What are some great side hustles?
A side hustle has to start somewhere.
Far beneath New York City’s Grand Central Station there is a secret train tunnel to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel that once carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Behind a nondescript door is a secret sub-basement power station called M42 that Hitler once plotted to destroy during World War II.
These are just two of the locations listed on New York Adventure Club’s (NYAC) Behind-the-Scenes Experience at Grand Central Station.
Unlike other tour companies in New York City, NYAC’s target market is locals — not tourists. CEO and Founder, Corey William Schneider is the mastermind behind this “mostly for locals” tour company.
From side hustle to cohesive strategy
Schneider created NYAC in 2011 after he realized he had fallen into the “Manhattan Bubble,” which he refers to as a world that revolves only around work, bars and the occasional weekend brunch. When Schneider first launched NYAC, it was “very much a side hustle” for him since he was in a full-time consumer marketing role at Time, Inc.
“Since I had a full-time job, it was difficult to dedicate a lot of time to NYAC. So doing 1-2 events per week was plenty,” Schneider says. “I also didn’t really have a clue about how to run a business. Which meant, in the beginning, I tended to ‘go with the flow’ verses map out a cohesive strategy.”
Schneider’s go-with-the-flow approach to getting his small business off the ground included focusing on the first steps to establish his business – incorporation, bookkeeping and website/logo design. For him, both NYC & Company, the tourism association of New York City, and SCORE NYC were invaluable business resources.
The challenges of business financing
Regardless of location, cash flow can often be a major source of stress for business owners. But NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world and finances can be even more challenging here. To survive, Schneider recommends a multitude of support systems:
- trusted friends and colleagues who can provide business strategies and financial advice
- an accountant to handle corporate taxes
- a business coach who can provide insight into how to become a better CEO and run a better business
- a strong sense of adapting to the challenges your business will face.
“It’s been quite a roller coaster on the financial side. I’ve had periods of huge financial successes, and others with demoralizing setbacks,” Schneider says. “There are a handful of events that provide the majority of NYAC’s revenue. If one disappears (like it did earlier this year), it highlights how vulnerable the company is. This has been a learning lesson to continue finding new sources of business. You never know which ones will dry up.”
“It’s very expensive to live here — if I don’t generate enough revenue for the business to pay for my rent and living expenses, then I’ll be toast,” Schneider says. “Also, there are endless amounts of things to do in NYC, which is indirectly competing with every NYAC event. NYAC is competing for time, which is every New Yorker’s most prized possession, so our experiences better be top-notch.”
While growth was slow at first and work was first done on weekends and evenings, Schneider has been able to successfully grow his event startup and has been the full-time CEO since February 2016. “I scheduled at least one event per week so that my members could constantly engage with New York, and each other,” Schneider says. “The more events, the more engaged people, and the larger/faster NYAC could grow.”
The club is now a 7,000-member strong community that hosts events meant to get members out of their normal routine and into sides of New York City that many people don’t know exists. In April 2017 alone, NYAC hosted more than 40 events throughout NYC.