Turning Your HR Side Hustle Into Your Main Hustle! — An Expert Interview with Sana’ Rasul, Chief Girlfriend at HR Girlfriends.

By Alan Collins

For some HR people, the thought of quitting their job to strike on their own as an entrepreneur is exhilarating.

For many others, it’s terrifying.

After all, that stable HR position and regular paycheck can be a great security blanket and something to be thankful for.

And frankly, not everyone has the means or the guts to tackle risks and responsibilities of working for themselves.

But this isn’t the case for everyone.

SANA’ RASUL is one such person.  She’s an HR leader who has mustered up the courage to take this gutsy step and follow her dreams.

Sana’ is the Chief Girlfriend at HR Girlfriends.  She started up HR Girlfriends as a networking community for women who are working in or providing services to the Human Resources field…and who are looking for an environment where they can interact both socially and professionally.

Her community provides a friendly, collaborative environment for open minded professionals where they can share their common interests. And as such, HR Girlfriends knows no color lines and ALL women are welcome!

Now let me make a personal confession: I’m an HR guy and I subscribe to the HR Girlfriends newsletter myself.

Here’s why.  I consider it one of the many ways to stay current in HR and I’ve been impressed with all the products, workshops and services Sana’ provides to her members. It’s truly an awesome business and something you should know more about.

With that in mind, I recently caught up with Sana’ and asked her squeeze some time into her hectic schedule to share some highlights about herself, her HR career and specifically her transition from turning her side hustle into her full time hustle as part of our Success in HR Expert Interview Series.

Here are the highlights from my interview with her…

Sana’ thanks for making some time. Tell us about yourself, your background and the focus of your main hustle?

Thank you. I’d be glad to. I’m a Brooklyn, New York native and attribute the best parts of me to growing up in the city.

No, I wasn’t a tough kid, but I learned street smarts early and this coupled with my love for school, set the foundation for my life. Street smarts allowed me to watch my back while looking ahead to all that my education had in store for me.

Admittedly, HR wasn’t my first career choice. In fact, I thought I’d learn French and globe trot working in international business. Thank goodness I got bored with that vision early in college. Not to mention my second language skills needed a ton of work.

After landing my first full-time HR position as an HR Administrator where I handled everything from HRIS implementation to safety training, I was hooked. Although I had earned my master’s degree in HR Management, it did not compare to the real thing.

And it wasn’t long before I wanted more.

But, nothing prepared me for HR Girlfriends.

HR Girlfriends was a beautiful accident.

It was both a side hustle turned main hustle and my love project.

What was once an ad-hoc meetup.com group is now a thriving global community serving the personal and professional needs of more than 5K members (and counting) women in HR.

What’s most exciting to me right now is that I’ve only just begun!

That’s quite a journey. What motivated you to take the risk to start the HR Girlfriends side hustle in the first place?

I am a calculated risk taker by nature. And when presented with the opportunity to bring life to the HR Girlfriends community I jumped in head first.

Yes, I’ve made some mistakes and had several missteps, but the mere fact that I’m still standing shows me that my risk paid off.

My ultimate goal in growing the HR Girlfriends community was to offer the women of HR a safe space, a network in which they could grow on and off the clock.

It embodies all the things I wanted as a budding HR Pro, but unfortunately did not have available to me when I started my career.

I hear you. But some side hustles stay that way. HR Girlfriends clearly has not, it has grown. How did you arrive at the decision to turn this side hustle into your main hustle?

Growing the HR Girlfriends community was a lot like opening Pandora’s box.

Once I started the process the women in and around the community weren’t interested in not having it exist.

They did not want it to die.

However, there were many days of doubt and uncertainty.

Could I make enough money to survive?

Would the community continue to grow and have the same impact I envisioned?

Those are still real questions that come up from time to time, but that’s true for many entrepreneurs.

I do not doubt that I’m on the right path, so the rest is par for the course.

Share a few examples of what you do? How have you benefited from doing this? How do others benefit from your work?

The better question is what don’t I do? (laughs)

I have a diversified approach to the business.

Through the HR Girlfriends platform, I offer webinars covering personal and professional development topics, live events, and aPHR certification training, just to name a few.

HR Girlfriends members enjoy engaging benefits, to include but are not limited to:

More recently, I stepped into career coaching, earning my ACC credentials through the HR Coaching & Career Institute.

I’m also a credentialed cyberSAFE trainer for HR Pros and organizations.

With so much access to technology, HR Pros must be better stewards of the tools we use to power our departments.

What are the biggest hurdles you faced in deciding to turn your side hustle into a main hustle?

You may recall me stating that HR Girlfriends was a beautiful accident. With that came a lack of preparedness to start a business.

First of all, I started without a business plan or a marketing strategy. I would never do that again, as I needed a written vision for where I was headed.

With a plan, my side hustle could have grown even faster, and some of the headaches may have been diverted.

The second hurdle was: Money! Money! Money! Or the lack thereof.

Before starting HR Girlfriends, I made a six-figure salary and lived a great life. However, starting a business ate up so much of my disposable income and sadly more was going out than coming in.

In hindsight, I would have created a lean financial approach to business expenditures.

Bottom line, when starting a business, it is very easy to get swept up in acquiring the shiniest, most expensive tool you think will help you grow.

Those are not always the wisest decisions when starting out.

It certainly sounds like you learned some important and valuable lessons in getting launched. With that in mind, what would you advise others in HR who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

My best advice is follow Nike’s motto and “Just Do It!”

Listen, you have one life to live, and when you have a calling to further a passion or gift, you must honor yourself and your purpose.

That’s what I believe.

However, just because you build it, it does NOT mean they will come!

I have learned that people are connected to my work with HR Girlfriends because of my vision and passion, which has nothing to do with my fancy marketing tools and other bells and whistles I thought I needed to help the community grow.

I built the community thinking I could stand in the background unnoticed, but my success didn’t take off until I had the confidence of knowing “I” was enough.

And this also applies to those interested in creating their own main hustle:

Bottom line, I’m excited about what we’ve created with HR Girlfriends and our future is bright.

Thank you for allowing me to share my journey.

If anyone is interested in joining the HR Girlfriends community, feel free to SIGN UP HERE.

By signing up, you’ll receive invites to our events, HR news and much, much more.

You can also reach out and connect with me professionally on LinkedIn HERE.

Finally, we’d welcome your feedback on this article.  Feel free to share your comments on this article below by CLICKING HERE.


About the author: Alan Collins is founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best-selling books for advancing the careers of HR professionals including his most recent book, The New HR Leader’s First 100 Days.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

Feed your network — If you like this article, feel free to share it with your contacts by clicking the buttons below…

6 Responses to “Turning Your HR Side Hustle Into Your Main Hustle! — An Expert Interview with Sana’ Rasul, Chief Girlfriend at HR Girlfriends.”

  1. Diana Says:

    Thank you Alan for empowering us in the HR community, with new and enriching professional relationships. Sana’s example sets a very impressive role model. Thank you again for enabling such a useful connection.

  2. Alan Says:

    Diana, always thrilled to hear your comments. Yes, Sana’ has carved quite an impressive niche for herself & has blazed a trail we can all learn from and appreciate – whether we choose to become entrepreneurs or follow our passions elsewhere.

  3. Muhammad Tahir Says:

    What amazing start up by Sana is worth of emulation by HR professionals.
    Thank you Alan for sharing.

  4. Ronia Mwale Says:

    Thank you Alan. Sana reminded me that I am enough to make it happen.

  5. Josephine Winfrey Says:

    Thank you Alan for your platform and giving HR Girlfriends and Sana the exposure. I am a member of HR Girlfriends from almost the beginning and I am proud to see how it has grown.

    I have also met some wonderful HR “girlfriends” who I stay in contact with. It is important not only to network but to support. And every opportunity I get to refer services or people, I look to my girlfriends network first.

  6. Alan Says:

    Josephine, that’s terrific testimony to the platform that Sana’ has created and it’s great that you’ve personally benefited. Thanks for the great share.