They don’t call it a side hustle for nothing.
GOBankingRates recently asked top finance experts this question: What is the No. 1 thing you wish someone had told you before you started your side hustle and why?
Whether you’re starting a side job to earn extra cash or launching a new business to pursue your passions, here is some expert advice on keeping sane.
Have a clear end game
When you’ve got your nose to two grindstones, trying to earn additional cash and putting in extra time, it’s easy to lose sight of your overall goal. Bobbi Rebell, author of “How to Be a Financial Grownup,” says that there’s a difference between having a career-boosting side hustle and working two jobs. The latter involves having a clear, strategic reason for working hard.
“For example, to earn money to pay down a debt. Or to save for a vacation. Or to acquire a new skill that can expand your professional options. Or to explore whether a business is financially viable. You have to be careful not to just work two jobs for the sake of it, because that can be exhausting,” she says.
Understand that there are no rules
Get a job, buy a house, start a family, save, retire — or don’t. Just because most of your friends follow a certain path in life doesn’t mean you have to walk in their footsteps.
Mohawk-donning financial blogger J. Money, who broke the rules by posting his net worth online, was able to leave his 9 to 5 job. In fact, in seven years he managed to save $400,000 through side gigs, blogging and financial smarts, mostly against the advice of others.
“I had no idea you could make a living as a blogger or freelancer or anything outside of a standard 9 to 5, really,” says Money. “Or that you can craft your own lifestyle, too, even if the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy! The ‘early retirement’ movement online is doing a great job helping get this message out, which I’m beyond thankful for.”
Scale up sooner
If you dream of turning your side hustle into a full-time gig, you will probably need to scale up sooner rather than later. However, expanding your business can be intimidating.
Millennial money expert Stefanie O’Connell says you should never be shy about believing in yourself. She has a passion for helping people achieve financial greatness. However, those with successful side gigs sometimes doubt that they can or should be able to earn more, she says.
“When you find out you can make money doing something on your own time and terms, it’s so exciting and you feel lucky. Often to the point that you stop being aggressive in your money asks,” she said. “Remember, you’re still a business, and you should always be seeking growth. Once you’ve validated your side hustle idea with a few paying clients, think about your next step — raising your rates, finding more prestigious clients, building a team, etc.”
Stick to your schedule
When you’re working two jobs, distractions can mean the difference between success and financial failure. John Rampton, a financial consultant, says that success relies on creating a schedule and sticking to it with laser focus.
And Rampton knows something about determination. While working on a construction site to pay for college, he was run over by a skidsteer, which crushed his left leg. Confined to a bed with doctors insisting he’d never walk again, Rampton spent his time studying online marketing. Not only did he defy the odds by learning to walk, but he also managed to launch several companies and earned a No. 3 spot on Entrepreneur’s list of the world’s most influential marketers.
“It seems like we never have enough hours in the day; this is especially true when balancing a full-time gig with a side hustle. It’s doable, but you need to budget your time to the minute,” he says.
Set regular hours
Yes, you need to work hard and stick to a schedule if you hope to succeed at your side hustle, especially if you’re picking up work as a stay-at-home parent. However, money expert Lauren Greutman says you should also create a schedule that allows for life outside work. If you don’t budget time for yourself, your side gig could take over your life.
Greutman, who raises four kids, runs a business with her husband and operates a finance website, says the one thing she wished someone would have told her when she launched her business was to set regular work hours.
“A side hustle is something that can easily get in the way of your life if you let it. I started my website in 2010 with two kids at home, and it quickly grew into a full-time job with irregular hours,” she says. “Once I started treating my side hustle like a business, I was able to make more money and put stricter boundaries on my work time.”
Money may come later
Many people launch side jobs based on their passions. As a result, they often have to work for free for a period before the businesses become profitable. Paying your dues is a necessary step in achieving your career goals, says The Penny Hoarder founder and CEO Kyle Taylor.
“They don’t call it a hustle for nothing! I think I underestimated how little I would make in the beginning and how many hours I’d have to work for free before things would start to take off,” he says.
Taylor began blogging about money in 2010, when he was still in major debt from student loans. While building a following took time, the site now boasts more than 21 million readers a month. And Taylor strives to give back to the people who helped him succeed. His company provides readers with annual college scholarships and surprise giveaways.
Taylor advises aspiring entrepreneurs to follow his example and not give up on their dreams.