests with a business idea they can develop at their own pace.
With dedication and perseverance, a side hustle can become a successful and sustainable business model, with profit as a natural by-product.
Sahar Karoubi founded Bambuyu out of interest and curiosity. It’s an eco-friendly company that aims to create tree-free and plastic-free products that slow down deforestation.
“I was trying to find simple ways to reduce waste at home, and I realized that I had never questioned how toilet paper was made. I was then shocked to find that 27,000 trees are cut down daily to make toilet paper. I knew there had to be a better way to make tissues, and when I couldn’t find the product I was looking for in the UAE, I decided to make it myself. I began by approaching industry experts in the UAE,” says Karoubi.
“Despite warnings about the limited market for sustainable tissue manufacturing, I pressed on, convinced that Bambuyu was onto something,” adds Karoubi.
Just over a year after launching, Bambuyu tissues are now available through multiple e-retail channels. They have also gained a following among some of the UAE’s favorite restaurants and hotels that share the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
GIVING IT ALL
Entrepreneurship requires constant attention and care. According to Hadi Solh, a Lebanese investor in disruptive technologies and co-founder of Flexbase, starting part-time is a decent way to start. However, he emphasizes that at some point, it is crucial for entrepreneurs to eventually shift their focus entirely to their startup, giving it their undivided attention and effort.
Solh likens this to burning the ships, meaning entrepreneurs should not have a backup plan or escape route.
“Burning the ships” is a business concept from a Spanish myth. According to the story, upon arriving in Mexico in 1519, a commander ordered his men to burn their ships. That left them with no option but to march forward to conquer the land. The idea behind “burning the ships” is eliminating any possibilities of retreat, such that one is fully dedicated to overcoming challenges on their way to reach their goals.
Solh recounted a success story involving a quantum computing startup he had invested in.
“The company’s two founders, both scientists at a university, had initially developed their approach to quantum computing as a side project while working full-time jobs,” said Solh, “but they decided to incorporate the company and obtained an IP license for their technology. After receiving funding, they began dedicating more time and resources to the startup, eventually hiring full-time employees and taking their project out of the lab into the real world. Within 18 months, they sold three quantum computers to key clients, which marked a significant milestone for their growing company.
People often crave a quick fix, a simple answer that fast-tracks their progress. But real solutions often require a multifaceted approach rather than a single easy fix.
A SENSE OF PURPOSE
Hani Debs, the Lebanese-Syrian Executive Vice President of Debs Corporation, emphasizes the importance of purpose and emotional intelligence in achieving business success. Debs notes that simply working hard or smart is not enough to guarantee success. Instead, it’s critical to have a clear sense of purpose and understand your work’s value to society, associates, and stakeholders.
“Hamsters run hard on a treadmill but don’t get anywhere. Just working hard on your business doesn’t equate to success. The most important thing,” says Debs, “is to work with a purpose. You need a driven purpose.”
Debs further accentuates that while intelligence and technical skills are important, it’s critical to empathize, listen, and be patient.
“By focusing on emotional intelligence, business leaders can build strong teams and create a positive, productive work environment,” says Debs, adding that progression demands ongoing learning and adaptation.
“Growth is essential to any successful business,” says Debs, “but it can come with challenges. It’s important to be prepared for these encounters, whether customer dissatisfaction, overworking, difficulty keeping up with demand, recruitment challenges, unexpected events, or rapidly changing business environments. While these challenges may be painful, they can also be valuable opportunities to learn and grow. By anticipating potential challenges and having a plan to manage them, you can minimize their impact and stay focused on your long-term goals.”
PERCEPTION OF THE PATH
Barbara Soltysinska, co-founder and CEO of UAE-based IndaHash, thinks that the x-factor of a successful entrepreneur lies in their perception of the path.
“To achieve comfort in business,” said Soltysinska, “one must be prepared to have uncomfortable discussions, make tough decisions, and engage in activities that push them into uncharted territories. Successful entrepreneurs are persistent, adaptable, and able to pivot as needed. Ultimately, the outcome depends on how one perceives the journey. If they view it as an opportunity to become a better leader in uncharted territories, despite the difficulties and unpredictability, it can be beautiful and rewarding.”
Taking your side hustle full time means getting to devote your energy to a job you really love. While the journey from a side hustle to a successful business may appear turbulent, it can be fulfilling if you believe in your endeavor.