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Complement your successful career with a side hustle

Reasons to start a business even if you don’t have to

You are happy with your 9-to-5 job. You are on track with your long-term career plans. Your compensation is enough to provide for the lifestyle you choose. Donuts and coffee are free. You feel appreciated at work. Your stock options are paying off.

If you are satisfied with your career, there is no financial need to start a side hustle. Nevertheless, you might want to for other reasons.

By profession, I am a software developer. I thoroughly enjoy my work. I am content where I am. I continue striving to achieve more in my career.

I am also a compulsive side hustler. My many past projects include an indie game studio and an e-commerce enablement project. Having a side hustle has enriched my life in many ways.

Here are some of the reasons why I think a side business is a good complement to an already successful career:

Reason 1: Emotional diversification

When you have a career you enjoy, you will be emotionally invested. There are no two ways about it.

When things go according to plan, you feel great. When tasks get completed, you get a feeling of accomplishment. Spirits are up when you are praised for your good performance.

And then there are those crappy days. Days when tasks take longer than expected. Days when you hit an unexpected project roadblock. Days when you do not get rewarded as expected, after putting your heart and soul into a project.

Having other passions in life helps diversify your emotional focus. A side hustle is one of the ways you can do this.

A side hustle helps in 2 ways:

  1. Any level of success will provide you a sense of a achievement. The positive emotions derived from a side hustle can offset the frustrations during bad patches of your day job.
  2. Time spent on the side hustle is the time you do not spend on the day job. When you concentrate on the side hustle, you can’t worry about the day job at the same time. You will gain emotional distance.

Reason 2: Flexibility to work on flow-inducing tasks

Have you ever found yourself engaged in an activity that is enjoyable and has the right amount of difficulty? You are so immersed in the doing that you lose track of yourself and time.

A psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, describes the mental state as “flow”.

Studies have shown that the flow state correlates to happiness. It also contributes to higher self-esteem, a better ability to concentrate and improved physical health.

Another researcher, Owen Schaffer, proposes the following as conditions for being in a flow state:

  1. Knowing what to do
  2. Knowing how to do it
  3. Knowing how well you are doing
  4. Knowing where to go
  5. High perceived challenges
  6. High perceived skills
  7. Freedom from distractions

At a 9-to-5 job, certain tasks are conducive to helping you be in a flow state.

But there will also be obligatory tasks that are not suitable to create a flow state. For example, if the task assigned to you is too easy or if you are constantly interrupted at work.

When you work on your side hustle, you have complete control over:

  1. the tasks you choose to do
  2. the level of difficulty of the task
  3. the environment you work in

Having this freedom allows you to maximize your possibility of being in a flow state, which correlates to happiness. If you need one reason to start a side hustle, having the ability to choose work that makes you happy is as good a reason as any.

Reason 3: The financial reward depends entirely on you

In a 9-to-5 job, you do not have 100% control over your income.

You can influence your income by:

  • producing quality work and effectively communicating it
  • getting promoted
  • changing jobs

Nevertheless, the income will also depend on other factors. Some of them include:

  • your boss’ perception of you
  • company compensation policy
  • HR budget

In a side hustle, you decide how much you get paid.

You have complete control over what you produce. You are responsible for the quality of the product. You are in charge of marketing.

If you do not earn as much as you think you should, there could only be 2 reasons: either the product is not good enough or the product is not marketed well enough.

It is in your power to change both variables.

Reason 4: The business serves your agenda

At 9-to-5 jobs, your work is driven by a range of agendas other than yours. These include:

  • the company’s overall business strategy
  • ambitions of managers up the hierarchy
  • “office politics”

Those factors will affect what projects you get and how you are expected to execute them.

In a side hustle, you decide what your inner values are. You decide what the priorities are. The business serves your agenda.

Ideally, your agenda is a healthy balance between providing value for customers and your own financial gain. But then again, you can do whatever the hell you want.

You alone decide the “why” of the business. This is of utmost importance because every other aspect of the business is derived from the “why”.

Reason 5: It rewards effectiveness and nothing else

In your day job, you might not be rewarded solely based on your effectiveness.

You might be rewarded for appearing to be busy. You might be rewarded for working on projects that are important to the career path of your manager. You might be rewarded for saying the right things to the right people.

In a side hustle, you are financially rewarded based solely on your effectiveness.

Spending more time working on the side hustle does not guarantee better results. If you confuse busyness for productive work, you will be punished at the end of the day.

The market will provide direct feedback on your effectiveness.

You have the freedom to decide which tasks have a maximum impact on your business. The more efficient you work on those tasks, the more time you have for yourself.

Reason 6: You are forced to take responsibility

At a 9-to-5 job, it is easy to absolve responsibility to someone else. It could be to your boss. Or to the project manager. Or to the CEO.

They might tell you what to work on. They might tell you how you are expected to work.

In a side hustle, you are 100% responsible for everything.

You decide what to do. You decide how to do something. You decide how long you want to spend on a task. You prioritize the tasks.

This also means that you shoulder the consequences of all the decisions.

If the business fails, it is entirely your fault. You cannot blame your boss. You cannot blame the company policy. You cannot blame your colleagues for being incompetent.

On the flip side, when the business achieves the goals you set, you know it is because of you. You have made the right calls. You have appropriately invested time and money.

A side hustle forces you to step up.

If you take responsibility, the business might have a chance at succeeding. But if you do not, the business will certainly fail.

Reason 7: 100% creative freedom

The reality is that if you have an employer, you probably can’t do whatever you want all the time.

Your work might be affected by the given technical specifications. You might have to take into account the opinions of others. You might have to do something that you do not agree with because of management decisions.

Even if you are the CEO, you have to answer to your shareholders.

With a side hustle, you have complete autonomy. Short of committing a crime, you can do whatever you want all the time.

You have the final say on everything, from the name of your company to the font you use on your website.

There will not be any unnecessary discussions about insignificant issues. You do not compromise on anything.

You decide on something and move on to the next task. You only answer to yourself.

Go hustle

Starting a side hustle in addition to your successful career allows you to have the best of both worlds.

Your career offers you the financial stability. Without any pressure to make money, you can concentrate on extracting a sense of fulfillment from running your own business.

Think of your career as the main dish. Adding a tasty side hustle will make your meal even more delightful.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +368,675 people.

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