What a way to make a living
You’ve got a stable 9-5 which keeps you housed and fed, with just enough cash left over to splurge on frivolities like clothes, perhaps a Netflix subscription, maybe even a small holiday with your mates – you know, stuff that actually makes life fun. But if you’ve always been tempted to scratch an itch in exploring a business idea to supplement your salary, doing something a bit more creative outside your normal job or eventually working for yourself, then starting a side hustle is probably at the forefront of your mind.
Although it appears less than ideal, sculpting your side venture around a day job immediately takes the weight off your creativity to pay the bills with the security of a steady paycheck coming in each month. It’s the perfect opportunity to test the waters of your concept and goals before jumping into the tumultuous waters of self-employment. Having a little wiggle room to play around with projects and what works for you is going to have a positive impact on the quality of what you produce without the stress of finding rent money hanging over your head. Plus, running a side gig alongside your full-time work will force you to be ruthless with your time and efficiency. You’ll be far quicker at decision making too. All of which are skills that will be invaluable strings to your business-boss bow.
Whether you’re starting an enterprise alongside your 9-5 for fun or wanting to turn your side hustle into your full-time job, then here’s a helpful guide on how to manage running both.
Embed yourself into the real-life communities and online spaces that are relevant to your work or centred around those cultivating side gigs. Making friends and contacts who are going through similar experiences as you will be helpful to bounce ideas around with or make going to industry events less daunting. Finding a kindred spirit in the same boat (who may also spark up a bit of friendly competition) serves as a great motivator because you’re in it together. Plus, you never know who you might get chatting to on a Twitter craft feed, a knitting forum or meet at a local fair.
Crunch the numbers and investigate the possibility of going part-time or scaling back hours at your normal job to 3 or 4 days a week. If it’s financially viable, and your managers are agreeable, you can do your work within a shorter period; slotting in an extra day to grow your side business could be what you need to propel those projects forward. Be clear on boundaries though, ‘off’ days should be clearly communicated to colleagues who might take a while getting used to your new schedule. You don’t want to take a pay cut and end up doing the same amount of work for less money.
As tempting as it may be to discreetly work on a few bits of your business whilst on someone else’s dime, squash that impulse now. Not only is it unprofessional, your colleagues (and possibly boss) will notice if you’re always on mygreatknittingproject.com. This could jeopardise your safety net and lead to disciplinary action or worse. Some employment contracts also include a note that anything you do create on their time and/or with your employer’s resources is their legal property. Even if you’re going through a quiet period at work, treat your day job as a part of your working life that happens to be the facet which keeps the money rolling in.
Set some goals. Goals give us focus and keep the everyday tasks on track. They don’t have to be big lofty dreams of grandeur, assign yourself simple things to aim for like writing 1 blog post a week, landing a new client or getting your personal website up to scratch. Once you’ve got into the swing of meeting targets and deadlines for yourself, raise the bar a rung higher and break down the baby steps you need to take to get there.
Go Get That Worm
You may have perfectly honourable intentions to jump straight on your laptop after a long day in the office, but dinner, pub drinks or unwinding in front of the TV often get in the way of sitting down for a productive couple of hours. Flip your day around and squeeze in a few hours of work before your actual work. Not only will your brain be fresher than at the end of the day, but once you see how much you can get done before clocking in, those early starts will get easier. Yes, it will be a struggle at first, particularly if you’re not a morning person, but kick off with just one dawn-desk a week and then gradually build up from there. Inverting your routine means you’ll still have evenings free to hang out with friends and recharge.
Consistency Is Key
Little and often is going to be your new mantra when starting a side hustle. Don’t go setting wildly ambitious targets – swearing to pour every precious spare minute into your business straight out of the gate. It’s unrealistic and sets you up for a dollop of guilty disappointment when you don’t commit to those hard vows. Approach your consistency as you would a new habit, perhaps only spend an hour or so on your side gig a week to begin with. Then gradually notch it up until you’re at a level that’s viable to sustain in parallel to other areas of your life.
Put It In Your Diary
Going hand in hand with little and often, get into the practice of putting whenever you plan to work on your side hustle into your diary. Give it the same status of importance as you would a meeting with your manager or catch up with a friend – people you wouldn’t want to let down. Don’t flake out and cancel, don’t push it back, just get on and do it.
The Importance of Being Patient
The work is hard, the work is dull, the work is long. But it’s the slog work that creates success. Give yourself the gift of patience and accept you’re not going to become the equivalent to Jeff Bezos overnight, however, don’t let that dishearten your ambitions. Equally, don’t pressure yourself to know everything about everything right away and worry over ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ moves you chose not to follow. You will make mistakes and lots of them, that’s all part of the fun. Ride the downs as well as the ups, because that ‘cant-put-your-finger-on-it-feeling’ of steadily working on something that you’ve created from nothing is absolutely priceless.
If you’re raring to take your side hustle further but need a bit of help getting your head around where to start, take a peek at our jargon-free guide on how to pick the right eCommerce platform for you.