The pressure to quit your day job and go full-time in your business has grown immensely in recent years. Now more than ever, you need to prove that you are “all in” and that success looks like giving your two weeks' notice and abandoning all else in the name of pursuing your dreams. Oh, and of course, you also need to set a goal of making millions the year after that. While that may be fine for some people, I don’t believe that everyone is called to that. Today, I’m sharing 6 reasons why it’s actually a good thing if your business is a side hustle. You don’t have to be full-time to be successful in your business - trust me.
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In the online business world especially, there is a lot of hatred towards corporate and the traditional “9-5”. If you’ve had your business for any length of time, you’ve likely been bombarded with success stories from people who quit their day job cold turkey and went all in on their business. Over time, that becomes the ultimate aspirational story.
Going full-time can be something exciting, absolutely, so I understand why you may want to shout it from the rooftops. In theory, quitting your day job means if your business is a side hustle, it was able to fully support you financially. I still remember going full time in my own business all those years ago and it was really, really exciting for me. Scary. But exciting.
Here’s what I want to normalize today: it is OK to stay at another job to make money while you pursue your business. It’s also okay to pick up a side hustle while you pursue your business full-time. It’s also completely okay if your business is a side hustle for years and years (or FOREVER). If that’s working for you, it doesn’t need to change because of what someone else’s version of success looks like.
Of course, this is all my opinion but I feel pretty strongly about it. As an online educator, it’s broken my heart many, many times, when I hear business owners who feel like they are not enough because they:
- Have a full-time job (and are embarrassed and/or trying to hide it)
- Had to pick up a side hustle to continue pursuing their business
- Went “all in” and have to back peddle back to a traditional job
- Actually LIKE working for someone else, but feel like that makes them a bad entrepreneur. After all, aren’t entrepreneurs supposed to hate working for other people? Hate structure and stability? And all of those other things about being an entrepreneur that is “supposed to” be true?
Can you relate to any of that if your business is a side hustle? I’m here to tell you that you are not any less of a business owner (you are not lacking enthusiasm or bravery) just because your business is a side hustle. In fact, that may actually be SMART.
If you consider your business a side hustle, let me first say you are WELCOME here. My podcast and blog are not just for business owners who “go full time”. So today, I want to go a little against the grain here and share another unpopular opinion. Below, you’ll find 6 reasons why it’s actually a good thing if your business is a side hustle (now or forever!).
1. If you have additional income sources, it takes the pressure off your business financially and helps you think more clearly.
We can talk about mindset forever, but when you are legitimately strapped for cash, afraid of losing it all, and in a scarcity mindset, it’s harder to think long-term and make smart business decisions. Even if you do make a lot of money immediately when you go full-time in your business, it’s likely going to be inconsistent which can be really hard on your personal finances. When your business isn’t your entire livelihood, it can make business feel more fun (and helps you avoid burnout). I’m a big believer that both of those things will ultimately lead you to more success.
When I started my business, I actually had several side hustles to support me. I nannied for three families, was a dog sitter, taught yoga, and even sold a few random things on Facebook and counted that as income. And guess what? It didn’t make me less of a business owner. I actually think a lot of the decisions I made back then are why I still have a business 7 years later. I was able to grow slower and make wise and intentional decisions.
Talking about finances, let me be fully transparent: it was a bit tough on us when I quit my 9-5. My husband was on an entry-level minister salary so we did need my income. Fortunately, because I had so many side hustles, between that and my business I was able to surpass my full-time salary fairly quickly (by quickly, I mean within a few months). So it wasn’t tight for long, but it was in the beginning.
Want to hear me talk more about the early days? I share more about finances in the beginning and 5 other lessons as a beginner business owner in episode #165. Whether you go full-time and have a side hustle supporting you, or you keep your 9-5 and treat your business as a side hustle, I think you’ll relate to some of it!
2. Even though it often doesn’t seem like it in the online business space, 93% of working Americans actually have a side hustle!
Like so much of what we see online, things are not always as they appear. Here are a couple of statistics that stand out to me about side hustles:
- The average monthly income of a side hustle is $483
- 1 in 5 Americans report making over $15,000 a year from their side hustle (source)
Clearly, it’s more normal than you think to do both together.
To tell my own story, I often think of myself as someone who quit my traditional 9-5 job and then started my business. Technically, that IS what happened. But what I often forget when I tell that story 7 years later, is that I had been freelancing already before I quit my day job. I had a side hustle. I didn’t think of it as a business back then. I loved design work and was naturally entrepreneurial, and the freelance work felt like a passion project. It was additional income and it was fun for me.
When I first got married, Adam and I did all of our budgeting in a spreadsheet. I looked back 7 years ago and found I was bringing in an extra $660 in income consistently from 2 retainer clients and made a little extra on top of that from projects here and there. Basically, although it didn’t feel like it at the time, I was side-hustling BEFORE I started a business. And a lot of people do it that way!
I say this to say, I did not have a huge grand vision of quitting my 9-5 and launching a website template shop when my business was just a side hustle.
I can honestly say my business now is much better than any dream I could have came up with on my own while working at a day job. It’s truly a God-sized dream He came up with for me. I did not have a huge plan. I’d also like to add that a lot of people do it that way for a reason!
3. Starting your business as a side hustle allows you to decide how much (and if!) you even like running your own business before going all in.
Obviously, it would stink to throw in the towel on everything else you have going only to realize you hate your business, the industry, the work, your clients - the list goes on and on. I don’t mean to be “doom and gloom” here. It doesn’t have to be “love it or hate it”. What I mean is, staying at your day job while starting to build a business allows you the flexibility to actually ask yourself “Do I like this? Do I want to keep pursuing this?”. You have the freedom to decide no without too much in your life changing if you decide to do something else instead.
4. Working in other types of work allows you to pursue other passions at the same time you are growing your business.
A lot of us are multi-passionate. I would say most entrepreneurial spirits do tend to be interested in more than one thing. If your business is a side hustle, it might actually help you be more well-rounded as you pursue whatever your end goal is.
For example, maybe you really love photography, but you are also a trained teacher and want to keep doing that. Maybe you actually love being an attorney, but you are also really passionate about health and wellness so you get your yoga certification and teach as a side hustle.
Or maybe you are a well-paid graphic designer in a corporate setting that you LIKE, but you want to pursue passion design projects for brands you’re more interested in.
What I really want you to know, is that you can have both.
When I was working at my own 9-5 (in medical advertising - not very fun for me!), this is what freelancing was for me. I got to work with health and beauty brands I was obsessed with, without giving up the security of a full-time job. It was fun for me to pursue various passions at the same time.
When I look back at my job as a nanny, I know that I could have been that full-time too. I love kids! When I was teaching yoga on the side, I knew that would likely be something I would never go full-time with but I still really enjoyed pursuing my interests that way.
5. You’ll probably be more productive if your business is a side hustle.
If you listened to my interview with Josh Hall a while back, you heard him talk about how you’ll be more productive if your business is a side hustle. He talked about when you have less time to work on your business (like if your business is a side hustle), you are more likely to be productive and waste less time because you don’t have unlimited time to make it all work. I just thought it was brilliant and honestly, it’s exactly like how people report being more productive when they have kids. If your business is a side hustle, use it to your advantage!
Bringing it back to my own experience, it was like when I was nannying or working random jobs when I went full-time in my design business. I didn’t quit my job to watch Friends reruns all day and kind of build a design business on the side. Having multiple side jobs gave me small pockets of time and I tried to get as much done during them as possible.
6. Multiple streams of revenue is ALWAYS a win, so a side hustle will ultimately just lead to financial gains.
Earlier on, I said that most Americans have a side hustle (93%). As I pursue my own business full-time, I too have a side hustle (which is crazy to think about). If you’ve followed me for a while, you know Adam and I have started investing in real estate and we actually have 6 properties at the time of recording.
And guess what? I’m not trying to go full-time as a real estate investor, and neither is Adam. We want it to stay a side hustle.
If you want your side hustle to “just” be an extra stream of income for you, that’s a really great reason to go for it. The goal does not always have to be full-time. Maybe you are a 1 income family right now, and your side hustle brings in an extra $400 a month from home. That’s amazing! You don’t have to want it to become $3,000 a month. You can just enjoy it being an extra $400/month. That’s still a huge win for you and your family. Enjoy it!
Some Final Encouragement if Your Business is a Side Hustle
You don’t have to be shooting for 6 figures or 7 figures in your business. You don’t have to want to quit your 9 to 5. You don’t have to put in notice at work to be “all in” on your dreams and this business you’re building. That does not need to be what “success” looks like for you.
You don’t have to have it all figured out. You can keep doing both things until you have clarity on what you want to do next. You don’t have to know “Yes, I want to do this thing full time!” or “I definitely only want this to be a side thing”. You have the freedom to decide later and just focus on doing the work you enjoy right now. It’s okay to enjoy the journey. Be present with it without putting so much pressure on yourself.
Personally, I hate how much pressure there is to “go all in”. The reality is, you can be all in without putting all your eggs into one basket. You don’t need to put all the financial burden on your business right now if that doesn’t feel right to you.
I would love to hear what your journey as a business owner has looked like (whether it’s like mine or not!), so feel free to send me a DM over on Instagram. Wherever your business journey leads you — whether you’re side-hustling forever or full-time already — I hope you know you’re welcome here. This business advice podcast isn’t just for people who are full-time entrepreneurs.
January 10, 2023