Life is hectic. Keeping up with your job, your family, and everything else can be a challenge. Yesterday, Ms. Financial Slacker had a realization that she forgot our nephew’s birthday. Normally, that probably wouldn’t be such a big deal, but we had also recently forgotten our niece’s birthday too.
She felt horrible, but she is in the middle of a large project at work that has her completely absorbed. I can sense the tension and when something slips through the cracks, it just makes the situation that much worse.
But this is life. And keeping up with life can get in the way of living life if we let it.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you have accomplished outside of work and family?
Typically, I start thinking about these things when I am in between jobs. I have been away from a traditional corporate job for the past seven months. During that time, I have seen my kids start another school year, I have attended eight swim meets, been on two separate vacations, played countless rounds of golf, and launched this site.
That last one is what I want to talk about.
Find Something Productive For Yourself
If I hadn’t created this site, I would be looking back at the past seven months and wondering where had all the time gone?
Instead, launching Financial Slacker is one of the few productive things I have done for myself in a long time. During my most recent six year stint in corporate America, I rarely did much of anything for myself. I was traveling almost weekly, and between that and keeping up with the kids’ activities, I didn’t have the energy or inclination to start something new.
Unfortunately, when that role came to an end last summer, I didn’t have anything to show for it. As a household, we were in pretty good shape financially as Ms. Financial Slacker still works a good job and despite my Financial Slacker tendencies, we had managed to accumulate a pretty substantial investment portfolio over the years. So I didn’t need to generate income in the short term, but longer term was a different story. We do want to get to a point where Ms. Financial Slacker can retire. And to do that, we will need additional savings and/or side income streams.
When I left my corporate job, I looked back and realized that I had spent the prior six years building something for someone else. Don’t get me wrong, The money was good. I am not advocating that everyone quit their job. In fact, I would say just the opposite. Unless you have a steady stream of passive cash flow that can replace your corporate job, why would you quit? That regular salary is hard to replace. If you are earning $100,000 per year, you need $5 million in invested capital to replace that income stream.
But just because you work a full-time job doesn’t mean that you can’t also start a side business, or pick up a hobby, or do both.
If You Don’t Start Now, When Will You Start?
I have spent over 20 years working corporate jobs. Some have been good. Some not. For the most part, I have enjoyed working in the corporate world and I intend to continue doing so. I have started my own business before. It was in the early part of the Great Recession and it was hard going. And before it really took off, I had an offer for another full-time corporate position. The allure of a regular salary was too hard to resist at the time, so I folded up shop and went back working for someone else.
In hindsight, I could have kept that business up and running while working. Or maybe I could have set up another business that was a little more hands off. Either way, had I continued to work on my side business over the six years I was employed, I feel confident that when I left that role, I would have had something more substantial, both economically and emotionally, to support me until the next thing came along.
Instead, in the summer of 2015, after my corporate role ended, I was starting from ground zero again. I spent some time thinking about next steps, but I also decided that while I was looking for that next step, I could start doing things for myself. Never again would I allow all of my efforts to be at the mercy of another. So I picked up a hobby for myself and started playing golf and I launched Financial Slacker as a side business for myself.
I do plan to work in corporate America again and am looking for that right opportunity. But, I also plan to keep Financial Slacker growing. In a few years, I expect to look back and see that I have created something from scratch. It may or may not be generating much income, but it will be something tangible that is mine and that I can look back on and feel accomplished.
Reasons to Start a Side Business:
- Financial upside. It’s hard to make money sitting on your couch. Starting a side business, whether it’s selling something you make, or reselling something you buy, or providing a service, or creating a website all have the potential to make money. Realistically, unless you dedicate time and effort to the business, it won’t make much money, but the potential is still there. If you never start, there will never be the potential.
- Behavioral activation. My father was a coach and he used to say, “if you do nothing, you know it’s wrong. If you do something, there’s a chance it will be right.” The term behavioral activation is borrowed from psychology. Essentially, it means by doing something, other things will start to happen. Start exercising. Pick up a hobby. Start a side business. Do something and good things will follow. Do nothing and nothing will follow.
- Diversification. Just like a business with one client, a household with one job is risky. Even though I didn’t have a side business until recently, our household typically had three or four income streams – my salary, Ms. Financial Slacker’s salary, and bonuses. But even though we had multiple income streams, they were often tied to one or two income sources (our corporate employers). A side business can reduce your reliance on a single income source, thereby reducing your household financial risk.
- Continuing education. Starting a side business, even in an industry that you know, will require research and learning new things. Although I do have an extensive background in finance, I am still learning something new every day. Whether it’s the technical aspects of setting up and running a website. Or the marketing aspects of promoting the site. Or even learning about new ways to earn, save, and invest, the past few months have been full of new things.
- Satisfaction. Lastly, starting a business creates a sense of satisfaction. It may not always be fun, but often the things in life that are the most rewarding are not fun.
So don’t wait any longer. Start a side a business and pick up a hobby for yourself. Use what you learn to grow the business. Or change direction if it’s not working. You never know where it will take you until you start.