In the US alone, there are over 28 million small businesses. Of those, an estimated 22 million consist of a single operating member—solopreneurs as I like to call them.
Many of these small business owners started their businesses as nothing more than the intersection of passion and skills that combined to create a business idea with the ability to earn extra money and scale into something truly sustainable.
As someone who’s successfully launched four profitable side businesses over the past four years, I’ve learned a lot about how to turn your skills into a healthy side income. From building physical products to selling my consultative services, and building my own suite of digital products, I’ve been able to generate thousands in extra income each month.
If you’re ready to build a foundation for one day becoming gainfully self-employed, here are my top eight ways to get started with a profitable side business today.
Systemic racism has been a critical problem for generations, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has brought centuries of injustice to the spotlight. Over the last six months, following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others, individuals worldwide have taken a stand to fight oppression and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
It’s an inflamed and sensitive time that calls for radical change. Diverse companies not only outperform their less diverse peers, but they also forge stronger connections with their customers. 77% of U.S. consumers said it was “deeply important that companies respond to racial injustice to earn or keep their trust.” As consumer bases diversify and consumers change their spending habits, companies need to ensure that their content, messaging, product, design, and data align with these shifts. While organizations know they need stronger commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), many don’t know where to start — individual companies often take action but lack coordinated guidance.
Our Standards Boards were established to increase the clarity of and access to careers in marketing, AI & data science, product management, and UX design. To date, the Boards have primarily focused on providing clarity on the skills needed within specific fields by publishing career frameworks and certifications. Now, it’s time to connect to the access portion of their work. Together, the Standards Boards have crafted DEI principles that guide organizations on how to provide equitable access to skills and career paths for their employees.
Improving Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: A Practical Guide
To create a meaningful guide to DEI, our Standards Board Members reflected on what diversity, equity, and inclusion meant as individuals, employees, and leaders of organizations. With this in mind, we focused on improving the current DEI practices each member saw being used and creating a practical playbook that could be applied across companies and disciplines. Ultimately, we hope this playbook serves as a starting point for conversations around DEI that lead to career paths for diverse talent and helps leaders create work environments in which all can succeed.
Our Standards Board DEI task force drafted a playbook of seven overarching principles that have been refined through feedback from colleagues, DEI experts, GA instructors and staff, plus more. These principles were designed to guide any organization’s DEI strategy, regardless of function, industry, geography, or company size.
These principles were created by leaders in various industries who have a real conviction for driving change. Below, you’ll find a few principles our board members stand behind; they hope you’ll use these to drive conversations and assess how your organization is implementing DEI.
“We all recognize a critical need to address systemic issues with diversity, equity, and inclusion through actions — not just words. These principles were created to support action plans for every company to ensure a culture of belonging for all employees, at all levels throughout the organization.”
We hope these principles spark conversations at your organizations that lead to tactical activities such as revisiting policies, analyzing pay equity, and tracking diversity data. While some of these principles are being implemented across board member organizations, some aren’t. Our intention is to enable organizations to implement DEI policies across every level of an organization through actions, not just words.
The Actions We Are Taking
It’s essential that these aforementioned principles are put into action. Across the Standards Boards, we’ll be incorporating DEI into career frameworks, assessments, and products. We’ll also be actively recruiting more board members in 2021 to ensure our boards are representative of the talent in their industries.
Within GA, we’re also committed to aligning these principles with our work. We’re actively promoting equity and justice by using our platform to discuss why we should all be angry, and we’re making real commitments to ensure we’re not idle in the face of systemic racism. We’re cultivating conversations about our diversity story and creating a culture of dissent through creating an Inclusion Committee as well as a Fireside Chat series that brings employees and executives together for candid conversations on D&I (both started in 2019).
We’re cultivating our future employee base by updating our policies to require a diverse slate of interview candidates for all leadership-level positions, revisiting internal promotion criteria, and launching a mentorship program (Code Grow) so our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) staff has formal avenues to develop their careers. To attract diverse talent, we are utilizing outlier career-search platforms like AngelList, Underdog.io, Vettery, c0ffe3, Black Creatives, and more.
We’re transparent about the areas of difference we’re cultivating by reformalizing our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) with dedicated executive sponsors. And we’re tying outcomes to actions by measuring all our people metrics and making plans to improve the experiences of underrepresented groups in our organization. We’re also ensuring DEI is central in our product development.
The principles set forward by the Standards Boards are essential to capturing many voices across multiple sectors because they encapsulate what has been learned on our individual and collective journeys. We look to evolving and integrating these principles into GA’s courses, continue the hard work and commitment to DEI at GA, and further develop organizational behaviors, along with the willingness of our Standards Board partners to do the same.
The list below notes the leaders that have signed on. If you’re a leader who is ready to join us and adopt these principles, you can sign on here.
Shri Bhupathi, Founder and Technical Fellow, MILL5 Gideon Bullock Andrea Chesleigh Chad Evans, SVP, Product and Platform, NBA Stephen Gates Benjamin Harrell, Chief Marketing Officer, Priceline Marla Kaplowitz, President and CEO, 4A’s Willy Lai Louis Lecat Kevin Lyons, SVP of Technology, Nielsen Francisco Martin, Head of Business Development, Thrive Global Marilyn McDonald, SVP of B2B Experiences, Mastercard Kristof Neirynck, CMO of Global Brands, Walgreens Boots Alliance Gretchen O’Hara, VP of AI & Sustainability, Strategy & Partnership, Microsoft Michelle Onvural, CEO, Bonobos Seth Rogin, CEO, Magnolia Media Partners Nick Perugini Adam Powers Professor Andrew Stephen, Associate Dean of Research & L’Oréal Professor of Marketing Linda Tong, General Manager, AppDynamics (a Cisco Company) Sang Valte, UX Director, Jellyfish
It’s a new world that calls for moral bravery and clear actions. We welcome all feedback on these principles and look forward to hearing how your organization implements these and other DEI initiatives.
The term “big data” is everywhere these days, and with good reason. More products than ever before are connected to the Internet: phones, music players, DVRs, TVs, watches, video cameras…you name it. Almost every new electronic device created today is connected to the Internet in some way for some purpose.
The result of all those things connected to the Internet is data. Big, big data. What’s that mean for you? Simply put, it means if you can quickly, accurately, and intelligently sift through data and find trends, you are extremely valuable in today’s tech job market. More specifically, here are five job titles that require data analytics skills and expertise to get ahead.
If you work in the technology industry, or live in a tech hub such as Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, or New York —it’s likely that you or someone you know is in the process of conceptualizing or even launching his or her own startup venture.
A startup venture is often misunderstood for simply a small new business. The truth is, there is a significant difference between a startup and a small business.
You can be pardoned for sometimes feeling confused about all the terminology and job titles floating around in the design world. What is the difference between graphic design, visual design, and user experience design? Do each of the three roles provide a different service? For visual and graphic designers, the difference may lie mainly in the job title and salary expectations. However, a user experience designer has very different end goals and responsibilities from a visual or graphic designer. Below is a breakdown of what each of these designers does within the design industry, to help you decide what type of design is right for you.Continue reading →
If you’re pursuing a job at a startup company, one of the most important factors you’ll need to consider is compensation, which is commonly structured differently than at a mature company. This is largely dependent on the life stage of a company, which can greatly impact compensation, as well as work-life balance, risk, and upside.
Compensation at a startup company is largely made up of three components: salary, benefits, and equity. The value of each depends on the stage of a company’s growth, the role, and an employee’s previous experience. A good rule of thumb, though, is this: The earlier a stage the company is in, the lower the salary and benefits will be, but the higher the equity will be. As the company matures, the scales start to tip in the other direction. Let’s talk in a bit more detail about each of these.
As mentioned above, salary is largely contingent on the company’s stage, the role, and the employee’s previous experience. There is no one-size-fits-all here. At an earlier-stage company, you can almost certainly expect a lower base salary than the industry norm, regardless of your previous experience. As the company matures, the salaries of all positions start to get closer and closer to market rate. If you’re curious what to expect, we recommend playing with the salaries and equity tool by AngelList or researching salary ranges at specific companies on Glassdoor.
Benefits at a startup are also largely dependent on stage. If good benefits are important to you, then an early-stage startup is likely the wrong place to work. However, as a startup grows, its benefits often become an extension of its culture and are used in all recruiting efforts. Take, for instance, Airbnb, which offers a $2,000 travel stipend to all employees. Other startups may allow pets at the office, or offer gym and other discounts, catered lunches, generous vacation policies, or flexible remote-working options.
Equity: Stock and Vesting Schedules
Equity is often the most confusing and intriguing part of a compensation package at a startup. Equity refers to ownership of the company, and this can be extremely valuable if the company ever sells or goes public (learn more about startup fundraising here and in our eBook, How to Get a Job at a Startup).
What’s important to know here is that no employee is ever “given” equity. Instead, employees often receive stock options, which are the option to purchase equity in the company at a heavily discounted price. You also are not given all of your stock options up front; rather, you earn an increasing amount of options over a four-year period. That four-year period is often referred to as a vesting schedule. The typical vesting schedule gives you one-fourth of your options at the end of your first year, and then 1/48th every month after that. Once your options vest, you have the right to purchase them (or not).
Getting into a company early has a big impact on the amount of stock options you receive and at what price. If you join a company early, you are often rewarded with a higher number of options at a much lower price. As the company matures, the risk gets lower and its ability to pay market-rate salaries improve, so you will typically receive fewer stock options and at a higher purchase price.
The benefit of purchasing your options is that eventually — fingers crossed — the company will sell or go public and you will get a big payday. For example, early Instagram employees turned their stock options into an average profit of nearly $8 million! And there’s the famous example of the Facebook muralist who was compensated in stock options that were eventually worth north of $200 million. Of course, these examples are far on the ludicrous side of the scale, and many people don’t make any money from stock options — but risky or not, they’re part of what makes joining a startup so exciting.
How to Negotiate Your Startup Offer
There are special considerations to make when negotiating your compensation at a startup. Macia Batista, a career coach at General Assembly’s New York campus, walks you through essential steps for building your ideal job offer.
Know your minimum number. Leverage sites like PayScale and Glassdoor to learn to learn what employers in your city are paying for similar roles and industries. Do your research ahead of time to fully understand the fair market value for the position, taking into account background and experience. Know your worth!
Provide a salary range. Determine a range for yourself, then ask for the upper half of it, so you can negotiate down if needed. Giving a range demonstrates flexibility. It gives you the opportunity to ask for more when an offer is presented, and negotiate other variables, like 401k contribution, remote work options, or vacation days. Tell the hiring manager, “I’m targeting roles with a range of X, but I’m focused on the entirety of the package including culture, growth, and mission.”
Consider the whole package — not just salary. Compensation goes beyond your paycheck. When weighing a job offer, look at factors like bonuses, equity, health care and retirement plans, transportation costs, schedule flexibility (e.g., working from home and vacation time), and potential for growth at the company.
Ensure your pay increases with funding. If you’re joining an early-stage startup, equity (stock options) is oftentimes part of the compensation package, since these offers often fall below market salary. However, you should be be earning a fair market-value salary as soon as the company raises real money. I recommend signing a written agreement with your employer to guarantee a pay increase once the company has more capital.
How to Land Your Dream Startup Job
Working in the startup world can be one of the most challenging, exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking, and oftentimes fulfilling journeys of your life. But before you find first startup job, there are terms to learn, steps to take, and skills to grow to make you a candidate who stands out from the crowd.
In our eBook, How to Get a Job at a Startup, we’ll help you find your dream startup job through the knowledge of startup job-hunters, founders, and employers. Get firsthand tips on how to break into a startup career, clear up confusing industry jargon, and learn about important resources that will aid you on your journey as a startup employee.
General Assembly believes that everyone should be empowered to pursue work they love. We hope you’ll find this book to be a helpful first step in getting there yourself.
How to Land a Job at a Startup
Learn how to start your journey with our exclusive guide.
At first glance, data science seems to be just another business buzzword — something abstract and ill-defined. While data can, in fact, be both of these things, it’s anything but a buzzword. Data science and its applications have been steadily changing the way we do business and live our day-to-day lives — and considering that 90% of all of the world’s data has been created in the past few years, there’s a lot of growth ahead of this exciting field.
While traditional statistics and data analysis have always focused on using data to explain and predict, data science takes this further. It uses data to learn — constructing algorithms and programs that collect from various sources and apply hybrids of mathematical and computer science methods to derive deeper actionable insights. Whereas traditional analysis uses structured data sets, data science dares to ask further questions, looking at unstructured “big data” derived from millions of sources and nontraditional mediums such as text, video, and images. This allows companies to make better decisions based on its customer data.
So how is this all manifesting in the market? Here, we look at three real-world examples of how data science drives business innovation across various industries and solves complex problems.
If you have ever done a quick job search for “user experience design,” chances are you’ve seen a number of titles and descriptions that aren’t always as simple as “UX designer.”
User experience has a variety of specializations, and as a job seeker and practitioner, you should know the skills and applications that come with each. Understanding these differences will help you decide your UX career path and and help you find the appropriate job to fit your interests and skill set.
We live in a world where our careers largely define us, where the average person experiences about 12 job changes in their lifetime. That translates to a job (or even full career) change — and possibly, a new identity — every few years. Many people are recently flocking to join the tech industry during a career pivot, as UX, data, and software roles are in high-demand, even within this competitive job market.
Although we’ve established that job change is incredibly common and that change is new and exciting, impostor syndrome can still creep in. When transitioning roles or industries, you might feel like your experience isn’t relevant, you don’t know the lingo, or you’re the new, inexperienced kid on the block. Whatever impostor-like thoughts are sneaking into your brain, understand that this, too, is normal.
Let’s talk about what impostor syndrome is, the different forms it may take, examples of impostor syndrome in action, and how to combat it.
Impostor syndrome: what is it?
Impostor syndrome is when a person doubts their accomplishments, doesn’t feel good enough, and has a persistent internalized fear of being found out as a fraud. It feels like inadequacy, constant self-doubt, and like you don’t belong where you are. Impostor syndrome is overwhelming, isolating, and prevents you from being your best. This could look like being afraid to ask questions in a meeting, not seeking out mentorship, or not negotiating a salary you deserve, etc. Over 70% of people claim to experience impostor syndrome. So, if you experience any of these symptoms, you’re certainly not alone.
Now, let’s break down the different identities and behavior patterns of impostor syndrome, and how to overcome them.
The Super Person
A Super Person takes on too many tasks and feels like they have to execute every single one flawlessly — this person will always think that they could’ve done more. People exhibiting Super Person tendencies feel like their worth is attached to how they perform and not in who they are, so they push themselves harder and harder to exhaustion.
This can look like raising your hand in a meeting to volunteer taking on yet another task in addition to the three other extra projects you’re managing, plus your regular workload. As a result, you’re overwhelmed by all the tasks you’ve taken on and all the time needed, so you end up working 70 hours versus your usual 50.
While it’s great to work hard and perform well, it’s important to know that you are more than your output and performance. The Super Person is chasing an unhealthy, unsustainable “high” that will only wear them down and let them down. Take a deep breath, relax, grab coffee with a coworker, or take a walk. The world won’t come tumbling down if you decide to trust others, have faith in their capabilities, delegate tasks to them, or take much-needed time for yourself. It’s all about balance!
Experts have a deep-seated belief that they are not as smart or as capable as others think they are. Their confidence can be validated not by what they know but by how much others perceive their apparent expertise. This type is often found in a first or junior-level role or when someone moves into a more senior role within a completely new company or industry.
This can look like prematurely taking the lead in a meeting and faking the answer to a question you don’t know the answer to rather than saying, “That’s a great question, I don’t know, but I’ll let you know by the end of the day.” By faking it rather than admitting your knowledge gap, you’re jeopardizing your reputation instead of strengthening it.
It feels great to feel prepared and know all the answers to all the questions, but you don’t need to know everything — you just have to be smart enough to find people who can help. We easily forget that “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” is a great answer (while also showing a little humility)! You know more than you think you do, so give yourself a little grace. And remember, no successful person really got to where they are without others’ help and expertise.
The Natural Genius
Natural Geniuses feel like they should know things without being taught and believe their coworker’s success comes so easily to them. If something isn’t effortless or requires minimal learning, they think it’s wrong, not meant for them, or that they’re a failure. Natural Genius is a form of impostor syndrome where people feel like they have to get things perfect on the first try – if they don’t, they feel shame and embarrassment.
This can look like getting frustrated while exploring a new field, like digital marketing, at General Assembly. The course is difficult and takes a lot of work, but all you see is that everyone else seems to get it so easily. So, you quit and pick a different “easier” focus. Meanwhile, you wonder what digital marketing would have been like despite getting a new job or achieving other goals.
Manifestations of Natural Genius impostor syndrome prevent people from trying new or difficult things and don’t allow them to learn from failure. Remember that success takes time and hard work; you might even fail the first couple of times before getting it right. Consider yourself in good company with Michael Jordan, who didn’t make the varsity basketball team in high school. You, too, can push through challenges and build resiliency. Don’t let your Natural Genius expectations get in the way of hard-won success.
A Soloist avoids help at all costs; they feel like working on a team diminishes their success. They feel like they have to do everything on their own to prove their competence. For them, asking for help is a terrible thing that would reveal their worst fears, that they are a fraud, not smart or good enough, and don’t deserve to be where they are.
This can look like taking on a project that you have no capacity to take on — it’s due at the end of the week, and your coworkers ask if you need help, but you say no. You’re stressed, overwhelmed, your other tasks suffer, and to top it off, the project doesn’t turn out as well as you wanted it to.
Independence can be empowering, but it can also be isolating. You might miss out on collaboration, camaraderie, and learning new skills. Diversity of opinion doesn’t cheapen success; it makes your work better and more well-rounded. Invite people in, share your knowledge, and listen to others. Asking for help isn’t a weakness; it’s a strength.
Perfectionists simply feel like they have to be perfect and errorless, or everything will fall apart. It’s hard for them to believe others’ praise or their success. Perfectionism is a form of impostor syndrome that manifests as feeling like you have to be impeccable and present yourself and your work in a particular way. There is a sense of safety in having people see them in an ideal, faultless way, and when that safety is compromised, they think everything could fall apart.
This can look like taking the lead on a project and delegating tasks to teammates, but then taking over because you don’t believe that their work will be good enough. You might micromanage people and drive them away. You may wonder why you don’t have close relationships at work.
While perfectionism gives a false sense of security, it holds people back, inhibits success, and strains relationships. Extend yourself some grace and kindness, and don’t focus on the little things or controlling others’ behavior. Sometimes “good enough” really is good enough!
Going into a new field is scary — no matter how much experience you have or how hard you’ve worked, self-doubt and impostor syndrome can take over. You may have found yourself nodding your head to one or more of these behaviors or identities. As previously stated, 70% of people suffer from imposter syndrome, so you don’t need to feel alone. Now that you have an awareness of the type(s) of impostor syndrome you may tend toward and tips on how to combat debilitating self-doubt, you’re in a better position for a smoother transition to a successful career in your new chosen field.
Brooke McCord is a certified Career Coach at Ama La Vida. She enjoys working with people who are ready to take the next step in life and helps others work through the things that hold them back. Featured in publications like Chief Learning Officer and as a regular speaker on the topic, Brooke specializes in battling impostor syndrome. Whether it’s figuring out what people want next, helping them overcome impostor syndrome, or building up general confidence, Brooke helps her clients achieve their ultimate goals and get to where they want to go!
In the spirit of bettering our community and serving those in need, from November 20 to December 30, 2020, we donated $1 USD to the International Rescue Committee for every person who joined us at select free weekly workshops. While this promotion is now over, we always have free intro classes and eventscoming up. From coding to data, marketing, and career development, explore the tech skills that will keep you in demand and in the know in 2021.