Despite what you may be thinking, it is possible to grow a business on the side while working a full-time job. In fact, it is pretty common these days. 6 years ago my life consisted of a 60+ hour weekly grind as a commercial litigation attorney PLUS additional hours growing a business in whatever nooks and crannies I could scrap together. Today, I run a successful business from home (actually from anywhere I can access WiFi) on my own schedule and in less than 20 hours a week. I built my business all while working full time, being a wife, a mother to three children and still having a life.
In this post, I share my tips to grow a side business while still working full-time. I will not share some secret sauce or describe a get rich quick scheme. I will not tell you it will be easy peasy. I will simply share what worked for me and countless others if you are willing to put in the time and effort. Your dream of owning a business or quitting your full-time gig to work for yourself is not as far fetched as you may have thought.
I often hear, “well of course Christy, you have time to grow your business because you don’t work full-time anymore.” They forget, but I never will, those days when I was practicing law full-time and working my side gig in every spare second I could. Every business starts at zero. No one gets to the top of the mountain without the climb. I started like many of you — working really long hours, trying to be a wife and a mom at the same time, but wanting something different. I decided to create an additional stream of income on the side during ALL of that because I felt pulled towards something else, something more flexible and something more fulfilling. I basically looked at what I was doing then, working 60+ hours a week and feeling like I couldn’t keep up with work or my family, feeling like I wasn’t doing either one very well, and made a decision that I had to make a change. I decided that I didn’t want to look back 10-20 years from now and see myself in the same spot and regret not at least trying to do something about it.
But like many of you probably, I also knew I had to figure out a way to build that additional stream of income or side business while still juggling the full-time job that was paying the bills. Here’s what I did:
The first thing on the agenda was easy to say, but difficult to do…
1. Take the leap and just do it…make the commitment…make the decision…get off the fence…take the plunge — whichever phrase gets you going, DO THAT. I had to convince myself that I had it in me. That what I wanted was worth it. And that despite any sacrifices or failures along the way, I would stick with it. So here’s a question for you? How bad do you want it? You have to want it enough to clear your head of all those voices of doubt and negativity. You have to want it enough to put in the work. Because it will take work. Dreams don’t become reality without work. So, the first step is very literally taking that first step in the direction of your dreams.
2. Write a mission statement. There’s a reason why most businesses start with a mission statement. EVERY business meets challenges and tough days, whether you’re growing it on the side or you have all the time in the world to commit to it. When those tough times come you need to remind yourself of your mission. Your mission statement encompasses your WHY. Why you put in the effort? Why you wanted to do this in the first place? So ask yourself: What is your ultimate mission or purpose to succeed with this business? Is your mission to help other people feel more confident in themselves? Is your mission to get your family out of debt? Is the reason you started because you ultimately wanted time freedom for you and/or your spouse? Maybe you feel pulled into the direction of missionary work or some other passion and you just don’t have the additional income to do it without growing something on the side? Whatever the mission, make it personal and specific to YOU and WRITE it down. You will refer to this written mission statement during the rough patches. Check out the template I prepared to help you craft your very own personal mission statement.
3. Understand you can, and will, learn as you earn. Over and over I’ve heard, I need to research more, train more, or learn more before I start. Believe me, in an ideal world, every new entrepreneur would love to feel fully competent and equipped with knowledge to conquer anything that’s thrown at them BEFORE they start their business. Newsflash: That will never happen. Essentially, those thoughts are merely excuses holding you back from great opportunities. You are never fully prepared for your entrepreneurial journey. The attorney in me will share that even after all the schooling and training for law, I wasn’t fully prepared to practice law when I started. I learned as I earned in law and in business ownership. The entrepreneur’s journey rewards with frequent personal and professional development opportunities each step of the way.
4. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can find the time. But how, you ask? You do just that. You find it. Listen, we all have the same 24 hours in the day. We all have the same seven days in a week. Whether you want to admit to that or not. Building a business on the side requires you to take advantage of time, not let time take advantage of you. Each of us prioritizes based on our individual perspectives. If someone told you that they would pay you an extra $500 a month in exchange for 5 hours of your week, do you think you could find those 5 extra hours? If someone told you, they’d pay your mortgage for you if you could dedicate 15 hours a month to them, do you think you could find the time? I bet you’d find the time. Finding that time as a bet on yourself, now that’s a different story isn’t it? But it shouldn’t be. My advice to you: pull out your calendar and block off that time to bet on YOU and your new side gig. If you were reading this post hoping for a secret sauce, my calendar exercise is the closest thing I have for you. I share it HERE.
5. Expect to make sacrifices. Ask any successful business owner you know and I guarantee they all would share they made many sacrifices to grow their successful business. Sacrifices show up differently for everyone. Some sacrifice time, others sacrifice money. For you, maybe you sacrifice watching your favorite tv series for the next year. Maybe you sacrifice your weekly Starbucks or paying to get your nails done so you can invest in your business. Examine your lifestyle and your schedule to see where you can expect and prepare to make sacrifices.
Growing a business while maintaining a full-time job requires much of the same from you as simply growing a business. Whether you squeeze your business into the nooks and crannies of your full-time job or you have all the time in the world to grow your business, it takes a commitment. It takes a mission statement or a written reason why you went into business. It takes an understanding of learn as you earn. It requires you utilize your calendar as a tool and it requires sacrifice. So, ask yourself, how does all that sound? Are you all in? If so, let’s get to work finding that time for you to grow and nurture a business on the side. Check out my calendar exercise HERE.
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