Before Plan de Ville was crafted into what it is today, I was following a different career path. After I completed my undergrad degree in political science and writing at Loyola University Maryland, I worked as an assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at Brides magazine. About a year and a half later, I was accepted to the Masters of Fashion Studies program at Parsons and ultimately left my magazine job. I worked on launching PDV that summer before I started my MA—which gave me health insurance and structure—in September before the website went live in November 2014. Long story short, I was always multitasking when it came to my career and I’d recommend the same to anyone who’s yearning to start their own business.
It might seem obvious, but one of the most important reasons to keep your full-time job when first acting on an entrepreneurial idea is to make sure your bases are covered. Imagine if you gave the company that provides you with a consistent paycheck, health insurance, paid vacation time, among other benefits a two-week notice before your company made any money. That would be crazy, right? It’s more common than you think and I want to encourage you to keep your day job as you build your goals on the side.
Not only will keeping your job while experimenting with an entrepreneurial idea allow you to have things like health insurance and structure in place, but it also keeps you in a network which can help you grow your business ideas. While you’re taking risks, you’ll find great comfort in knowing that you have the financial support and stability to continue working toward your dream rather than dipping too far into your savings or driving yourself deeper into debt than you need to be.
I also believe there’s great value that comes from having a portfolio mindset for your career. When I say “portfolio” I mean that it’s important to have multiple revenue streams and layers to your professional identity. For example, you could work full-time at a magazine but take on freelance writing assignments or schedule social media posts for an influencer on the side. By doing this, you’re ensuring that you’re never at the mercy of your employer and you’re hedging against having one full-time job and losing it. Even if you’re not entirely sure of what you could do on the side, you should always try to keep things fresh by actively scheduling coffee conversations with people outside of your career. This will ultimately help you build connections with other professionals so you can have a future in another industry.
In order to expand on this topic, I posted a question to my Instagram story asking if you’ve started a side hustle or business while still at a full-time job. I was surprised by the number of honest responses I got that revealed the many ways you’re diversifying your income and I thought it would serve as good inspiration to share a few of my favorite replies. I’m so glad these women are indulging in the freedom that comes along with working toward more than one goal, but what I really love is how truthful they are about the challenges. *Names have been changed for privacy.
How cool is that? I love that Kate turned her passion into another source of income, that Emily recognizes the importance of financial security, that Kelsey is making connections, and that Carrie understands the need to cover her bases. These women are the perfect example of taking a side hustle and using it to advance their careers and expand their income. Maybe you’re feeling motivated to start your own venture or inspired to take the leap of funding your own business, but it’s likely you still have questions about the first steps. Below, find the answers to a few common work/side hustle questions.
I’m a big fan of being open and honest with the people who have the ability to shape the direction of your future. However, if you feel like you don’t have a supportive mentor as your current boss or employer, it’s absolutely fine to use your free time to explore an entrepreneurial venture on your own. Make sure you don’t slack off at the office, keep yourself organized, set realistic goals and timelines, and double check all of your work. If you’re currently undercompensated, it probably wouldn’t hurt to be upfront with your boss because the likelihood is that she won’t fault you for diversifying your revenue streams. I’d really only discourage sharing what you do on your personal time if you’re starting a competing venture—it’s in your best interest to keep that to yourself.
When it comes to balancing a full-time job with a side hustle, time management is absolutely critical. When you work for yourself you need to set your own goals, time restrictions, and schedule-long-term and short-term goals. You need to have a sense of where you wanna be in six months and 12 months while also keeping tabs on where you should be by 3:30 that afternoon. For me personally, I leverage my Outlook calendar and include everyone I meet with or have calls with on an invite with a Zoom dial in number. This takes one thing off my plate by eliminating the worry of who’s calling who. Sending calendar invites also holds other people accountable and helps me to maximize my use of time. If planning ahead doesn’t come naturally to you, I’d recommend looking into the practice of time blocking. I really like the way Ali from @inspiralziedali explained the way to time block in this blog post.
I don’t want to be pessimistic, but my opinion is that it’s impossible to give multiple endeavors 100% all the time. You need to set realistic goals, defensible boundaries, and then apply 100% focus toward achieving your goals on a predetermined timeline. If you try to give everything that’s on your plate 100% all the time, you’ll eventually burn out. Instead, I recommend identifying what’s on your plate, continuously making sure your plate isn’t overfilled, and prioritizing and making plans to conquer all the different elements. It’s crucial for both your success and your well-being to not overextend. You can (and should) be able to give multiple projects 150% in a pinch when things go awry, but if you try to do it all the time you won’t be successful. Every efficient business leaves excess capacity on hand for when things ramp up unexpectedly—make sure you do the same for yourself.