If you’re trying to make it in your life as an entrepreneur, you have probably already been faced with this classic entrepreneurial dilemma…
How do you pay your bills while you build your own business?
I’ve been working on building my own businesses for most of my life. And yet, I’ve also held down several interesting (and helpful) jobs during those years.
And the truth is that choosing the right type of side job could have a HUGE impact on how successful you are with your side-hustles/business.
If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, it is important to understand that your side job can be a huge asset!
Some people quit their jobs cold-turkey and run out of savings before learning how to make their business profitable.
Some people get discouraged when their day job stresses them out too much, and they end up giving up their entrepreneurial dreams and caving-in under the pressure.
But the truth is that it takes time, effort, and determination to succeed as an entrepreneur… and the right side-job can absolutely help to push you over that threshold of success.
But what side jobs are the best?
In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly which jobs are the best for building entrepreneurial skills.
I’m also going to share the number one secret-ingredient to success that my side jobs taught me over the years!
Let’s get started.
Why a Side Job Will Do You Good
The first and most obvious benefit to a side job is that it helps you to pay your bills while you build your business.
But the second benefit, the one that most people overlook, is that it can also teach you valuable lessons about business that will help you to succeed in your own solo enterprises.
Is a Side Job Worth It?
There are basically two different reasons to get a side job… money, and experience.
If you need to pay bills while you build your business, then you are going to need to get a job anyway. At the very least, you’ll need one to support yourself until you start earning enough to make it on your own with your business.
But getting a side job can also be worth it from an experience perspective.
Almost every side job is going to teach you valuable lessons that will help you on your journey as an entrepreneur (though some will certainly teach you more than others).
Great Discoveries from Having a Side Job
My wife, who has done very well for herself in the meditation niche, learned while managing a metaphysics store years ago that the personal contact she had with customers in a retail setting absolutely set her up for success with her own business.
She was not only growing her own meditation business… she was also literally immersing herself into her target demographic at her day job as well!
She learned so much from this experience, and it helped her to succeed in a truly massive way!
Syncing up her business and side-job like that allowed her to double-down on what she loved to do… and as a result, her business prospered due to all of the knowledge and experience she was bringing back to it!
My Journey From Side Job to Full-Time Entrepreneur
Many people think that I just ‘jumped into’ this life of digital marketing I live right now. But nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ve had a lot of different jobs over the years that have taught me valuable lessons, and I needed these lessons to succeed.
In fact, my wife and I had to grind for 4 years while STILL working full time jobs to get our online digital marketing businesses up and running to the point where they would support us.
For 4 years, we worked every weekend, almost every night, and got up early every day at 4 AM.
I’ve also worked a number of side jobs over the years that have contributed to helping me get where I am today.
Selling Advertising for the Newspaper
When I graduated from high school, I didn’t go straight to college. Instead, I got a job selling advertising for the local newspaper.
It was called the Oakland Tribune. I worked on 13th Street, in the Tribune Tower.
So even from an early age, I learned what it meant to ‘eat what I hunted.’ When you’re selling, you are thrust into situations where you either perform successfully, starve, or very quickly figure out how to fix the problems.
This experience opened the door to other sales experiences for me later on, and played a very formative role in helping me to develop a winning business mentality.
Wholesale Automotive Company
Sales will teach you more about how to be a digital entrepreneur in the modern world than almost any other job out there.
When you look at Zig Ziglar and many of the other ‘greats’ of today and yesterday, you will notice that many of them were not just awesome copywriters… they were also amazing salespeople.
Being a salesperson will also teach you how to be a better copywriter, which is why my experience as a wholesale automotive salesman was so important for me.
Back in those days, I worked for a company that sold wholesale cars out of a warehouse. We sold everything… from Harleys to Mustangs. Most of our cars were sold from online listings, which I wrote. And that gave me a tremendous amount of experience with copywriting and ad listings.
I learned how to sell, close deals, build rapport with people, build trust with the customer, etc.
And since it was a non-traditional sales position, I was fortunate to gain a ton of really interesting web-based experience that I may not have gotten on a regular car lot.
Sales Work for Web Hosting Companies
Before I sold cars, I actually did inside sales for web hosting companies.
This is probably the job that gave me the greatest grasp on what it meant to build trust and rapport with my clients.
Customer Support Representative
After going flat-broke and being forced to move back in with my parents, I had to get a job just to support myself and pay the bills.
And the job I got was a customer support job, where I handled incoming phone calls for a local business from 9 to 6.
But even while I was doing this, I was also working on my next side-hustle. I would get up at 4 AM and work until 8, before going in to work my job.
Then, after I got off work, I would continue to work on my side hustle.
I even worked on the weekends!
This allowed me to put in 80 hours of work a week… 40 on my day job, and 40 on my side hustle!
But another really important element to this was that my customer support work was making a difference in my own business as well. Everything I was learning was translating directly over to my own enterprise.
Small Business Owner with Multiple Hats
As a small business owner, you are going to have to wear multiple hats to make your business work.
You are going to need to be a CEO, a marketer, a writer, a salesperson, a manager, a designer… and much, much more.
Working different types of jobs, or working jobs where you take on different types of responsibilities, can really help you to gain the kind of experience that will transform you from a green newbie into a seasoned business veteran.
Wearing multiple hats is not always easy. So the better you get at it now, the better you will do in the future!
What are the Best Side Hustles?
Honestly, the best side hustles and side jobs are those that you are naturally good at. If you already have experience in a certain type of industry, and can work at that type of job without expending a ton of emotional energy… then it may be the perfect type of side job for you.
Keep in mind that the terms ‘side job’ and ‘side hustle’ can be used very interchangeably, depending upon how you view them.
If your primary focus is on YOUR business, you could absolutely call that your job, and your day-job your ‘side hustle.’ Or, you could reverse it.
But, that’s just one small point in the much larger picture of getting a side job to support yourself as you build your business.
So if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur in the future, you must learn about these skills and develop them.
If you can get yourself involved in a small business and take on a position that requires you to do some basic digital marketing, you will learn a lot of essentials that you will doubtlessly use in your business later on.
I did this when I sold cars. I designed listings, took photos, wrote copy, etc. I also did this for other businesses over the years.
And these experiences did SO MUCH to prepare me for the destiny that I have achieved for myself today!
11 Skills That Catapult Online Entrepreneur Success
There are definitely a few key skills that you should be trying to develop as you work toward starting your own online business.
But make no mistake… just because affiliate marketing works for some people doesn’t mean that it’s easy!
Work hard to develop this skill, and don’t give up. In the future, it can really pay off!
Social Media Marketing
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. And while some platforms may not work as well for marketing different types of businesses, it is also important to point out that knowing how to use social media for your business the right way is HUGE.
So if you can gain experience in this area, you will reap a lot of rewards from it.
Content marketing usually takes the form of either blog posts, podcasts, or YouTube videos.
Content writing is also a trust-building skill… so it is super-important to master it and learn how to use it in your own business!
Search Engine Optimization is very, very crucial to winning with an online business!
If you can gain some experience in this category and level up your skills, you will be ‘Miles’ ahead of the curve!
(See what I did there?!!)
Graphic design is a skill that will help you with branding, marketing, website design, etc.
We live in a very visual world, and the better you are at graphic design, the better your chances will be of gaining the attention of your target demographic.
Direct or Indirect Sales
Sales is absolutely essential to success… no matter how you slice it.
If you’ve never had any experience with either direct or indirect sales, I would highly advise you to try to work this into your side job.
I sold web hosting, advertising for newspapers, and even cars to help learn this skill! And today, I use every bit of that knowledge to my advantage.
Business all comes down to making a sale at some point… and the better you are at it, the better off you will be.
Customer support is obviously a cornerstone to success in business. This is where you build customer relationships, handle the one-on-one dynamics of individual customer interactions, and build trust with potential clients.
I cannot stress this enough. Customer service may not be your favorite type of side job, but it is an incredibly important skill to learn and level up if you hope to one day be a successful online entrepreneur!
Other Technical Skills
There are obviously other technical skills that can help you to become a better entrepreneur… and the more closely related to your business they are, the better!
When I sold cars, I was in charge of taking pictures of them and putting together the online listings.
This gave me some photographic experience that, today, helps me with photography work on my website.
Sure, I can hire a professional photographer now… but that’s beside the point. The point is that I have some technical experience in that department now that helps me in making relevant, helpful decisions about my business TODAY.
And that is knowledge that I will always have. It is a huge asset, even if I don’t use it every single day!
From Side Job to Full-Time Business - How It Works
They think that they can just order a few cheap products from China and drop-ship their way to instant success.
They think that they’ll be sitting on a beach, earning millions, just because they started a website!
Well, it doesn’t work that way. I worked for years before my business started to really take off. I had to work two or more jobs all of those years just to have a place to live, and to avoid going completely broke!
It doesn’t happen in six months or a year, unless you already have some tremendous skills and experience. For most of us, the learning curve takes years.
That’s the only way to make it work!
Hard work and perseverance… this is how you win and go from working a side job to transitioning to making enough to support yourself with a full-time business!
Problems to Expect with a Side Job
There are always problems to navigate with side jobs… and if you aren’t careful, some of them can impact your own business goals!
This is why it is really important to find the right type of side-job for you.
Here are just a few of the possible problems that side jobs can throw at you…
They can cause a lot of stress
They sometimes don’t pay very much
Your boss may be a jerk
You may have to work hours that you don’t like
You may not always get along with your co-workers
You may be forced to enforce processes that you do not see as efficient or helpful
But, at the end of the day, you also have to ask yourself this…
Is this job helping me more than it is hurting me?
No side job is perfect. Often, we have to toughen up and learn to focus better to get through it. If you loved working for someone else, you wouldn’t care about starting your own business!
So try to keep things in perspective. Look at the upsides of working a side job. Think about how much this is helping you, instead of focusing totally on the problems!
And of course, if the problems get too serious, you can just start applying at different places where you can learn more valuable skills and level yourself up as an entrepreneur.
It is all a balance.
Entrepreneurial Skills for Business Success
Succeeding as an online entrepreneur takes time, dedication, hard work, and a never-give-up attitude.
But with that being said, you also have to work on your skills. If you don’t level up some high-profit, marketable skills, you are going to find it extremely difficult to earn any money on your own!
Here are some steps that you can take to help yourself succeed as an online entrepreneur as you work a side-job and set yourself up for that next big step!
Acquire marketable and merchantable skills.
Not all skills are equal! Make sure that you are working at a job where you are learning legitimate, marketable, merchantable skills.
You need high-value skills if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur!
Become a master of those skills.
Practice and hone the skills you learn at your side job, and make the most of your experience there.
I learned vital skills from every side job I worked while I was building my own business. And in the end, when it was time to do my own thing, I already had a lot of awesome experience to put toward it… and that really helped me win!
Invest time and energy into what you do.
Your side job is actually really important… so make sure to invest real time and energy into it.
Don’t just show up and do the minimum. Work to become the best.
This flows over into your business, though.
Be the hardest working person in the room at all times!
Make sure to invest time and energy every day into your business and your future. If the work never gets done, you will never earn any money!
Stick to it for the long haul.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a business. It takes long-term commitment and consistency to make any side-hustle work.
If you want to turn your business into a full time, money-making machine, then you must stick with it and not give up… even when times get tough and you fall flat on your face.
Adapt to changes and improve constantly.
You are going to have to adapt and improve every day to succeed.
As you learn and grow, you will constantly be tweaking the way you do things.
But this is good! This is progress!
As you learn and adapt, you will find better, smarter, and more efficient ways to do things.
Make sure to adapt to changes, and never be afraid to make changes to make your business flow better!
Build a relationship and trust with your audience.
This is perhaps the most important thing to remember when starting your own business.
Always put time and effort into building that relationship with your customers.
Practice this at your side job, and deploy it in your business.
Trust is built when you do your best to help people who need your skills… so always make sure that you execute with kindness, a good work ethic, and a can-do attitude!
Do your very best to help every single customer… to add real, measurable value to their lives.
Your audience will recognize this, and it will keep them coming back to you!
Should You Quit Your Job Now and Become an Entrepreneur?
If you are currently weighing this option in your mind, here are some things to think about.
Do you have marketable skills relevant to your potential business?
If you don’t have the ‘skills to pay the bills,’ you are going to have a really hard time earning a living with your own business.
It is one thing to enjoy something; and it is quite another to become such a master at that skill that people will pay you to do it over your competition.
Are you really, REALLY experienced and good at what you do? Are you confident in it? Are you highly skilled?
If not, then you may need to get some more experience. Work for free/cheap for a while to hone those skills before quitting your day job.
Do you have a clear idea of what business to start?
Some people want to start a business… but don’t exactly know what they want to do.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it is certainly not the type of place from which you should think about quitting your job to jump off that ‘ledge’ of having your own business.
There are a lot of unknowns involved with starting a business. And if you aren’t 100% sure what you want to do, you need to try a few things first.
Start a couple side hustles and see what sticks! Try selling your services, building a website, and/or moving some products, and see which hustle ends up holding your interest more!
Not having a clear idea about what business you want to start usually means that you haven’t found your passion.
Your business is also your passion.
I am of the belief that your business should mirror your passions in life. Your business doesn’t have to be 100% focused on your passion, but it must at least allow you to channel your passion through it.
For example. One of the reasons for why my wife has been so successful with her meditation business is because she is so passionate about the topic of meditation! She believes in it, she is knowledgeable about it, she is good at it, she enjoys it, etc.
And being able to channel that passion in her business gives her this vibrant energy that other people can pick up on. They get excited about it, because SHE is excited about it, etc.
And that is a huge advantage!
Do you have years of experience in that niche?
One of the greatest assets that you could ever bring to the table in starting your own business is EXPERIENCE.
And if you don’t have years of quality experience in it, then you may want to seriously consider waiting to quit your day job… at least until you have been running your side-hustle for long enough to have acquired that experience.
I acquired YEARS of digital marketing and affiliate marketing experience before I quit my day job to focus on my business full-time. Before that, I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t making enough money, and I was still learning about the process.
Do You have a lot of debt to worry about?
Debt is a big problem that you will need to deal with before you think too much about jumping away from your day job.
Whether it is credit card debt, student loans, housing debt, etc… the idea here is that debt costs us money!
And when you are first starting out on your own, you need to be as free from the shackles of extra bills as you can possibly be.
If you have some debt, consider doubling down to get rid of it. Work your side hustle AND your day job. Start earning as much as possible, and start paying down what you owe.
Once you get in the clear, you’ll be in a much better situation to begin thinking about starting your own business.
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Miles is a full time internet marketer who sells information products and a niche membership program with his wife, Melanie. Together they have created a lifestyle business that allows them true location independence and this blog where you get to see behind the scenes and see how they have built their online business from scratch.