3 Ways to Harmoniously Blend Your Side Business Alongside Your Full-Time Job

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This post is from new contributor Kali Hawlk who’s documenting her journey to quitting her day job and starting her freelance business.

There are two elements in life that most of us feel we will never have enough of. The first is money.

The good news for side hustlers and aspiring solopreneurs is that you don’t need to have much money to establish a side hustle alongside your full-time job (and some get the ball rolling without any upfront investment at all).

As a freelance writer and content manager, my startup expenses have been minimal: I paid for two websites, my portfolio and my blog… and that’s about it.

The total cost? About $300 for everything, which included two domain names, three years’ worth of hosting, and premium themes for both WordPress sites. Many people have beaten me on expenses and have gotten set up for far less.

The second element that we all feel we don’t have enough of is time. Finding the time to work on our businesses while having a full-time job is the biggest challenge that solopreneurs will have to overcome.

Here are 3 ways to harmonize your side business and make room for it alongside your full-time job.

1. Think of your side biz as an investment

Time is trickier to handle than money. My startup costs were an investment; the first month of freelance writing brought in a return of about $600. Not only did I cover my initial expenses, but I was able to allocate some of my profit towards taxes and had a little left over to put back into building my business.

The initial time I put in, however, is not something I can make more of. Sure, the time I invested did pay off in the form of a growing business — but that simply means more clients, more connections, or more money. It does not mean more time.

It’s crucial for those of us who are aspiring to take our side businesses full-time learn to manage our time wisely and do everything in our power to maximize what is available to us. We all get the same 24 hours in a day, and that’s it. So today, I want to share exactly what I did to free up more time to devote to my business.

2. Negotiate with your boss for office freedom

The number one time drain on any aspiring solopreneur who is working to take their business full-time is the day job they already have. Working on someone else’s arbitrary schedule is, in my opinion, utter nonsense!

People are not machines, and we don’t necessarily function at our highest capacities between the hours of 9am and 5pm with a one hour break slapped in the middle.

And yet, for most of us with desk jobs in someone else’s office, this is what we’re expected to do. We don’t exchange a job well done for our paycheck (if we did, we’d come into the office when we wanted, get stuff done, and leave when we had satisfactorily completed all our tasks).

Instead, we exchange time. The agreement is that we sit at our desks for at least eight hours per day and every two weeks we get a paycheck — even though we’re all well aware it doesn’t necessarily take 40 hours per week to do a fantastic job.

I knew I had to do something to create a better schedule for myself in order to be more productive. Initially, I approached my boss and asked to work remotely full-time. I had a clear, logical argument that I presented that explained why it made sense for me to work at home.

Unfortunately, my employer is extremely old-school and thought this was very bad for “office unity.” Fighting to not roll my eyes, I stood my ground and worked to negotiate a deal that we could both live with.

Now I work in the office from 7am to about noon, and then I go home to work remotely for the afternoon.

3. Work remotely to boost productivity

While I am resigned to a set schedule in the mornings, I have the rest of the day to prioritize my own tasks. I’m always logged into my company’s system remotely so I can immediately handle things like emails, but I tend to focus on my side business in the afternoon and take care of my job’s assignments at night.

I still have to work my full-time job, but working remotely brings several positive changes:

  • I’m not a night owl, and am more energized and creative in the afternoon hours than I am in the evening — which is exactly what I need to do great work for my clients. My full-time job is data entry. I don’t need creative juices for that!
  • I’m also not a people person. I hit the social anxiety jackpot: I’m not only introverted, but shy as well! This does not mean I hate people, but it does mean being around coworkers all day long becomes extremely wearing. Working remotely has re-energized me and I’m a million times more productive now that I have plenty of time to work independently and alone.
  • I have the freedom to devote more time to my side business if I complete assignments for my full-time job ahead of schedule (which often happens).
  • I’m happier in general. I learned that being forced to sit in an office day in and day out is really bad for my mental and physical health. Working in that office full-time on a schedule that made no sense for my natural productivity levels caused me to be more depressed, anxious, and stressed than I have ever been. And fellow office-workers will understand how physically draining it is to be shackled at a desk for more than 8 hours a day, forced to be stationary and confined.

How to negotiate your own remote work

If you want to negotiate with your current employer for a more flexible schedule, keep these tips in mind:

Make sure you are doing absolutely outstanding work in your current position before you approach a boss to ask for anything. Prove your value and your worth, and they’ll likely be more willing to work with you to keep you happy.

See the situation from your employer’s point of view. In your negotiations, you’ll need to be able to tell them exactly why allowing you to do some work remotely benefits everyone.

Have your argument prepared before you ask for a change in schedule. This doesn’t mean you go in and actually argue with your boss! Simply take the time to be prepared and capable of answering questions, explaining why this is a logical step, and reminding anyone what an excellent, valuable employee you are. Don’t approach the situation like you’re asking for a favor. You’re not — you’re seeking a better work schedule for you so that you can perform at even higher levels for your employer.

Be ready to negotiate. Depending on how innovative your company is, you may or may not have to negotiate with your manager. Forward-thinking companies will likely be more open to non-traditional working arrangements.

Having more freedom to work on your own schedule is one of the best ways you can balance your side business with your current full-time job. Remember, this isn’t an excuse to get out of doing excellent work in your position for your employer. You’ll still have a full-time job, but it should be a bit easier to work your side business’ needs into your day when you have more control over your schedule.

You can devote your best working hours to your own clients and projects, and you can spend more of your day in an ideal environment rather than in someone else’s office. We may not be able to fit more than 24 hours in a day, but we can put those hours to the best use possible.

That starts with freeing ourselves from the confines of the offices of our day jobs, and beginning to establish our own schedules and surroundings that allow us to do our best work possible.

What’s one thing you do to create room for your side hustle alongside your full-time job?

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    • Kali Hawlk says:

      Wonderful! I’m thrilled the post was able to help you out – if you need additional help or some thoughts on how to move forward, don’t hesitate to let me know!

      Best of luck to you in launching your full-time biz soon!

  1. geoff says:

    Hey Kali, I think you are spot on with your points about productivity and with feeling happier. I find the same benefits if I mix it up working from home and the office. The extra hours I save from not commuting can be spent more productively, “You run the day or the day runs you”. Trying to convince a boss to look at it from the perspective of output and not about being in the office and clock watching is a common challenge.

    • Kali Hawlk says:

      If you can save on commuting time, that is HUGE. I didn’t cover that in my post – I only live about 20 minutes from my employer’s office – but being in the metro Atlanta area, I know I’m lucky in that respect! This is a great way to approach the issue with your supervisor. If you’re not stuck in a car for two hours every day, you can be using those hours to produce more value for the company.

  2. Gina says:

    I liked this post:-) It’s very encouraging what you’ve been able to accomplish. I’m hoping to do something similar and will be following along. One question: Does your boss know about your side hustle?

  3. Celise says:

    I’m an introvert, too!! Maybe that’s why I feel so tired sometimes after coming home from work. I’m definitely a homebody and would rather be by myself (I’m a writer and a bookworm). I haven’t started the side hustle yet, but I’ve been approved to work one day a week from home with the day job. Only certain job positions–and the courtesy of your manager–are provided this luxury after a favorable annual review. Lucky for me, I started my new job in Nov 2015. My review was very favorable. And even garnered a 3% merit increase. I’m about to start a course on how to edit fiction novels so I’ll be able to work on this while I’m at home.

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