If you have ever wanted to step from side hustle to full-time business entrepreneur, let me share how I did it.
A few years ago, I felt like my dreams of earning an income that pays the bills around school hours (and being involved in my kid’s education) was way out of reach.
My family had left our much beloved Melbourne to move to Perth (for family reasons), and along with it, a very nice corporate salary (although the hours were taxing with two small kids).
My goal was simple: Establish some relationships in Perth and launch into my business on my own terms. I had worked out my focus with the help of my most awesome mentor, Karen. I had a rough plan of what I was going to do, and I worked to educate myself doing a post grad to boost my credibilty.
But then the father of my children lost his job and I was faced with putting my business dreams on the part-time hustle back burner.
Things were far from sunny.
A lot of pressure when you consider these little nuggets:
- I was completing post graduate study at Australia’s top business school (OMG did I just write that – OK – nerd Belle is proud as I’m not academic)
- starting a new business (my second one) in a new city with zero friends (yep, Nigel no mates at your service)
- working full time with entrepreneurs as a paid gig and
- being mum to a five year-old and a two year-old.
- A relationship where values were not aligned and the cracks started turning into sink holes
I look back and wonder how the heck I did it, but know one thing….
People can achieve amazing things if they give themselves permission
My first side hustle invoice was for $80, for probably 6 hours of work. Not exactly near the corporate rates I was used to. And I certainly wasn’t going to keep a roof over our heads for very long if I didn’t leverage my time.
This is how I made the leap from side hustle to full-time entrepreneur
I set myself a deadline to secure my first decent customer – a contract to deliver some works, and I held blind faith. I wanted to go after my dream. But dreams need two big motivators – an internal one and an external one.
I looked at all the reasons why I could fail, and what I could lose, and what I would do if I did fail. Which was simple. Go and get a “normal” job again.
I worked to solve a problem for a customer, and went in with a proposal for a pilot project. It had to be enough to get the ball rolling.
But they said yes.
Then, I gave my existing employee an option to contract my services so I could help them transition.
They said yes.
I was in business.
And the rest they say – is history!!
There is always the risk of failure – but I figured what was the worst thing that could happen? Well, I’d be broke, on government welfare and would have to start again. I’ve made my piece with failing, and ironically, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur in the long term, you have to get naked-in-front-of-the-mirror-level comfortable with failure.
Anyway, enough naked talk.
Here are five strategies to help you move from side hustle to full-time business you love (and I’m going to keep it focused on the money side of things!)
1. Manage the money fears.
Give yourself a reality check and look at your risks. Is fear holding you back from launching out? How can you create some security for yourself and your family if you are responsible for little people, your survival budget and your thrive budget?
This can be a great time to sell anything sitting around the house that’s not being used. Have a garage sale, and really look for ways to save money. It can be good to go back and renegotiate on things like the mortgage, insurances, or even look at how you can reduce any other costs. If you have been used to shopping a certain way, change it down. Get your Target on, or if Target is out of budget, get your op shopping on.
As my business has evolved, I have worked to create a little “rainy day” fund. Which should probably be called the “oh crap you have no customers and are totally broke” fund. The thought of touching it keeps me on my toes. On that note, not all fear is bad. It can propel us forward. It’s the paralysing inaction ones that are problematic in business.
2. Look at your worst case scenario.
Like above, it is really important to understand what the worst case is, and what risk you are comfortable with. For me, I had zero fall back. No parents to bail me out. No rich relatives about to die and leave an inheritance. And after the collapse of my relationship – no partner either.
The worst case scenario for me was if the business didn’t work out, I’d have to look for another job. Back to side hustle. I kept my investments low (I have just replaced my 2008 MacBook this year), and focused on being really good at solving problems for others.
If you are so inclined, split the risks and collaborate with others. Teaming up with someone who has complimentary skill sets can help you move toward your goals faster. Eventually, all solopreneurs will find they can only get to a certain size before they need a team.
3. Find your financial motivator – in dollar terms.
You need two types of motivation to help you succeed. The first one is the financial goal, or the external motivator. You need to know in dollar terms what your needs look like:
- what you need to survive, and later,
- what you need to thrive to reach those next level goals.
When I was still in my corporate role with my first side business workingmumcoach.com, I made zero dollars from my business.
I was about as chicken as Colonel Sanders when it came to asking for the sale. Also, I was pretty comfortable with my corporate earnings, so the motivation to make more money amongst all the other life things I was juggling was low. I see this with female entrepreneurs who are in a comfortable dual income situation. There needs to be something that you want to leverage your business earnings toward.
When faced with getting serious about the business (i.e. no more corporate salary) and knowing I had to rock the income, I worked out what I needed to generate in the business. I then focused on securing that first client so we would be okay for three months, then six months and so on. I don’t really like being poor. I’ve done it before. It’s not the most fun.
4. Find your money motivating values.
This is that second motivator – the internal one, and really – it is the one that is in the drivers seat. Your values really drive your energy and effort. For example, providing opportunities for my kids is a big driver for me.
I remember missing out on doing things like after-school sports or any other hobby I showed an interest in because my family was not flush with cash.
Community is also a big motivator for me, so finding and creating community is something that is really important. This guided my customer choice and products that I created when I was building my business. Ultimately though, it came back to providing childhood opportunities for the kids.
5. Work with what you’ve got.
A common mistake I see people make when jumping into the full-time entrepreneurial gig is that they think they need all this stuff. Offices. Cars. Assistants. Office Masseuses. OK now I’m just dreaming.
At the end of the day, cash is king (or erm Queen, thank you very much, or maybe a Gender Neutral Ruler of your Dominion). Anyway. The buck really does stop with you.
Be savvy with your start-up budget while you test your product, and work out your reinvestment strategy. Having a good accountant can also help you minimise tax outlays, and manage your cash flow.
The good things I did included using free platforms like MailChimp or or Canva for creating graphics etc. As my MacBook Pro was already old by tech standards (probably in Apple life span it was like 99 waiting for a letter from the Queen), I made the focus of my business being all about the cloud so that if anything did have a #computersaysno moment, my data and systems would be fine.
My favourite start up systems when I went from side hustle?
Google for biz at a whopping $5/month. I used this to create all my proposals, my PowerPoint slides for workshops (both face to face and online), manage my budgets – the whole shebang.
MailChimp Free for up to 2000 subscribers to send newsletters (which I was rather crap at if I’m being honest).
PCanva (contains plenty of free graphics) for creating social media posts, and also when I got fancy for workshop slides.
Xero (from $25/month) to handle all my invoicing and finances. I still love Xero.
That was it. Aside from my website, that was my whole business system. Years later, I’ve added in a social media scheduler plus a few other apps and changed my email marketing provider, but my core essentials for running my business are the same.
I did not have any signage, a fancy office (I worked from my kitchen table), a printer or even an office phone number.
To recap on going from side hustle, here’s my final words of wisdom..
Set yourself simple and achievable goals that are based on hitting your “survival” income budget needs first, and grow from there.
Business is incredibly rewarding. It’s also incredibly hard and not all sunshine and lollipops. Self doubt can really screw you over, so get a good community and support team around you.
Just keep the forward momentum and be super smart with your time, your ideal customer, and your money.
PS: I’d love to know how you started your entrepreneurial journey, and what you think about these strategies. Drop me a comment below. If you feel it might help someone you know who is trying to go from side hustle to full time entrepreneur, feel free to share.