Is It Time to Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Career?

By Adrienne Erin - Writer

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There are two strong arguments on both sides of the spectrum for turning your side hustle into a full-time job. No one’s telling you not to go after your dreams, but examine both sides closely and ask yourself some questions so you’re well-prepared before you take the plunge.


Making Your Passion Work

Passion is the fuel that drives you. When you simply chase money, you’re often building a business you don’t really care about. You don’t have the patience to work long hours and you might not even care about your customers or clients.

Passion gives you a sense of power, because you’re focusing on what excites you. However, even when you’re living and breathing your passion, there will be long hours, setbacks, challenges, frustrations, and more time and energy spent than you ever thought possible. Sometimes, optimism can even become a negative and lead to overestimation of the market and your abilities. You might find yourself being “blinded” by your passion and dismissing crucial information, as well as underestimating the time and money it really takes.

Even Oprah Winfrey admitted in 2013 that she suffered a near nervous breakdown the year before when she was creating the OWN Network and filming The Butler. She felt that creating OWN was her calling, and we all know about her passion for acting, but it was nevertheless too much stimulation for her brain.

Before you do anything, ask yourself if you’ll be as passionate when your hobby turns into work. If you think you won’t work as intensely, or even if you’re not sure, consider an alternative — such as changing jobs to one that’s more aligned with your interests.  For example, if you love writing your blog but have doubts about whether you really want to make it full-time, think about a job at a publishing house. Remember, you can always make that switch later if you feel your first thought was the right one.


Checking Your Finances

Once you’ve decided to go for it, the next step is to take an in-depth look at your finances. It often takes a business at least 3 to 5 years, and maybe longer, to start showing profit.  Will you be prepared to possibly go for several years with little or no income?

Monitor your expenses carefully and often. It’s easy to lose track of your expenditures, so check your bank balance at least once a day. Some people even keep all of their receipts so they have a running tally. Now ask yourself:

  • Do you know what comes in and goes out on a month-by-month basis?  Make a spreadsheet and itemize income on one side. Make sure the income is real, not projected, and is liquid.  Now, itemize all of your expenses, including rent, food, clothing, utilities, bills and everything else. Are these two totals in line or do you see a short fall? If you see a short fall, can you close that gap? Will you have anything left for savings?
  • Do you know your credit rating? Some clients and customers will make credit rating a deciding factor when choosing to do business with someone.
  • Do you have a plan to cover unexpected expenses?
  • Do you have access to a bridge loan if you need it? Whether it’s coming from friends, family or financial institutions, will you be able to pay it in a timely manner?
  • Do have enough stable clients and work to start? 
  • Can you consistently market your company so you’ll always have future clients?
  • Do you have a clear business plan? What are your objectives and goals?  How many clients will you need on a monthly basis? What is your marketing plan? What are your monthly and yearly income needs? What is your exit strategy?


Develop Strong Emotional Health

If you’re turning your passion into a business, you can expect frustrations, setbacks and unexpected challenges. Without a strong emotional base, you might become discouraged and overwhelmed — which can lead to inaction, procrastination and paralyzing fear. Ask yourself:

  • How are your coping skills?  Do you have friends, family or pets you can be yourself with?  Do you practice stress-management techniques?  Do you have any little routines, such as a morning meditation, that can help get you through the day? Be prepared to experience setbacks, frustrations and deadlines. Determine if you can put all of it in perspective, or will it overwhelm you too much? 
  • How do you handle constructive criticism? 
  • How do you listen? American businesswoman and "Shark" investor on ABC's Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran, once told a potential client that one of the main traits of an entrepreneur is the ability to listen. You should be able to hear what others want, what existing services are missing, and learn how to capitalize on it.


Physical Health: The Cornerstone of It All

Physical health is the glue that holds it all together — without it, you won’t be at the top of your game. In fact, being energetic is considered one of the four traits of successful entrepreneurs. To ensure you’re ready to improve or maintain your physical health, ask yourself:

  • Do you eat healthily?  Everything comes down to nutrition, because food can both heal and hurt. If your diet is full of sugary, fatty, highly processed foods, you’ll experience low energy, mood swings, the inability to concentrate and more.
  • Do you exercise consistently? Exercise keeps you strong, empowered and releases stress. Studies show that the most productive people have an exercise practice.
  • Do you practice self-care?  There will be times when you’ll feel that the life is just pounded out of you — and that’s the exact time when you’ll need to schedule a massage or another form of “me” time to refresh your body and spirit. No, it’s not selfish, and you’ll be much more productive and ready to face any challenge.


Are You Ready to Start Living Your Passion?

As you’re deciding whether your passion project can be transformed into a full-time career, you’re probably aware that shelter and food are as important as job satisfaction. However, emotional and physical health is equally as important, too. They all overlap and contribute to your ultimate success. Before you make any decisions, look at the whole picture. And if you’re ready to make your passion a full-time career, remember to make adjustments where needed and keep your journey as healthy and stress-free as possible. 

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