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What to do if you're starting a side hustle

Yahoo Finance Contributor and Brown Ambition Podcast host Mandi Woodruff-Santos shares her tips for building a side hustle while working a full-time job.

Video transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: If you're thinking about starting a side hustle, you're not alone. Nearly one in three Americans already have one. But how do you juggle that side business without putting your main job in jeopardy? Here with some tips is Mandi Woodruff-Santos. She is Yahoo Finance contributor and co-host of "Brown Ambition Podcast."

Mandi, always good to see you. So talk to us about how you can toe the line between pursuing your side gig and keeping your current boss happy.

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I've come a long way since I was sneaking around Yahoo Headquarters when I first launched "Brown Ambition" seven years ago. I feel safe admitting that now. One time, Katie Couric walked in on me. We'll-- we'll touch that story another time. Anyway--

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: That's for another day, Mandi.

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Another day. So side hustles-- yes. The first thing that I think everyone should do is, check your employee handbook. Even if you don't think that your business interferes with your day-to-day work, it just may be a simple policy that your company has that you need to declare your business ventures outside of the company or even any conflicts of interest. I mean, that could be, you know, something like sitting on the board of a nonprofit, you know. So definitely check that handbook to be sure that you're not overlooking some kind of policy.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah. Also, I mean, a conflict could also be one of those non-competes, right? Sometimes you're said-- you're asked to sign a non-compete clause as part of a work contract. Talk to us about that consideration.

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Absolutely. It's becoming increasingly common. And you may think of this more often when you think about leaving your company. Some non-competes say that you can't go work for a competitor for a certain number of months or years after leaving our employ. But what about when you're currently with the company? They may have a clause in there that says that you are not supposed to even moonlight for a company or offer consulting services to a company that could be considered a competitor. With non-competes, because it is a legal document, I recommend that people reach out to an employment law attorney, especially if you have a-- have a hunch that your job may have an issue, and you want to be sure that you're safe.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, good idea, better to be safe. Now, let's talk about time commitment and being realistic. You know, can you really give of yourself fully to your current boss? And if you think that is the case, how do you communicate that effectively? Because if I were a boss, I think that'd be my first thought. OK, is this person now going to be distracted with their side hustle?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Absolutely, and I think that, you know, if you're someone who wants to start a side hustle and you're going to be transparent with your employer, I mean, you have to expect a certain level of extra scrutiny into your performance and to your productivity. And they certainly may be comparing your productivity levels to prior, when you opened up about, you know, having that side hustle, which I actually think is more than fair. You know, if you're paying someone a full-time job, you want to be sure that you're getting all those hours out of them.

So that's why I say, I think it's good to have a clean break, you know. Wait to start your side hustle, if you can, after those business hours. And I think you should honestly, you know, use a different computer. Create as many-- you know, create kind of a Chinese wall between your day job and your side hustle so that no one can even accuse you of letting those two worlds, you know, overlap too much.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, make sure you keep your business expenses separate as well. Really important with all that-- that paperwork to keep-- to keep that in mind. And you know, I know for a lot of people, doing a side hustle is not just all about the extra money. But if money is the main factor, maybe should you ask your boss for a raise? Do you explain, look, I wouldn't necessarily have to do this side hustle if I were making more money with you?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: You know, I think that people have side hustles for many different reasons. And certainly, in the wake of the pandemic, a lot of people were doing it as a means of survival. A lot of people, if they had their choice, would not be out there doing DoorDash deliveries or Uber driving, you know, on their-- on their time off. Of course, they would want more pay, so absolutely. If you feel like you're not being paid enough to sustain, you know, a reasonable lifestyle, then yes. Ask for a raise, and if you don't get the raise, you know, look for higher-earning, full-time work elsewhere.

But I will speak to those passionate intrapreneurs, you know, people like myself, who created a side hustle just born out of a creative interest. You know, when I started "Brown Ambition Podcast," that wasn't something that my employer at the time could actually, like, let me do full time, nor did I even want that. I just wanted something of my own that I could feel proud of. And I think that actually will help if employers are open to having, you know, workers have those, be able to pursue those creative interests through-- even through a business sense, outside of their work. And if they're supportive of that, then you may actually be able to retain people a lot longer.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I like that, an intrapreneur, not an entrepreneur. And I like the idea of transparency, right? You don't have to-- you don't have to keep track of, you know, who you said to what. Yahoo Finance Contributor Mandi Woodruff-Santos, thanks as always.

KARINA MITCHELL: And Alexis, I've got to tell you, you know, on that note, don't tell our boss, but I've got a couple of side gigs myself-- cook, cleaning lady, lending institution. I don't get paid very well for any of those. But [INAUDIBLE]--

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I hear you.

KARINA MITCHELL: [INAUDIBLE] [? right? ?]

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