Do the (side) hustle: Tips for having a successful side job

Side hustle

Here are some ways to successfully side hustle without sacrificing your day job.

Congratulations! You landed your first job out of college. You’re officially part of the 9-to-5 crowd, with a full-time job and a steady paycheck. The only problem? That paycheck barely covers your living expenses, let alone gives you any dispensable income.

Many 20-somethings are now facing a hard truth: Their day job isn’t bringing in enough income to pay their bills and support their lifestyle. To combat this, many of them are turning to side hustles, or side jobs beyond their 9-to-5 gigs that bring in additional money.

If this sounds like the solution to your cash-strapped problems, here are some tips to consider before putting on those polyester pants and doing the (side) hustle:

Start slow

Mark Frost, who works full time as director of content for Wikimotive and side hustles as editor-in-chief for HackCollege.com, says that trying to take on your maximum workload when you're just starting a side job is a bad idea. “You risk quickly burning out, and that could cause issues with your full-time job. Take it slow and build your way up to a workload that you can manage long term.”

Pick a side job you like – and are good at

“My best advice for anybody considering a side hustle is to first make sure that it has something to do with your passion,” says Mike Kawula, founder of Self-Employed King, which helps small businesses grow and increase sales. “When you have a regular job, you'll be tired [and] you will make excuses on why you can put something off till the next day. When you have a passion, that passion will drive you past any excuse you could possibly make.”

If you’re not sure what would make the best side hustle, Kawula suggests tapping your friends and family for advice. “Ask them point blank what is it that they think of you when they have a problem and need help.”

Sharpen your time-management skills

It’s hard enough to get all your errands and other personal commitments done during your nights and weekends, so adding additional work commitments on top of your already busy schedule requires some major time management.

“My top tip for someone looking to side hustle is to have good time-management skills,” says Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, self-professed “side hustling fanatic” at MakingSenseofCents.com. “When side hustling, you probably have limited time because of your full-time job, family obligations and more. Time management is something that you need to excel at so that you do not feel like you are stressed out.” To help, she suggests creating a schedule, making sure your schedule flows together smoothly with few time gaps and outsourcing certain tasks if financially feasible.

Think differently about your weekends

Alex Birkett, content strategist and marketing manager at LawnStarter, says that he takes advantage of his weekend afternoons to get most of his side hustling done. But, that may mean sacrificing personal plans or waking up earlier/staying up later than you’d usually prefer on the weekends. “Just think about how you want to spend your free time. Many people want the side income but don't want to give up brunch, golf and a night out on the weekends. And that's fine, but acknowledge that.”

Make sure it’s “kosher” with your company

Perhaps the most important box to check before starting a side hustle is ensuring that your company is OK with it. Some businesses prohibit employees from taking on certain types of additional work.

“Make sure you do not have any contractual obligation to your employer that prohibits a side business,” recommends Erin Austin, an IP and commercial transactions lawyer. “If you are an executive or a manager, you probably signed an employment agreement. The agreement may require that you ‘shall not be actively engaged in any business activity (with the exception of charitable activities) other than those required in connection with executive’s duties described herein.’ If you have any restriction similar to this in your employment contract, you will need to discuss [the] proposed side gig with HR and your supervisor before you get started.”

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