Interactive Investor

How I built a small side hustle into a new career in my 40s

1st September 2022 12:50

by Alice Guy from interactive investor

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Alice Guy reveals how she built up a side hustle and changed career in her 40s and why having an unusual CV can actually be a bonus.

Alice Guy

Sometimes, life gets in the way of our best-laid plans and takes us where we don’t expect. And many of us will have to take time out from work at some point during our lives: some due to caring responsibilities, others due to ill health or other personal reasons.

That’s what happened to me in my late 20s, when after qualifying and working as a chartered accountant with KPMG London and working as a business analyst for Tesco head office, something unexpected in my family led to a long career break.

Statistics for carers

And I wasn’t alone. Chatting to other parents at the school gate revealed many people who had put their careers on hold, reduced their hours or found another job to fit around their caring responsibilities. Behind closed doors, many people had kids with special needs with multiple medical appointments and long hours of caring into the night. Others had disabled relatives, or they had long-term complex mental health problems that made work difficult.

And research from Carers UK shows that every day 6,000 new people take on caring responsibilities. It’s also estimated that as many as three in five adults will be a carer at some point during their life.

Carers allowance, the benefit paid to people caring for a minimum of 35 hours per week is currently £69.70 per week, meaning that many carers are also struggling on low incomes.

Starting a new side hustle

In a sense I was lucky because, although finances were tight on a single income, I was never poor. And for most of my career break I was still able to save a small amount into my private pension.

Throughout most of my career break, I did a small amount of self-employed work or volunteering, but I was unsure what the future would hold. I knew my caring responsibilities were coming to an end, but I didn’t know what was next for me.

I knew that I needed to start again. And, being a natural optimist, I somehow felt that something would turn up.

I began to look for work: maybe a part-time accountancy role, maybe changing career completely – I wasn’t sure where to start.

It was a spotting a job advert on LinkedIn during the pandemic that eventually led me in a new direction.

Applying for a role as a freelance personal finance writer, with a sample article, led to a new opportunity. After several months wait, and a trial period, I had a new small business as a freelance personal finance writer, with one initial client.

It was a small start, and one of several small businesses I had started over the years: I had no idea where this new side hustle would lead me.

Building a new career

Anyone who has been self-employed will know that starting a new business is only the beginning. Building a strong client base, a reputation and earning a decent living takes dedication, hard work and a little bit of luck.

For me, being in my 40s with teenagers had helped me develop nerves of steel. And through a mixture of persistence, hard work and shameless hustling, I was able to build my client base, a new business network and ultimately a new career.

I soon found that I loved writing about investment and budgeting: something I certainly never learned at school. I wanted to help other families with tight finances stretch their budgets and understand more about investing.

I quickly learned the ropes as a finance writer, getting to grips with multiple new software systems and new jargon. I got used to writing to strict word counts and discovered how to write so that Google would be able to read and list my articles.

Before long, I decided to move into a permanent role and take up a job as a personal finance editor at interactive investor. That means I’m responsible for commissioning and making decisions on articles to write, as well as writing the articles themselves. I also get involved in researching and analysing data, using my skills as an analyst and accountant.

Investigating data

Statistics for career changers

Years ago, starting a new business or career in your 40s would be unusual, but that’s not the case anymore. The ever-increasing state pension age and the decline of generous defined benefit pensions means that many of us are working for longer.

And doing the same job for nearly 50 years, often isn’t appealing. What suited us in our 20s may not be right for us as we reach our 30s, 40s or 50s.

The days of a job for life are long gone for many people, and ONS statistics show that 9% of Britons change jobs each year. Interestingly 75% of job changers moved within the same firm and 25% moved between firms.

For job-changers, the good news is that the jobs market is booming. The Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) recently reported that, “the UK’s hiring boom is set to continue into the next quarter as private sector pay awards reach new highs. For now, the labour market remains incredibly tight and candidates are hard to come by. Employers are pulling out all the stops to attract, and crucially, retain staff.”

Taking a leap

It can be daunting to change career in middle-age, especially if we’re moving into an industry dominated by youngsters.

It’s easy to feel out of touch and put off trying something new. In fact, recent research from City and Guilds shows that 34% of Britons want to change careers, but many are put off due to not knowing how their skills would be useful in another career or lacking confidence to start over again.

But according to job website Indeed, many employers are looking for transferrable skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication and problem solving, so you may be more qualified for that new role than you think.

And with the current labour shortage, employers are more willing than ever to consider candidates with an unusual background.

In fact, far from hindering me, I’ve found that coming from a different background actually helps me with my job. Knowing how to analyse stats and crunch numbers, as well as writing, is so helpful for investors and readers.

For me, trying something new was definitely worth it, and helped me find a job I love. And starting my new career as a side hustle gave me time to build up my confidence and skills so I didn’t have to leap straight in at the deep end.

Of course, not all of us have the opportunity to change careers, and many of us don’t want to. But if you’re fed up with your job and fancy a change, then switching career could be right for you.

To quote Steve Jobs, “the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

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