How to Work Your Side Hustle Without Losing Your Day Job

 

Striking the right balance can be tricky, but it’s absolutely necessary

The side hustle. The passion project. The job you do after your day job. The thing that 29% of workers are already doing to make money.

After you start making some serious ends meet, the wheels in your brain inevitably get you thinking: Maybe one day this can be my main thing.

Guess what? It can. But it takes work. And you gotta be careful.

I worked for years on my side hustle before launching my content company, Scribe, and now I work with who I want, and on my terms. But getting here didn’t happen overnight. Making your side hustle your main hustle takes preparation, focus, and discipline—seen and unseen. And before you get there, chances are you’re going to need the perks of full-time employment to grant you the financial stability to pursue your side hustle.

It’s imperative that during the building phase, you don’t self-sabotage by messing up at your day job, because it’s your financial lifeline until the magic day when it’s suddenly not. And even if you are fine with forever balancing full-time work and your side hustle, there are ways to do it right. Here’s how:

 

Be a Model Employee

You have to show up, physically and mentally, for your full-time work, each and every workday.

Be Here Now

Give your job and your co-workers your best effort and attitude. Know your product and company, show interest, contribute ideas, and give credit to your peers and supervisors where due. While you’re at work, exercise a “be here now” mantra and avoid thinking about your side hustle.

People can tell when you are checked-out mentally, and no one wants to work with someone who doesn’t want to be there.


Check Yourself

Your body language is louder than your voice. So no eye-rolling, tongue-clicking, giving attitude, or acting entitled. Appearing as if you’re too good to be there is a surefire way to earn the chagrin of your colleagues and supervisor—and the chopping block.

Don’t get yourself fired before you can actually afford it.


Be Considerate of 9-to-5ers

Most people are very happy and comfortable with their day jobs. It earns them a living and allows them to provide for themselves and their families, so don’t judge their choices with your words or actions.


Do the Work

Stay humble, focused, and committed to doing excellent work. I can’t tell you how many ex-colleagues of mine reconnect with me for business purposes based on the quality of my work with our former employer.

Ultimately, if people like you and like your work, this is the only validation you need for going out on your own.

 

Organize Your Finances

If you’re serious about swapping your passion for your day-to-day, then you’ll need to figure out how much it actually costs to go out on your own.


Budgeting 101

Tally up your monthly expenses, including your rent, bills, utilities, and car and student loan payments. Then get estimates for independent health insurance and tack that on, too (roughly $500-$700 monthly for most individual marketplace Silver, Gold, or Platinum packages).

Those are the basics—your needs. Everything else, such as eating out, shopping, and traveling, are extras, i.e., your wants.
 

Health Insurance: Don’t Leave Home Without it

If you can’t afford higher tier health insurance packages, consider catastrophic coverage.

You can still benefit from walk-in, à la carte or on-demand medical services, but you don’t want to suffer a major financial loss from a single accident—it’s simply not worth it.

With these amounts in mind, start saving toward a 3 to 6 month buffer. It’s a good idea anyway to have an emergency or savings buffer, even if you’re not leaving a full-time job anytime soon.

 

Execute, Execute, Execute

If you’re serious about making your side hustle money your “I can live on this” money, you’ll start dedicating the proper time to plan out your days, weeks, and months.  

Be deliberate about an action plan, which includes allocating time to do an excellent job on both your side hustle and your full-time job.

Perhaps you’ll need to get up earlier to work on your side hustle before heading into your day job. In any case, plot out a timeline for achieving small goals to get where you want to go. “Think in years, work in months, and live in days,” as leadership expert Peter Voogd puts it. Set up your portfolio; grow a fanbase; launch, ship, test, and repeat.

Remember that the only person who cares about your side hustle is you. If you don’t work on it, no one else will.

When you realize the significance of being able to choose how, where, when, and with whom you work, waking up a littler earlier and saying no to drinks or party invites become a walk in the park.

 -Shindy Chen