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Changing Careers

Part 3 - How to Side Hustle your career into Business Analysis

16 October 2021

Most people look outside their current organisation when trying to break into business analysis. 


They try to make a horizontal career move by switching jobs sideways.

However, you don’t always need to leave your organisation to make a horizontal career move. 


Many aspiring business analysts don’t identify an opportunity within their current organisation. 


There are two possibilities for someone looking to make a sideways move into business analysis: 


 1) A sideways move into a business analysis role within the current organisation, or 

2) What I call the “side hustle” into business analysis 


In this blog, I want to talk to you about how you can do a sideways move into a business analysis role from a non-business analysis role using the “side hustle”. 

1. Move into a business analysis role within your organisation

This happens when you move from a non-business analysis role into a business analysis role. 


Most companies are more willing to give an opportunity to someone within the organisation than to a candidate outside of the organisation because it:


1) Saves time and money 

2) Reduces training time 

3) Improves staff motivation and productivity 

4) Facilitates the organisational succession plan 

5) They already know you and your behaviours

Work ehtich and Integrity - so what you have to work harder for it

However, this is if you have an excellent reputation within your organisation through integrity and a good work ethic.


You can’t expect them to give you a business analysis role if you have not proved yourself in your current role. 

Sometimes your organisation may not have a role, or may not use business analysts. 


No worries, this is where the ”side hustle’’ strategy comes into play. 

2. ” side hustle” into a business analysis role 

What is a “side hustle”? 


For example, you could work by day in a call centre and, in the evenings, your” side hustle” could be an Uber driver. However, you could also do a” side hustle’’ within your job. No need to get a second job. 


Just before I got my first business analysis role, I was working in my normal job role and also volunteered on a project to implement a new system in my team. That project gave me an opportunity to learn, practice, and get hands-on experience in business analysis techniques. 


The volunteer work was my” side hustle”. 

This story is the perfect illustration of the” side hustle”, which can come in two forms: 


1) You volunteer on projects, with your manager’s approval, to get hands-on experience, or 

2) You learn and practice business analysis skills in your current non-business analysis role 

3. Why would you do a side “hustle”?

There are three reasons a” side hustle’‘ should be a part of your strategy to break into business analysis: 


  • You need to build experience to get to a level of Unconscious Competence (Mastery) (See the article on the four stages of competency) 
  • You want to build experience and skills to show in an interview .

You can build a business analysis CV - showing experience in business analysis skills. 

4. What should you be doing during the side hustle?

There is no point in doing a” side hustle’’ without a strategy and intended outcome. 


In the previous section, we talked about the “why” of a ‘‘side hustle’’. It ultimately comes down to building your value proposition as a business analyst. In short, that means you want people to see you as a business analyst and the value you offer in business analysis. 


So, first you want to be sure that you are building experience in the relevant skills. This is where doing a superb training course, like the one offered by the Faculty Training Institute, comes in. 


A course like this helps you understand business analysis and what skills you need to be a business analyst. It allows you to build competency and experience in skills. 

What makes for a good course? 


As a business analyst with 27 years’ experience and having seen a few courses in my career, I would look for one that has the following qualities: 


  • It provides hands-on practical and theoretical knowledge where you not only get taught but you are producing artefacts during the course. You producing something that is being assessed. 
  • You can apply learning to your current job, even if that current job is not a business analyst role. Even better if a current work project can be used as part of your class project. 
  • Following on from the previous point, I prefer courses I call “Learn while you earn”. You are not full time in class, but you can put into practice what you are learning as you are taught. 
  • Any course that tries to teach you business analysis in a couple of days cannot prepare you to be work ready as a business analyst. 
  • Similarly, an IIBA certification will not make you work ready to be a business analyst. Especially the ECBA. The BABOK 3.0 and certification are tools that prove your competency. They do not teach you how to do business analysis. 

Don’t forget the other essential skills to work on during your ” side hustle’’. 

5. Technical skills

At the beginning of your career, you are certainly learning the ropes. Thus, the focus will be on skill development and expertise building. 


These are the skills that a good business analysis course, like the one offered by the Faculty Institute, will help you with. 


Do the right thing when no one is looking

6. Develop your niche skills - become an SME

The goal here is to become an expert in a domain like systems, processes, functional areas, industry and even the organisation. 


Through this, you will have the chance to get involved with projects outside of your normal responsibilities. This can help you expand your skill set that you otherwise might not have gained. 


One of the easiest ways to get into a business analysis role is to develop your niche in an area of the business. Becoming an SME (subject matter expert) is about positioning yourself as the go-to person in a particular area of the business. 

Some areas where you can build SME status include: 


  • Knowledge of the team, organisation, and industry 
  • Know the processes inside out 
  • Be the expert on how to use a system 
  • New technology that can assist your team or organisation 

7.Don’t forget the Softer skills- they just as important

Business analysis is not just about the technical business analysis skills that are used to understand a business problem. 


The business analysis career is about people. We need people to elicit information. We need to interact with people and communicate with people. 


Without the ability to work with people, a business analyst’s technical skills are worthless. 


Other skills that you should be working on 


  • Analytical Thinking and Problem Solving 
  • Facilitation 
  • Communication Skills 
  • Stakeholder Management 
  • Leadership and Influence 
  • Organisational Skills 

Final remarks

The decision to pursue a career path ultimately rests with you. You need to take proactive steps to address any skills gaps that are holding you back or could prevent you from reaching your career goals. You cannot rely on your employer or current boss to do this for you. Your career enhancement lies entirely in your hands - you are in control. 


Start by exploring your options with your current employer. Another option is to shadow someone who has the skill set needed. By making an internal horizontal move, it is more likely that you can gain a specific technical skill than by applying for an external job. 


It is, however, possible to ask your boss to help fill in the skill gaps you identified. Their experience can be a vital factor in getting you on the path to achieving any job you aspire to, no matter how difficult the task at hand may be. 


Explain why and how you think you need to develop those skills, as well as how you plan to accomplish this. 


Get their support and guidance, or get in touch with a recruiter who may also help you gain the skills you need to progress. 

The future depends on what you do today - Mahatma Gandhi

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog:


1. Be sure to read the blog's in this series of career pivoting

Having To Pivot Your Career? Follow These Tips To Do It With Confidence​

Part 2 - Pivoting your career - 7 tips to pivot your career successfully


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Paul Benn

27 Years experience in business analysis, CBAP, AAC, DipBA


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Having To Pivot Your Career? Follow These Tips To Do It With Confidence

6 October 2021