[ASK TBM] Is Running a Business While Working Full-Time a Good Fit for You?

Want a side hustle on top of your full-time job? We asked Chelsea Dela Torre, the owner of Lá Candelle & Co., about the pros, cons, and whether it’s a good fit.

These days, it is no longer unusual to find someone with more than one job. In fact, according to the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom), most Filipinos actually need to have two to three jobs in order to avoid poverty. 

This may explain why, according to the Deloitte 2023 Millennial and Gen Z survey released last June, 71% of millennials and 65% of Gen Zs in the country have opted to take additional side jobs. While many have chosen to be part of the gig economy to earn additional income, those with resources have chosen to open their own businesses instead. 

However, having a side business is easier said than done, especially when you have to balance it with a full-time job. That being said, is this way of earning additional income for everybody? 

We asked Chelsea Dela Torre, the owner of Lá Candelle & Co—a meme-inspired candle business she started during the pandemic—about the pros and cons of having a side hustle despite working full-time.

Did you start off as an entrepreneur or did you have to work your way towards becoming one? What was your journey like?

I had to work my way towards becoming an entrepreneur. Initially, I was hesitant to start Lá Candelle because I didn’t have any family members with experience in starting and running a business. I had to navigate this uncharted territory entirely on my own—from sourcing suppliers to handling production and marketing my products.

And what made it even more challenging was that all of this was happening during a global pandemic.

It was also during this time that many of my friends had already embarked on their own home-based businesses, such as selling baked goods, plants, and resin art. Seeing their entrepreneurial ventures sparked something within me—a desire to start a business or project of my own. 

I only had two criteria: I could easily do it from home, and it had to be something I had a genuine interest in. So, my journey began, and it was indeed a challenging but incredibly fulfilling one. Starting from scratch and figuring it all out as I went along made the journey rewarding.

Why did you decide to continue running your small business when you began working a full-time job?

I decided to continue running my small business even when I started a full-time job because I didn’t want to let go of what I had built with my brand. My business served as a creative outlet for me, especially since I drew inspiration from real work experiences for my meme-inspired candles. My candle workshop at home became my happy place—a sanctuary away from the stresses of my day job. 

Despite me making fun of the stresses in my day job, I still consider it to be something I’m passionate about. By day, I work for an FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] company as a brand assistant under its international business group. This line of work allows me to travel and bring proudly Pinoy products in markets abroad and this is a line of career I wanted to pursue and grow a career in. 

Through this experience, I learned that you could have two things you love doing without sacrificing one for the other. Balancing my business and my career allowed me to fulfill both my creative and career aspirations.

What are the pros and cons of having a side hustle while working a full-time job?

Balancing time can be quite a challenge. I have a full day of work in the morning, and then I find myself dedicating my weekends and late nights to the business. There are times when I’m up in the wee hours of the morning just to make sure I meet the next day’s schedule for parcel pickups.

On the positive side, I have the benefit of two sources of income. My full-time job provides financial stability with a regular paycheck, while my business adds an extra layer of income. 

It’s incredibly rewarding to create something of my own and I consider my business as more than just another source of income; it’s a creative outlet and a personal accomplishment. Moreover, I am able to use my real work experiences to inspire product releases for my business.

Would you recommend having a side hustle on top of having a full-time job, or do you think it’s not for everyone? Why or why not?

It’s not for everyone, and it requires serious contemplation and preparation. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to have self-fulfillment outside their work. But it requires effective time management and prioritization. You must be prepared to allocate your time wisely—including evenings and weekends—to make your business run. In my case, success didn’t happen overnight. 

Be prepared to put in the work and assess your financial situation to plan for initial startup costs or slow growth before your business becomes profitable. I recommend exploring entrepreneurship alongside a full-time job if it aligns with your personal and professional goals. 

Ultimately, the decision should be based on their unique circumstances, personal aspirations, and willingness to put in the necessary work and commitment to their business without sacrificing the output they are putting out at work.

What concrete tips and advice can you give to anyone who wants to put up an online business?

First, start with something you have a genuine interest in. When you’re passionate about what you are doing, it doesn’t feel like work, and ideas flow naturally. In my case, my pre-existing interest in home scents led me to focus on candles. Also being part of my target market makes marketing my product and creating content feel like a friendly conversation with my work friends.

Second, research is your best friend. Don’t just copy what is trending or what’s popular. Invest time in understanding your industry, its potential, and your target market. Research might come with costs, especially in the product testing and development phase, but what I advise is to set a budget and stick to it.

Remember that success rarely happens overnight. It took me a month to secure my first sale from a complete stranger, who isn’t a relative or a friend of a friend. Belief in your brand and unwavering persistence will help you sustain your business—just as it has for me over the three years since its inception in 2020.

Lastly, keep a close eye on your business finances. Monitor your income, expenses, and cash flow. Don’t forget to allocate a portion of your earnings for personal savings and future business growth. In my case, I continually reinvest in my business by upgrading tools and equipment to enhance production efficiency.

Chelsea Dela Torre is the owner of Lá Candelle & Co, a meme-inspired candle business launched in 2020. She balances running her business with her full-time job at an FMCG company, where she works as a brand assistant under its international business group.