Written by Kesha Brown
Let’s talk about that side hustle we all work at until we finally decide it’s time to tell our full-time job GOOD-BYE—-and I know you can’t wait for that day. You are not the only one. Half of America’s workforce has a side hustle, according to www.cnn.com, and 50% of this group wants to turn their side hustle into a full-time business. I decided to write about this topic after I conducted a live poll on my Instagram page, @brownresumes, last Sunday. This was a topic of interest. I then hosted an IG live and it was well received by my audience. I share the tips here for the folks who missed it. See how much I care?
Let me tell you something: Balancing a side hustle along with full-time job requires a level of efficiency that some folks have yet to master, especially with having a family in some cases. After all, we only have 24 hours a day: “How is it possible,” you maybe asking, “to juggle everything and still get rest, exercise, and find time for yourself?”
Well, look no further. After venturing into many side hustles for the last 18+ years, I have learned a thing or two and would like to share them with you. I started my entrepreneurial journey at the age of 19, and, yes, I had a full-time job at that time. I was a medical biller for a large ambulance company, while working as a part-time resume writer on the side.
Like many folks starting a business on the side, I had no plan, no structure, and no schedule for my projects. I only worked when worked called. I functioned like that for a very long time, and that same pattern trickled into my other ventures. It was not until my daughter got older and needed more attention from me that I realized I needed to fix this dysfunction. My parents also needed more of my attention, and I needed to figure out how to support them, myself, and find time for my business. I was drowning mentally, physically, emotionally, and had several breakdowns because of it.
In 2017, I became obsessed with the notion of finding ways to save time in my business. I started to read books, watched videos from super successful entrepreneurs, and little by little started to adopt their practices in my life and business. Today, I balance everything and find time for the most important people in my life, including myself, while fulfilling my God-given purpose.
Let’s get into the 8 ways that will help you manage your side hustle while working a full-time job:
- Start with identifying your goal
Have you thought through what your goal is? Do you want to keep your side hustle on the side or do you want to turn it into a full-time business? You have to be clear on that, or the hours you work on the side will not make sense and will not give you the desired results. If you want it to stay on the side, I would suggest committing to working two to three hours daily and maybe one or two weekends a month. If you want to turn it into a full-fledged business, you will have to work four to five hours daily and every weekend. The big goals you set for yourself come with a lot of sacrifice, and you have to mentally prepare for these life-changing activities before jumping all the way in.
- Create a schedule and commit to it
To be successful in your business, you must have some structure, which will give you the proper guidelines to follow and create a habit for success. I highly recommend picking a schedule to work on your side hustle and sticking with it. For years, I operated my business on the side and worked from 8 or 9 p.m. to 1 or 2 a.m., and sometimes I pulled all-nighters because I was overwhelmed with projects. I did this because my end goal was to eventfully to turn my side hustle into a full-time venture. You may want to work the same hours if you work a 9-5. This will allow you to have a balance between your professional and personal daily activities.
- If you want to experience real results, you have to be consistent
Listen: as I am speaking to you on this, I am still struggling myself. You know why? There are so many things we juggle everyday, and it is really hard to find time for everything. Sometimes you’re tired, you really don’t feel like doing something, and it is okay to feel that way, but you must push yourself. I push myself everyday. Commit to being consistent, and hold yourself accountable. Consistency means consistently marketing your business on social media. It shows people that you take your business serious. Try scheduling posts or do what I did last year. I reached a breaking point and really needed to take my efficiency to the next level, so I took two months off from social media to redesign my website and create a blog. I also realized that posting at the spur of the moment everyday was not effective and wasted a lot of time, so I eventually I came up with the next best thing. I wrote everyday until I had five months’ worth of social media posts. This literally saved me so much time because all I had to do in Instagram was create (drafts another way to save time), copy and paste every day, which took me less than a minute per post. Since I had my content pre-populated, I also created my graphics ahead of time. I was happy because I was finally efficient and had learned how to really optimize my time. This change allowed me to consistently post once a day, which is super important to me because consistent posts help to build trust with my audience that I am an expert in my field. This also allows me to develop relationships, which turn into new business down the line. I get 50% of my business leads from Instagram and LinkedIn, so being consistent with this audience is very important to my business. The leads are direct results of my consistent posts that my audience consumes.
- Explore Human Resources policies at work to see if there are telecommute policies in place
Dear side hustler: I am all for not abusing company policies, but in all situations, you must use your discretion. You are the one that will have to face the consequences of your choices, not me. Check out your employee handbook, ask your supervisor, or simply contact your HR department and start researching if they have telecommute policies available. Telecommute policies are policies that will allow you to work from home. The rule of the thumb is that if you make this request you must ask for your slowest day off. For example, if you are overwhelmed with work Monday to Thursday, that means Friday is slow. You should request Friday off. Your boss will also be more lenient to grant that day off because it’s a slow day. Even if you don’t have a formal policy in place, you can still ask your employer. They may grant you this flexibility. It all depends on how you present your performance track record, which will factor in to their decision-making process. You can say to your boss, “I think I have been performing at peak level for the last year or two, and I would like to be provided the flexibility to work from home.” Your boss just might say yes, and you have me to thank for that. Finally, you can spend more time on your business!
- Plan your weekly activities by using a planner
I was all over the place in my business, and I couldn’t keep track of anything. However, purchasing a planner allowed me to see the progress in my business by keeping track of my weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals, in addition to my daily to-do lists. How can I possibly keep track of outstanding projects without a planner? Set goals and put them in your planner so you can track your progress. This will keep you consistent and on track. Some planners are as cheap as a $1. You have no excuse. Purchase a planner today.
- Consistently look for ways to free up time in your business by adapting automation
This is by far my favorite because adapting automatic processes in my business really allowed me to save so much time. Think about all the repetitive things you do everyday in your business, like answering the same questions. Why not create FAQs for clients? Or responding to inquiries. Why not create scripts you can copy and paste for each inquiry? Audit your process for potential optimization. Write down all the things you are doing every day, and figure out how you can remove yourself from each task.
Automation will allow you to spend more time working ON your business vs. working IN your business. Working ON your business will allow you to do more profit-generating activities, which will help your business grow. Examples of automation you can incorporate in your business today:
a. I have scripts for every phase of my customer journey with me. That means if a customer inquires about my services, I quickly copy and paste a script, change the name, and send it on its way. Before, I would literally think out a response for each inquiry, which wasted so much time and made me inefficient because I would sometimes forget to mention important things such as other services I offer. Here are the different customer’ phases in business:
b. Maybe you want to create an automatic email that includes important information like FAQs, and links to forms, links to procedures so that you do not spend hours a day responding to emails. You can turn the automatic email on while you are at work during 9 to 5 and/or overnight during your off hours so at least your new customers can get a response that will help them to the next step in your business.
c. You may want to recruit a CRM/email management company such as Mail Chimp and/or Constant Contact to handle all your marketing so that you are not stuck creating and sending blast emails and/or newsletters to your audience.
d. Utilize your website to include a lot of self-help tools, such as forms and FAQs, to eliminate you from day-to-day. How nice it is to refer your customer to the FAQs section on your website so that you don’t waste 10 minutes to an hour answering questions.
e. Try to incorporate an e-commerce option on your website so that customers can directly purchase products and/or services there instead of you generating an invoice for everything.
f. Lastly, focus on your core, and automate everything else. The core is your money-makers. Focus on those.
7. Outsource your services and/or operational needs
Consider hiring an accountant instead of wasting hours at a time getting your books in order. You may want to outsource services. For example, I am a resume writer and may consider in the future subcontracting other resume writers so that I can free up my time while increasing the turnaround time and efficiency for my clients. I know, if you are like me, you are thinking, “How will I have control of the quality of my service? “Well, you can make sure that you are still a part of the process by approving all the work before it goes to your client. All the tasks that will take you hours at a time to figure out means you are not skilled in that area and should definitely recruit someone to save you time.
- Please find time for self-care
Don’t burn yourself out. I take naps throughout the day, which gives me energy boosters, and I also have quiet time where I tune everything out for 15 to 25 minutes. If you are burned out, your side hustle will not survive and we don’t want that.
So, my fellow side hustler, let’s put these tips to work. If you experience results from these tips, please be so kind as to share feedback. I’d love to see how things are going in your business. Until next time.