Nearly half of all working Americans have a side gig aside from their full-time job. Whether it be driving for Uber, walking dogs, exchanging stocks, nannying or even freelancing, millions of people are side-hustling. This provides supplemental income to help them retire early, pay bills, save for vacations, and more. If you’re looking to start your own gig but aren’t sure where to begin, these simple steps may help you get started.
Make Sure It’s Legal
If you’re thinking about starting a side gig, odds are you probably want to keep your full-time job, at least for a while. Therefore, it’s best to make sure starting a side hustle doesn’t conflict with any policies at your current position. Scan through the fine print in your company handbook to determine whether your potential side gig may qualify as a conflict of interest. Look for sections that address noncompete for work you may be prohibited from doing.
Perhaps you don’t understand a certain section, or you’re unsure as to whether or not your side gig will be an issue. If so, speak to your boss. Spare him the specifics, but do give him a quick rundown of the basic job description. Doing this before you begin working your side gig will protect you from any potential backlash or committing any fireable offenses.
Realize Your Goal
Once you get the go-ahead, you’re free to begin working your side gig. However, you must determine the goal of having this second job right from the start. For instance, maybe you’re simply using it to supplement your income. If so, your goal may be to work this side gig until you have a set amount in savings, then quit. Thus, having a side gig will be temporary.
However, if you’re interested in expanding your side gig and turning it into a full-time job, quitting your current position may be the goal. Regardless of your goals, predetermine what they are. Then, revisit them each month. Your passions may change and your goals evolve. This is how you’ll find a balance between the two jobs and discover what you truly want to do with your time.
Keep Work Separate
While you’re investing yourself in your side hustle, don’t forget about the real money maker — your full-time job. Even if you love your side gig and feel like you should dedicate more time to working on it, don’t do so on company time. This may be the most difficult part of working both jobs. However, keeping the two separate will enable you to give your all to both without sacrificing either one.
Moreover, working on your side hustle at the office or from your work computer could be a fireable offense. Plus, if your boss suspects you’re doing nonwork-related things during office hours, pulling data from your computer is incredibly easy. They have the right to record your mouse clicks and searches if they so choose. Protect yourself by separating your side hustle and work and only conduct personal business at home.
Manage Your Time Wisely
One way to help separate your full-time job and your side hustle is to schedule your working hours in advance. This will help you better manage your time and allow you to accomplish your to-do list. Buy an hourly planner and plan your workweek. It may seem tedious at first, but doing so now will encourage good habits and create a routine. Once your schedule becomes second-nature, you may not need a planner at all.
Regardless of how well you plan, unforeseen obligations may arise and you may have less time than you’d like for your side gig. When this happens, try to prioritize which tasks are most important. Make a list and tackle the most pressing duties first. If you truly can’t find time to work on your side hustle every now and then, try to remember that it isn’t your main source of income and your full-time job should be your priority.
Know Your Limits
Explicitly scheduling your time can help you accomplish more tasks. However, it may also reveal your personal limits regarding how much time and effort you can actually invest in a side hustle. For instance, if you love kids, you may be interested in making tutoring or nannying your side gig. However, last-minute requests and overnight stays may be more worry than it’s worth.
Thus, you may find driving a school bus more conducive to your work schedule. Plus, you already know it only requires a few hours of your time early in the morning and during the afternoon. There won’t be any unexpected obligations or extra work. Knowing what to expect will prevent you from burning out and establish limits for how much you will actually work.
Don’t Forget the Taxes
Typically, your full-time job deducts taxes out of your paycheck without you giving it a second thought. However, your side gig likely won’t do the same, even though you still have to fork over taxes to the IRS just like everyone else. Plus, if you’re an independent contractor or self-employed, you’ll be paying both employee and employer taxes. This means the government will tax you at a higher rate.
Additionally, you must make quarterly estimated tax payments on your self-employment income. Skipping a payment or paying late may result in a penalty fee. Therefore, setting aside one-third of your side gig income for taxes is a good idea. When April rolls around and it’s time to file your taxes, consider working with a professional, especially if you’ve never had a side gig before. They can help you file correctly, avoid penalties and maybe even save you some money.
Consider Your Future
Having a side gig while working full time is completely doable — as long as you keep your priorities straight. Remember, your full-time job should be your No. 1 concern, especially if it is your man source of income. A side gig is only supplemental. However, as you re-evaluate your goals, you may find a deep passion for your side hustle. At that point, you have to give significant consideration to your future.
Are you willing to start your own small business? Can it become your main source of income? Will it allow you to quit your other job? If the answer is yes, it may be time to make your side gig your full-time career. Just be sure to weigh every option and make the best choice for you.