I found myself wondering today – at what point does my main gig turn into my side gig? Or, to put it another way, when does my side gig become my main gig?
Yeah… Me too.
Allow me to explain.
By way of a career, I’m a kind of professional troubleshooter. I wander from client to client, project to project, often working in the digital transformation space (organisations that want to do more of their business online), helping to identify problems before they become embarrassments or catastrophes and ideally – helping to devise and implement solutions too.
It’s not a bad life by any means. Mostly, I enjoy my work and get paid well for doing it. I get to meet and work with interesting people and exciting technologies.
But on the side I have this other thing going on. Where instead of testing and hunting for problems in projects that are already underway, or products that have already been (or are in the process of being) built – I get to create stuff. Content. Products of my own. Solutions to other people’s problems.
That stuff is pretty enjoyable too. Very enjoyable in fact.
So much so, that it’s not really so much of a side gig anymore. It’s become a kind of alternate lifestyle enabler – since it can be done from more or less anywhere, anytime, which means I get to spend much more time at home or travelling with my family, and less time on client sites and offices.
So where does that leave my main gig?
It’s not you, it’s me.
If you’ve come into business from some kind of established previous career, then you’ll probably identify with what I’m saying. Figuring out at what point to actually make the jump from a known, safe and to some extent *easy* way of making money and paying the bills, into the unknown and unknowable territory of building your own business can be a daunting prospect.
If only there was some way of knowing when the right time was?
Is the time right?
Am I my making money from my side gig?
Unless your side gig is actually making sensible amounts of money, then it’s a bit of a non-starter really isn’t it. And by sensible – let’s remember that you need to take into account any consumables, transport, delivery, labour and other costs associated with creating or providing your side-gig product or service.
And let’s not forget the taxman either.
Is my side gig scalable?
If you are actually making some money then you can start to think about whether or not your business can be grown from wherever it is currently to a size where it can replace your main-gig income. If it’s really scalable, hopefully it can replace your income many times over.
When considering scalability you need to start getting a feel for what can be outsourced and to whom, what can be automated and how, and how much of your own time it’s really necessary and desirable to spend on your business.
Be realistic here. If your current side-gig business model already demands a lot of your time and energy, are you really prepared to put in the extra time and effort to make it grow? And what kind of sacrifices might you have to make in order to do so?
Is there a market for my side gig beyond friends and family?
Have you tested your side gig in the marketplace yet, or are you still depending on a relatively small audience of people who already know and trust you?
If you haven’t braved the big wide world yet, you may want to consider putting your side-gig product or service out there for feedback before you jump ship. Be prepared to fail fast and pivot if necessary.
Do I have people around me that can support the transition and future struggles?
It’s important to have people around you who share your vision and passion for creating a business and taking your side-gig to the next level. There’s nothing wrong with that just being friends and family – but when you try to take things to the next level and they see what that actually means – you may find their support wanes a little.
Consider joining a community of like-minded entrepreneurs instead or as well. You’ll be with people who understand and relate to your passion and struggles, and who want to keep you pumped-up and on the path to success.
If you want to ratchet things up another few notches, get some one-to-one coaching so you get really clear on where you’re heading and precisely how you’re going to get there, step-by-step.
Can I return to my main gig temporarily if needed to replenish my cashflow?
If all else fails – and let’s face it, sometimes it does – do you have a backup plan? Is it possible to carry on doing your main-gig on the side, or temporarily for periods of time, just to earn some easy cash and replenish your bank account when necessary?
Some people say we’re living in a freelancer economy now. The internet combined with platforms like Elancer, Fiverr and others make it incredibly easy to pair skilled solopreneurs with businesses that want to take buy or use your products and services. If you’re not already trying to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity, perhaps its time you did.
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P.S If you're interested in learning more about performance testing, checkout my Performance Testing 101 course here.