Claire is a primary school teacher. She loves her job – the kids she teaches are a precocious bunch; every single day is different; she gets along well with the other staff… But Claire is an eco-warrior at heart. She volunteers her time for a myriad of sustainability/eco-friendly projects, lives a waste-free life and has a massive following on social media with like-minded individuals around the globe. She has been toying with the idea of starting up a small eco-living business, but the fear of failure always gets in the way. How can Claire balance her day job with a side-hustle? Can her passion for the planet co-exist with her regular career?
Simply put, a side hustle is a secondary project or activity that you do in addition to your regular job. It may provide an additional income (a second job done after hours), or it may not (a creative project like writing a book or planning a wedding), or it could start out as a hobby which has the potential to become a source of income (furniture restoration, art, interior design).
These undertakings are the perfect way to earn some extra cash while doing something you are passionate about. They fulfil the need to do something creative outside your corporate job. But taking on a side hustle means you need to balance your time and priorities carefully. Here's how you manage a side hustle with your full-time job.
Do your research
Before you decide to make a go of your side hustle, you need to do your research and set things up correctly right from the start. Yes, you will figure out some things through trial and error, but you must have the basics sorted. How many hours per week can you devote to it? What resources do you need to purchase or outsource? Is there a demand for such a service/experience/product? Is it viable in the current economy? Who is your customer? Who is your competition? What are your strengths and skills? Can anybody act as your mentor? Can you apply for a grant to fund your project? Create processes for yourself right from the get go.
Don’t try to do too much when you start your new venture. Instead, take baby steps to test the waters. Don’t waste money trying to do everything – publicity, social media, a website, a business plan. Instead, reach out to your contacts and offer your services. Keep connecting with potential clients and building relationships until you have a few paying customers. Try out your products/services on family members, friends and even local Facebook groups. Starting small will build your confidence and experience and save you some big bucks. Gradually scale up as the business grows.
Set aside fixed hours
Your side hustle is not going to magically happen by snapping your fingers. You need to carve out time from your already busy day to work on it. Schedule a certain amount of time each day/week for your entrepreneurial ambitions. Identify when you are most productive and use this limited time to manage your side venture. For most people, this would be at the start of their day when they are fresh.
Have a look at your daily schedule, especially your down time, and pay close attention to all those valuable minutes you waste. Binging on Netflix? Too many hours scrolling Instagram? Exchange your passive downtime for active creative time. While you will need to work late nights/ early mornings and weekends to get your project off the ground, make sure this does not impede your wellbeing. You do need some “me-time” to relax, exercise and socialise or you will burn out.
Leverage your income
If you decide to make a business out of your side hustle/hobby, don’t quit your day job immediately. You can use some of the income from your full-time job to buy services and products to grow your side business. This could come in the form of advertising, software, sales support, tech support, coaching, or even an assistant. As your side hustle grows, you can slowly scale back your primary job. Speak to your manager about flexible hours or going part-time.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do everything all by yourself or you will be out of your depth. Instead, outsource jobs that are better left to a professional (e.g. designing a business logo; building a website; managing accounts) so that you have more free time to concentrate on what you’re good at. If budget permits, delegate wherever possible. Make use of a plethora of online tools and apps that help small businesses run smoothly.
Steep learning curve ahead
When you decide to make a go of your side hustle, be prepared for a deluge of information. You will meet new people, encounter new ideas, learn new skills. Absorb all these experiences while your keep learning and evolving. Enrol in a course (Upskilled has a variety to choose from) in your free time. If you get an hour-long lunch break, sign up for a short course – WordPress, coding, business writing, etc. Books, podcasts, TED Talks and e-learning are other ways to brush up on your skills or learn new ones.
Just do it
Your side hustle can become your full-time job once it can sustain you financially. Don’t rush to quit your day job until this happens. On the other hand, don’t procrastinate either. At some point, you need to trust your gut and dive right in. Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith and start on a new career path. Yes, it will be scary; yes, the future will be filled with uncertainty, but you need to grab the opportunity to make your dreams a reality.
Don’t be afraid to explore all your options when it comes to your side hustle. Remember, if you love what you do, it won’t even feel like work.
For more advice on pursuing your career ambitions, be sure to check out more of our related articles here on SkillsTalk.