The Art of the Side Hustle - the happy solopreneur

Side hustling is a thing I know a thing or two about.

Although I had always managed to take some freelance projects while I worked full-time, 2011 was the year I got serious about my business. For me, that meant not only was I passionate about what I was doing, I had developed a level of expertise and I’d begun to seriously think about what it would take to leave my full-time job. From that point, it took about six years of side-hustling before I was able to rely on my business for the majority of my income.

I could you tales of taking client calls at lunch from the parking lot of my job or coming home and immediately starting on freelance work. I could explain the shuffle of helping my kids with homework, cooking dinner and checking email messages from clients all at the same time. If you have been there, you probably already understand how difficult it can be to balance a side business along with full-time parenting, work or school. Finding the time and energy to devote to a business in addition to your full-time gig can be exhausting. I had many (many) years where I was both committed to growing my business but also working 40 hours. Sometimes I balanced it all with grace, but often things got a bit messy. Over the years, I gained experience that helped me balance side work and full-time employment without losing my mind. I don’t know everything, but there are a few things that I have learned along the way.

It doesn’t have to be crazy
If there is one thing that I wish someone had told me in the early days, it’s that it is fine to work really hard, but don’t overdo it. You will burn yourself out and hate what you are doing, and no one wants that. I learned this unfortunately the hard way (read my bio here). The biggest lesson I learned is that feeling like you have to overwork to be successful  is a (bad) mind state. That doesn’t mean there won’t be days when you have to work late or make sacrifices, it just means you can’t do it all the time. If your plan isn’t sustainable, you will eventually burn yourself out and that’s terrible for your health and well-being. So let the mindset that overwork will translate into success go as soon as possible.

Get crystal clear
Having a crystal clear vision for your business is essential. Creating a business plan can be an extremely helpful way to pinpoint exactly what you are doing and how to do it. Download a copy of the free business planner on this site, and be sure to check out The Happy Solopreneur’s three part series for newbies. If you are like me and have several things you are passionate about, you may have to pick one for now to pursue wholeheartedly.

Don’t put off making money
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you may be surprised at how many new entrepreneurs think they have to do a bunch of elaborate things before actually getting to the money-making part. That’s just not true. Prioritize anything that is essential to getting your first client or selling your first thing.  It will give you experience, a sense of accomplishment and motivation for what comes next.

Manage your time
Be realistic about your time and commitments. Figure out a doable number of hours you think you can work in a given week or month. Most people find that even with the busiest of schedules, it’s possible to find a few hours each week to devote to developing your business. It may be your lunch break, first thing in the morning or an hour or two in the evenings. You may not be able to work every day, but may find you can devote several hours on Sunday or Saturday to your business.

Keep it mobile
If you are working a full-time job, keep as much of your business as mobile as possible. Invest in a sturdy laptop and use project management tools that you can access from any computer so you are always ready to work when you have some down time.

Best bets:
I love tools like Google Drive, Evernote and Basecamp.

Organization and streamlinization is everything
Yes, I just made up a word. But it’s critical that you figure out ways to save time and resources and streamline any repetitive tasks. Stay organized by keeping a running list of to-do’s you can work on when you have a spare moment. I like to go old school on this and keep a pen or a pad. You can also purchase a terrific daily planner (this one from The Alisha Nicole is super cute) or use other online tools like the mobile tools mentioned above.

Learn to delegate early and often
Build a team of partners, hire freelancers or a virtual assistant to help with day-to-day tasks. It’s an investment, but worth it.
Best bets: Fiverr.com and Upwork.com are great places to hire affordable help.

Get it in while you have a J-O-B
While your day job may not be your ultimate job, you can certainly take advantage of the comfort full-time employment brings. For some that may mean stacking away some money. For others, that may mean getting things set up like your business structure. You can also test the waters and learn how to run your business while you are employed, minimizing your risk later on down the line.

How do you manage a full time job and side hustle? Leave your tips in the comments.