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Can I use my personal equipment for my side hustle?

This is a question that many entrepreneurs find themselves asking. Can I use my personal equipment for my side hustle? When you’re just starting out money can be tight. Often one of the most affordable ways to keep costs down is to use equipment and tools you already own. This is especially true for electronics such as cellular phones, computers, screens, even storage devices. It’s very tempting to use your existing cloud accounts (iCloud, Microsoft 365, Google, Adobe) and legacy software licenses. So lets answer the question: can I use my personal equipment for my side hustle?

tablet drone and camera
It’s convenient to use your personal equipment for your business. For many infrequently used devices such as cameras and drones this can make good sense.

Is it possible?

In most cases it is possible. However there is an important caveat. You need to read the license agreement for software and cloud services if you intend to use them. If the license agreement specifically states “for individual”, “for personal use”, or “for non commercial use”, legally you cannot use it for business purposes. A good example is a Microsoft 365 family subscription. This subscription licenses you for personal use. Commercial use is a violation of the license and a side hustle would be considered commercial use. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, you should consult one if you have questions.

There are some advantages to using personal equipment for your side hustle:

  • Financial – Since you already own the equipment you can save some money
  • Convenience – Everything is on one device. A good example is a cellular phone. Since you’ve got all your business and personal data on that device your information is always with you.
  • Duplication – This is similar to the last section. You can avoid having to deal with multiple devices. For example carrying two cell phones can get a bit cumbersome.

Should you?

The old expression “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” is certainly true here. There are several good reasons to acquire equipment and licenses specifically for your side hustle. We strongly recommend you do this.

Setting up your office so that you can keep technology that contains business data separate is recommended.

The major reasons you should to do this are:

  • Security – Keeping business data separate from personal data is very important. Your customer information, contracts and financial documents should not be stored on the same equipment that your family photos are. Personal equipment often is shared with others in the family. Keeping your business data separate helps to ensure that your business data is protected and remains private. You have an obligation to perform due diligence and due care to protect data that has information about others in it. Everything that you (or others that that have access) use your personal computer for can expose your business data.
  • Financial – Businesses can write off expenses and capital purchases. It often makes sense to purchase equipment for the business for this reason.
  • Wear and tear – You’ll use your business equipment often and for long periods. This can cause premature wear and lead to failure, especially if the equipment is not designed for business use (8 hours a day, 5 days a week, always on, always in use).
  • Keeping things straight – Certainly people with good organizational skills can make a single device work, but often it’s just easier to say “this equipment is for business use only” and only use it for business instead of isolating your business data from personal data using permissions, separate accounts, separate folders etc.

The bottom line

Can I use my personal equipment for my side hustle? While it is possible to use your personal equipment for your business you should separate them. Acquiring a laptop and a phone for business isn’t as expensive as you might think and keeping things separate can help organize and keep your data secure. The major reason not to do this is duplication of equipment (especially cell phones) but this is also a benefit. You can leave work at work after hours and spend the quality time with your family.

Check out more of our How-To’s for additional great tips like this one.

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