From the time I was a child, many in my family would describe me as a cheapskate. I would like to call myself frugal.
For every dollar I made, I would put two in my pocket. Cue my grade six Galaxy Goop empire. Fast forward to the age of twenty-two and not much has changed, except my methods of making money.
I currently run two personal service businesses. I tutor academics under my own business, Learn with Alisha, and I coach golf under my business Swing with Alisha. Let me take you through my journey of how my entrepreneurial beginnings began, how they have changed, and why I hustle so much.
My Humble Beginnings
Growing up, I lived in a house where the value of money was instilled at a very young age. A phrase commonly spoken in my house was, “Don’t you know, money doesn’t grow on trees!” The end message after years of listening to that? Be money conscious.
With that in mind I set out to make my own dollars. However, being twelve years old it was quite hard to secure a part time job. So, I thought of a masterplan; I needed to bring the money to me. That year I frequented a local warehouse with my father called McLean’s, which sold discounted toys, art supplies, and Galaxy Goop.
Galaxy Goop was a sparkling purple goo that made any child’s eyes light up. I began to play with Galaxy Goop at my desk, and came to notice the curious eyes of my classmates. I discovered a need in the elementary school market and proceeded to buy ten bottles of Galaxy Goop that weekend. By lunchtime Tuesday I had sold out of Galaxy Goop, turning a 400% profit per bottle. After a couple weeks of disorganized selling, I learned that organization was important, and I was soon tracking orders and payment for Galaxy Goop.
My success was short lived and my Galaxy Goop empire ended by the untimely shut down of McLean’s. Disappointed, but not down, I enjoyed my first taste of business and went looking for more.
High School: From Calculus to Cash
In the depths of high school, my tutoring business officially began. After doling out free advice during ninth grade, I decided I needed to start turning a profit for my time. Once again, I had found a need in the student marketplace. I spoke to my school guidance officer who recommended that I sign up for the tutoring program. This was a phenomenal idea because I wouldn’t have to search for clientele; the school would refer them to me. I started by tutoring students at lunch time, or after school, and soon enough that became lunch and after school.
By twelfth grade, I had a clientele of approximately ten students. I was no longer tutoring out of the school, but out of my home instead. I was running a decent tutoring business for a varsity high school senior. I charged anywhere from $15 to $20 per hour, cash-only and had no overhead other than the occasional headache from mathematic word problems!
High school tutoring enabled me to acquire excellent communication skills, and I don’t think I would be where I am today without those years of experience. I had always been shy growing up, afraid of demanding anything or imposing an inconvenience on anyone. Tutoring put me in a position where at times I had to deliver harsh news to students and to speak as equals with parents when it came to negotiating my fee for service. It taught me my value as a service professional and how to stand up for my business worth.
If you recall from my introduction, you better believe I saved all the money I made. There were often things I desired but I passed up because I knew there were larger expenses ahead. I had been accepted to McGill University where out- of-province fees came to over $20,000 per year. I budgeted appropriately and this enabled me to help relieve some of this burden from my parents. I could cover rent and other living expenses for half of the school year. Having to pay for my own day-to-day living taught me very quickly the value of a dollar and how short or far that dollar could stretch depending on my financial discipline.
The University Side Hustle: Working jobs A-Z
As I began life at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, my entrepreneurial endeavors came to a halt while I acclimatized to living in a different province. However, I got my feet wet again when I stumbled across the university marketplace and began buying and reselling clothing and goods around the campus.
Additionally, I picked up a student job at the school’s athletic intramural program. I worked as an ice hockey timer, timing hockey games. Those that know me well are always shocked. Alisha? In an ice rink of all places?! I am one of those people who are cold, ALL OF THE TIME. Little did they know I had chosen this job able to complete a lot of schoolwork at my position. If I was going to work for somebody, I was going to find something that would also benefit me in some way. Getting paid to do my own homework, I signed up for as many extra shifts as I could.
During my summers, I returned home to Pickering, Ontario and worked as many jobs as I could be hired for. I tutored part-time, worked in the pro shop at golf courses, drove the golf course beer cart, waitressed, and helped a golf pro teach lessons to kids and adults. Yet again I was smacked in the face with the opportunity to be my own boss.
Being a varsity golfer I realized I had the credentials to teach lessons myself. I worked every day for over two months, without a day off because I didn’t want to let any of the summer’s opportunity pass me by. I acquired a community golf coach license through Golf Canada, I became Golf Canada rules level 1 and 2 certified, I worked for the Durham Junior Golf Tour as a rules official, and I also earned my SmartServ that made me eligible to serve alcohol and waitress. I should add that I had to make this all work around my training, as I was a high-performance athlete in golf and soccer, playing tournaments locally, nationally, and even internationally.
Covering my own expenses in university filled me with pride and a sense of financial accomplishment. As I looked toward the future I knew I was going to be a medical doctor or veterinary doctor, and wanted to help contribute to that major financial burden.
Present: Learn with Alisha; A tutoring powerhouse
At the present, my once successful side-hustle of tutoring has returned and grown exponentially. Since graduating university in December 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree, I have gone out and found fifteen clients that I tutor each week. They range in age from six years old to over forty years old! On average, I see each student twice a week, while seeing others up to four times per week.
I work both for myself and for a tutoring company, taking advantage of all the revenue avenues that I can. And you better believe as my experience and education has vastly improved, my prices have also seen an increase. I teach others what I have learned along the way, giving tips, and spreading encouragement. I am especially proud to say I have even helped tutor adults writing the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test (CFAT), as well as the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE). I tutor seven days a week, meaning no days off. I am my own boss, I set my own schedule, and I make more money than I can hide under my mattress.
What does one do when they can no longer hide their money under their mattress? They invest in the ever-burgeoning market of technology and cannabis. This is a prime way to make the money I work for, work for me. You might wonder why I am hustling so much when I just graduated; now is the time to relax right? On the contrary, I have seen the fruits of my labor and am motivated by my results. Eric Thomas said “I got an opportunity to make a dream become reality.”
In August 2018, I will be a first-year veterinary student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. UWM is rated the fifth best program in the nation and I am so proud to be a part of it. Veterinary school is extremely expensive so I work every day to afford my dream of becoming a mixed animal veterinarian. I plan to focus on cats, dogs, and horses and specialize in dermatology after getting my initial four-year doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
To Conclude: There Is Still Money To Be Made
My side-hustle over the years evolved from selling Galaxy Goop, to working multiple jobs, to becoming my own boss once again providing tutoring and golf services. Tutoring and coaching golf have taught me so many skills over the years, and are still teaching me today. They have taught me communication, self-worth, patience, responsibility, and time management. They have also taught me how to market myself. I can create online ads, create and distribute business cards, advertise via word of mouth, and create mutually beneficial relationships with golf courses; I get to use facilities, and the golf course gets increased clientele. Finally, my earnings have taught me to be financially savvy and independent.
I have no plans of stopping my side hustle once I start veterinary school. I plan on tutoring current students through skype and whiteboard apps, and for those that I cannot tutor online I will be hiring others to take over for me. This means I will be creating my own official tutoring company this summer, with a goal of three to five employees! Creating my own company is something I am very excited about. I also plan on continuing to give golf lessons over the summer at veterinary school.
I believe in today’s market a person must use their skills to their advantage and be creative to succeed. I have managed to do this through academic tutoring and golf lessons. Hustling like I do lets me be confident that I can help pay for my schooling, and put money aside for investment. My hustle lets me chase my dreams, and be my own boss at the same time. The entrepreneurial journey of the Galaxy Goop saleswoman, multi-job worker, tutor and golf teacher is only just getting started!
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Check out the other finalists here: 2018 Side Hustlin' Student Scholarship Results Page.