When it comes to side hustles, part-time work, and the gig economy, it turns out a lot of people do it for a variety of reasons:

  • The side hustle includes any money-making venture as short as answering online surveys or management projects lasting a year or more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to these workers as contingent workers; those whose have no contract for long-term employment.
  • Between two and four percent of all workers fall into the bureau’s definition of contingent workers.
  • The number of contingent workers and independent contractors in the workforce is growing in all business sectors, with maintenance/repair, personal care, and civic organizations gaining the most.
  • The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook lists single-task jobs as those most likely to attract contingent and contractor workers, including construction, transportation, print and digital news media, musicians, fine artists, computer programmers, coders, and software developers.

Why start a side hustle (and keep it there):

Your time is your own:

You decide what jobs to accept and reject. Scheduling flexibility is critical for many workers caring for young children or elderly parents without assistance from daycare facilities or home health care.

Your time is your money:

You set your fees and decide what your work is worth. How competitive you are depends on a number of factors, including your hourly or per-job rate.

No two days are alike:

If a day of diverse work appeals to you, the side hustle provides that variety.

You work your passion:

A side job pays more than money; it feeds a need to do what you love. Many gig workers use their full-time jobs to pay bills and feed families, while the side job finances future entrepreneurial endeavors.

You stay really busy:

Working 50, 60 or more hours a week is possible in the side job/regular job scenario. That’s exhausting for many people, but some find it exhilarating; work is not just a goal for them, but their daily fix of fuel and fire.

You experiment without significant investment:

Work the part-time job from your home office or a shared space, without the big startup costs necessary for a full-time commitment.

You keep your full-time job’s benefits:

Maintain your full-time job, and keep your health insurance, investment, and other employee benefits.

Why turn the side hustle into a full-time job:

Full-time means access to benefits:

Going full-time is a chance to incorporate the business and become a legally registered entity in your state. This creates an opportunity to gain tax benefits, raise capital, protect yourself from personal liability and present yourself in the most professional light possible.

Less money coming in:

The side job is a time thief, and more time spent does not always translate to more money. Unhappy clients, unforeseen delays, technical glitches and excessive travel cost money. Full-time includes full attention to all the details.

Side hustles can be so unreliable:

You may have 10 clients a month, or one. You deliver three months’ work to a client and they disappear without paying. A few hours a week or month isn’t enough time to keep up with the demands.

It shows clients your commitment and discipline:

A client with a year-long project approaches you; the part-time you cannot handle the timeline; the full-time you say, “Yes and thank you; I want this project and it will be done to all your specifications.”

Consistent scheduling:

Full-time commitment means simpler, easier scheduling, instead of working extra jobs around available hours.

How do you decide what works for you?

Ask yourself

“What do I want to be when I grow up?: Do you see yourself working the job-and-a-half for life, fervently pursuing your passion or maintaining the safe but monotonous nine-to-five until retirement?

Look at your budget needs:

Do you have enough saved for six to 12 months’ worth of bills in order to declare your dream ready for the full-time responsibility?

Think long term:

Retirement and future medical expenses loom large in your budget as you get older. Passion pays when you work hard and smart, but pay yourself first: do you have sufficient discipline to save most of what you make for the future and to invest back into the business.

Are you risk averse or risk seeking?

Be honest: do you enjoy taking chances, daring failure while courting success and not knowing what next week, next month or next year looks like? Or are you the proverbial smooth sailing type who prefers calm water to waves and predictable weather to possible storms?

Ask someone who’s been there:

Seek a mentor in the business you’re starting or a professional coach who listens asks the hard questions provides the answers you don’t always want to hear and offers the guidance learned from hard work, hustle, successes and even some failures. No matter how you start, setbacks happen even as you move forward. Read the consultant’s work, listen to their talks and watch their videos to learn new insights and avoid problems.