How To Start A Side Hustle & Manage It With A Full-Time Job
Over two-fifths of millennials have a side-hustle.* A passion project they work on outside of their daily work hours. For some it’s because they’re strapped for cash, and others because they need a creative outlet (that was me!). Whatever the motivation, working on your side hustle whilst in full-time employment gives you the ability to experiment and work out what’s right for you without the pressures of needing to make ends meet each month. It’s a great opportunity to find out what is working and more importantly, what is not working, before taking the leap into running your own business full time. Every situation is different, but I thought I’d share my learnings, in the hope that I can help those who haven’t yet started, or have and need guidance, manage it with full time employment and know when it’s right to take the plunge and do it full time (if that's the end goal).
Just Start, with something small
So many people have a passion they would love to spend more time on, or have an idea they want to make known in the world. They put off starting it until ‘the time is right’. I’m afraid the reality is, there will never be a right time! Stop overthinking, perfecting, and making excuses and just get something out there! Whether it’s starting your Instagram account, or creating a ‘coming soon’ landing page, that first tiny step will make you committed and excited to get going. I decided I was going to start an Instagram page called Lilla Rugs one day, and I put it up the week after. My first posts were super embarrassing looking back, but I really do believe that is a good thing! It's important to keep evolving and getting better.
Clarify your non-negotiable criteria
“It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are” Roy E. Disney
When juggling a full time job and a side hustle, it’s super important to be clear on your non-negotiable criteria, for your life. The magic in defining these isn’t just about what you include, but about what you chose to leave out. Identify three key personal criteria that will become your guide to decision-making throughout the process. There will always be some compromise in these. You may not choose to include financial criteria in your top three, but that is not to say you don’t think money is important, it just means that when a decision needs to be made about something, your top three criteria will precede the financial benefits or downfalls of that decision. Try to keep these are unique and personal to you and your life as possible. For example, my top three are: family will always come first, every day should never be the same, and never doubt my gut feel.
Commit to the time
The hardest part of having a side hustle, alongside a full-time job, is finding the time. Get a piece of paper and divide it up into 24 boxes, each representing 1 hour of your day. Colour in the boxes you are asleep (these are important hours), the boxes you are commuting, working, etc. You’ll then have a clear view of what you may need to shift around in order to commit the time. For example, you may choose to take 1 hour out of your morning lie in and to get out of bed earlier in order to work on your side hustle for that one uninterrupted hour before work. If you’re a morning person! That was my saving grace during the year I had a full time job and Lilla Rugs to run.
Tools, tools, tools
It can be a little scary setting up a side-hustle in a digital age, especially if you aren’t from a tech background and have an extremely low (£0) budget. You’ll be thinking that there is a lot you won’t be able to do solo, but you may find this isn’t so true! There are so many amazing free tools and resources out there, you will save so much time and money if you use them. Check out NoCode.tech for an already collated site of 100+ free resources and tools. Then for the bits you really can't do/ don't want to do, check out Fiverr for affordable and speedy outsourcing.
It’s not called side hustle for nothing! You need to ‘forcefully action’, in a nice way, of course. Get out there, go to events, talk to people, ask for help, give help. Doing all of these things and coming offline will move you along leaps and bounds. Really the best thing that comes of hustling is confidence and validation. The more you are out there talking about and representing your business, the more real it starts to feel and the more you believe in yourself. I make sure I go to at least two events a month, and at every event make a conscious effort to speak to at least one person, or ask the panel a question. Sometimes I get nervous and awkward, but I always leave feeling much better about things!
The magic word: patience
When you’re passionate about your side-hustle (which you definitely must be) it’s incredibly hard to be even a little bit patient. It’s particularly against the nature of young entrepreneurs. But it really is important to build not rush. Being patient doesn’t mean losing any of your hunger or drive, it just means walking up the hill rather than running. If you run, you’re far more likely to lose your breath. If you walk, you have the time to think and ensure you’re taking the right path to get to the top. There were so many ideas I had in the first year, and still do, that I wish I could just press GO on right away. But you have to prioritise and build one or two things at a time. I know it’s super important to get the fundamentals DOWN first, then the magic can happen.
Keep some healthy habits in your life. Having a side-hustle exposes you to burn out, so it’s important to keep in time that keeps the body and mind healthy. What’s a habit? It’s something you do on a daily basis that you do without really thinking about it. You have lots already, whether it’s getting ready for bed in a certain order or calling your mum every Monday night. You can always build in new ones. The key is making your new habits so easy you can’t say no. It could be writing down three things you’re grateful for each evening (that was my go-to), meditating before your shower every morning, walking to work over taking the bus, or whatever works best for you. Try two new ones, then when they are so formed you don’t even have to think of them, add in a few more!
Know when its right to take the plunge
Turning your side hustle into your full time job/life is far from a simple decision. It takes a lot of thought and a huge amount of courage. How do you know when it’s right? Try not to wait for the ‘perfect moment’, as there will never be one! In saying that, the clearest sign is usually when you’re struggling to keep up with both your full-time job and side-hustle at the same time. At least, that was mine. It of course really important to be smart about when you’re ready to take the plunge in terms of your finances. Really go through your numbers and know how much you need to get by, and how much you may need to have saved (at least three months of living costs is sensible). If you’re comfortable with that and you have a solid plan you feel excited about, just go for it! Don’t be afraid to fail.
‘Success is 99 percent failure’ Soichiro Honda.
Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash
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