5 Reasons Not to Start a Side Hustle

by Dana George | Published on Aug. 12, 2021

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A stressed businesswoman sitting at her computer with her hand on her face.

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Before taking on a side hustle, make sure it's the right time.

When your earnings don't entirely cover the bills, you might consider taking on a side hustle. And sometimes, starting your own side business is the right decision. But like other big decisions, it's not right for everyone. Complicating matters, starting a side hustle may work well during one phase of life, but be a mistake during another. If you're on the fence about setting up a new business of your own, consider these five reasons now may not be the time.

1. You haven't gone over your budget in detail

If your primary reason to start a side hustle is that you feel like you never have enough in your bank account, rework your budget before diving in. Many folks go months (or years) without studying their monthly budget for expenses they can trim. And that might include expensive cable packages, cellphone plans with all the bells and whistles, subscription boxes delivered to your home, frequent nights out with friends, large utility bills, and stuff kids can easily live without. It's different for everyone, but most of us can find a short list of expenses that would not impact the quality of our lives if cut.

And remember, cuts to your budget don't have to be permanent. Tell yourself you're going to make cuts long enough to pay down the bills that make your budget lopsided, or until you're earning more money at work.

There's something to be said for investing the energy you would pour into a side hustle into taking control of your budget and personal finances.

2. You don't have money to invest

The Hustle conducted a survey to learn more about Americans' side hustles and how their experiences have been. While it's possible to start a side hustle without spending any money, the survey showed that the average first-year cost of starting a side hustle is $16,662. Given that the average side hustle brings in around $12,609 per year (working 11 hours per week), it could take you more than a year to earn back your investment. Whether the spending is for supplies or advertising your new business, costs add up.

If the potential side hustle involves a multilevel marketing (MLM) business, it's essential to understand that they can require upfront investments. Can you make money? Maybe, but 52% of respondents in an AARP Foundation study said the MLM they joined misrepresented their chances of making money. About 99% of people who join an MLM lose money. You may want to avoid MLMs and carefully consider the cost of other side hustles.

3. You're already stressed

Approximately 84% of respondents in a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported feeling at least one negative emotion associated with prolonged stress in the prior two weeks. The most common symptoms of stress reported were anxiety, sadness, and anger. Anxiety was due to many issues, including the state of the country, COVID-19, and financial stress.

It's true that life is rarely stress free. Since our ancestors chased down wildebeests to feed their families, stress has been part of our everyday lives. But if you're already up to your eyeballs in anxiety and worry, it may not be the right time to take on another obligation.

4. You don't have family support

Let's say you're wild about the idea of buying used auto parts, cleaning them up, and selling them for a profit. As excited as you may be, if your family is not on board with your dream, now is probably the wrong time to give it a go.

5. You could spend the time building your future another way

For better or worse, COVID-19 gave all of us time to rethink -- and possibly, reimagine -- our lives. Maybe you had blood drawn in your doctor's office and thought it would be interesting to be a phlebotomist. Perhaps you've always wished you were a car mechanic and realized they were still working in the middle of the pandemic. Now may be the time to go back to school rather than start a side hustle.

If you're looking for something new and different, it is possible to pursue your dreams, even if it means not taking on a side hustle right now.

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