Want to leave your job? How to know if side hustle can work full time

Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool
Published 6:00 a.m. ET March 10, 2019


If you’re bored with your day job or maybe just always dreamed of owning a card making business, a side hustle could seem like a good decision.

Many people take on side hustles to drum up extra cash, whether it’s for vacations, emergencies or the purpose of paying off debt.

But what happens when your side gig really takes off, or you find that you’re enjoying it much more than your full-time job? Should you take the plunge and quit your 40-hour-a-week role?

That decision is a big one, and there are a lot of factors you need to consider. Here are a few signs that it might be time to turn your side gig into your main source of income and give it your full attention. 

1. Business has consistently been picking up

Many folks with side hustles struggle to build up their workflow, especially in the early stages, when they’re not yet established. But if you’re at a point at which you don’t have to look for work, but rather, it just seems to constantly land in your lap, then it could be a sign that you’re ready to do your side gig full time.

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This especially holds true if there’s so much demand for your services that you actually find yourself turning down work regularly and missing out on good income because of it.

2. You have a healthy level of savings

There’s a benefit to having a full-time job with a steady paycheck – you don’t have to lie awake at night worrying whether you’ll manage to pay the bills month to month. Taking your side hustle full time means giving up that stability and opening the door to a world of financial unknowns.

But if you have a robust emergency fund – say, at least six  months’ worth of living expenses in the bank, and ideally, in this situation, more like nine to 12 months’ worth – then the time might be right to go all in. Even if your income does take a hit during months when the work slows down, you’ll have the protection of a sizable bank account.

3. You’re good at working independently

Many workers resent having a boss breathing down their necks at the office. But having a manager to report to tends to push workers to do their jobs as opposed to slacking off.

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Once you take your side hustle full time, the only person you’ll really need to answer to is yourself. Sure, you’ll have client deadlines to follow, but you’ll also have the option to turn down projects if you’re feeling lazy or unmotivated.

Therefore, decide whether you can really trust yourself to work independently before turning your side hustle into your main job. If you can, then by all means, go for it.

Taking your side hustle full time means getting to devote your energy to a job you really love. That said, don’t forget that in addition to dealing with a variable income, you’ll lose out on the benefits you once enjoyed as a salaried employee, like health insurance, an employer-sponsored retirement plan and paid time off.

Be sure to take the loss of those benefits into account when making your decision, because while being self-employed has its perks, the grass isn’t 100% greener on the other side.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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