It is never a bad time to start a side hustle. The ability to learn new skills, earn additional income, or help others is critical for personal and professional growth. A side hustle is not about quitting your job (at least not initially), it’s about starting a side project(s), in addition to your full-time job. Examples could be starting a landscaping business, house painting, building man caves, or teaching at a local community college. A side hustle does not have to take the place of your full-time job, but it can provide you with a platform to eventually operate your own business full-time (if that is your ultimate goal).

Starting a side hustle has many positives. The most notable benefit is additional income. A side hustle can provide a wide range of new sources of money (e.g., blogging, dog walking, writing, photography). Dependent on your goals, you might focus on an additional $500 per month, or thousands of extra dollars. Whatever the goal, be realistic and patient. Side hustles usually take time before you start earning money. However, the work you put into the new project will be well-worth the effort.

Another benefit is the ability to learn and utilize new skills. You might work a full-time job as an accountant but you love woodworking. Maybe your side hustle is building fancy dog houses. The ability to not disrupt your regular income stream, while doing something you love, is a great way to keep your skills sharp and provide new ways to stay creative and positive (it is too easy to get negative working in many organizations).

Staying sane is another important benefit. Too often you work in jobs or organizations that do not provide a challenging or engaging environment. The job makes you feel awful, or just bored or disinterested. The ability to leave “hell” each day and do something you love and which makes you feel great is incredibly important to your mental and physical well-being.

Not all of us can quit our day jobs. We have bills, responsibilities, etc. However, knowing that at the end of the day the “real fun” begins is a great way to change your attitude. For example, if you studied market research but cannot utilize the skills in your current organization, start a market research company and keep your skills sharp. Or volunteer at a local non-profit and use your research knowledge. The ability to practice your skills, help an organization you believe in, and gain new personal contacts is invaluable for future success.

In addition, starting a side hustle is great insurance for any disruption to your current career. What if you get laid off next week from your current job? Do you have at least 6 months of savings to live on? Are you prepared to apply for a new job, wait, interview, wait, don’t hear back, etc? The job market is tough and finding a new job takes time. Don’t wait for bad times. Starting a side hustle can help buffer any unexpected disruption with your current career.

Also, the ability to earn additional income as you age is another great benefit of a side hustle. Most of us will need to work later in life. Doing something you love which provides additional income is a great way to offset future medical expenses or allow you to have amazing vacations every year (why live on a strict budget when a bit of extra effort can result in great gains). The more you apply your skills outside your current job, the less stress and frustration you will experience with your day-to-day job, and live a much better life.

There are some negatives associated with side hustles. Excessive focus on a side hustle can jeopardize your full time job. You don’t want to “drop the ball” on your main source of income while building the side gig. You need to make sure the side hustle does not creep into your 9 to 5 world. You don’t want your boss getting upset as you work on the side hustle during normal business hours. Work on the side hustle before or after work hours, or during lunch. Do not provide the “corporate rumor mill” to accuse you of working on your own business during “company time”.

Another negative is time. Starting a side hustle takes a lot of time and effort. If you are serious about your side hustle, you need to realize that many things will need to take a backseat as you build the new venture. Forget about TV and Netflix. Forget about spending hours per day on social media (unless you are using it for your business). Forget about watching 8 hours of football on Sunday. You need to focus on time management. You have to continually plan how you will divide your time between work, family, friends, and the side hustle (and you need to schedule some downtime). Use tools such as a daily planner, checklists, or other ways to ensure you are effective and efficient with your time.

When is the best time to start a side hustle? Now! Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate. Just jump in and start. Stop reading book after book on the topic you love, and start applying your learnings. You are only on this planet for a finite number of years – so don’t waste time. The sooner you begin, the quicker your side hustle will allow you to achieve your goals. In addition, you do not want to be 90 years old sitting on your porch, wishing you tried – don’t become a cliché. Don’t wish and dream; do.

No matter your success, you will learn and grow as you focus on the side hustle. Don’t get disappointed if you fail or things take much longer than planned. Building a side hustle is a marathon, not a sprint. If you love your current job or hate it, a side hustle is a great opportunity to grow. The ability to learn new skills, share your skills with others, and earn additional income is a great way to leverage your free time.

So stop making excuses. Stop wasting time. Live your life and do things you love. You only live once, so do not let this opportunity pass.