I talk a lot about how you should have the guts to go for your dreams and taking the chance on starting your new business etc. But the reality is a lot of new businesses start as a side hustle, not everyone is in the position to just throw caution to the wind and dive in head first, much as they may like to!
One of our most popular articles to date is ‘5 Signs You’re Ready to Quit Your Job for Your Business‘. That’s the dream, right? But what do you do in the meantime? How do you keep hustling long enough to be able to reach that point? I’ve juggled A LOT over the years, so I thought I’d share some of the things that helped me to keep hustling.
It's All About Time Management
Seems obvious right? But no matter how organized you are, I guarantee you could be managing your time better. Remember the wise saying – ‘You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce’. You have time, you just need to get better at managing it. I started my business when I was still in high school, so when I went off to University I had to get really good at juggling. There was a point where I was doing a full-time business degree, two internships, a part-time job, starring in an amateur dramatic production AND I was running my business on top of it all. I’m not saying I did it all right, mistakes were made, but learning how to manage my time in that period has set me up for life.
So how do you do that?
Obsessive scheduling. When things get crazy for me I have each day mapped out by the minute in my calendar. Tasks, meetings, appointments and even downtime (important) are all scheduled in so I make sure I have time for everything. Just because it’s a side hustle doesn’t mean you should place any less importance on it than your full-time job. Schedule it and then be strict with yourself and make sure you stay on schedule. The reason you have to be strict is that in the moment you may tell yourself ‘oh I need to get this done, I’ll just keep working on it for another hour’ and by the end of the day, several things may have fallen off your task list and have been pushed on to tomorrow, which then throws the next day off too. If you decide in advance how much time will be dedicated to each thing and stick to it – you don’t fall into that trap.
Accept the right jobs, don't just say yes to everything
While you are crafting your schedule, you want to be mindful of making sure everything that’s going on there is worthy of your precious time. Don’t fill it with anything that doesn’t either fuel your business or feed your soul, at least not on the busy days. Don’t misunderstand me here – relaxing, seeing friends and doing things for you are all worthy of your schedule, what I’m referring to are things that will be a drain on your time, energy and resources with little to no return. When you start a business you might initially just say yes to everything – every order and enquiry at any price, you’ll bend over backwards to get the business. Sometimes this can pay off, but not always, and if you are short on time you need to get really good at figuring out which jobs are worth it. You’re far better off being a little selective and making sure you take on the right jobs for your business and turning away business that won’t serve you in the long run.
Make some sacrifices for your side hustle
Of course, on the path that you’ve chosen some sacrifices will have to be made – that’s the price of greatness, right? This is where the last two steps become super important – you need to get really good and allocating your time wisely and cutting the right things out of your schedule to make sure you don’t have to sacrifice the important things. A lot of new business owners will say yes to everything for their side hustle and then sacrifice things like sleep, family and self-care – god knows I did this for years!
Don’t throw your health and wellbeing under the bus, but you may well need to sacrifice some things at certain busy times. The first thing to go for me is often my social life, my friends and family all know me as a bit of a flake and I often have to miss out on plans so I can get some work done – such is the nature of startup life!
Even when things get really crazy and you have to surrender a lot of your free time to your business, my advice is to pick one or two things in the week that are non-negotiable, that you make sure you have time for no matter what. Whether it’s Friday night happy hour with the girls or a Sunday morning sleep-in, promise yourself that whatever else is sacrificed, you will have this – it will help you hang on to some of your sanity!
Take time to look after the engine
I’ve been harping on about this a lot recently because I only really discovered the truth in it this year. I used to make myself my very last priority and I screwed things up for myself this way so many times before realizing what I was doing. You NEED to take care of yourself first, otherwise, everything else suffers. If you are sleep deprived, malnourished and emotionally exhausted, you are not going to produce good work, you are not going to make good decisions and you are not going to do right by your business. Read my post – 6 Steps to Improving Your Business By Looking After YOU for more on this. Take it from someone who ignored this for a very long time – it is vital.
For a cautionary tale here is a picture of me passed out in the middle of preparing for a big wedding order, sleeping awkwardly in my office chair at our commercial kitchen. I'd like to say this only happened once, but I'd be lying. One time, one of my employees even let me sleep while she did the stocktake for me because she said I 'looked like I needed it'. Yikes! Very sweet, but not what you should be striving for! I have since learned the value of taking care of yourself first, and I hope you can learn from my mistakes!
Know when to quit
No, not your side hustle, silly! Know when it’s time to quit your job! This is the scariest step, moving your business from being a side hustle to your full-time hustle. I’ve seen a lot of people hold on to their jobs for way longer than they should because it provided an extra security blanket. While you are starting out it may be necessary to have both, but once your business gets to a stage where it could support you ful-time you need to decide if you are going to let it spread it’s wings and fly, or if you’d rather keep it as a hobby. If your business is ready to thrive and you spend too long splitting your time, you run the risk of killing your momentum and snuffing out the flame of your new business. If you do want to keep it as a hobby, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but if your dream is to be working on it full time then know when it’s time to take that leap. Read ‘5 Signs You’re Ready To Quit Your Job for Your Business‘.
Keep at it!
Other than that, it’s just sheer dedication and hard work. There’s no secret sauce or magic trick to give you more time in the day. Nobody said it would be easy, but nothing beats having a business of your own to nurture and grow.
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