I’ve spoken a lot about side hustles and owning a small business lately. Coming up on 5 years of being in business, I’ve made many mistakes and I love the thought of helping other female entrepreneurs avoid those same pitfalls. The adjustments I made to my business this year more than doubled my income from last season and I wish I would have made these changes sooner!
To help you get a smoother start your hustle than I had, I picked the brain of local entrepreneur and co-owner of alder|creative, Britta Jackson. I asked her what advice she would give to someone wanting to start a business and she made the following excellent points:
Evaluate where you are and start by asking questions. If you already have a job, is your boss ok with you starting a side hustle? Do you have the time you need to turn your dream into a reality? “Starting with something home based is a great place to begin,” says Britta. “My first side hustle was Queen B Quilts and I would sew on evenings and weekends. I didn’t feel burnt out because I would sew while watching Netflix. My business was all online and I tried super hard not to overload myself with projects.”
Be honest what you want and with yourself and your tendencies, otherwise you will overload yourself and burn out quickly. Putting your job in jeopardy, losing too much investment, or getting discouraged are all pitfalls you can easily flail into. “When Eric (my husband) and I first started alder|creative, we didn’t make any money for the first year. It started as a side hustle and eventually turned into our main source of income.”
Make sure you match your goals to how much income you need to earn in order to make your business succeed. Is the goal to do this hustle part time? Full time? As a hobby? Make sure you are putting the correct value on your time and product, especially if your goal is to make it a full time gig. Calculate your time, cost of materials, effort and skill involved, and make sure you are charging accordingly. If you undercut your pricing, you will be broke and burnt out and no one will be happy. “Your personal goals, skills, financial investment, and chosen market all need to line up to a place where you can be profitable,” says Britta. “No matter what, it should be something you want to do, something people want to buy, and should make you money. Having a hobby for yourself is very different than setting out to start a profitable business.”
Have a vision for scaling up when you and the business are ready. “What happens if you are successful?” asks Britta. “Are you ready to quit your dayjob and go full time with your hustle? Once you are out of the development stages you need to be ready to scale up your business.”
Break it into steps. “I’ve recently been following the 5/25 rule,” says Britta. “I write down 25 goals for my career and finances in order from first priority to least. And then I focus on only those first 5 goals. Only when I accomplish a goal do I start to work my way down the list. It’s difficult because it means deliberately ignoring the other dreams or goals that you have until you’ve started checking things off your list. For me, this meant setting aside one of my side hustles, Harb Wa. for a time until I could complete other, more immediate, goals.”
Britta recommends breaking these goals down into steps as small as obtaining a business license or finding funding. Then when that’s accomplished, you can focus on the next goal that will help propel your business forward. “If you set up these goals for yourself and realize your side hustle didn’t make it to your top five priorities, that’s a good indication you aren’t ready to strike out just yet. It’s better to not rush into something you’re not ready for.”
Britta’s final advice includes measuring the cost for your startup because almost any startup requires some kind of startup cash, whether that’s a computer, website subscription, or otherwise. “Starting a business is definitely easier when you are in a place where you can invest your own finances,” asserts Britta. If you’re short on cash, lucky for you there are unlimited free resources out there to DIY many things until you’re ready to hire out. “Whatever you do, you need an online presence. Figure out which social media platform will best suit your audience or customer base and start building your following and an email base from there. Build an email base as soon and as quick as you can as sending out a newsletter is a super valuable tool!”
“Ultimately,” says Britta, “having a side hustle is exhausting. I’ve had 3-4 jobs at a time and what I will say is if you are going to overwork yourself, make sure it’s temporary. And then hire out and delegate as you can afford it.”
Building your dreams sounds far more glamorous than it actually is. It is late nights, struggling with computer software, learning to use programs and equipment, networking even if you’re an introvert, and making plenty of mistakes. But if you’re ready for it, owning your own business is one of the most rewarding experiences out there. Go chase your dreams, hustler!
Need help? Check out alder|creative online to see if this local business may help you get where you need to go.