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Having a side hustle is a great way to increase your income, and it can produce enormous benefits when balanced with your main job. Depending on what your side hustle is, it may allow you to pursue new areas of your career field, diversify your skills, explore things you’re passionate about and network with new people you wouldn’t normally meet.
However, it’s also another responsibility in your life, and additional responsibilities bring more problems and concerns. Here are four challenges to consider before committing to a side hustle.
A side hustle can consume your life
It doesn’t have to, but a side hustle has the potential to limit your freedom by taking up too much of your free time. Additional responsibilities and less time to relax can be mentally exhausting if you’re unable to separate work from life, so it’s important to organize your time well. It may take some time to learn how to switch off if you’ve recently taken on a new side hustle, but it’s something you should be mindful of from the start to avoid burnout.
You should also ensure that your side hustle doesn’t take attention away from your primary source of income, as you don’t want to put that part of your life in jeopardy.
You can feel frustrated by the pace
Side hustles allow aspiring entrepreneurs to explore new career paths without prematurely committing to them full time. That may mean learning new skills as you go, and when you already have a developed skill set that you use for your main job, the pace of that learning can feel too slow at times.
Nicole Casanova, founder of Polished Professional Development, recommends staying focused on your goals and pushing through any self-doubt:
“As I was transitioning from clinical massage therapist to life/career coach, I was so eager to leave massage that I would become frustrated with how slow I was growing as a coach in those first years. I thought I would never quit my day job … I was hungry to learn and grow, and it took about two years, but it was worth it. I just kept pushing through, getting as much experience as possible and refusing to give up on my dream. That’s the only way to overcome it!”
Stay patient with yourself as you learn these new skills, and don’t give up on the thing about your side hustle that matters most to you.
You may struggle to make as much money as you anticipated
Getting any business off the ground takes a lot of work, and that effort can be difficult to put in when it’s your secondary focus. You have less time for vital things like networking and marketing, and you may struggle to be as successful as you hoped.
David Mercer, founder of SME Pals, says you should have a clear understanding of how your venture will make money right from the start:
“It means knowing who your market is, what they want and how to convince them to trust you and pay for what you offer,” he explained. “To do that, you really need to put together a comprehensive business plan. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for investors or not — a good business plan will give you the information and data you need to find the shortest path to revenue possible.”
Mercer also advised, “By doing research early on, you’ll often find ‘hidden’ opportunities to make money that might not have been obvious beforehand. There may be multiple streams of revenue available or potentially valuable partnerships with other companies that can all help to drive revenue.”
Try to understand how your side hustle can succeed financially from the get go. Doing so can help you make it more profitable and, in the long-run, sustainable.
You may lose some sleep
While starting out, you’ll likely have to make sacrifices in order to keep your side hustle moving forward. You may need to spend some of your lunch hour working on your project, or wake up earlier so you have more time to answer calls and emails before you start your 9 to 5 workday.
Stefanie Parks started an e-commerce website while working another job and says one of the biggest problems she faced in the beginning was being able to give appropriate attention to her business:
“Even though I was putting in most of my hours in the early mornings, evenings and weekends, there were a lot of things that required my attention during actual business hours. I was taking phone calls in bathrooms, on my lunch break and in unused meeting rooms, and that was a huge challenge for me, as I always felt like I was sneaking around or whispering on the phone!”
When starting a side hustle, it’s a great idea to talk to other people who have successfully started a side hustle. They can mentor you on everything from contracts and legal issues to taxes, which you might not have any experience with.
If you feel up to the challenge, don’t let potential problems dissuade you from starting a side job— just be aware of how much work will be required before jumping in, and stay focused on what you really want to achieve.