Side Hustles are one of my favorite methods of making extra money, and I love encouraging my readers to start up a side hustle or grow a side business. But side hustles start from scratch. 99.9% of “side gigs” have to be actively managed (and grown!) “on the side” – often on top of full-time work.
The good news: balancing a full-time job and a side business is not for the “faint of heart”, but it can be done.
If you work hard, the tips below can also help you make it happen and help you to (eventually) quit your job and do your side business full time, or at the very least bring in more income so you can reach financial goals faster.
The Distinction Between a Side Hustle and a Side Business
Most people do not differentiate between the two, and honestly, almost any side hustle can turn into a side business.
The main difference between a side hustle and a side business is howYOU treat it.
My definition of a side hustle is working another job besides your main job without the intent of it replacing or outearning your day job.
You primarily do this because you want to quickly pick up more cash without investing your own money. And you’ll use this extra cash to fund your financial goals. The side hustle however, will always be the side piece. Never the main bae, and that is totally fine.
Here are some examples of side hustles you can easily start:
- 10 Top Side Hustles for Busy People
- 20 Money Earning Apps
- 50 Ideas for a Lucrative Side Hustle [Entrepreneur.com]
- 99 Side Hustle Business Ideas You Can Start Today [Side Hustle Nation]
The Definition of a Side Business
A side business is when you sell a product or specialized service in addition to working your main job with the intent of this business one day being your main source of income.
Here are a couple of the other key differences:
- Side businesses require a significant amount of time to develop your product or gain and maintain mastery of your service.
- With a side business as opposed to a side hustle, you start thinking about your brand.
- You value how customers view and interact with your product or service.
Tips for Balancing a Side Business with a Full-Time Job
P.S. The tips below work even if you've got a simple side hustle as well. These tips are for anyone who wants to create more balance in their life and find more time to earn money on the side.
Tip #1 – Embrace your full-time employment (for now)
Let me just say before launching into the rest of this piece: there's nothing wrong with working a full-time job, having a profitable passion project, or anything in between. #endrant.
But no matter how you feel about your salaried job – be grateful for your full-time gig.
It keeps you fed, your bills paid, and the income necessary to focus on building your side gig. Yes, full-time jobs can be a total drag, but they serve a purpose.
Tip #2 – 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.
My favorite tip for staying on top of things in the “biz” while also working FT is to make a list of the three things that need to get done each day for your business.
Then only do those three most important things and don’t worry about the rest.
You can tackle three more things the next day, and then the next day.
I'd do more if I could, (and usually did on the weekends).
But really, my business was built with a million small baby steps.
Tip #3 – Set Aside Time Each Week
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 business? Finding out what times and days you work best can help so much with keeping motivated (as well as avoiding the dreaded procrastination).
For example, I worked every Sunday afternoon and evening on my blog hustle for about four hours at a time. Even after going to work for myself full time it still felt very natural to me to continue doing this, so I did.
Basically, if you train your body into a habit, the desire to work will follow.
Tip #4 – Set up a separate website for your side business
If you have a side business you’d like to grow into a full-time salary, you need to market your side business like a legit one. This means – at a minimum – getting a website for your business so you can look professional online and so people can find their way to what you offer.
Building a website is now easier than ever. Get an inexpensive hosting package so you can have more creative control over how your website functions and what it looks like.
Tip #5 – Create an Editorial Calendar
This step is for anyone actively marketing their side business.
- For bloggers, a content calendar is a godsend and is something you should be doing every month.
- If you run a small business or online store, calendars can help you complete priority tasks, such as keeping 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 (or marketing activities) you'll need and when it needs to be finished.
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.
Tip #6 – Diversify Your Income Streams
This may sound easier said than done and as an “infopreneur” I get it. It can be hard to figure out ways to diversify your baby income.
Some people have talents that naturally lend themselves to making enough money – artists can sell their art online, crafters can sell items on Etsy, etc.
But if you don’t have a skill that translates to something someone buys, what do you do?
It may be time to get creative.
Even if you have an income stream that makes up to 90% of the money. When working for yourself, you'll need something different for that other 10%.
The important thing is to diversify your income in the event something happens with that primary revenue source.
Tip #7 – Outsource where you can
This is a toughie. When building a business you want to bring home as much profit as possible.
And paying people to do the work cuts into that profit. So people don't want to do it. And I struggled with this for years.
But MAN is it so important.
Because even if by some miracle you can do it all, you really can’t do it all expertly.
This is where having help really becomes so essential.
Here's a quick exercise to help you learn how to outsource.
- Make a list of all the things you do in your side business.
- Now, put an asterisk beside the things that only you as the owner can do.
- The rest should be outsourced to a virtual assistant, or perhaps to a technology platform that can automate it for you.
Other items to outsource may include bookkeeping (I like to recommend Bench.co), taxes, or chores at home (like cleaning or grocery delivery) so that you can free up more of your spare time for the essential parts of your side business.
Financial Tips When Balancing a Side Business
Ultimately, you want to be able to support yourself with your side business. Or at least become very comfortable.
That’s the goal, right?
This means trying to maximize your earning potential while still working the day job.
The tips below will help you with the “money side” of your business.
Tip #8: Get a Separate Bank Account Sooner Rather than Later
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? What if there are business expenses to pay?
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.
Before opening business accounts at your regular bank, take the 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.
Tip #9 – Make a Business Budget (and Stick to It!)
Take your business finances seriously. Devote as much love and care to them as you do to your own personal finances.
It’s especially important to create a business budget so you know how much you can save from your side business earnings each month and get you to that all-important goal of leaving your full-time job.
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!
Tip #10 – Get a Transition Savings Account
It's also important during this time to sock away as much extra money in savings as you can, to prepare for the transition from your full-time corporate job to working for yourself.
This “transition account” will eventually help replace your full-time income and help with any personal emergencies that may arise while you’re busy scaling your business.
So seriously, get a separate savings account for your work f*ck off fund and enjoy the peace of mind.
Tip #11 – Start An Emergency Fund for Your Business
Your business should also have a separate emergency fund that is completely separate from your personal emergency fund. Got it?
Think two bank accounts for both – one for you, and one for your business entity.
Take an inventory of all of your expenses related to your side hustle and don’t leave anything out. You want to be able to cover the expenses for your business for three months in the event you don’t make as much as you think or you’re unable to pay for them.
- How to Save 1000 in 45 Days from Scratch (No Latte Skipping Required!)
- Your Small Business Needs an Emergency Fund, Too [Wisebread]
- How High Should Your Emergency Fund Be as a Business Owner? [Due]
Tip #12 – Be grateful for your side business
I mentioned before being grateful for your full-time job, but don’t forget to express gratitude to the universe for your side business: the clients that believe in you, the people paying you to do what you love, and the energy to make it happen.
At any level, in any job, the skills and extra income benefit you.
Tip #13 – Network your booty off
No (wo)man is an island and this is especially true for business owners.
Entrepreneurial depression is real, and it makes such a difference to network and connect with other people in your field. It’s also nice to chat with people who know what you’re going through.
When you are working your full-time job and aren’t so reliant on side business income is a great time to reach out to other side hustlers and both promote your business and make new friends who are working towards the same goals as you.
Tip #14 – Don’t Leave Your Full-Time Job Too Early
This is probably the biggest mistake I made, as I quit work in a huffy with only $3k in savings.
You not only want a healthy amount in savings for the transition, but you want to have a business that makes close to your same level of full-time income if possible.
Take it from someone who got all excited about her income potential and left a great job she probably should've kept working for a few more months.
Tip #15 – Dream BIG
This blog originally began as a side hustle, turned into a business, and then my full-time job. When I began, l can honestly say I never in a million years imagined that it would become my full-time job or even a profitable hobby.
So, the sky is the limit. It’s cliche, but if you can dream it (and work for it) then you can definitely achieve it. I'm the living proof!
*this post originally appeared in 2015. It was updated in March 2019.