Episode 056: The Other Side of the Side Hustle with Jamila Souffrant

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Every side hustle you try isn’t guaranteed to work out or fit your lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from the experience.  Jamila Souffrant, from JourneytoLaunch.com and host of the Journey to Launch podcast, joins me to share her story of a side hustle that didn’t go as planned.

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Full Audio Transcription

Audio transcription is still a work in progress, sorry for any errors.  Please let me know if they are helpful 🙂

Chris: 00:01 Hey this is Chris, hope you’re doing well and welcome to Popcorn Finance where we discuss finance in about the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn and thanks for coming back and joining me again as we continue the popcorn finance side hustle series.

Today I’m excited because I have a very special guest joining me. She’s special because she was actually the very first guest on the podcast and as Jamila Souffrant, she’s the creator and founder of Journey to Launch and also the host of the amazing Journey to Launch podcast.

Jamila: 00:27 Hey Chris. Thanks for having me back.

Chris: 00:29 It was great to have you back on again. And you know, before we jump into anything I just want to say thanks again because Jamila I think a big part of me even continuing with the podcast. She’s been very helpful. You invited me to come out to podcast movement where I think that was like the spark to make me continue to keep going with this thing and really give it a try. So I just want to say again, appreciate all the help and support you’ve been as I’ve been trying to get this thing going.

Jamila: 00:51 No problem. And FinCon to right? like you, I convinced you to come to FinCon.

Chris: 00:55 I was so close to not going and I think that would’ve been a big mistake not going. So I appreciate that push.

Jamila: 01:01 Yeah, of course.

Chris: 01:02 And you know, one of the reasons I wanted to have you join me on here because while we’re talking about side hustles, is there a lot of different angles to side hustles. So there’s a lot of different experiences people have and some of them go exactly as planned. Sometimes you run into some bumps and they don’t go exactly how you think they will. And so first to start off, you know I wanted to ask you. How many side hustles have you personally tried out?

Jamila: 01:24 I’d say a few. So if you’re counting, still journey to launch as a side hustle, um, I’d say maybe like three, three or four, if I can remember properly.

Chris: 01:35 Three or four, that’s a good amount. I think that’s more than most people because I think a lot of people don’t even try one. So I remember you talking about one of them in particular on, I think it was all on you on your podcast Journey to Launch and you mentioned that you had actually done like vending machines you purchased with the machines and you place them around and you were going to give that a try as a, as a new way to bring in some extra income. And I remember you mentioning that it didn’t necessarily go exactly how you planned. If you could first just to start off by telling us about the experience and how you got the idea to give that a try and what you saw once you jumped in.

Jamila: 02:10 Sure. So I would say, uh, I was looking for a quote unquote passive, like side hustle or what I thought would he passive and I had some money to invest and it was actually, I was looking at either buying real estate outside of New York. I live in New York and so I was thinking about buying a rental property in like Baltimore or dc or vending machines and the reason why I thought of vending machines was I just started researching like passive income or side hustles that you can do while still working. I was working full time and vending machines came up a lot and I started doing my research and I saw the good and bad about vending machines that, you know, if you get the right vending machine at the right price and if you put in a location, so location is everything when it comes to vending machines that it can be very profitable.

Jamila: 03:00 And then you know, you can only fill it, you need to only go fill it once a week maybe. And it’s really just a matter of the location. So I did some research and I came across this company that was doing or giving vending machines, but it was healthy vending machines. So there was a, it was an angle that I really liked because I was into health a lot. I still am, but I was, you know, really health conscious and I thought oh this will be perfect, like it’s a healthy vending machine and the thing about it is, so with this company they would sell you like the latest machines they had and they had credit card readers and all these new technology at the time and then it had like the healthy vending logo and it was very bright and so I like after a few months of doing some research really was like, OK, I think this might be it.

Jamila: 03:45 And I went ahead and I purchased three of them so they have like a deal where, you know, depending on you could buy three, five, 10, whatever package. So I was like, let me be conservative, which looking back I would never do that now.

But um, I was like let me purchase just three to see how it works. And they also had a thing where they would help you or they said they would help you get locations. And being in New York, it’s such a diverse market. I was like, surely I’ll be able to place it somewhere, like, you know, whether that is a hotel or an office building, you know, I was pretty optimistic that we, we meaning my husband and I could place them and so I went ahead and purchased the machines at a ridiculous price, so I think where I went wrong with everything was I paid too much for the machines.

Because you could typically like buy vending machines for a couple hundred dollars, but they’re older, you just need to know how to fix them or have a tech to fix them or maybe even a couple thousand. I ended up spending probably per machine, like I’m almost, I almost hate saying the number because if I had that kind of money now, like how much, like what I could do with it, it’s just so. But I ended up spending maybe like $6,000 per machine, which is ridiculous.

Chris: 03:45 But it was a nice machine though, right?

Jamila: 04:57 Well it was probably like six or seven. There was extra cost too. It was very nice. That’s the thing, it was very flashy, very nice. They were new and there were warranties on it, so that helped me feel a little safe too in terms of OK, even if something breaks, there’s, there’s parts guaranteed. Like this is a company that’s been around. I did research that they had good reviews and then there were people actually making money using this model, this model and paying that price point.

So I ended up paying for the three machines. It all came up. It was like a little over, it was like 20 something thousand dollars again, ridiculous. The good thing about it is, so when I first started, they actually, the place that I bought it from helped my husband and I placed two machines in the hotel in the city. So that was really good. We thought, we thought that was a really good thing.

Chris: 04:57 I thought it was a good thing too when you said that.

Jamila: 05:46 Right. So we were excited. We were like, Oh wow, we just got these machines and we already have somewhere to place them. And so the place in the city, it was in time square, it was a hotel. And so again, all that sounds lovely except for we live in Brooklyn deeper in Brooklyn where it’s not like we live close to the bridge where it would like, it takes us probably, I don’t know, at the time like maybe 45 minutes to an hour just to get to times square. That’s where it was. And so, and the place wanted to machines like next to each other, which didn’t make sense because we’re like, why do you want it next to each other, why don’t you like spread it out? But we were so excited and just like green to the whole idea that we said OK.

Jamila: 06:25 So we placed the two machines there and it was actually going pretty OK. And then the hotel itself, the management, they just, they were not easy to work with. They started to put restrictions on when we could fill the machine and like they started to say, oh you can only come during the day. But we both work. So the best time to come was at night.

And so that started to become a pain and the fact that it was in time square and there was really no parking, it was really just not the best situation. So it ended up not working out and so we had to remove the machines and pay for it at that to be removed and be put back into storage. So it’s becoming really stressful just being in Times Square. So we said to ourselves, all right, we don’t want a location in the city, we have to find somewhere in Brooklyn or closer that’s easier to get to and the cost we have to pay for the machines to get picked up.

Jamila: 07:13 And then we had to pay for it to go back in storage. So while at first everything was looking up, it started to be like, OK, this is definitely more intense and expensive than we thought. And so that was like our first experience. And so our machines, all three of them, they were in storage. And then I started to just hustle and try to find other locations for them.

Cause I was convinced I was like I’m not going to fail at this, I’m going to at least make my money back, you know, like that worst case scenario. So I started calling around and we actually got a lead like so I was able to put the machine, not the largest hotel in Brooklyn, so downtown Brooklyn Marriott and like I just called and I pitched them and they were very interested and so the idea was, you know, you come in you, you had a location by the gym which was like the most trafficked area because people will like worked out and went to the pool and we were able to put one machine there and that one machine did so well and we were there for about, I’d say a year and a half where we had this one machine and that machine paid for itself.

Jamila: 08:15 It was making money. My husband would go fill it up every week and it was doing really well but we could not place the other two machines. So that’s kind of where we were paying for storage for the other two machines, which wasn’t a lot of month, but it was adding up, you know, I called around try to get it in other hotels, but it just, nothing was working. And then as time went on with the machine at the Brooklyn Marriott, it just started to break down a lot because as these things happen, people are using it a lot so the parts start to get worn out and you need to replace it. So that became another hassle because if some, if it did break, you know, we get a call, late at night, then my husband who’s not too versed technically in that area would have to go and try and figure it out or call the vending machine company for them to walk them through how to fix it.

Jamila: 09:02 So it was just a lot of work after awhile and while the machine was still making money, it just, it, it was just overwhelming. It was just a lot. We realized probably two years in that OK this is not something we want to keep doing. So we, we, we basically just decided to exit and try to sell them and we did, we ended up selling them, um, we sold the two in storage at like a, at a loss, um, and then we sold the one in place. We worked out a deal where we found someone to take it over while it was still at the Marriott. So that was good because we didn’t have to move in and the person was excited to come in and service that they had more time. They have more technical knowledge so it worked out for them. So all in all, like that side hustle to me wasn’t the most expensive of the side hustles that I’ve tried and you know, sometimes I would look back at it and say wow, like, you know, if you just, you could have used that money for so many other things.

Jamila: 09:59 Especially now knowing what I know now about finances and investing and even when I think about journey to launch, if I had that much money to invest in journey to launch, you know. But I try not to harp on it or look back on it and regret it too much because we did learn a lot and it was a very transformative experience for us.

Chris: 10:21 You have this hustling spirit about you, and it was just maybe one that just didn’t work out or didn’t fit what you two were looking for in your life at the time. So it was maybe one of those things where you try it and then you know you’re going to learn from it and move on to the next one.

Jamila: 10:43 Yeah, I mean yeah, it’s and, and it’s kind of like just how I look at everything. It’s, you know, I call it like failing forward, meaning like, you know, you’re going to fail at things. Not Everything’s going to work, but it’s what you learned from it.

Chris: 10:56 For people out there who are thinking about trying out a side hustle or they are uncertain and I think that crosses everyone’s mind is, you know, maybe it’s not going to work out. Do you have any advice for them or anything you gained from this that would be helpful for someone who’s maybe considering trying a side hustle? You know, whatever, whatever that may be for your.

Jamila: 11:14 I’d say you should know yourself. So the same hustling spirit that you kind of said, you know, you could see that I have, I think it’s good and it’s bad because I am the kind of person where if I do set my mind to something, I just want to act, you know, I want to act on it before I change my mind before I hesitate. Like I’m one of those people where it’s just like, all right, if I set my sights on something I just want to go after it. So that’s good and that’s bad because sometimes you do need to take your time. And while I did research the vending machine company and the vending machines itself, I probably should have taken a bit more time to think it through. Even if it would have been a year. Like that was a lot of money to invest in something.

Jamila: 11:52 So I would say depending on the level of investment that you need to put into a side hustle, think about it, do your research, talk to other people, which I actually did. I talked to the vending machine people and you know, they were, they seem to be doing really well with it.

But again, it’s about your research and I would recommend not necessarily going into an expensive side hustle like the way I did, you know, try to start low cost side hustles and test the market, test the idea first before you put so much money behind it. So perhaps maybe if we did start out with a maybe a more used machine or just one machine where we place it somewhere where it wouldn’t have been so much of a hassle to, to upkeep or to get to, you know, just one machine.

Then maybe that would have tested it out. Maybe we would’ve spent like $2,000 on that one machine. We could’ve figured out, OK this is for us. Or if not, you know, before we made the mistake or the investment of so much more money. So see if you can test a market, an idea out first by using just a little bit of money or no money before you jump in headfirst.

Chris: 12:55 I, I think that’s a good tip too. And you know, it was funny when you were mentioning that, you know, you said you like to jump in and you know, go, go all in before you change your mind, I like hearning that perspective because I’m like on the opposite side where I’ll just never do anything because I’ll sit there and think about it forever and then I never actually take action. So I always like hearing different perspectives because you know, we all approach these things different ways and you know, no, no one good or bad, it’s just, you know, whatever works for you type of thing. So.

Jamila: 13:22 Well and that’s. And so think about knowing yourself because I see that part of our personality and other areas where, you know, maybe if something happens or I get an email or it’s where something I like, I, I have the urge to say something or to respond right away. And it’s kind of like, OK, no, just relax. Think about it, and knowing yourself, knowing your personality, maybe you should give it some time, right? So it’s really also, I think side hustling, entrepreneurship is about really understanding your trigger points, who you are, like the kind of decisions you make under pressure or if you’re making them from a more informed, solid, calm place are things you all need to like you need to know about yourself.

Because if you don’t understand that you can rush in, make mistakes or you know the complete opposite. Maybe you are someone who never makes a move, so you do miss out on a lot of opportunities even if it’s not even a high risk one. So it’s just thinking about, OK, what is it, what are my strengths, what are my weaknesses, and how can I use it to my benefit in this business.

Chris: 14:22 I think that’s a great statement to end on because I think it is really important to know yourself and you use that to find the side hustle that’s going to fit you in your life and your lifestyle. And so Jamila before we go, where can people learn more about you and what it is that you’re doing?

Jamila: 14:31 Sure, so if you want to learn more about me, you can go to journeytolaunch.com. That’s my platform where I have my podcast and my blog. I’m not blogging as much. I’m podcasting more nowadays and you can catch up on all my podcast episodes. You can listen to the podcasts episodes anywhere you listen to Chris’s podcast, amazing podcast. So that’s itunes, even on Youtube, spotify, wherever.

I’m also on social media as Journey to Launch, so if you want to connect with me on Instagram, twitter, or facebook, I have a private facebook community where I like to connect more with my journeyers. That’s what I call people who want to follow me, join me, learn from me on this financial journey. And I’m also money coach, so I do train and help people one on one or in group settings with their money, with their goals and I just, I’m just passionate about personal finance and finances and reaching financial freedom.

Chris: 15:23 I can definitely recommend everyone check out the Journey to Launch podcast. I really enjoyed it. I think I’ve learned so much more about financial independence and just thinking more about my money in a critical way from listening to your show. You’ve had some really great guests on there too, so I definitely recommend everyone go take a listen to subscribe and leave a review and all that great stuff because you’re going to get a lot from it.

Jamila: 15:23 Aww thank you.

Chris: 15:42 Thank you so much. Appreciate you being here and yeah, definitely. Hope to connect again soon.

Jamila: 15:46 Thanks Chris.

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