So you started a business — but you’re not sure if it’ll last. Lucky for you, one of the best ways to learn how to become an entrepreneur is by hustling while keeping your day job.
It’s one or the other: you’re either an entrepreneur or an employee.
A crazed genius that executes brilliant ideas while doing whatever you want, or a play-by-the-rules corporate employee that conforms to societal norms.
It’s easy to slap a label onto ourselves and place everything into neat little boxes to make better sense of our world. But have you ever considered being both?
There are numerous reasons why everyone should try starting a business — even if, and especially if, you’re already working at a company. There are few experiences that will teach you how to become an entrepreneur like balancing a side gig and a day job!
Here’s what to remember if you decide to try entrepreneurship on for size:
1. You can be an entrepreneur on the side
Contrary to what the media portrays, you don’t need to quit your day job and start working in a dingy basement or garage. But you will start off small, and you likely won’t even have a customer base at the beginning.
This is fine, because you can slowly nurture your side business while relying on your main source of income from your day job. As your business (hopefully) grows, you can scale it continuously to generate more clients and revenue, or maintain it at the same level to keep yourself sane as you manage your full time job.
And if your venture fails to take flight? No problem. You still have your day job, and you can still tell everyone that you started your own business (but decided to ditch it to focus on your job).
2. Failure is OK
I know a guy who decided to open up a burger franchise. After investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, it hasn’t been doing well. Due to lack of sales, the restaurant’s going to close down soon.
But one very, very good thing came out of this: a job offer.
He got a position in corporate finance at a global bank. In fact, opening a franchise restaurant was the tipping point that led the interviewers to hire him. They don’t know how well (or poorly) the business has fared so far.
Of course, you don’t need to open a business with high start-up costs. Some businesses can be started with $100 or less. These include knowledge-based businesses, such as consulting, tutoring and writing, or even selling physical products.
The point is that starting a business and failing it is way more impressive than not taking action at all. Starting a business takes initiative, drive and business acumen, three incredibly attractive characteristics to employers. (Click here to tweet this fact.) Along the way, you’ll learn more than you thought about sales, marketing, customer relations and your own abilities. You might be surprised at what you can achieve.
3. You never know what will happen with your side hustle
So you started off just pursuing a hobby and decided to monetize it for fun. Or maybe you knew early on that you wanted to go all-in to rake in the big bucks.
Isn’t it interesting how we set out to do one thing, but often things turn out another way?
Having both a day job and a side hustle gives you options. It gives you an idea of how much you enjoy your full time position and helps you realize which direction you want to pursue. Or maybe you like both and want to have it all — the one time where it’s okay to be greedy.
Different opportunities can pop up as your two seemingly-separate lives mix and flow into each other. Did a recruiter get wind of your venture? You shouldn’t be surprised to expect a phone call about a job opportunity.
4. You don’t have to hide what you’re doing
Maybe you’ve mentioned your venture to impress your boss. Maybe you’re keeping it a secret because you’re terrified your company will disapprove and kick you out on the streets, leaving you homeless and destitute. If the latter is the case, reconsider your perspective.
We all leave our jobs eventually one way or another. Your boss knows this. Plus, employers are looking for people with entrepreneurial spirit. These types of people are the ones who bring fresh ideas and innovation to the workplace.
In many cases, there’s no need to hide your side business as long as your side hustle doesn’t overlap with your salary work. In fact, tell the right people about it, including your boss, recruiters and trusted coworkers. It’ll cast you in a different light and set you apart, which could open up new opportunities at your current workplace and beyond.
Melissa Chu is the founder of Jumpstart Your Dream Life, which helps readers achieve their goals by developing feasible strategies and forming good habits. Grab your free guide to get started today.