Running a side business can help you stand out from the crowd. When employers see you’re a go-getter who can operate without supervision, they will be more willing to cede responsibility to you in your main career. Look for opportunities to transfer the skills and experiences you obtained in your side business into your main career. Use the side business as a chance to develop a personal brand and try things you otherwise wouldn’t.
EditDemonstrating Qualities Gained Through Your Side Business
- Prove that you’re driven. It’s obvious to any employer that if you’re working a side business, you’re a self-starter. So simply by founding your side business, you will appear more attractive to employers.
- You can prove just how driven you truly are by making your side business successful. Grow your side business by adding employees, increasing revenues, placing advertisements, and securing grants.
- This experience will help you when you decide to switch to a better-paying job or seek a raise.
- Adjust your relationship with management. If your main employer sees your side business as a distraction from your main career, redouble your efforts in your main career and limit conversation regarding the side business. If possible, find another employer who correctly perceives that your side business indicates that you are possessed of dynamism and creativity.
- Act with great freedom in your main career. If you have a side business – especially a side business that you could scale – you will be less tied down by your main career. This allows you to take bigger risks in your main career that could pay off down the line.
- For instance, if you did not have a side business, you might feel disinclined to propose a daring idea at work, or to offer criticism of a certain individual or company policy.
- But if you have a side business, you should feel that you have more leeway at work. As the proud proprietor of a side business, you will then be able to free yourself of the strictures that previously limited your ability to express yourself or “think outside the box.”
- Get the feedback you need. Being less tied to your main career might also mean that your risks lead to recklessness. Second-guess yourself and run your plans and projects by others if you think that your side business is starting to undermine your ability to make rational decisions in your main career.
- Ask a superior or coworker, “What do you think I need to work on?” or “Do you mind looking over this project? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on what I’m doing.”
- Operate with greater confidence. The newfound freedom you have in your main career, coupled with the financial rewards that come from running a side business, will boost your confidence.  The confidence boost you gain by running a side business can help you handle criticism well and work without constant praise. Employers appreciate these qualities. A confident attitude, therefore, can help you advance your main career.
- Plus, with increased confidence, you might feel more willing to apply for a promotion or change jobs to advance your career.
- To operate with greater confidence in your main career, remind yourself regularly how great your side business is.
- Reflect on how, despite the sacrifices of time and energy it requires, your role as leader of your side business energizes you and gives you greater confidence in yourself.
EditExpanding Your Marketability
- Try new ideas at your side business that relate directly to your main career. You should view your side business as a laboratory for your main career. In other words, whenever possible – and especially if your side business is related to your main career – use your side business as a forum to try new strategies, projects, or techniques.
- For instance, if your main career involves designing sets for films and you take up a side business designing set pieces for the theatre, try out some new strategies that you might not try at your main job.
- Try new ideas at your side business that relate tangentially to your main career. If your side business is more tangential to your main career, look at general skills or strategies that you could bring to your main career. For instance, if your main career is running your car washing business and your side business is a hot dog stand, both will require advertising. You might try to use a more robust digital marketing strategy to promote your hot dog stand, then use the lessons you learned to better promote your car wash.
- Develop new contacts. If your side business is in a field related to your main career, you could advance your main career by referring clients from your side business. For example, if your main career is in marketing and your side business involves drafting write-ups of new products, you could suggest to your client that they hire you (or your marketing firm more generally) to develop the new product’s advertising campaign.
- You could, of course, also use your side business to develop new contacts in your main career even if the two are not closely allied, but it will be more difficult, and happen only in cases of extremely good luck.
- For instance, if your main career is running a dry cleaning business and your side business is running an art dealership, the two lines of work have little in common. But it is possible that you might encounter a customer at your dry cleaning business who, in conversation, mentions that they are in the market for art. At this point, you could suggest to the customer that they purchase some from you.
- Seek highly relevant feedback. In your side business, institute systems to collect feedback about your performance or work. The more closely your side business aligns with your main career, the more valuable this feedback will be.
- For instance, if your main career is teaching English and you take on a side business working as an English tutor, you could ask the students you tutor to fill out a detailed evaluation about what they liked or didn’t like in their lesson, then incorporate that feedback into your primary teaching career.
- Seek generally useful feedback. If your side business is less directly related to your main career, look for feedback that is more broadly transferable. For example, if your side business is selling cupcakes and your main career is selling cars, both involve communicating with prospective customers. You could ask customers at your cupcake business what part of your sales pitch drew them in, then apply that feedback to your role as a car salesman.
- If you found that feedback really benefited your side business, you might work to implement a more robust feedback system in your main career.
- Learn to see failures as opportunities. With a side business, you will probably be taking more chances than you do in your main career. These greater risks hold potentially greater rewards, but they also have greater potential for failure. But even if your side business doesn’t work out or goes through a rough patch, you can advance your career by learning from these mistakes and failures.
- For instance, perhaps the company you work for in your main career wishes to develop a commercial space in the same complex that your side business was/is located in. If you’ve had a bad experience with that space because it was too far from other businesses, you could save your company a lot of trouble by advising them about the shortcomings of the space.
EditImproving Your Skills
- Learn multitasking skills. If you’re running a side business while also working at a fulltime or part-time job, you will quickly develop robust multitasking skills. Employers place a premium on the ability to juggle more than one project (or career) at a time, and you can use your side business to develop these all-important time-management skills.
- When applying for your next job or seeking a raise at your current job, you can refer to the multitasking skills you acquired in your side business to bolster your value to the company.
- Use your experience running a side business to prove your proficiency with scheduling and knowing how much work you can handle without getting burned out.
- Develop your skill set. While running a side business alongside working a main career obligates you to develop multitasking skills, it could also equip you with a new set of skills that proves useful to your main career. The skill set you choose to develop depends on the nature of your career as well as the nature of your side business. 
- For instance, if your main career is a web programmer and you begin taking on private clients, you might be able to broaden your skillset through your side business. Perhaps in your main career you code in HTML, but in your side business you code in Java. Or perhaps you pick up more general skills like negotiation with clients.
- No matter the nature of your side business, evaluate your experience for skills that you could transfer to your other job. Reference these skills and experiences during your attempts to advance your main career.
- Don’t be afraid to reinvest the money you earn from your side business into classes or materials that could help you develop your skills in your main career.
- Grow your personal brand. A personal brand is the way you execute your work or perform your job. If you’ve got a side business, you can use it to experiment with personal flourishes that only you are capable of. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, you can use a side business in graphic design to work up a specialization in designs that incorporate space iconography like rockets, planets, and so on.
- Personal brands might also revolve around creative use of a particular technology or medium. For instance, your personal brand might be turning out smart, witty posts on social media.
- With a personal brand under your belt, people will turn to you when it comes time to work on whatever your area of interest or specialty is.
- Look for an opportunity at your side business to develop a personal brand that you can transfer in whole or in part to your main career.
- Improve your negotiation skills. If you’re running a side business, you’ll probably be negotiating a lot, from the cost of rent to the wages of your employees. Use the negotiation skills you obtained in your side business to advance your main career.
- These skills are sure to come in handy down the line, especially if you have a main career as a salesperson in retail, real estate, or auto sales.
- Even if you don’t have a career that frequently requires negotiation, you’ll be negotiating something in your main career at some point, whether it’s who gets what assignment or what sort of raise you deserve.