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How NOT to Lose Your Main Gig While Creating Your Own Side Hustle

Best employees

Not too long ago, I wrote an article about side hustling and how everyone is doing it.

Have you jumped on the side-hustle bandwagon yet?

If not, you really should get moving, because thanks to the internet, creating ancillary income from a side gig has become easier than ever.

Now if you’re like most people, you can’t just up and quit your full time job to pursue champagne wishes and caviar dreams, in fact you need to do all you can to safeguard that income stream.

But fear not, industrious one!

There are some real benefits to sticking it out at your main career while you try to get a little something going on the side.

Read on for the actions you can take to make sure your moonlighting doesn’t screw things up for you with your main gig.

You can use your side hustle to transform yourself into your department’s MVP.

Surely you have noticed how unwilling to invest in employee development many companies are nowadays?  For a long time, employers blamed a lack of a skilled workforce for their hiring difficulties, but the truth has been revealed and it ain’t very pretty.  Turns out employers are “having trouble” hiring because they simply don’t want to train employees, in fact, they don’t think they have to.  As Ellie Sharef is quoted as saying in a 2012 article for The Atlantic,  “[employers] don’t want to train people on the job anymore, there are just too many people looking for work for companies to waste time on someone who can’t start, ready to go, on the first day. Candidates are left to fend for themselves.”

This particular article was referring to tech startups, but the same holds true for employers in general. It appears that on the job training is becoming the exception and not the rule.

What this means for you:

Looks like you need to take your professional development into your own hands–and wallet, and what better training ground than the playing field of entrepreneurship?

As a business owner, you will need to hone your communication skills, time management, and customer service as well as marketing skills and technological savvy.  Not only are these foundational to entrepreneurial success this day and age, they are highly sought after in an employee.

If your employer isn’t willing to prioritize your training over productivity, let your sideline career sharpen you in ways your main job can’t or won’t.  Your boss will be glad you did.

Make sure the ones that need to know about your after-hours activities are kept in the loop.

Getting a little income-generating action on the side and your boss has no idea?

Not a smart move.

You may be concerned that telling your supervisor might result in undue attention on your productivity–and it very well might–but it is best to tell your employer upfront that you have a side gig.

Once you’ve spilled the beans, you need to step your game up:  assure him or her that your current workload will be in no way affected..and mean it.

What this means for you:

Whether you’re making three, four, or five figures with this venture, it’s important to make sure you understand your workplace’s policy on outside employment.  Once well-versed in the outlined parameters, approach your boss and share with her what you are doing and how you’ve organized your entrepreneurial activities so that work obligations are not affected.

Be ruthless with your boundary setting (no double-dipping!)

Once you’ve told your boss about your after-hours income-generating activities, you very well might be under a microscope, so no fooling around.

What do I mean by that?

Respect your workplace enough to keep a strong boundary between your main gig and your side hustle.

This can get sticky, but you have to find a way to make it work.  Who knows how long you will need income (not to mention benefits) from this main job to fund your living expenses and entrepreneurial efforts?

What this means for you:

Let’s say you decide to become a consultant because of its low barrier to entry.  Good on you, but you know those client calls that you’ll now need to fit in around your 40 hour work week?  There’s gonna come a time when you will feel very tempted to take one during a lull at work or on a “smoke break”.

Slippery slope my friend.

One day it’s just a quick discovery call with a potential client, but the next time it’s doing your invoicing on the company computer or researching some info for your latest blog entry for a couple minutes in between tasks.

Once in a while is one thing, but taken together it can look like you are using company resources to handle personal business.

Every place of employment has some sort of rule or policy on this and if your supervisor notices a reduction in your productivity, he might think your double-dipping is the culprit.

Remember your employer reserves the right to track your emails and internet usage.  Don’t let boundary crossing endanger your main money maker.

Employers have always had to contend with moonlighters in the workplace, and this phenomenon is showing no signs of slowing down.

And whether or not you believe this to be an “employer’s job market”, it’s best not to test employers’ tolerance for ancillary activities or how irreplaceable you are.

Be smart.

Be respectful.

And be the most engaged employee you can be.

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2 Responses

  1. THANK YOU for telling people to keep their main job while they build a side hustle!

    Such poor advice to up and leave a job with steady income, as a side hustle can take a loooong time to bring in real money.

  2. Danny!

    Thank you so much for commenting. It’s so hard sometimes to stay at your main gig when you are so excited to get started with your side hustle full time–especially if your current job kinda sucks. What’s worse is there are folks out there who basically say if you aren’t working in your side hustle full time (wouldn’t be a side hustle then!) that you aren’t truly an entrepreneur. It’s an unrealistic expectation/standard and not for everyone!

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