Side hustles have become increasingly popular, and many people who take on a second job end up enjoying key aspects of it such as the flexibility it provides or the opportunity to have control over how much you earn.
If you’re working a side gig that you like, you may be considering going full time and giving up your regular nine to five. Before you do, be sure to ask yourself these key questions.
1. How long have you been doing the side job?
If you just started the side job, it’s probably premature to jump into making it your full-time work — no matter how much you are enjoying it. The newness could wear off and you could find that there are more problems with the job than your old one.
Before considering making a side gig into a full-time career, aim to do it for at least six months to a year or longer. This will give you a better idea of whether it’s something you’d like to do day in and day out once the novelty is gone.
2. Can your earnings replace your current income?
Most people can’t afford to take a big pay cut. And you don’t want to drain your bank account by earning below what you’re used to. So, before you decide to make your side gig your full-time career, be sure that it will produce enough money to generate the income you need.
Don’t necessarily assume that just putting in more hours will always allow you to scale up what you’re currently earning, either. For example, if you’re working 20 hours per week at your side gig and making $2,000, it doesn’t necessarily mean that working 40 hours will allow you to make $4,000. That is, unless you’ve actually got clients lined up or know that there’s enough work that pays at the same rate to fill all 40 hours.
Do the math and look at the prospects of being able to earn what you need when you put in more hours on the side job before you hand in your notice.
3. How reliable are the earnings over the long term?
Making good money for a short time at a side gig doesn’t necessarily mean that it will continue forever.
Talk to people who have held the job for a longer time; research the salary of people in the industry; and look at fluctuations in your earnings over time. This can help you make sure the income source is relatively stable.
4. How long will it take you to ramp up to earning a full-time income?
If you won’t be able to make a full-time income right away after transitioning — perhaps because you need time to build up a client base — you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of savings to see you through the period when you’ll earn less.
If you don’t, then you may not want to switch your side gig to full time until you have more money in the bank to serve as a financial cushion.
5. How difficult would it be for you to return to your regular position?
Finally, think about what would happen if things don’t work out. If you can find a new full-time position right away, you’re taking much less risk than if jobs in your industry are scarce.
By considering the answers to each of these questions, you can assess the risk of trying to transition a side job to a full-time job so you can decide if making this move could be right for you.