The side hustle often gets a bad rap— think: distracted employees or employees secretly (or not so secretly), working on their side gig while at their 9-5. Yeah, it happens. But what if I told you a side hustle can actually make you better at your 9-5? (And dare I say it, maybe even get you promoted).
Whether you’re content keeping it to a side hustle or have big plans to take it full-time, you’re picking up valuable, transferable skills— which are sure to spill over to your day job in the meantime.
If you’re part of the corporate ladder, you’re probably all-too-familiar with the boundaries of your role. Job descriptions create clear expectations, which are great, but they can also be limiting.
You want to take the lead on that big project? I get it, you’re totally qualified and could probably do a stellar job if given the chance. But the sad reality is, the people higher on the ladder climbed it for years, and they’re probably pretty comfortable taking the lead on those projects themselves. Besides, they earned it, and have proven that they have what it takes to successfully lead the charge.
So what’s a girl to do?
You can still have an entrepreneurial approach to your work…and you should. Most employers look for that attribute. To get to the next level, you’ll have to first prove that you can successfully handle the responsibilities of what’s next.
And still, it’s not likely that you’ll be promoted overnight. It may take years and years for you to get to the role you’re dreaming of, and that’s if you diligently stay the course.
Here’s where your side hustle comes in— you can use it as an avenue to build your skills and do all the work you’d love to be doing during the day.
Then, you’ll have either developed your side hustle into a gig you can take full-time, or your newly developed expertise will surface at your 9-5, and you’ll become a more valuable asset to your company.
You’ll probably get a raise, possibly a promotion, and you’ll still have an outlet for doing what you love during off-hours. It’s a win, win.
Still not convinced? Here’s how:
If your side hustle is making you money, you’re now a salesperson, too. When you’re doing this on your own, you become really attuned to the importance of branding, marketing, visibility, driving traffic to your shop or website, and showcasing your products or services in a way that sells. You’ll also learn what it takes to nurture leads, craft a compelling pitch, and make a sale. If you’re making brand deals, you’ll be fine-tuning your negotiating skills as well. All of these skills have a place at your 9-5.
At the heart of it, you come to know that it’s not about you, it’s about them— your users, readers, customers, or business partners. When you know that, you start to apply it to every aspect of your life and work.
You now realize that when you do a great job at your 9-5, you make your manager look good. Your manager will like this. Guess who gets to recommend you for a promotion— that’s right, your manager!
If you don’t directly deal with customers at your 9-5, it can be easy to dismiss clients or customers as the ones at fault when something goes wrong. You simply leave it up to the sales or account teams to pacify them and fix the problem.
In your side gig, your customers are precious. If they’re not happy, it means they may not come back for a repeat sale, you may not get that referral, and they may not leave you that 5-star review, (or any review for that matter). Those things are gold when you’re running your own show.
When you take that perspective to your 9-5, you’re going to be much more willing to take an active part in solving customer-related issues and producing better results overall, because you know how big of a deal it is. You might work a little faster to hit a deadline, or you might share that one extra idea you think a client might love. Your manager is going to take notice, and suddenly, you’ve just made yourself a bigger asset to the team.
Higher roles generally involve more management of everything: time, resources, and people. The more you’ll need to manage, the more organized you’ll need to be. It’s an art and a balance that you’ll finesse over time and through experience.
Your side hustle likely has plenty of opportunities to develop your managerial skills. Whether you’re blogging, creating products, or offering services, strive to develop workflows and processes around every task that you repeat in your business. Then, continually refine them.
You’ll become addicted to the ease this introduces to your side gig. I’ll bet you can’t help but suggest improvements in processes at your 9-5. What do companies love more than efficiency? They love the benefits it brings them and the people who cared to suggest the improvements.
Managing people is a completely different game. If you don’t already, you might consider outsourcing work here and there in your side hustle. Not only does this free up your time for more high-level tasks, but it also gives you an opportunity to learn how to grow and lead a team.
I don’t need to tell you that every person is different, but through experience, you’ll also come to realize that with different personalities comes different working styles and motivators. You’ll learn to juggle these differences, and find how to get the results you need from each person.
Good communication is consistently ranked as one of the highest valued soft skills in the workplace, and it’s easy to see why. It filters into nearly every daily work activity.
When someone on your team communicates effectively, they quickly convey ideas, eliminate confusion, and get a team all on the same page. When objectives and goals are clearly communicated, the team will be able to achieve them more efficiently.
How can you improve your communication skills through your side hustle? Practice. Pay close attention to what works and what doesn’t, and then continually step up your game.
When you’re the only one that can communicate and execute an idea, you quickly come to learn that words matter (both what you say, and how you say them).
Have a blog? This is the perfect opportunity to get better at crafting a story or creating clear instructions for how to do something. Consider having a copy editor review each article. Not only will they be able to help you make your articles better, but you’ll absorb their suggestions and become a better writer in the process.
Other opportunities for bettering your written communication skills include everyday emails (which are often overlooked), product descriptions, social media captions, and press releases. Your verbal communication can be improved through videos to your growing tribe, podcast interviews, and client calls.
By having a side hustle, you learn to take ownership. You’ll start to evoke ‘boss’ mentality— not because of what you demand your coworkers to do, but because of how you serve both your clients and those you work with.
Your corporate superiors will start to see you as more of a peer and someone they can trust to treat all facets of their work with the TLC it deserves.
Remind me: Who said having a side hustle was a bad thing for your career?