In the age of the gig economy and remote work, it’s easier than ever to pick up a side hustle to bring in extra cash. However, some side gigs seem more promising in theory than they turn out to be in reality. Others may be lucrative, but at the expense of your health or even your main job.
Because of this, it’s important to be keen about the negative side effects of side gigs. Here, business experts explain 10 signs you should look for to know when it’s time to say goodbye to your side hustle.
Perhaps the clearest sign that you’re wearing out on your side hustle is that you just don’t feel excited about it anymore.
Keith Donovan, a startup advisor and founder of Startup Stumbles, a site exploring startup stories through missteps and failed attempts, calls this “passion fatigue” and said, “In my early days, I once advised a young entrepreneur juggling a 9 to 5 job and a food delivery service side hustle. He was passionate about gourmet food but, over time, grew resentful of his own venture. When your side hustle feels more like a chokehold than a passion project, alarm bells should ring.”
Too Many Sacrifices
Side hustles demand sacrifices, Donovan said, such as missed family dinners, social events, or even a good night’s sleep. “It’s essential to weigh these sacrifices against the tangible and intangible rewards.”
If these sacrifices feel out of balance to the rewards, it’s time to quit your side gig.
Negative Impact on Health
Nothing is worth damage to your health. “This can’t be stressed enough,” Donovan said. “If your health is taking a beating due to your side hustle, no amount of money is worth it. I’ve seen driven individuals, brimming with ideas, burn out because they didn’t prioritize their well-being.”
Donovan added, “A side hustle’s success or failure is subjective and deeply personal. It’s always a blend of pragmatism, passion, and persistence. I’ve come across numerous entrepreneurs who, after facing initial hurdles, pivoted or fine-tuned their approach. Others decided to let go, taking their invaluable experiences into new ventures or jobs. It’s never truly a loss; it’s a lesson.”
Prevents You From Focusing on Work
According to Max Wesman, COO of GoodHire, the first sign your side hustle is not worth it is when it starts impacting your work and prevents you from giving it your all. “As a side hustle, your main focus should be your full-time job. When it takes up more time than necessary then it is either a sign you need to quit your main job or leave your side gig behind.”
If you wind up making enough money from your side gig to replace your full-time job then you can make this shift. Otherwise, he suggested it is time to call it quits.
Not Enough Resources
There’s a point in the lifecycle of a business or side gig where you need to fuel it with enough resources to help it grow, or else it won’t make it. Wesman explained, “These resources include time, effort, capital, employees and sometimes even digital innovations and solutions. If you’re not willing to give your side gig any of these resources, then it is not the right side gig for you.”
Consistent Financial Loss
The point of a side hustle is typically to bring in extra cash. So, according to OIeg Segal, CEO of popular online savings platform DealA, “If continuous efforts and investments are not yielding the expected return, it may be time to reevaluate. If your side hustle starts draining resources or financial reserves, it indicates that it isn’t worth the investment.”
Negative Impact on Personal Life
When your side hustle starts negatively impacting your personal life, it’s a sign that it might be time to let go. Segal advised, “If your relationships, health, or overall well-being suffer from the side hustle, it’s crucial to consider quitting.”
Lack of Upward Growth or Progress
Some side hustles are the kind that have to grow over time. Segal warned, “If you don’t see any measurable success or visible progress over an extended period, it’s a red flag. It’s critical to have measurable success indicators and benchmarks. The absence of growth in these areas could signal the need for a change.”
Maybe your side hustle is good in certain months but not others; or it’s good if you can put more time into it. Whatever the case, Dennis Sanders, founder and CEO of the popular eCommerce site Burning Daily, said, “Inconsistency in terms of workload, client base, or project flow can indicate that the side hustle is not providing a stable and sustainable source of income.”
Overwhelming Stress and Burnout
A little bit of added stress is not unusual when you take on a side gig. However, “if the demands of your side hustle are constantly causing excessive stress and negatively impacting your well-being, it may be time to consider letting go,” Sanders said.
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