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How to Balance Your Career and Side Business

If you are juggling between work and your side business or business-es, you already know how difficult it can be to manage both given your personal situation.

Whether you are single, married, married with kids, single with kids or something else entirely, your personal circumstances dictate how much capacity (time and resources) you have to dedicate to your side business.

The ultimate question is: How do you manage the challenges resulting from juggling between your career, a side business and having a life (or not)?

Pick a side business you are passionate about

Not everyday will be a sunny day in planet side gig, but your passion for the subject matter will carry you through rough and tough times. Remember what they say – when you love what you do . . . . blah blah blah something along those lines.

There will be times when you will feel like giving everything up and quitting because after all, the 9 to 5 is much simpler. It is during these times that your passion will carry you through.

Define your life plan, and then customize a business plan around that

Most people in America have this the other way around. They chase jobs, promotions and more money at the expense of how and where they really want to live. I often discuss with friends that in some other countries, people might not be all that wealthy, but they live life on their own terms.

They decide where they want to be, and only then they find a way to earn a living. Most start very small and ordinary businesses, others have hourly jobs. They are not very rich, but they are very happy and content. Finding the right type of business model that compliments your lifestyle will be a solid motivation for continuing to develop it further.  Read why it is important to define your life plans before jumping into business.

Dedicate your work hours to your day job

It is not too uncommon (specially these days) to find folks running a side business outside their jobs. Tough economic times have left people with no option. Despite the temptation to work on your gig at work, DO NOT DO THIS. Dedicate the time on the job to the job. Don’t forget that your job is your bread and butter. Without it, you wouldn’t have a source of income. Plus it’s just the right thing to do. Give your employer value in exchange for the money they are paying you.

You don’t want to be THAT ONE who is perceived as the slacker because you have something else on the side. We all know how our co-workers perceive folks who are motivated and ambitious to accomplish success doing side gigs outside work. The typical worker mentality doesn’t allow an open mind for this kinda thing. You are a rare breed my friend.

Another reason why you shouldn’t mix personal work and office work is computer use monitoring which is becoming more pervasive in the workplace today. You don’t have much privacy to begin with on your work computer, so why risk any scrutiny to begin with?

Keep family and personal time separate

It is very easy to start neglecting your health and family with all that is going on in your world. Entrepreneurs are notorious for skipping meals, sleep, sex, time with kids and all kinds of other things. They are also often accused of falling in love with their business, therefore leading to a divorce from their spouse. Make strict rules and stick to them.

This is where you need to be very clear about your priorities in life. What is most important and what requires most of your time? Be honest with yourself, define the boundaries and do everything possible to stay within them. One thing that has worked for me is the three strike rule. I tell myself that if I were to step outside my boundaries 3 times, I will give up the project that is the root cause instantly. Never had to do that, thank God!


Budgeting how much you will need for your side business and sticking to it is critical to ensure your normal course of life is not interrupted. Cut back on some of your monthly spending to make room for business expenses, or earmark business money out of your savings. But whatever amount you decide is suitable to your risk appetite, make sure you stick to it and not overspend. It is very easy to get carried away in the excitement of starting your new venture.

Pay down Debt

I hate that word and can’t even say it anymore. Gosh I really hate it. Debt can put a strain on every aspect of your life. Get rid of it asap. When it comes to your side business, you want to be debt free so that when your business starts to pick up steam and grows, and you may someday decide to work on it full-time, you want to make sure you can tap into financing sources. With debt to your name, lenders will be wary of issuing you credit.

But not all debt is bad debt. Read how good debt can help you expedite wealth building and get ahead quicker in life.

Are you competing with your employer?

Would your boss be interested in your customers and clients? If yes, then you are competing against your employer. Many employment contracts have non-compete clauses. I know I had one when I was in public accounting. As a CPA, I could not have started a side gig doing someone’s taxes or audits for smaller companies, at least not with the risk of getting caught and reprimanded.

So what to do? Well, you can either choose to breach the clause (if it applies to you) and keep your side business low key, or you can get involved in a non-competing business all together and avoid any conflict.

Disclosing your side business to your employer

Disclosing your extra-curriculars to your employer may or may not help you. You need to call this shot straight from your gut. Let’s walk through an example so that you are not left in the dark all alone.

Let’s say you use Twitter really well to promote your side gig, and your company has no idea was Tweeting is. Well, you can offer your expertise by helping the company use it to grow their customer base and become a superstar in the office overnight. In addition, if your boss knows that you are entrepreneur, he or she will perceive you as someone with all kinds of other skills that makes you a jack of all traits and someone who can roll up their sleeves to get down and dirty.

Similarly, say your company uses Twitter to attract followers interested in floral services. And let’s say you do the same for your side gig. Can you see why you may want to keep quiet about that gig of yours?

Careful with social media and use of full names

Depending on whether you decide to tell your employer about your side gig, you may consider a bit of caution when using social media. Do you really want to comingle your personal and professional life? Don’t just think of your current employer, think long term. Will having your full name tied to your personal business in cyberspace help or hurt you? Don’t forget the growing use of social networks by HR in hiring practices these days.

You can leverage the benefits of social media under an alias (your web identity), or your first name only. Some choose to do first name and last initial. I flip flop between first name and first name + last initial. However, I have several presences online where I am known by my alias as well. Give it some thought before you proceed with it.  You can succeed blogging anonymously too.

Final thoughts

Finally, but most important of all, with a full time job, a part time gig or a few of them, family obligations and something called a life, a strong support system is critical. This post assumes that you have a happy healthy and never fighting family. We know how realistic that is don’t we?

This post assumes your family situation does not come in the way of the balancing act between your career and your side gig. But we know that is far from true. On how to get your spouse’s or family’s buy-in, read my blog post titled: How to Get Your Spouse’s Buy-In?

Other than that, it’s completely possible to have a successful side business, full-time job and a great life too. So what are you waiting for? Stop bull-jobing and start it up today!

Readers: Any other tips on how to balance your career and side business?

Here are some of my thoughts on how owning a side business can boost your office confidence at work.

Working the Business

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