What to do if your side hustle takes off
If you’re thinking about quitting your day job to pursue your side hustle full-time, read this first
Some people start side hustles to earn a little extra money. Other people build side hustles as parachutes, preparing for an eventual recession or a potential career change. Either way, many of these small-business owners are unprepared for what to expect — especially when their side hustle starts to take off.
That’s where we can help. Before you quit your job to pursue your side hustle full-time, take some time to learn what might happen — and take some advice from people who’ve been there.
We wanted to share a first-hand story from a successful side hustler, so we interviewed Ben Kuhl, CEO of Shelf Expression. “I’ve been remodeling homes, as well as building custom shelves, cabinets, and home decor items in the Charlotte, NC, area for the past four years,” Kuhl says.
A recent Facebook post reveals that since starting his business, Kuhl has shipped nearly 4,000 shelves to 2,000 homes in 7 different countries — all while working out of a 350-square-foot shop in a two-car garage.
We also wanted to share some tips from a financial expert, and were fortunate enough to connect with Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation. “Since 2013, I’ve been helping a community of 100K people earn more money and build businesses they love,” Loper told us. “I’m the founder of an award-winning blog, podcaster, TEDx speaker, and author of six books dedicated to improving people’s finances.
Here’s what Ben Kuhl and Nick Loper had to say about building your side hustle, quitting your job, balancing work and life, reducing stress, and handling the responsibilities that come with small-business ownership.
In this article:
How can you balance your responsibilities as your side hustle grows?
“When your side hustle starts to gain traction, it can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time,” says Kuhl. “It’s crucial to manage the newfound responsibilities effectively to avoid burnout and maintain the quality of your work. Taking on too much too soon is a common mistake that can lead to exhaustion and stress. Therefore, it’s essential to set realistic goals and gradually take on new responsibilities as you build your skills and experience.”
Loper agrees. “This is the learning curve that everyone faces, and really the only way to do it is one step at a time. One common trait among Side Hustle Show guests is they enlist the help of mentors and members of their community for guidance and support.”
Having that support could make the difference as your side hustle grows — especially if you’re thinking about turning your side hustle into a full-time job.
“If you do decide to take the leap and turn your side hustle into a full-time venture, it’s important to be prepared for the financial and personal sacrifices that come with it,” Kuhl says.
“This includes being willing to invest your own time, money, and resources into your business, and to be prepared to face setbacks and challenges along the way. One way to prepare is to create a detailed financial plan and to set clear goals for your business. It’s also important to be patient and to understand that success may not come overnight.”
With that in mind, both Loper and Kuhl suggest keeping your current job for as long as possible — even if your side hustle is growing quickly.
“You often hear the quote that an entrepreneur is someone who jumps off the cliff and figures out how to build their parachute on the way down,” Loper told us. “That sounds terrifying! Building up your side hustle while still working is a great way to reduce that risk.”
“When your side hustle starts to gain traction, it can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.”—Ben Kuhl, CEO, Shelf Expression
When should you quit your job and pursue your side hustle full-time?
“Here are a couple different frameworks to think about, if you’re thinking about quitting your job,” Loper explains. “The first is when you have a 3-6 month track record of revenue from your side hustle that at least covers your monthly expenses. By this point you have proof of concept and income coming in, you just need more time to scale it up.”
Not everybody may be able to wait until their side hustle is bringing in enough money to cover their monthly expenses — especially if they’re struggling with work-life balance or dealing with a difficult workplace. That’s where Loper’s second framework comes in.
“The second method is a bit more aggressive, and better suited to those who need to get out of a negative work environment quickly,” he told us. “If that’s the case, you can consider leaving your job after you have even just a little side hustle income, but can see a path to grow it given an extra 40-50 hours a week to dedicate to it.”
There is, of course, one more scenario in which your side hustle might become your full-time job. If you find yourself unexpectedly unemployed, you might decide to put your extra time and energy into your side hustle instead of filling out job applications.
“I started my side hustle in 2019,” Kuhl said, “as a way to make a little extra cash and supplement my 9-5 income. In 2020 I was let go from my full-time job. By that point, I had seen the viability of my side hustle and, as I was making as much from my side hustle as I was from my full-time job, I decided to pursue it full time.”
What are some must-do moves for people who want to turn their side hustle into a business?
“One must-do move for anyone looking to turn their side hustle into a successful business is to formally develop the business,” Kuhl told us. “This means legally registering the business and obtaining any necessary permits or licenses. It’s important to do this as early as possible to establish your business as a separate entity and protect your personal assets.”
On the subject of protecting your personal assets — make sure you keep all of your business financials and your personal financials separate. Setting boundaries means separate bank accounts, separate credit cards and separate bookkeeping.
“Keeping business and personal separate helps you better manage your finances, stay organized, and makes tax time much easier,” says Kuhl. “I learned this lesson the hard way when I didn’t separate my finances early on in my business journey, and it came back to haunt me during tax season.”
One of the best ways to avoid these kinds of mistakes is to hire people who can help you. There are many good reasons to work with a CPA, for example — but you may also want to bring on a marketing expert or a graphic designer.
“If you can’t afford to hire full-time employees, consider outsourcing some of your tasks to a freelancer,” Kuhl advises. “For instance, you could outsource customer service or marketing tasks. This strategy will help you focus on higher-priority tasks while freeing up more time to work on the business’s core aspects. By delegating smaller and time-consuming responsibilities, you can optimize your productivity and take the business to the next level.”
What mistakes do people make when they turn their side hustle into a business?
“First and foremost, in my opinion, is neglecting your health,” says Kuhl. This includes both mental health and physical health, and achieving work life balance between your personal and professional selves.
“When I first started my business, I was completely consumed by making it a success. While having a successful business is important, it’s equally important to prioritize your health and family. I made the mistake of overextending myself and neglecting my personal life, which resulted in burnout and negative impacts on my overall well-being. It’s important to strike a balance between work and personal life and to make time for self-care, even when you’re building a business.”
One of the best ways to have a healthy work-life balance that balance is by thinking of your side hustle as an experiment — and optimizing for the kinds of results that allow both you and your business to thrive. This could mean raising your rates, for example, just to see what happens. It could also mean letting go of the clients or jobs that drain you, to make room for the opportunities that energize.
“I position new projects as experiments in my mind,” Loper explains. “If they work, great, but if not, I’m not devastated by the failure since it was just an experiment. Tackle projects you find interesting and rewarding, and you’ll make great progress even if the financial results take longer than you’d like!”
Kuhl agrees. “Remember, you’re not just building a business, but also a life that you want to enjoy and thrive in.”
About Nicole Dieker
Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, with a focus on personal finance and habit formation. In addition to Haven Life, her work regularly appears at Lifehacker, Bankrate, CreditCards.com, and Vox. Dieker spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money, and is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales.Read more by Nicole Dieker
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
What our customers are saying
Sep 8, 2023
User friendly platform and very easy…
User friendly platform and very easy application process! Super content with Haven Life , consider them when shopping for a policy.
–Gabby Santosread more at
Aug 11, 2023
The ease of the process and speed in getting my application approved was terrific. Highly recommend using them for your insurance needs.
–Martinread more at
Aug 10, 2023
Simple and well-designed process for buying life insurance
Life insurance is an industry that seems stuck in the past - things like completing an application, filling out paperwork, scheduling medical exams, etc. are not handled online at many companies. At Haven Life all of this can be done and tracked online, and I hope that others in the industry will follow suit. Other positives include that pricing was competitive and easily available through an easy online quote. It was also possible to adjust the specifics of the policy throughout the process, even after underwriting was complete - changing my mind on one small detail did not require restarting the process. The underwriting process proceeded quickly. I was easily able to gain access to my lab results online. Etc. The process was easy at every step.
–Calvinread more at
Jul 27, 2023
5 STARS!⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ They made everything…
5 STARS!⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ They made everything simple, seamless and positive.
–Kayla Counselbaumread more at
Jul 12, 2023
Quick and Easy
Simple process, fast approval with out any exam.
–Colleen McKennaread more at