Side Hustles are one of my favorite methods of making extra money, and I love encouraging my readers to start up a side hustle. This blog originally began as a side hustle and l never imagined that it would become my full time job. (Click here to see how to start a blog, or here to learn how I made $50k from my blog side hustle.) But side hustles don't start from nothing, 99.9% of “side gigs” have to be actively managed (and grown!) “on the side” – often on top of full time work. Balancing a full-time job and a side business is not for the feint of heart, but it can be done.
That being said, I’ve been extremely lucky in that I was able to grow my side business into a full-time endeavor, but when I went back to work full-time for another company in August 2017, the tips below were my saving grace.
Balancing a Full-Time Job and a Side Business – Work/Life Balance
Tip #1 – Get Organized
Whether it’s designating a certain room in your home for side hustle work or just keeping a desk calendar with both full and part time deadlines on it, being organized will seriously increase your productivity.
It also allows you to separate the two different workspaces. For me, a home office kept me working instead of just lounging around the living room with my puppy. It was a space where I could focus and avoid distractions in my own home.
Tip #2 – Set Aside Time (Make a date with yourself!)
Do you work better at night or on the weekend? Are there days that you just can’t bring yourself to work on your side hustle? Finding out what times and days you work best can help so much with keeping motivated (as well as avoiding the dreaded procrastination).
Tip #3 – Create a Content Calendar
For bloggers, a content calendar is a godsend and is something you should be doing every month (in my opinion.) If you run a small business or online store, calendars can help you complete priority tasks, keep up with email marketing and social promotions. Even if you don't blog, you need to have some type of calendar for all of the marketing activity you're doing to, well, market your business.
The concept is simple: make a list of what content you'll need and when it needs to be finished. As much as deadlines remind me of college, sometimes you just need to light a fire under your ass. The good thing about calendars is that they allow you to work forward instead of coming up with posts off the cuff or having to read through dozens of emails and orders to find what should be the priority. If you know what you need to accomplish you can get right to work.
What I like most about this is that it takes the pressure off of days that you just don’t feel motivated. If you work ahead you aren’t stressing over taking the night off.
If you know what you need to accomplish you can get right to work. Finish early and still feeling energized? You know what needs to be done next! What I like most about this is that it takes the pressure off of days that you just don’t feel motivated. If you work ahead you aren’t stressing over taking the night off.
Managing Your Personal Finances as a Business Owner
Looking back on it, I can admit that manging the financial part of being an entrepreneur was one of the trickiest parts (for me, at least.) Below are more tips on how to keep the business money separate from your personal money, separate from your W2 paycheck.
Tip #4 : (Do in fact) Keep It Separate
When you own your own business it is important that you keep your business and your personal accounts separate. It can be tempting to deposit payments straight to your checking account, but what happens when tax season rolls around or you have business expenses to be paid? You don’t want to have your business earnings tied to your personal accounts or you could run into trouble if you are audited by the IRS. By separating your business earnings from your personal earnings, you’re creating plenty of records of your cash flow.
You can pay yourself a consistent amount weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly (similar to your old paychecks) to cover personal life expenses and still keep a clear idea of your business revenue.
Before opening business accounts at your regular bank, take time to research the benefits of other institutions. If you have an online business, an online bank may make more sense and have better benefits than a brick-and-mortar business.
Banks may also have different incentives to bring your business accounts to them, so make sure you shop around! (I like Chase, USAA, and BBVA FREE Checking products.) If you’re planning on opening accounts anyways it doesn’t hurt to reap some rewards.
Tip #5 – Set Up Automatic Transfers (Pay Yourself Regularly)
After you’ve started your business accounts you should set up automatic transfers for paying yourself and any recurring business expenses. You don’t want to be stressing about late payments while you’re building your business! By automating one step of the process you can focus on what is really important: getting money in the bank. After all, when you work for yourself, every part of your business is on you.
This also applies for your personal finances! Spend one afternoon getting your bill pay set up and don’t worry about it again.
Tip #6 – Make a Budget (and Stick to It!)
Treat your business finances like your personal finances. You should be creating and sticking to a budget for both, allowing you to make your money work best for you. While your job is to keep your business afloat, you can’t let your personal finances suffer. By budgeting you can keep yourself from overspending – meaning you don’t find yourself in the awkward situation of skipping a paycheck to finance your business.
Creating a budget will also keep you from dipping into business income for personal expenses. I am super guilty of this, so it's important for us all to remember – you are not your business!
Remember: If you find yourself constantly borrowing from one account to finance the other, you may have a larger problem.
Related: How to Budget an Irregular Income
Tip #7- Start Planning for Retirement
Just because you own your own business doesn’t mean that you won’t want to retire some day! As an entrepreneur you have more direct control over both your personal and business finances, and now is a great time to start aggressively saving for retirement.
Solopreneurs and small business owners even have access to specialized IRA accounts known as SEP IRAs. Speak to a tax or retirement specialist to learn what retirement option can save you the most in tax benefits while allowing you to contribute the maximum amount possible.
Tip #8 – Save for Slow Days (Or Weeks. Or Months.)
Having your personal finances tied to your business’ performance can put you in a bit of an awkward place. When you have off seasons (and you will, trust me) how do you get paid?
You still have to eat, even if business isn’t exactly booming.
You can prepare for this ebb and flow by opening a business savings account and sock money away for the months where the money just doesn’t seem to be coming in. That’s right – even your business needs an emergency fund!
By saving money in advance, you don’t have to rely on your monthly business income to pay your personal bills. You can still pay yourself your regular “paycheck” from this savings account. Be sure to pay special attention to your budgets around this slow period; so you don’t overspend, and so you know what to expect for next year. It all ebbs and flows!
*This post was originally published in June 2016. It was lovingly updated in January 2018.