When you’re working to get your business off the ground, it can feel like a waste of time and energy to continue clocking in at your day job. Believe me, I know. It took me two and a half years to grow my freelance writing and editing business to the point where I could do it full-time, and until that point, I continued to report for work at the paralegal job I was less than thrilled with. Collating copies and drafting tedious contracts felt like a complete waste of hours I could have spent working on my business.
But, had I not done the day job/dream job balancing act, I would never have been able to create the opportunities I have now, or been able to build a solid business that now has me hiring on help after only eight months.
It can be frustrating and tiring to run a side hustle, but the fact is that building your business up while you retain a steady paycheck is the smartest way to do things, both for your finances and for your ultimate happiness. Here’s why:
You Keep The Lights On (For You and Your Business)
In the uncertain early days of your business, profitability is hardly a given. You’re still establishing yourself, learning the ropes, and trying out strategies that might work and might not. It’s just good financial sense to keep yourself afloat during this trial-and-error period with a backup job you can rely on to pay the bills.
In addition to keeping your own household operational, having a day job can allow you to get your business over the initial starting hump. If your business is the only thing keeping you clothed and fed, you’ll find yourself calling it quits pretty fast if it doesn’t take off as quickly as you hope it will. When you have another paycheck coming in to ease the financial stress, you can afford to stick with your business a little longer—and that extra time might be all it takes to gain the momentum you need.
You Can Build on Your Own Terms
If I had relied entirely on my freelancing to pay the bills from day one, you’d better believe I’d have taken on any and every job that would pay me—even if the rates weren’t that great, the clients were difficult, or the projects were on subjects I despised. By giving myself the extra security of a day job, I was able to be choosier with the work I took on, gradually growing my business around the clients and projects I truly cared about and establishing myself as a subject matter expert rather than a mediocre jack of all trades.
When you quit your day job too soon, you put your own back up against the wall. Suddenly, you lose the freedom to create the business you want, and your passion project becomes just another meaningless paycheck you have little control over. Build your business right by giving yourself that extra financial cushion that allows you to make decisions based on your goals and vision, not on desperate necessity.
You Can Save For Your Leap
When it’s finally time to make the leap to full-time self-employment, it’s always best to have an emergency fund saved up. Running your own business is rarely a steady, predictable paycheck the way a traditional job is. There are times of feast and times of famine, and you can’t always tell which is going to come when. If you start setting aside savings while you’re still at your day job, you can hedge your bets and allow yourself to make the transition with more peace of mind.
Building a business on the side while also working a traditional job isn’t easy. But if you can pull it off, not only will your business be better for it, you’ll have proven to yourself that you’ve got the determination and drive it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
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