I know for me personally, juggling more than one activity successfully is something I've been conditioned to do for most of my life. Throughout upper school and beyond I was employed in various roles, often more than one at a time. When I embarked on my career, I continued that for decades having more than one, and sometimes more than two, businesses underway.
I'm not the only one. Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Phil Knight stayed at their main jobs while working on side ventures that became Apple, Microsoft and Nike, respectively. Even the Google guys stuck around Stanford University for two years after founding Google.
Research has shown that those who started companies while keeping their full-time jobs were 33% more likely to succeed than those who bet everything.
The perception of the entrepreneur who hedges their bets may seem incongruent. After all, "entrepreneur" means "bearer of risk." People who start businesses, though, are usually too savvy and cautious about which bets they take.
Here are five reasons to reconsider leaving your job before your side hustle takes off:
1. You take pressure off yourself.
It's hard enough to start a business, but when your entire future and current income are tied up in one, the stress can be overwhelming.
You could argue that instead of being risk takers, some of the best business people are masters of minimizing risk. Financially, the best way to do this is to indulge your side hustle while you are still receiving a full-time salary.
That's what Spanx founder Sara Blakely did. During the day she sold fax machines, but she launched her footless pantyhose brand working at nights and on weekends.
2. It forces your business to compete.
Another way to look at a side hustle versus your full-time job is as an opportunity.
At first, there's usually not much payoff -- it's all an expenditure of money and time. But as things develop, it might become a viable alternative to your current position. If it works out right, you should be able to make a rational decision to leave your job, not a leap of faith.
3. It lets you hedge against failure rates.
I'm an optimist but also a realist.
The statistical odds of creating a viable business that will last many years are against you. While 80 percent of businesses survive their first year, by year five, that figure drops to 50 percent.
In today's dynamic business environment, it may be even tougher.
4. You get to try out something different.
No one really knows how often the average person switches jobs -- seven used to be the accepted number for lifetime switches, but that's been debunked. But there are lots of instances of people moving into completely different lines of work and finding more satisfaction.
For example, Matthew Crawford was an executive director at a think tank, but left to fix motorcycles and found he was much happier. Crawford detailed his transformation in the book Shop Class as Soulcraft.
It's possible there's another career out there waiting for you, too, but why not start off by pursuing it in your spare time before betting everything on it?
5. It will help you in one way or another.
Lenny Achan was a nurse but also had an interest in programming, so he taught himself to code and created some iPhone apps. As Dorie Clark explains in her book Entrepreneurial You, Achan's boss found out but instead of being upset, he promoted Achan to head of social media communications for the hospital.
That's what can happen when you teach yourself in-demand skills. That kind of activity also shows initiative that employers value.
Should everyone play it safe? No. Despite these benefits, doing something on the side doesn't work for everyone.
Some people want to focus on their career 100 percent and view anything else as a distraction. Some people won't pursue their dream unless they burn all of their boats in the harbor. But most of us like to hedge our bets a bit and at least leave a life raft behind.
Building what I call a career portfolio will only help you in the end, regardless of how your side hustle fares.