How to handle questions about your side hustle at your full-time job

lily comba

Let’s talk about awkward moments at work. Tripping up the stairs. Dropping your lunch in the communal kitchen. Forgetting your glasses and waving at the wrong person. We’ve been all there. And while many awkward moments are unavoidable (after all, we just have those days,) there is one awkward moment that can be turned around. Have you ever been asked about your side hustle? And didn’t know how to answer?

You might be afraid to speak your truth, for fear that you’d get trouble, despite not doing anything wrong. I’ve been there — telling little white lies and deflecting answers because I didn’t want to be outcast or judged. Having your own business or working for another organization part-time is an empowering experience. It’s exhausting, sometimes scary, and often met with questions. If you’re faced with skepticism at work or at home, I’m here for you. Here’s your definitive guide to answering those questions with confidence.

Question #1: I heard that you have your own business. Is that really true?

Are they judging you? Being encouraging? Actually curious? Before you get defensive, which may be your first instinct if you’re asked this at your full-time job, take a pause. You’ll never know their intentions without asking first. To respond to a question like this, try: “Yes, I do! Are you interested in learning more?” Set a positive tone for the conversation, in case their intent wasn’t to learn more, but to make an issue. If they respond with “yes,” tell them you’ll put some time on their calendar during a typical lunch hour. You shouldn’t feel obligated to answer all of their questions right in that moment.

Question #2: Does your side hustle ever get in the way of your full-time job?

Yes. Sometimes. But no. Work is complicated, most people can relate to that. Yet this question strikes a particular cord for part-time entrepreneurs. If your side hustle has the tendency to creep into your full-time role, answer honestly: “During the day, my time is entirely dedicated to my work here. On the occasion, I have a few last minute requests or emails that need to be answered, but I handle those when the timing works for me.” If you’re able to cut completely off from your side hustle during the day, be straight: “Thankfully, no! When I’m in the office, my time is all about my work here. No crossover.”

Question #3: Are you even successful in what you do? Wouldn’t it be easier to have one job?

Ouch. Yes, I’ve been asked this question and it stung. Obviously it would be easier to not work two jobs, but playing into a pointed question like this does no one any favors. The key to answering this question is strength: “Building the business has been very hard, but very rewarding. It would be easier with one job, but I couldn’t imagine my life without the work I do part-time.” It may be hard to say this, especially if your gut reaction is to be defensive. The key is to bring supporters into your life, not naysayers. And if someone just doesn’t understand the life you’ve chosen, that’s on them and not on you.

You’ve embarked on an incredible journey, and you should feel proud about it. If you work a full-time job and also hustle on the side, you’re bound to get questions as word gets out. Yet when you’re confident in yourself, you’ll release confidence into your universe.