How I’m Scaling My Side Gig Into a Full-Time Business
Do you have a side gig? According to a 2017 survey from Bankrate your best friend, little brother and grandmother all do:
- More than 44 million Americans have a side hustle.
- 96 percent of young millennials (ages 18 to 26) have a side hustle they do at least once a month.
- Young baby boomers (ages 53 to 62) pull in at least 1,000 monthly from their side gig.
As this becomes more popular among all generations, people are feeling empowered to take the work they love doing to the next level, turning what was once a side gig into a full-time business. Not to mention, with the Internet, it’s easy to do with little to no overhead or startup costs.
I’m one of those people. While certain circumstances have made this shift in my work somewhat organic, there are many factors helping me earn the income needed to make my side hustle my only source of income—and I’m sharing that with you so one day you can be your own boss too.
I Have Minimal Expenses
One of the greatest factors in being able to scale my side gig into a business is lack of an overhead or startup costs. I work from home, in an office that’s already set-up, with equipment I already had. My only costs are currently the help I’m getting (more about that below), along with the usual self-employed expenses, like Internet and my various subscription services.
This means I can rely on my own desire to start the business, rather than pitching angel investors or waiting on a loan from someone else. If you’ve invented a product, for example, the transition will likely be much harder.
If your side gig isn’t so flexible, but you want to be your own boss, check out this extensive list of side hustle ideas you can do from home; with 105 included and explained, you’ll definitely find a inspiration and ideas. There may be a way to modify what you’re doing now into a side hustle that can fund the complete idea.
I’m Saying “No” More Often
One seemingly small detail that ties you up when trying to grow your side hustle is saying “yes” to everything that comes through your inbox. It’s hard to say no to money—especially if the bulk of your income comes from freelance or you have lofty savings goals. However, when you’re too busy working on underpaying projects to say yes to the big ones, you start missing out on opportunities that could take you to the next level.
When I talked about on this in a Lifehack article I wrote, I suggested two specific tips for managing the “yes” syndrome we freelancers tend to get:
Know your worth: Choose a fee, or set up a tiered fee structure, and stick to that. If someone doesn’t want to pay full price for your services, they aren’t the type of client you want. There are people who want to work with you, at your going rate, don’t discount yourself.
Take 24 hours to decide: If an opportunity comes in, don’t answer right away. Send an email that you received their information, ask any follow-up questions, and take at least 24 hours to decide if you want to take the gig. This helps mitigate that knee-jerk reaction to say “yes.”
After hitting send on an email that says, “Thanks so much for your offer, but I will have to decline…” take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I am open to receive whatever is next for me.” Now wait to see what comes next.
I’m Finding a Balance Between Busy and Restful
My side gig history has been a roller coaster—I’ve gone from so busy that I’m crying to taking a break from it all and saying goodbye to freelance altogether. It’s been like this since I started doing side gig work 10 years ago. Only recently have I been able to find a great balance between staying busy, enjoying downtime, and being okay with both ends of the spectrum. Here are three specific techniques I use to find that balance.
Instead of saying to myself or my husband, “Ugh, I have to write this article tonight,” I take a step back and challenge the thought. The process might sound like this in my head:
Why are you doing it if you don’t like it?
But I do like it.
Okay, so what’s the problem?
The Right Tools
I also use a variety of tools that keep me organized and allow me to most efficient with my time. Here are a few tools I use:
- Google Voice: I use it for my business number, which makes it easy to separate work from play when getting calls and messages.
- Hootsuite: As a social media manager, this allows me to do more in much less time. If you’re building a brand for yourself, this will save you a lot of time too—and the free version will likely be all you need.
- Google Keep: I use this every single day; I don’t like fancy to-do list apps, so this is perfect for me. If something isn’t on my to-do list, it won’t get done.
- Weekly, hand-written calendar: I need my to-dos to be right in front of me, so every Sunday I go through my schedule for the coming week and add anything and everything in my weekly desk calendar that sits right next to my laptop.
In an office, it’s easy to take a break—you go get coffee and spark up a conversation; someone comes to your desk and you have an impromptu brainstorming session on a completely different topic. These are all chances to take your focus off the current work, which leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to finish. I often use the Pomodoro Technique to manage this while working for myself.
Luckily, it’s easy for anyone to do: “You set a timer for 25 minutes and work without interruption on one task. After the 25 minutes is up, you take a break for 5 minutes to recharge your batteries,” explains remote working experts at The Office Club.
With a well-timed mindset shift, the right tools, and enough time to let my brain rest, everything got easier. Instead of going against the current, I am flowing with it. This allows me to take on more work to scale my business without getting overwhelmed. I don’t recommend filling your plate until it’s overflowing, but it is possible to take more work when you don’t look at it as such. And if you do, perhaps it’s time to find a side gig you enjoy.
I’m Using Help From Freelancers
Another way I maintain a balance when a lot of work is in the queue is to delegate some work to a freelancer. We just started working together and as I do my schedule for the week, I consider what I can and can’t take on. I then delegate as necessary. While this does cost money and will have tax implications eventually, I’m making more as a business owner, so I can afford an expense like this, which is both good for me and my business.
I’m Staying Open to All Opportunities
In August of 2017 I went through round two of an intense digestive treatment that was very challenging, mentally and physically. I wanted to make more of it, rather than having this time be solely focused on the medical protocol, so I started meditating—every single day for 75 days. It was life changing, for me personally and my business.
One thing I’ve learned over the past few months is that if we want something, we need to be open to it. If we’re not ready to receive it—we’re tied up in knots of stress, we’re anxious, we’re frustrated—it won’t come. When you keep your focus on being ready for the next big deal, it will arrive when you least expect it. I promise. I have found this to be true numerous times in the latter half of 2017 and will continue using it as a tool as I expand in 2018.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer, content marketing consultant and business owner. She’s been featured in Forbes and Business Insider and has written for Manta, LeadPages, Salesforce and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect LinkedIn.