How To Know When To Turn Your Side Hustle Into Your 24/7 Job

You can't deny that the creature comforts of office life (think: an endless supply of free snacks and a fully-stocked beer fridge) are a big perk. And even if you’re not working at a traditional 9-to-5 job, things like health insurance, retirement savings, parental leave, and paid time off are all benefits of many full-time gigs that help define what traditionally makes a career path feel "successful." But perks aside, what are you supposed to do if your heart is more into your side hustle than your full-time plus benefits role?

If you’ve ever grappled with the idea of pursuing your passion project full-time, then you already know that walking away from the relative safety of a steady job is almost always easier said than done. Bottom line: It’s tempting to stay put in a meh job or career if that means continuing to reap the benefits that help maintain our comfort zones.

So, what’s the secret to venturing out on your own? As it turns out, there’s no one right answer, but Bustle has teamed up with HP to get some tips on figuring out when to turn your side hustle into your full-time job. I spoke to two women who have successfully made the leap from full-time office job to fully in charge of their own life, and here's how they knew it was time to reinvent their work life:

You’re A Pro At Structuring Your Day

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When Amanda Aldinger made the jump from Editorial Director at MAC Cosmetics to freelancing full-time, she quickly realized that having unstructured days wasn’t all midday yoga and marathoning reality TV during lunch. “Initially, I did not hold myself to any sort of routine, and that was not good for me because I am a very routinized person,” says Aldinger.

Her solution? Joining a co-working space that allows her to spend most weekdays working alongside other creative women. She's now back into a productive daily routine, and says that working from home has become a welcomed exception, not the rule.

Your Gut Is Saying “Go For It”

It might sound trite, but it’s true: You generally know when you’re making the right choices for yourself, even if you aren’t acting on your intuition quite yet. That was the case for Washington D.C. based photographer Shawna Simmons, who transitioned from shooting for the fashion and fine art world to creating her own photography business, SAS Equine Photography. Simmons warns it's normal to have moments of hesitation in the early phases, but it’s all about managing your mindset in order to overcome them. "The day I left my full-time job, I felt this overwhelming sense of excitement, joy, and freedom. But the next morning I woke up and had a pit in my stomach," says Simmons.

With no official business plan, no substantial savings in her account, and no actual strategy, she relied on her intuition to guide her in the right direction as she networked her way toward her new business venture.

You Know How To Utilize Your Network To Grow Your Business

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No matter what industry you’re in, having a strong network to tap into is crucial when you’re working for yourself. “It’s important to have some kind of pipeline of clientele established before you go off on your own,” says Simmons.

Aldinger recommends giving your contacts an advance notice before branching out fully on your own, which gives you a chance to line up potential assignments or gigs. She gave her former employer a month's notice before going freelance, and was pleasantly surprised at the incredible response from her network, which she credits to maintaining strong professional relationships.

“Be the person people want to work with, because when they have a choice later on, and could use your services, they’re not going to call you if they didn’t have a good experience working with you," she says. "No matter where you live, every industry is a small town. Word travels fast and referrals are everything."

You’ve Got The Tools You Need To Bolster Your Business

When you’re working for yourself, being equipped with the tools you'll need to execute your day-to-day workload is crucial for your success. “I recently spent five hours of a road trip with my parents using my mom’s phone as a hotspot so I could have internet on the computer and be on a call,” Aldinger remarked. “On one hand, I love that I can work from anywhere, and on the other hand, you always have to be on and ready for action.”

If you're looking for a great new laptop to support you in your new career path, try looking into the HP Spectre x360. Not only does it have an impressive all-day battery life, but it also provides you with crucial layers of protection including privacy screening and a fingerprint reader that allows only you to unlock your computer.

You Know What You Bring To The Table

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Advocating for yourself can be difficult when you’re flying solo. “Know your worth and don't be afraid to ask for what you want to be paid for your skillset and talent, even if you're a new business owner,” Simmons advises. “The right people will see your value, and pay you accordingly.”

Aldinger agrees. “No matter how my career evolves, learning how to run my own business, negotiate contracts, demand my worth, value my time, and create powerful boundaries has been an extraordinary experience.”

This post is sponsored by HP.