Bullish Q&A: I Like My Job — Do I Really Need a Side Gig?

DontbeBeholdento

Hi Jen! I have a question about bullishness when you are (happily) working a more traditional full-time job. Having a full-time job makes it difficult to make the time to start a side gig, especially when the side gig is not as financially lucrative as simply working more at a traditional job. Do you have any suggestions to incorporate bullish principles in this type of scenario: a professional 9-to-5er?

Absolutely. You don’t have to have a side gig. What you do have to have — for the security and happiness of your future self — is layers of security and redundancy so you’re not beholden to a boss.

Why would you want a side gig? Let me count the ways:

  1. Extra money.
  2. As an escape plan if you lose your job.
  3. So you’re a tougher negotiator and more confident person at work, since you know you don’t need your job.

You can achieve these goals in the world of your full-time job.

Extra money? Ask for a raise. Ask every six months or every year or whatever makes sense at your company. (Whatever total ballers do at your company — please take a hint from whoever’s currently winning the system.) If you get a no, ask what you have to do to get a yes next time, and persist in your questioning until you get a specific list of targets that you can meet.

An escape plan: that could full well be another job. You need to know people in your industry outside the company, and to be known by them. Ideally, you want your reputation to precede you. Network like crazy. Even talking to competitors is networking. In 5-10 years, a lot of “competitors” will be working together and a lot of coworkers will be competitors. I’m repeating the things I always say here, but: Write articles for industry websites and publications. Publish whitepapers. Get your name on outward-facing projects. Have a website. Speak at conferences. Even if you’re young and unknown, plenty of panels could use a “young perspective.” Volunteer for networking organizations. Contribute intellectually to the field. Ask for informational interviews. Ask your bosses how they accomplished their accomplishments and listen interestedly to their war stories. Be awesome to the receptionist; they know everything. Network until you are frequently hearing, “If you ever want to make a change, they’ll always be an opening for you here.”

An escape plan could also be ideas, research, and resources at the ready for in case you decide to start your own business. You don’t have to do it on the side. But what if you were unexpectedly let go tomorrow? How soon could you launch, and do you have savings to live off of?

Save up an emergency fund. A very ambitious emergency fund would allow you to live off it for two years while getting a company off the ground, while also accounting for the fact that you might get sick and your car might break down while you’re working on your company.

If you have other job offers and/or entrepreneurial plans in your back pocket, you’ll be a better negotiator and better at standing up for yourself. You need to genuinely have other good options in order to function on anything like a peer level with a corporation.

Multiple income streams are one way to get there, but not the only way.

Stay bullish,

Jen