Side Hustles: Distraction or Catalyst for Growth?

There’s your 9–5, and then there’s your side hustle. It’s not necessarily a hobby or an extracurricular activity like kickball or basketball. Your side hustle uses your time or talents in exchange for money. It’s something that creatives, developers, and programers do more frequently than others, but it’s not limited to those professions either. Nurses and doctors will work the night shift at a regional hospital, lawyers will help a friend incorporate their startup, and corporate CPAs will help their neighbors come tax time.

Side hustles have their pros and cons, and it can be tough to figure it out at first. What you don’t want to do is find yourself in a situation where you’re overloaded with the cons.

There are a few benefits of a side hustle:

  1. Cash: Need some extra cash? Side hustles create additional sources of income for you to take advantage of during your down time away from your full time job. My side hustles have helped pay down college loans, cover vacations, and even extra special anniversary gifts. . *Note: side hustles shouldn’t interfere with your full time job.
  2. Sharpen Your Skill Set: Side hustles have helped me sharpen my skills beyond what my typical day-to-day responsibilities could have ever done. In fact, my side hustles have helped expose me to challenges that I would have never faced in a corporate job or even at our agency. These have helped expand our offerings and even improve our training (not to mention help me personally stand out.)
  3. Expand Your Network: It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to make a jump to a new opportunity or build your personal brand equity in the company that you’re in now, building your network is a good move for your professional and personal growth. Over the past year, I’ve been reconnecting with friends from high school. Some I’ve worked with, some I’ve helped connect to other opportunities, and others have just been good to catch up with and share a beer. Either way, it’s good to invest in your friendships, and the professional opportunities are just the icing on the cake.

So Side Hustles Sound Awesome… But Where Do They Suck?

There was a point where I was working full time with my 8–5, plus working on TrustWorkz, plus working on a website design company, plus working on a side hustle or two as a contractor. While I was making great money, it was killing me and it wasn’t a great reflection of who I was professionally when things were delivered past their due date.

The feeling of failing at everything at the same time is a crappy place to find yourself.

When your side hustles begin to eat into your passions or your 9–5 (which most consider as your professional self), they can become damaging. This is the point where the extra cash or experience is most likely not worth the cost, which is your professional reputation, your sanity, or your personal relationships.

You have to ask yourself, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Side Hustle Communication

If you jump into a side hustle, it’s important that your side hustle employer understands that you have certain commitments to properly manage their expectations. They need to understand that you have a full time job and that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement to be performed in your downtime.

When this most basic level of communication and honesty is missed, pressures mount and agitation increases between you and your side hustle employer. Again, this is a reflection of you (professional and personal). Getting this right matters.

Should you tell your employer? Well, it all depends. I encourage responsible side hustles because I believe that it makes our team members more dynamic. As long as it doesn’t interfere with our customers, then we’re good. Other employers might not see it the way I do, so you might want to keep your lips sealed when it comes to your extra work. I strongly suggest feeling it out before you spill the beans. If you’re not sure, keep it to yourself (as in don’t tell anyone in the office). It’s just not worth the drama, especially if you’re managing it well.

Side hustles can be a huge benefit for your personal and professional life if managed well. If not, they can be a total disaster.

Choose your side hustles carefully, and keep your priorities straight.