by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Are you considering taking on a second job in addition to your full-time employment? If so, are you considering starting your own micro-business (also referred to as a side-gig, side-hustle, freelancing, consulting) utilizing one or more of your skills or areas of expertise?
If you answered yes to both these questions, continue reading this article to better understand what it takes to start, run, and manage a second job.
Characteristics of People Who Successfully Moonlight With a Second (or Third) Side Job
In no particular order, here are some of the most common characteristics shared by successful moonlighters:
Strong Work Ethic. Many people with side-gigs get up at 5 am, stay up late into the evenings, and give up their days off to work on their micro-business. To be successful, you must put in the full effort into your part-time business as you would your full-time job.
Positive, Can-Do Attitude. You will inevitably encounter setbacks and slow periods in your micro-business, but the most successful folks are those who believe their business will be a success.
Passion for the Work. Your side business has to be something you are passionate about; otherwise the additional hours of work will just wear you down. In fact, for some people, their micro-business is an outlet for their true life/career passion.
Realistic Expectations of Success. If you’re in it to make a quick buck, you will likely be very disappointed. Most side-gigs provide a slow but steady stream of additional income. Yes, some micro-businesses do take off and become extremely successful, but their numbers are in the small minority.
Client-Management Skills. The most successful micro-entrepreneurs are not afraid of asking the people in their social network to hire them — and/or send referrals. You have to be able to ask for the business and close the sale to succeed.
Solid Support System. Establishing and running a micro-business will consume a lot of your formerly free time — and you’ll need the support of your family and friends to not only understand that you will have much less accessibility, but who may even need to pitch in and assist you from time to time.
Basic Business Understanding. To be successful, you should have a basic understanding of business — including marketing and accounting. You may be able to commit only enough time to make your side-gig a hobby, but you still do not want to lose money in the endeavor. (And if a business, you want to be able to take deductions for business expenses on your taxes.)
Thriftiness. Many, if not most, micro-businesses have very limited start-up costs, including such basics as raw materials, domain name, and other fees. In fact, a great book touts The $100 Startup. And it’s not just start-up costs, but once the business has started, trying to keep costs to a minimum.
Time Management. Successful micro-business owners maximize every aspect of their free time, from working while waiting in long lines to using their lunch breaks. Not only must you be good with managing your time, you must be good with keeping it. To-do lists and planners are a must.
Flexibility. Successful micro-business owners are adaptable to changing circumstances — and open to making improvements based on client critiques. You must be able to make changes on the fly, to adjust your business model to fit your marketplace reality.
Final Thoughts on Attributes of Successful Side-Giggers
One other attribute that many successful micro-business owners mention as important is their openness and willingness to help others with a side-gig by hiring them for outsourced projects they can’t do. For example, a successful blogger hires another side-gigger to redesign their blog rather than hiring a major company to do it. Most successful side-giggers also appear open to sharing their stories to help budding micro-entrepreneurs get the leg-up they need.
Need some ideas for a micro-business side-gig? Check out our sidebar, Sample Side-Gigs, Side-Hustles, and Micro-Businesses.
See also our assessment, Do You Have What it Takes to Moonlight With a Side-Gig? A Quintessential Careers Quiz.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.