Here’s a little tidbit I don’t usually tell many people I meet: I’ve never had a full time job.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had jobs before. I’ve had a handful of jobs during my summer vacations. The summer before I started college, I spent all of two weeks dragging in shopping carts from the parking lot at a farmer’s market in 90+ degree weather. I couldn’t quit that job fast enough and spent the last two months of summer working inside a deli making sandwiches. The next summer, I spent a month packing extension cords into boxes and unloading a trailer every other week at a warehouse. Finally, I spent the summer before my senior year doing an unpaid internship as a web developer for a small business.
That’s four jobs. Total months worked being 7 months. I’m currently in my mid 30’s.
How is this possible? My parents aren’t rich and I definitely don’t have a trust fund or anything like that. Instead I started a side hustle building websites after my first year of college after taking an intro to programming class and when I graduated in the middle of the dotcom recession with a computer science degree, I turned that side hustle into a full time gig because no one was really hiring programmers.
What is this side hustle thing?
A side hustle is a way for you to make some extra cash while keeping your day job, whether that is an actual job, being a stay at home mom, or being a full time student.
A side hustle can come in many forms. It could be an actual part-time job like driving for Uber. It could be a hobby or something you are passionate about that makes no money at all but increases your marketable skills. Then there is my personal favorite, coming up with a business that you can run in your free time after work and on the weekends.
There are many companies that started out as a side hustle. Everyone knows about the story of Mark Zuckerberg creating Facebook while still a student a Harvard. Other famous businesses that were created as a side project include Twitter, Groupon, Pinterest, and Instagram.
It is not uncommon for many entrepreneurs to start out as a part-time entrepreneur. Some may be college students looking to make some extra beer money. Some are professionals who wanted some extra income for their traveling addiction. Others may be parents looking to have some extra savings to put towards their kids’ future education.
The great thing about a side hustle is there are no rules. You make it what you want it to be.
The benefits of the side hustle
From reading online, some people believe that starting a business requires spending lots of money, investing a lot of time, and hiring lots of people. The reality is for a side hustle all you need is an idea, some free time, and you can invest as much or as little money as you want into the idea. In fact, 15 percent of small business owners work a second job while starting their business.
One major reason why not many people choose to start a business is because they feel having a job means financial stability. This is actually the furthest from the truth as seen during the Great Recession.
As an employee, you are at the mercy of your employer. You can lose that job any time with zero warning.
By having a side business and already earning some extra income on the side, it will soften some of the blow from a surprise job loss and will give you more time to find a replacement if you choose not to become a full time business owner.
Another reason people give about not starting a business is there is a risk of failure. Statistics show that about 50% of startups fail within four years. One benefit of a side business is you are not “all in”. While some may think this is a drawback because one is not fully committed, this can also be a positive. If an idea does not work, you can scrap it or pivot and try something else. If an idea does turn out to be a success, you can choose to quit your day job and see how far you can take your idea.
Thinking about starting a side hustle?
Think of something you would find useful and jump in. Too many people get stuck in the research phase of the project. They go out and read all the books, online forums, and blogs on the subject but they never take action on actually making money. They become paralyzed by all the information and choices available. There is a name for this type of person, “the wantrepreneur”. They “want” to be an entrepreneur, but don’t make a single dollar because they are always looking for that perfect idea.
One of the best ways to make money right now is starting an online business. The startup costs are minimal. You have a potential audience of millions of people. You don’t need to lease a physical storefront or invest in inventory unless you are selling a physical product. A domain name can be registered for less than $10 a year and web hosting can be found for a few dollars a month.
When I started almost two decades ago, I actually started with Geocities, a free hosting service that was eventually acquired by Yahoo. Domain names were $70 for two years upfront from Network Solutions, the only registrar available. When my first site started making some money, I invested in a domain name and paid hosting, and it slowly grew from there to over a hundred domains, almost a dozen dedicated servers, and spending over a thousand a day on advertising at its highest point.
Entrepreneurs are not much different than other people on the streets when you get down to it. Take away all their money and connections, and it’s likely they will make all that money back.
Many successful people have failed before they hit it big. What sets them apart from many other people is when they fail they didn’t give up.
Tips for working full-time while running a side business
For many people, after they come home from their regular job they are too tired to want to think about anything else but to eat dinner and relax a bit before going to bed and doing it all over again tomorrow. To succeed, you need a plan.
1. Create a schedule. The internet is filled with sites that are long forgotten because their creators got too busy with something else. It’s not hard to start out all excited about an idea and slowly lose interest if it isn’t an immediate success.
Schedule a time to regularly put in some work on your side hustle.
2. Write down goals and create a to-do list. When you are the boss and the only person you are accountable to is you, it makes it easy to put things off for later. For me, writing down something makes it more “real”. It’s harder to put something off or forget about it when it’s there staring at you everyday.
Get a whiteboard and write stuff down and cross it off as you get each item accomplished.
3. Don’t get fired from your job working on your side hustle. It should be common sense that you should be focusing on your primary job while at work since you are getting paid by them. As tempting as it is to reply to emails for your side business while at work or using readily available company resources for your business, doing so is a bad idea.
Even if you do not get caught, spending too much time on your business at work can lead to reduce performance and poor reviews at work. Too of this could lead to the lost of your job before you are ready for full time self employment.
4. Read any employment agreements you’ve signed. You should check your employment contract and see whether they are any stipulations about running a side business along with any non-compete clauses.
The last thing you need is to discover your employer might own anything you create that could be related to your job while employed by them.
5. Set a budget and reduce debt. By sticking to a budget and reducing your monthly expenditures, you can dedicate more of your available finances to your business to help it grow faster. Reducing debt can also help your credit score, which can lead to credit lines being available in case you need them.
Do you have a side hustle? Have you thought about starting a side hustle before?