Let me the set the scene for you. It was 2008. I had just graduated from Cornell University, moved to New York City and started my new career as a Human Capital Analyst with Lehman Brothers. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and I was a 21 year old woman ready to take over the world. Sure there were a few pesky rumors of LB’s demise…but it didn’t seem prudent to concern myself with such nonsense. It was Lehman Brothers. The company was too big to fail.
That all changed within a month. As they say, things went awry. Horribly awry. The layoffs seemed endless and my dream job with my dream company became a dream case study for business schools. I watched hundreds of people walk out of the building clutching their severance package letter as if it was all they had left…because it was.
Barclays Capital bought the company and those of us who survived the last round of layoffs took a collective sigh of relief. Nevertheless, the experience taught me two things:
I alone was responsible for the success of my HR career.
It didn’t make sense to have my paycheck come from just one source. I had to develop multiple income streams.
Of course, there are different types of streams. Some are active (traditional careers, small business pursuits, etc.) and some are passive (real estate investments, affiliate marketing, etc.). Today I want to talk about the active income streams. They require your physical presence and consistent engagement in order to generate a paycheck. Currently, I have the following:
Main Stream: HR Manager at PepsiCo
Side Stream: Life and Career Coach
Luckily for me – I love all my streams! And I think I do a pretty good job of managing them along with everything else going on in my life. But if someone is experimenting with this approach for the first time, it can be difficult to stay on top of it all. This is especially true for people who want to have successful careers with their current companies, but have also decided to take on additional pursuits.
I’ll get to the point. You don’t want your side stream to jeopardize the success of your career. Fair or not, once you publicize it, the senior leaders who are in charge of approving your next promotion or assignment will likely take your extra activities into consideration. They may question your dedication, your motives and your career goals.
If you find yourself juggling two or more active income streams, here are a few tips that that should keep you on the right path.
1) Be careful.
Sometimes your activities outside of work will create a conflict of interest with your employer. Review your conflict of interest, moonlighting and disclosure policies to avoid company violations. There may be consequences for violating the rules that can include termination. So don’t take this one lightly.
2) Don’t solicit business at work.
Your company may ignore this standard rule when the Girl Scout Cookies show up – but using the break room to promote your latest venture is generally frowned upon. Save it for happy hour. If you find it difficult to focus at work, you may want to consider a career transition so you can dedicate your energy to the work that you love. But if you want to maintain or grow your career with your current employer, stay on the safe side by being fully present and engaged in your core responsibilities while you are on company time.
3) Think before you post.
A few weeks ago, I added my coaching business to my LinkedIn profile. Not only did LinkedIn notify all of my connections, it gave some of my current colleagues the impression that I had left the company! While I was able to quickly resolve the misunderstanding, it could have been avoided had I put a little more thought into my profile update. So it’s important to carefully manage your social media networks. Every post should be intentional and directed to the appropriate audience.
4) Keep the main thing the main thing.
If your main stream is your main source of income…then it should be your main career priority. You can’t afford to miss important meetings or key deadlines to support your other business. Additionally, the LAST thing you want is to get caught working on a personal project during office hours. Plan your week in advance so that you can effectively manage your time.
5) Be prepared to answer direct questions about your career.
If you want to stay and grow with the organization, address any question related to your career head on. It’s up to you to decide how much information to share. But there’s no need to become defensive or evasive. I recommend you provide a concise account of what you are doing and how you got started. Just make sure that by the end of the conversation, your manager walks away with the understanding that you enjoy your job and intend to keep giving it your best.