One of the more agonizing experiences for a free-spirited entrepreneur is to feel tied down to a day job. However, the ability to cover living expenses and fund a start-up are unfortunate realities that saddle most people who are looking to step out into the world with their own business. The practicalities of having two separate work lives are not terribly practical.
Some people never intend for their side hustle to be more than that and are simply looking to supplement their income to pay off bills or have more play money. But if you are one of those people determined and motivated to turn your side hustle into your main gig, there are things you can do to help make your dual existence a more positive and productive experience.
1. Figure Out How to Find the Time
The key to finding more time to work on your side hustle isn’t about burning the candle at both ends or denying yourself sleep, family time, and so on. It is about reprioritizing your life. It is about eliminating the things that have no value (binge-watching on Netflix). Subtract the activities that don’t move you closer toward the goal of making your side hustle your main hustle.
Take the time to eat meals with your family and carve out a space or two in your week for “you” time. But beyond that, commit the rest of your time to your side hustle. Yes, that means working more after your day job and using your weekends productively. Be consistent and stay focused. Create a schedule that maximizes the time you have while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
2. Establish What You Do and Then Only Do That
One of the more difficult tasks for entrepreneurs is to keep their eye on the vision and not on the money. Just because a work opportunity presents itself doesn’t mean you should accept it. Understand what kind of work you can efficiently take on in a sustainable manner. Focus in on specific skill sets relevant to your side hustle vision.
By clearly defining for yourself the type of projects you will pursue, you can also more clearly communicate that information to potential customers. While you might initially bring in more revenue with a crazy, diverse portfolio of skill sets, you will struggle to establish a solid reputation for yourself and your business. Develop your proficiency in a concise set of relevant skills then commit to only taking on work that falls within that skill set.
3. Collaborate with Other Entrepreneurs
No one understands an entrepreneur better than another entrepreneur. You increase your own learning process by working with others. Working with others can help you be more effective and to grow your business exponentially. Sometimes you’ll have a simple conversation that will renew your motivation to hustle. Sometimes you’ll discover an amazing collaboration opportunity that will be mutually beneficial to both businesses. Learn from others’ mistakes, benefit from their successes, inspire, and be inspired.
4. Save Any Side Hustle Revenue or Reinvest
The best advice for anyone with a side hustle is to be deliberate regarding finances. When money begins to trickle (or flow) in from your side gig, it is tempting to buy something flashy or to “reward” yourself in some way. The better route is to pretend that your side hustle revenue doesn’t exist and to put it straight into a savings account. For one, there will always come unexpected expenses and, second, the more you save, the closer you come to being able to walk away from your day job. Another prudent option for any revenue is to reinvest some of that money back into your side hustle in a way that moves you towards your end goal of making it a full-time job.
5. Clearly Delineate Your Side Hustle from Your Day Job
Your side hustle should never compromise the quality of work you provide your employer. Nor should it ever consume your time when you are on the clock for your day job. Know that “on the clock” is being used only as a figure of speech. Just because you might be salaried and have control over your daily schedule doesn’t give you the right to use that time for working on your side hustle.
More seriously, double dipping your time is most likely a violation of your employment contract. Non-compliance can result in disciplinary or legal action against you. The same line of thinking should be maintained in regards to use of supplies and equipment. Your company’s computers, printers, and copiers are not yours to use carte blanche. Keep things separate and you’ll keep yourself out of trouble.
6. Build a Solid Customer Base
If you are an entrepreneur you are probably comfortable taking risks. That being said, there are risks that make sense and risks that are taken out of plain poor judgment. A couple of months of side hustle profit from a small handful of customers is fabulous, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to quit your day job. Focus on building your client base and retaining as many as possible of those customers for future or continuing work.
This topic also goes back to the idea of saving as much as possible. If you have five to six months of personal and business expenses covered by the money sitting in your savings account AND you a client base that is consistently bringing in 75% or more of your day job salary, you can feel more comfortable thinking about taking the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship.
Unless you have an extraordinary life situation that provides you money without having to work, the best way to build a side hustle into your main hustle is while working a full-time job that provides the benefits you need and covers your living expenses. The keys to success are to:
Figure out how to find the time to get things done.
Establish what sort of work you will do and then only take on that sort of work.
Collaborate with other entrepreneurs for business, mental, and emotional support.
Save as much of your side hustle profits as possible.
Clearly delineate your day job from your side hustle in regards to time, equipment, and supplies.
Build a solid customer base that provides a sustainable income level.
Yes, working a full time complicates things and, yes, at times you will be exhausted and overwhelmed. But when the day comes that you can step, full time, into your own business and let that entrepreneurial spirit of yours soar, you will know that the sacrifices were entirely worth it.
The team at Strategy Driven Marketing understands entrepreneurs. We know, firsthand, the excitement and challenges of a side hustle because we’ve been there ourselves. We also know that you can’t do it all yourself and that’s where we come in. Our experts can help you with everything from website development to social media marketing to content creation and more. Contact us today to learn what SDM can do to assist your efforts to grow your side hustle and to reach that goal of making it your full-time gig. Let’s get started!