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Earning extra on the side sounds great. But there’s a side-hustle cost people don’t talk about.
The internet is not short on blogs and articles featuring remote work-friendly life hacks, ways to invest to beat a bear market, and how John Doe works only 5 hours a week and pulls in $150,000 a month in passive income with his side hustle.
The ability to pave your way to make more money or find the thing that ignites your passion outside of your full-time gig with side work is easier to do now than ever. I had a side gig for a few years but found I could get what I was looking for from my full-time career.
The Side Hustle That I Thought Was Meant to Be
My father started a carpet cleaning business in 1984. He had worked at Western Airlines for 21 years until Delta Airlines bought them out, and he was offered an early retirement package. This enabled him to forge his own path, be his own boss, and provide for my mother and me on his own terms. By the time I was 4, I was going with dad on jobs—just to supervise of course. But growing up around a business owner really made me understand and appreciate what it takes to build a business. I learned his business over the years and even made enough one summer to buy my first computer.
When my father retired after 35 years, he wanted to pass the mantle to his only son. My full-time gig at Gunderson Direct has always kept me busy, and I felt I played a valuable role in the company’s growth and success. So, I wrestled with whether or not I wanted to continue my dad’s business as a side hustle. I eventually chose to go for it, both for sentimental and financial reasons.
Only taking work on the weekends, my wife, who was also my co-owner, and I got to work. And let me say, that kind of work is WORK. No employees—just us two, cleaning on the weekends (sometimes just me) and working at our jobs midweek.
But, I was getting a lot of satisfaction from being a business owner. Customer outreach, control of our schedule, communications, pricing, and marketing. In a way, it was fun applying everything I’d learned from my father and taking things to the next level.
One of the cons of a side hustle is how much time is dedicated to working when you’ve got a demanding full-time job, too. The downtime was tough to come by. Sure, the business helped generate additional income, but at what cost? The time finally came when my wife and I started questioning the motives that got us working 7-days a week. It was clear at that point—we were burned out.
The Side Hustle Trade-off Wasn’t Worth It In My Case.
A side hustle, in theory, can be a great way to generate extra income or satisfy aspirational needs. But, heed the cost of time and energy required. Taking on the business made my father happy and fulfilled my desire to own something. But eventually, I turned in my commercial service “blues” to focus on my role at Gunderson Direct, both physically and mentally.
I’m fortunate to work at an agency that promotes creative thinking, encourages personal and professional growth, and is open to ideas from everyone. In my mind, this agency is as much mine as it is Mike Gunderson’s because I have the privilege to get out of my work what I put into it. My experience helped me bring business-owner thinking and even more energy to the job that has always supported me.
It took me a while to realize that my side hustle was mostly sapping my energy and making it hard for me to put my best effort into my full-time hustle — the one really paying the bills. Lesson learned.