At Twilio, we celebrate innovating and building. To some, innovating means building a business, which usually begins as a side hustle. According to CNN, more than 44 million Americans have a side hustle. To many Black entrepreneurs, side hustles aren’t just a passion or hobby—they’re a means of survival. Oftentimes Black entrepreneurs have to take on several side hustles, in addition to full-time work, to make ends meet.
At Twilio, our goal is to create a space for underrepresented communities by removing barriers to access, going where others don’t, and building bridges to make tech more representative—from hiring employees to building inclusive products that reflect the global population.
We’re proud to partner with our BlackTwilions Employee Resource Group and AfroTech—one of the largest global, multicultural organizations in Tech—to bring together Black entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. The “Turn Your Passion into Profit” event aims to continue creating a community in Tech that elevates and supports Black entrepreneurs.
From Black musical performances, to highlighting the side hustles of current Black Twilions, the event was a testament to enabling Black success. Attendees also met withZim Flores, Bola Sokunbi, Ariel Belgrave, and Trina Small, and learned the fundamentals of scaling their side hustles into successful businesses.
Starting your business
Being an opportunist is all about perspective. Zim Flores, founder and CEO of Italicist, and founder and former CEO of Travel Noire, shared that the global pandemic has presented a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs to start businesses without much capital. Due to limited in-person interaction, more people are online: it’s no longer necessary to buy or rent physical space to sell and promote goods and services.
If you’re still unsure of where to start but know you want to start a side hustle, Zim suggests asking yourself what you’re good at and what comes easy to you. It could be an interest or hobby, or even an intersection of the two.
Before you quit your full-time role, Zim recommends finding some time to work on your side hustle. Track your time over two weeks and dedicate the hours you’re most unproductive to focusing on building your business plan.
Optimizing your operations
Once your side hustle begins to grow, you may be needing capital to move it forward. Bola Sokunbi, Certified Financial Education Instructor, and founder and CEO of Clever Girl Finance, says to look to your community. Find like-minded entrepreneurs and research accelerators, which can provide an opportunity for networking, mentorship, and funding. Keep in mind that receiving funding can often mean giving up control of a part of your business. Bola encourages entrepreneurs to only seek and accept funding that aligns with your values and mission: “Dig deep and ask ‘Why do i want to succeed?’”
Funding can drastically help a business to flourish, and when that happens, founders may struggle to prioritize their time. Both Zim and Ariel Belgrave, fitness trainer and founder of Gym Hooky, says that understanding the value of your time and outsourcing is key: “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.” Ariel says to track every task that you’re responsible for and identify the ones that only you can perform. Consider hiring a freelancer, project-based contractor, or intern to execute administrative tasks and marketing, if it’s in your budget.
When your business begins to produce revenue, Trina Small, founder of HeyTrina.com, recommends reinvesting that money into the business. Start small, with what you have, then learn your processes to build more efficient systems for growth. Trina says that staying connected to your community and lines of support has its perks—they’re your built in audience for brand marketing. Most important, “Always bet on yourself.”
How to use Twilio products to grow your business
Twilio is the ideal customer engagement platform for innovators and entrepreneurs of color around the world. It’s affordable, easy to use, and completely personalized to your unique business needs. Here are a few examples of how Twilio can help you scale your business.
Keeping your work and home life separate is important to many business owners, especially when you’re just starting out. Through Twilio, you can buy custom phone numbers to use for your business, which gives a more professional appearance and gives you more privacy. Having multiple business numbers through Twilio is also a means of tracking ad performance.
When someone calls or texts your business, Twilio receives a notification with data from the incoming number. This enables you to respond to that text or call in endless ways, like call forwarding and custom voicemails and SMS responses, using Twilio Studio widgets and features like TwiML Bins, Auto-Pilot, and CRM, e-commerce, and app integrations.
Signing up for Twilio is free and it’s easy to get started. For more tips on using Twilio to scale your business, watch the event recording, where Twilion Mark Shavers gives practical advice on using the platform.
Whether you’re just starting out or your business is thriving, check out the Twilio tools that amplify businesses by streamlining your customer engagement.
To learn more about Twilio’s commitment to diversity, check out our diversity data. Find out about upcoming Twilio events and watch the replay of Turn Your Passion Into Profit.. Interested in being a featured speaker? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org