work at home goals woman working from cell phone and laptop

Career or Side Hustle? – Knowing Your Work at Home Goals

If you are anything like me, you have had your days where you sit and dream of finding a way to make money at home.  For me, it is all about spending more time with my family.  For you, maybe it’s about controlling your own destiny. Or maybe you want to achieve financial independence or bringing in a little extra cash to make a one-income household a little less stressful.  But while the internet is full of blog posts about “25 Ways to Work from Home”, few of them cover what these ventures really take.  To be successful, you need to have concrete work at home goals.  You need to know what you’re good at, what you want, and what sacrifices you are willing to make.

Career vs. Side Hustle

careernoun: a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement
side hustlenoun: sideline that brings in cash; something other than your main job

We all dream of raking in six figures working from home three hours a day. But whether you sit in an office or on your couch in yoga pants, a career and a side hustle do not pay the same way, do not have the same growth potential, and will not require the same amount of work.

The ability for people to work from home and on their own schedule increased dramatically with the advent of the internet.  In less than 5 minutes you could find ten ways to get paid for taking surveys, transcribing audio recordings, or completing menial tasks.  However, if you want to build a business or start a career from home, the dynamics haven’t changed much, even with technology.  A career or a new business are a long-term pursuit, and they require real work.

So before you sign up to be a virtual assistant, join an MLM, or start a blog, decide what you want.

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Aligning Your Goals

Word cloud for defining your side hustle or career work at home goals.Part of the reason I started Mama Fish Saves was a dream of starting my own personal finance business.  I was focused on educating families to make better financial choices.  I love writing so when I stumbled on the idea of starting a blog (yes, I realize I was living under a rock), I showed my husband some income reports from other bloggers and pitched it as a long-shot.  In my rough plan, I told him I would start the blog, write about things I love and see what happened.

Now, less than two months in, I’ve had my eyes opened.  I have realized that if I want a business, I have to treat this as a business.  The blog has its own budget.  I spend a minimum of four a hours a day working on it when I get home from my full-time job, often more on the weekends.  I’m never done, and it’s always on my mind.  For a parent looking for a way to earn a few bucks, this would seem stressful.  But for me, I love that I’m laying the foundation for something that could be great in the long run!

Getting stuck between a side hustle and a full-time work at home career can mean a lot of wasted time. People run at things with dreams of a full-time career, but don’t commit enough time to it to get the full benefits.  Many people pursue side hustles that are only successful as full-time careers and waste endless hours. (Check out this post on why blogging is a terrible side hustle.)  Sometimes, people come up with excellent ideas that could be great businesses. But by treating it as a hobby they never get to see the real potential.  To avoid this, think about your goals ahead of time so you can pick a venture that is right for you.

Examples of Side Hustle Goals 

Side hustle goals are all about short term goals and how to reach them with minimal effort and maximum return.  You have an extra hour or two a day, maybe even less, to dedicate to making a little extra money.  Maybe you want to supplement your family’s income to pay down debt, save for a vacation, or allow you to get that monthly massage and pedicure you love.  But you don’t want to spend time working for free on building something that has a small chance of success. You want to work on something that can pay you today.

I was traveling for business a few months ago and talked to the most fantastic Lyft driver.  He and his wife don’t have children but are actively involved in the lives of their niece and nephew.  They wanted to take the kids to Disney as a surprise, but they didn’t quite have the money.  He signed up as a Lyft driver and drove whenever he had a little extra time.  He made enough money in his first two months to go to Disney for a whole week!  When I was in the car with him, he had just cleared his goal to be able to go to the Caribbean with his wife.  An impressive example of the power of a side hustle.  He enjoyed the work, it didn’t cause him stress, and he did it when his scheduled allowed.

Examples of Career Goals

Career work from home goals are all about long term potential.  You want to generate a full-time income, commit time to something where you see growth opportunities, and/or build a business.  You are willing to fight through the early days of hard work to give yourself a shot at great success.

The internet is riddled with work at home career achievements.  There are so many rockstar successes.  Michael Chesal started Baby K’Tan as a stay-at-home mom and now sells 80,000 carriers a year.  Emily, the creator of Etsy shop Purple Possom, makes over $100,000 a year making monthly shirts for baby photos.  Rosemarie Groner, the creator of Busy Budgeter, is on track to bring in over a million dollars this year on her blog! What these success stories have in common is that their founders were willing to put in the work and treat their work-at-home career like any other career.  Baby K’Tan fought through some tough financial times in 2009 to be where they are today!

Prioritizing Your Available Time

Whether you are looking for a side hustle or a work-at-home career, The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for ityou are going to have to prioritize your time in a way you never had to with a desk job. The laundry needs to be changed, your kids need a snack, and the TV is just so distracting!  To have a successful work-at-home experience you are going to have to be intentional with your time.  Think through what you want to get out of every hour you spend working. Be willing to cut the things that aren’t successful or aren’t related to your goals.

The difference in time management between a side hustle and a career is that a side hustle should take less time and be more flexible.  With a side hustle, if you planned to work 4 hours on Saturday but decided to go bowling instead, that’s ok!  With a career, you are committing to building and developing something and putting it on the back burner could mean you reach your goals much later than you would like, if at all.

Side Hustle Time Management

The hardest part about side hustle time management is making sure you are getting paid for your time.  There are so many side hustle opportunities on the internet that pay far less than minimum wage and end up being a waste of time.  You don’t want to be a virtual assistant for $4 an hour when you have so many other responsibilities that are important to you!

The best thing you can do for prioritizing your time with a side hustle is laying out how much you want to make a month and what you realistically think an hour of your time is worth.  Then keep track of the hours you spend on your various side hustles and the money you make.  At the end of each month, look at your average hourly pay for your ventures.  Be willing to quit anything that is earning less than you think you are worth.

Career and Business Time Management

Time management when building a career or business could be a whole series of posts all on its own.  Heck, it could be an entire blog.  Figuring out how much time you need to spend, how to ignore the little things and focus on what matters, and how to balance your business with your life are tough topics.  So for the sake of brevity, here are my five home business time management thoughts.

  1. Set goals.  Have a one-month goal, a six-month goal, and a long term goal.
  2. Figure out the minimum time each day you want to commit to your home business and stick to it.
  3. Spend 1 hour each week planning out the tasks you want to tackle that week.  Plan each day, so you don’t spend your allotted time floundering.
  4. Find a quiet place to work where you can focus.  I love the space to spread out at the kitchen island. But when I sit there my husband loves reading me funny tweets, and I never get anything done.
  5. Make sure your family understands that this is your job.  Not your hobby, or some funny thing you are trying to do to make some money.  Let them know when you are working and you shouldn’t be bothered.

Chasing What You Want

Work-at-home careers and side hustles are both incredible options for a myriad of their own reasons.  Either could change your life.  However, working from home is still a new and developing option.  While opportunities to work from home are growing rapidly, the percentage of people who pursue these opportunities successfully is still very small.  Be willing to be a little different and chase your dreams.

Share your goals with family and friends.  Stand proud and firm if all responses aren’t the support you hoped for.  If you are saving for that Disney vacation by driving for Lyft, and your friend asks why you don’t just put it on a credit card, tell them about your debt free goals.  If you want to build a blogging business, and your sister tells you less than 1% of bloggers are successful, tell her less than 1% of bloggers are willing to work like you.  Then get to work (in your comfiest yoga pants)!

Do you have a side hustle or work from home career?  How do you define your goals and stay on track?  Let us know!  

17 thoughts on “Career or Side Hustle? – Knowing Your Work at Home Goals”

  1. I’ve never really thought about the difference between the two but it’s interesting. While I’d love to make a career out of my blogging, if my husband and I have kids soon I think I’d be happy with a side hustle to bring in some extra money.

  2. Awesome post Chelsea. I’m in the same boat as you – do I want my online business to be an awesome side hustle or something I can take full time?

    I’ve noticed the great efforts you have been putting it… it’s crazy how much time it takes to get a blog going and for it to be successful!

    The last 3 weekends, I’ve been putting in 8 hours on Sat and Sun to overhaul the design, add new features, products, etc. Soon it will all pay off!

  3. Fantastic post.
    I love this – ” If you want to build a blogging business, and your sister tells you less than 1% of bloggers are successful, tell her less than 1% of bloggers are willing to work like you.” – I also like that highlighting that lets me tweet or share it!!

    I don’t really have goals or plans with my blogging, and I guess that is why I struggle with motivation. I have told myself I don’t want to make millions, I just want to be happy, but that is as far as it goes.
    I think after reading this I need to define some goals and work from there!

    Thanks for sharing!
    xx Angela

  4. Love how you differentiate the two in definition and actions. I’m in the process of doing both…keeping up with my career while exploring the side hustle…and raising my baby 🙂 Thanks for the linear thinking!

  5. Great stuff, Chelsea! You explained life’s opportunity costs very elegantly.
    What I’ve been doing recently, that I’ve found helpful, is spending 30 minutes or so on Monday morning listing out my Roles and Goals (from Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). I first list my roles in life: Dad, Husband, Teacher, Author, Home Maker, Little League Coach, Fantasy Baseball Owner, Individual, Friend, Brother, Son…and then I list out my goals for the week in each of those roles. I then fill in a makeshift calendar for the week in which I plug in my goals and responsibilities based on my different roles. For instance, today I have: drop off kids, write, help in son’s class, Trader Joe’s, swim lessons…
    I’ve found it very helpful to see the whole week in front of me. I cross things off at the end of the day, and if I didn’t get to something, I try to fit it into the next day (sometimes that works, many times it doesn’t).
    I struggle with what many mentioned above as well, which is prioritizing the time necessary to write and create every day. For, in reality, it takes writing and creating every day in order to build something that captures a lot of attention.
    Thanks for the thoughtful post, and here’s to everyone being able to carve out the time necessary to create something spectacular!

  6. I’d never thought about the difference. You have a good point though. It’s hard sometimes to come out and say this is the career I am pursuing. I think though you have to if you want to reach your goals.

  7. I think it’s a great idea to give this some real thought before diving in and (potentially) not realizing exactly what you were getting into! I have thought recently about trying to become a VA, but I just don’t know if I would want to invest even more time on the computer, period. :/

  8. This is a great post and likely something that many people do not consider as fully as they should when they begin. Definitely food for thought!

  9. This is such a great post ! I am a work from home mom and I definitely wanted to have a career while raising a baby. We got a nanny and I feel being at home and still watching my kid grow was the best decision I could make

  10. This post is great. Makes me see that all I really want and would be content with, is a side hustle!
    I like your writing style. Thanks for making me think!

  11. Yessssss, this is my life right now. I was practically draining emotionally at a desk job and just knew it wasn’t for me. I started blogging and have found my passion!!! Making this my career!

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