A thought-provoking article in Harvard Business Review by Dorie Clark that reminds us all of the positives of diversification, even in our careers, below.
The article describes five reasons for corporate employees to actively develop at least one alternative income stream (whether from consulting, speaking, mentoring or building a product/service):
1) As a hedge against uncertainty: a back-up plan if something does disrupt your company or industry
2) To learn new skills: helps you keep growing and can distinguish you from others
3) To build your network, especially outside of your company and industry: expanding your connections outside of your traditional areas "makes you both more resilient, and more valuable to others"
4) An enhancement to your brand, by signalling your self-motivation, thought leadership abilities, ambition and innovative perspective
5) To grow your income
It concludes with: "...even if you love your job and keep it forever, a small dose of entrepreneurship can teach you new skills and enrich your perspective, making you that much more indispensable at work".
I recently had a conversation with a friend about the benefits of multiple income streams, and he expressed surprise that I meant at work as well. He felt strongly that his employer would view it negatively and would penalise him for not being 'all-in' at work i.e. 'living and breathing' the company at all times. While I fully agree with not competing with your employer or being in other conflicts of interest situations, I do worry that complete dedication and loyalty may not be reciprocated. Sadly, sometimes the same 'possessive' companies are the ones planning redundancy exercises or recruiting for other executives to take over (part of) your role. Somehow income streams like letting your apartment, doing stand-up comedy gigs on weekends, or sharing your car with your neighbours for a fee are more acceptable.
Other difficulties or drawbacks include juggling multiple responsibilities and delivering well on all of them (including managing your time), the cost of keeping the income streams distinct (e.g. you may need a separate limited company for your consulting work), and any other administration involved in receiving the diversified income (such as invoicing).
Your thoughts on this topic? Is it realistic for a corporate executive to do both their day-job and other income-generating activities? And, are companies’ views towards it changing?