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Have you been dreaming of starting a business? Is it one of the things on your bucket list? Are you worried that you can’t do it with your current day job?
You can. Start it as a side hustle.
I first learned about the concept of a side hustle from Pam Slim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation and an all-around fantastic person. Side hustles are a super low-risk way to get started on your idea, test it, and grow it into a full-time business. But Pam says, “it can also be part of your backup plan in case you lose your job.”
You can also use it to have some extra monthly income to help pay off student loans, buy your favorite books, or add to your savings.
If this sounds like something you want to start, there will never be a better time than today. Even with the day job. Even with your other commitments.
Here are seven tips on building your side business:
1. Get clear on how much time you can spend on your business.
Time is probably the biggest struggle when you have a day job because you don’t have 12 hours to build your business. So it’s essential to figure out how much time you can spend. And be realistic. If it’s only 15 minutes a day, that’s OK. If it’s only an hour a week or on the weekend, that’s OK. Just figure out what time is business time and stick to it. And if it’s business time, you want to work on things that’ll help you move forward with your business.
2. Figure out what you can offer right now.
Just one thing. What’s the simplest thing you can offer right now? A 30-minute coaching call? An ebook? A class taught at a coffee shop? Figure out one thing you can offer that’s super easy and super fun for you. You could provide the first five calls or products free and get feedback on those before you feel ready to start charging for things. Or you can focus on blogging. Get into a consistent routine with writing and start building your audience and figuring out what they need. You want to focus on one thing to offer right now to get you started.
3. Keep it small. Keep it simple.
When starting, the key is to have a good foundation but only to spend a little money. Money spent on hosting and a WordPress theme is a good start. However, this is not the time for you to pay $3K for a website. Right now, you want to bootstrap as much as you can.
As you start, you want something super cute (of course) but also super simple because, most likely, your business, your focus, and even your target audience will change. (For example, I thought that techbizgurl.com would be a social media management company when I first started).
4. Start building your tech toolbox.
Yep, I’m a big fan of using technology to help you save time and automate tasks as you build your business. If you want to know what’s in my toolbox, click here. You can grab a hosting plan from Bluehost for less than $100/year if you need a website. You can set up a Mailchimp account for free. You can even use a tool like Calendly to allow folks to schedule time on your calendar for a meeting. You have options here. The goal is to be aware of ways that technology can help you save time and allow you to get things done while you’re at work (or asleep).
5. Get connected.
Use the social media channels that you’re already active on to promote your business. For example, share your latest blog post on Facebook. Start following potential clients on Twitter. Get out in your local community and let people know what you are doing. Add people to your mailing list so they can stay updated on the things you’re working on.
Meet people. Make connections. You never know where your next opportunity may come from.
6. Use your day job’s powers for good.
Once you start doing this side hustle, you might resent the day job or think it’s the enemy. First, this is normal because you can often feel like the job is standing in the way of you doing what you want. The day job is a good thing. It helps you take care of your rent and your basic needs while you build this business on the side. You have the flexibility to experiment and try and fail as much as you want without worrying that you’ll lose everything to live in a van down by the river.
Aside from a source of money, think of your day job as a training ground for your business. Suppose you want to try something new; volunteer for it at your day job. Use the resources and connections to learn as much as you can. You’ll be a better employee, and you’ll rock at your business.
7. Don’t kill yourself doing this.
Sucky days are gonna happen. You’ll constantly feel this tug-of-war between your job and your business. This is why Tip #1 is so important. Figure out the time you have to spend on your business and stick to that. But also take the time to do fun things. This way, you won’t burn yourself out.
There may be days when you are ready to tear down the website and throw the business out the window (trust me, I’ve been there.). That is a sign that you need to pause your business and maybe your day job and have a blanket fort day. Or a day in nature. Or go color.
There will also be days when you are ready to cry, and your heart feels whole because a client left you a fantastic testimonial. Or a client was prepared to give up until reading your blog post.
These are the moments that will make everything worth it.
Building a business can be the most rewarding and exhausting thing, but the point is that you CAN do it, even with a day job.