Are you thrilled about starting a freelance job? Organizing your time and work on your own can be challenging at first. Prepare yourself with our helpful guide.
The gig economy creates unlimited career opportunities and great conditions for making a bit more cash. Many full-time employees take on side jobs to earn more money, bring creative ideas to life, or trying out their new career paths.
If you’re thinking of taking on a side project, think of how it can affect your life and carefully plan the new path. Here’s a checklist of things to take into account when starting a side hustle.
Determine your goals
First of all, answer to these questions. Is it something that you want to turn into your main activity? Is it only a temporary side hustle to get some extra cash? Is it a non-profit project? Are there any ambitions or career choices involved?
Ask yourself why you’re starting a side project and what results you want to see. It’s also worth drawing a timeline and marking your planned achievements on it, or just writing down a list of results that you expect from your new activity in the short and long term.
Make sure it’s legal
Whether you’re starting a side hustle to make more money, work on an innovative idea, or explore a new career path, you don’t want to put it at risk. Carefully check your current employment contract and see how its clauses can affect what you intend to do as a side job. Pay special attention to:
- Non-compete clauses. If your side activity intersects with your primary role, make sure it doesn’t involve violation of this part of your contract. Take into account the duration of the clauses. For example, in California, the employer is not entitled to enforce a non-compete clause after the employee’s termination, but some other states’ law allows to apply the restrictions even after the end of your employment with the company.
- Non-disclosure agreement. Disclosing proprietary data involves steep legal risks: lawsuits and fines can ruin both your primary employment and your side project. Keep your employer’s protected information confidential – be careful not to use or accidentally share it as part of your side job.
- Intellectual property. An intellectual property agreement confers the exclusive ownership of the company over everything invented or produced by its employees during work hours. If this applies to you, make sure you don’t keep anything you create as part of your job responsibilities to yourself.
- Job-specific considerations. Special legal & tax requirements are applied to specific jobs. For example, if you’re selling anything online, you’ll likely need to collect sales taxes from your buyers. For paid content, it’s usually required to disclose your relationships with the products you’re promoting. Determine whether your side hustle is a business or a hobby, and file it accordingly, as different tax deductions apply to different types of activities. These requirements are often location-specific, so make sure to check both national and local law.
There’s a comprehensive infographic by Lexington Law that sums up the major legal risks and prevention strategies for side businesses. Check it out:
Separate it from your main job
Work on your side projects outside your work hours and on your equipment. Not only because you risk losing your primary job due to improper use of work time or the company’s property. It also bears a severe risk for your intellectual property rights.
If you’re doing creative work or any inventions of your own using your company’s resources and during your official work hours, the company can use this as an evidence that you created it as a part of your work for them, and claim their ownership over this intellectual property.
Carefully consider your own resources
Are you returning from your day job exhausted and only willing to drop dead in front of a TV? Then probably you should reconsider taking on a side project or make sure you only work on it on the weekends. Also, keep track of how much time you dedicate to your side hustle, and prevent overwork at all cost.
This can be different if your main job and side hustle are two contrasting activities. For example, if you work full-time as an engineer and teach yoga in the evenings, this can be a perfect way to switch gears and recharge. However, even in this case, it’s worth being mindful about your work/rest balance: otherwise, you’re at the risk of getting overextended and burnt out.
Make it goal-oriented
It’s tempting to engage in a side activity as an escape from the day job that you hate. While this approach can be reasonable from a short-term perspective, it has a significant downside. It focuses on avoiding something you don’t like instead of aiming at something you love and would like to achieve. Usually, it results in losing long-term goals and motivation to keep going.
When starting a side hustle, think of what you’d love to see as the end point of your new path. Plan your actions accordingly and concentrate on achieving your goal. Besides faster progress, this will reconfigure your mindset from negativistic vision to positivity and gumption.
Starting a side hustle can be a major event in your work life – or just a simple way to switch off from your main work and get some inspiration. It depends on your goals and how well you set up your new activity. The key here is to organize it properly, make sure your second project doesn’t entail legal consequences, and carefully maintain your work-life balance. This will help you stay inspired and get the most out of your side hustle.