Time to get motivated
When you’re an airline pilot, you start with a company with loads of enthusiasm to learn and develop your career. Once you’re comfortable with your aircraft and the type of operation you’re flying, the learning curve really does flatten, if not decline slightly in a lot of cases.
After that initial period, the next time you’re forced to really learn again and get back enthused is when you’re doing your captain upgrade. In legacy carriers, this could be up to 20 years of stagnation and lack of personal growth.
Lots of time on your hands at weird times
With strange rosters and lots of time down route, being a pilot is the ideal career to allow you to have a secondary job or skill. As well as potentially having a secondary source of income, having a side hustle adds to your personal robustness and allows you to explore other professional areas of life.
It's a fragile industry at the best of times
Being a pilot is a very fragile career path. You can easily have your career as a pilot taken away from you any day, through no fault of your own. The coronavirus has seen thousands of excellent pilots being made redundant, but even without this pandemic, it’s a career which could be taken from you at any point. Airlines and operators have always had precariously shaky profit margins. Even in boom periods, if an airline is making more than 10% profit, this is considered very good. Usually, it’s closer to break even, or loss making and propped up by governments. Even in the glory year of 2019, all of these major airlines filed for bankruptcy:
- Adria Airways
- Air Philip
- Aerolineas de Antioquia
- Aigle Azur
- Al Naser Wings Airline
- Asian Express Airline
- Avianca Argentina
- Avianca Brazil
- California Pacific Airlines
- Fly Jamaica Airways
- Insel Air
- Jet Airways
- Thomas Cook Airlines
- Wisdom Airways
- WOW Air
- XL Airways
It's so easy to lose your license!
On top of the already unstable industry, you have the constant concern of pilot licensing. You have a bad day or two in the simulator and pop, there goes your job. You make a bad decision on the line and pop, there goes your job. You are unlucky enough to become unwell and pop, there goes your job. The job you have invested huge sums of money in, the job you’ve studied hard for, the job where you are responsible for hundreds of peoples safety every day, just disappears overnight and you have nothing as a back-up.
Easier said than done
It's all well and good saying "get a side hustle", but what does that actually look like?
What can you do?
Where do you start?
The options are limitless, but having so many potential paths makes it so hard to nail something down.
Don't be swayed by 'get rich quick' schemes
Anybody who has looked into starting a side hustle before has no doubt seen advertisements or youtube videos with flashy titles like "I make $10,000 a week from my hobby" or "do this to get financial freedom". These are tried and tested click bait to lure in people exactly in your situation - a bit of spare time and money, intelligent and wanting to do something on the side.
In reality, pretty much every single one of these schemes won't make you a penny, and you'll probably end up a lot worse off.
Some examples include drop-shipping, multi-level marketing and forex trading seminars. Don't get me wrong - the occasional person will make money from these activities, but the vast majority will lose a lot.
Pick a niche
Avoid anything remotely mainstream.
It's great to 'think big', but it's also really important to understand that to build a sustainable and scalable business, you can't go and compete with existing players straight away.
To give yourself the very best change of growing a user base and developing your business, you need to pick something really really niche. You may think that nobody will be interested in really specific services or products, but if it interests you, it'll definitely interest some of the other 7 billion people in the world.
Won't this exclude lots of potential customers?
Yep! It will. But, it's better to find a small handful of people who really want to use your product or service, rather than having loads of people who don't.
Loads of companies fail because they try to please everyone, but nobody is interested enough to use the product or service.
Remember, you're just one person
There is a LOT to do when starting up. You have to research the market thoroughly, plan finances, understand legal aspects, plan your business, sort out your branding ......... the list is basically endless. And you're just one person.
This is another great reason to focus on something you're really interested in or very good at (preferably both) - it'll make every aspect of starting and running a business so much easier if you're genuinely passionate about what you're doing.
Stop procrastinating and start DOING
The absolute biggest thing I've found starting businesses is that you just have to do it.
I spent years googling/youtube-ing everything I might ever need to start a business. Don't get me wrong, do your due diligence - don't just blindly jump into something.
But, if you've got an idea, you have to just do it.
The whole start up process is a massive learning curve in itself, and it doesn't matter how much research you've done - you'll just have to learn on the job.
A lot of the best companies in the world often started as something completely different to what they are now, but through starting the business, found different opportunities and paths to get to the business they are today.
Even if your first business venture is a complete flop, the skills you learn, then contacts you make and the confidence you gain will set you up for success in the future.