It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to get ahead in your day job may be to start and run a successful sideline business. There is one caveat: you have to be scrupulous about not working your sideline business on company time. Not only would you lose your job, but you’d be earning a fatal black mark on your work history.
All the same, if you’re careful to separate your day job and sideline gig, the advantages are numerous.
Why Work Two Dead End Jobs?
In this economy, many people are working two and three jobs in an effort to make ends meet. Instead of working two dead end jobs, use the time you’d put into a second job to build your own sideline business. On a recent walk through our local green market, a feature of our neighborhood park on the weekends, I talked with several vendors, many of whom held down day jobs during the week and came out to sell a variety of wares on the weekend. Their product lines ranged from jewelry to food, flowers, soap, specialty cheeses, knickknacks, home furnishings, home and garden plants, and an array of other products too numerous to name.
Some vendors whose weekend businesses started out as a second job saw those jobs blossom into full-time careers. Several featured teams that would work various fairs and markets across the region. At least two were successful enough to start their own brick-and-mortar operations that employed several people.
Most of the part-time vendors did not make enough off their weekend efforts to completely support their lifestyles, but they did make enough to cushion the blow in case of a layoff or job loss.
Learning to Think Like a Business Person
Running your own weekend business will teach you to think like a business person, a skill and mindset that will unavoidably bleed over to your day job. Being aware of how your attitude and demeanor affect customers, understanding profit and loss, and knowing how thin margins can be in business are all skills that will lift you above your peers in the eyes of management. Understanding business realities will make you more practical. It’s somewhat ironic that the more you think and act like a business person, and the more successful you are in your own business, the more valuable you will become to your employer.
Fear Is a Career Killer
For so many people, their day jobs are a source of constant fear. There is the fear of making a mistake, the fear of getting fired or laid off, and a raft of insecurities that can lead to overly deferential behavior that inspires an instinctive negative perception in superiors and coworkers. When you’re afraid at work, you’ll try not to stand out, won’t offer suggestions or ideas, won’t take any risks, and seek to avoid anything resembling responsibility. This renders many people invisible at the office — and when cuts are being made, the invisible people are the first ones on the chopping block.
When you have a fallback career, even if it won’t completely replace the income of your day job, it will convey a sense of confidence that is both contagious and attractive. The fear that is a pervasive part of our modern working culture won’t have a smothering grip on your office behavior, and you’ll be more inclined to take risks, and offer suggestions for process improvement.
You’ll Have Real Alternatives
For many people, the knowledge that they’re trapped in a day job is, all by itself, a soul-sucking reality that robs them of any enjoyment in their working lives, and wraps their job in a pervasive sense of dread. Having an alternative to your day job, even if it wouldn’t completely cover the bills, will do more to disperse the clouds of depression surrounding your day job than any business skills seminar you could ever take. The petty annoyances that are an inevitable part of the modern office environment will simply roll off you. Work problems and personality conflicts will stay in perspective, and won’t follow you home or keep you up at night.
An Equalizer in Negotiations
When engaged in negotiations, you’ll have options instead of being in a position of powerlessness. Having options puts negotiations on a more equal footing, and you’ll conduct yourself with more confidence and objectivity. Even if you do lose your day job, you’ll have a sideline business to cover any gaps in your job history. When searching for another day job, you can honestly state you’re currently working.
Having a viable sideline business will be a business education that you can’t duplicate at any cost, and will provide a sense of security that is absolutely priceless.