The side hustle—it’s been around for as long as there have been full-time jobs. However, it’s only in the last decade or so that the term has become popularized. For most, the side hustle was a hobby or something you enjoyed doing for fun that you realized you could make money from.
The motivation for this side hustle can vary widely. For some, it’s about the excitement of trying something new. For others, it’s about bringing in extra income to help with the family load. In the USA, a survey revealed that 43% of permanently employed people had a side hustle, and that 3 in 10 respondents needed their extra income to survive. There’s a third group too, and this comprises entrepreneurs keen to break away from their current jobs and eventually become their own boss, with their own company.
Whatever your reasons for starting up a side hustle, it’s always worth keeping an eye on it and seeing if it can become your primary income instead. However, judging the right time to do this is the trickiest part. It’s a terrifying step to walk away from a 9-5 job and a regular paycheck. You can never be 100% sure that you and your side hustle are ready to move to the center stage.
The good news is, there are several telltale signs that will tell you now is the right time. Once you’ve spotted the signs, it’s all up to you to take the plunge.
But first, let’s help you spot them:
1. The Hustle Is Getting Attention
A small side hustle usually starts with little or no fanfare. You do a bit of work for a friend or a friend of a friend, which then leads to a referral or two. Alternatively, you create a product that sells online on platforms like Etsy or Amazon. If it’s done well, your product will gain attention and you’ll find that people seek you out to commission work, or hire you for projects.
The one thing that people will see again and again in your work, is your passion for it. That’s the beauty of a side hustle—it’s usually something you love to do. This passion will generally translate into something dynamic that makes people want to hire you or buy from you.
One of the biggest signs that your side hustle is ready to become the main attraction is that you’re turning away more work than you are taking on. This is down to capacity, as you’re only able to work on these projects after hours. If you reach this point, you’ll need to decide either to take the plunge or back off from your passion project.
2. Your Finances And Family Are Ready
In the current tough economic times, it can be tricky to see if you’re financially ready for a big change. However, it comes down to talking honestly and openly with the people who depend on you, as well as taking a brutal look at your finances. If your side hustle is bursting at the seams, you’re probably in a situation where you’re used to getting your regular paycheck plus whatever you make on the side.
Stepping away from a 9-5 job will mean that you take a sudden dip in income. You need to know how long you have to build up your side hustle to bring in enough revenue to cover all your expenses and obligations. It’s also important to draw a line in the sand for yourself—know how far you’re willing to eat into your savings before you pull the plug and admit the idea isn’t going to work.
If you don’t need capital to keep your side hustle going, this can be a push in the right direction too. You won’t have to factor in major expenses and can generate greater profits from the moment you scale up. Not having to buy stock or rent premises can make the difference between being ready financially and not being able to take the risk.
3. Your Work-Home Life Balance Is Gone
The hardest part about a busy side hustle is finding that all-important work-home balance. You’re probably working full-time at one job, pulling long hours at night and on weekends to get your side hustle off the ground, all while trying to find time for yourself and those you love. As your side hustle grows, your downtime will become less and less. This will have a massive impact on your personal life, and your emotional and mental wellbeing.
This growth can be detrimental to your health, but it’s a good sign that your side hustle has the potential to be so much more. While you need to strike that balance and make sure you’re taking the time to look after yourself, you can use the incoming work as the confidence boost that you may need to take the plunge and leave your job.
4. You’ve Taken The Time To Draw Up A Business Plan
A side hustle will never successfully make the move from the character part on the sidelines to the leading act without a business plan. Relying on referrals and word of mouth is great for work you only do on the weekends, or in the evenings after your “real” job. However, if you want to build a sustainable business, you need to have a proper plan in place for every aspect of your current side hustle.
You’ve reached the point where you’re turning away jobs, you have a financial cushion in your savings, and people are loving your business idea and seeking you out. It’s time to put together a business plan and make sure that the numbers add up.
At this phase, you can truly see the growth potential of your side hustle if you were to focus on it full time. Plus, you can work out exactly how long it’ll take for the business to grow into something remarkable.
This moment can be a massive mental shift for any budding entrepreneur. A business plan shows that you’re taking your side hustle seriously. This could easily give you the confidence to hit the ground running as soon as you quit your regular job. And it will give you some much-needed direction for where to run.
5. You Want And Need This Change
No one ever changed the world by playing it safe. Once you’ve gone through the first four signs that your side hustle is ready for the main stage, it’s time to think about regret and backing yourself. You need to reflect on the life you’re living and answer yourself honestly—do you far prefer your side hustle work, and will you regret not taking this chance?
There are some regrets that you can live with, and there are some that will haunt you forever. If not taking the chance on becoming your own boss and focusing fully on your own business falls into the second category, you need to take the leap. This is especially true if signs one to four are all there.
Sometimes complacency feels safest, but if you’ve managed to get a side hustle going successfully, it’s clear that you want something more out of life.
Love What You Do And You’ll Never Work A Day In Your Life
Don’t be fooled by this concept. If you’re starting your own business and walking away from a stable job, you will work hard, and long hours will be par for the course. However, you will be working for yourself and on something that you love. This can make a massive difference in how hard or tiring the work feels.
Remember, there’s no perfect time to jump into the unknown. All you can do is look for the signs that now might be a good time, do your research and planning, and then take that step.