Most people who start a side business are looking to earn a little extra cash or spending money. Some are even looking for an escape route from their day jobs.
But what if you like your job? Could a side hustle actually help your career?
Side hustlers have been labeled the black sheep of the workplace. If they’re taking on outside projects, they must not be committed to the company, right? If they need extra money, they must not be able to manage their finances, right?
While those examples aren’t unheard of, everyone has their own reason to side hustle. Today, moonlighting is commonplace — perhaps even encouraged.
More than seven million Americans work more than one job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a Young Entrepreneurship Study showed more than a third of Millennials report having started a side business.
With all these part-time business owners, employer attitudes are beginning to shift. They’re starting to recognize a side-hustling employee is an asset to the company, not a liability. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
Here are three ways a side hustle can help your career:
1. Build skills
Let’s say you’re caught in the classic conundrum of needing experience to score a promotion or a new job, but you can’t get that experience without the promotion or the new job.
Enter the side hustle.
Building your own business in your spare time gives you legitimate real-world experience you can add to your resume and bring to your next job interview. There’s no better way to learn than hands-on.
If you need experience, don’t wait for someone to hand it to you; go out and get it.
For instance, a software developer might take on freelance client projects in his spare time, but through those projects learn new skills he can apply at work.
For employers, a worker’s side hustle can be a source of continuing education and job training they don’t have to pay for.
2. Show initiative
In the workplace, the ones who get ahead are the ones proactive about their career paths. What better way to take matters into your own hands than to practice your craft after hours?
Your boss will be thrilled to learn you’re thinking about improving your work skills post 5 p.m. Who’s the more valuable worker: the one who goes home and watches TV all night, or the one who puts their mind to relevant use?
Side hustlers are self-starters and go-getters. That kind of attitude doesn’t take a break when you clock out; you take pride in your work no matter whose bottom line you’re working towards.
3. Learn business
One overlooked aspect in many companies is employees who understand the big-picture fundamentals of the business. Running a side hustle gives you a firsthand look at managing sales, profit margins, cash flows and customer service.
It’s one thing to learn theory in an MBA program, but quite another to learn hands-on in your own small business. Bringing that entrepreneur’s mindset back to the office makes for a more agile and savvy team member.
Of course, having a bunch of mini-CEOs running around can be dangerous in any workplace, but side hustling gives you a unique perspective to apply to your day job. You’ll start to see opportunities to improve processes and workflows and creative ways to drum up more business.
What boss wouldn’t love that kind of constructive input?
When you’ve got your side hustle
Make sure to create clear boundaries between your day job and your side hustle. Despite all the benefits of part-time entrepreneurship for your career, double-timing while at the office is a big no-no.
If you foresee any resistance from your manager down the road, be upfront about your side hustle plans and intentions. If there’s any chance your business could be seen as a conflict of interest, it’s best to put those fears to rest from the get-go.
Nick Loper is the Chief Side Hustler at SideHustleNation.com, a growing community of aspiring and part-time entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for ways to earn some extra income on the side, be sure to check out Nick’s list of 80+ side hustle business ideas you can start today.