Here communications specialist and founder of The Women’s Vault, Olivia Bath shares the joys and challenges she's experienced since starting a side hustle alongside her corporate career.
Starting a side hustle is both daunting and exciting – and the opportunities are endless. You could fulfill a personal passion like cooking or life coaching, earn extra income, or try out a new career path before making a permanent leap.
If you’re a positive, proactive entrepreneur it can be hard to see the risks.
And like any small business owner, you need determination, tenacity, and resourcefulness. You also need to have some business skills, from understanding set-up costs to being clear on your ideal customer.
I started my side hustle business 18 months ago, in the middle of the pandemic. I had an idea and a business plan, but with very limited knowledge on how to execute it. Fast forward to today and I’m proud of how far my business has come, but here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Running a side hustle is a huge undertaking. It requires mental, physical, and emotional energy. You’ll often feel split in two – you want to work on your side hustle but you’ll have the daily demands of your corporate gig or other business.
It’s important to realise, you can’t do it all.
It can be hard to switch off, but you need to take frequent breaks. Creating boundaries like not checking emails will allow you to recharge and return with new ideas, insight, and increased productivity.
You’ll have a constant, ever-expanding to-do list and your days will never feel long enough. Learn to prioritise the important things that’ll shift the dial, especially anything that will contribute revenue to your business.
If it doesn’t have an impact on your clients, marketing, or revenue then it needs to fall lower down your list.
Make sure you know your numbers so that you can predict activity and know when to pull any levers to make up revenue.
Every week I take time to review my profit, loss and revenue drivers. Still being a relatively new business, quite a lot of my months are either feast or famine. Tracking my numbers helps me see what products and services are profitable, what’s scalable, and when I need to create more revenue ahead of a quiet month.
For me, these quieter months are August and December. For other businesses, December is their busiest month. Knowing this rhythm helps with preparing marketing campaigns that align with my peaks and troughs.
I wish I’d spent more time researching payment platforms when I started out as some of the fees of well-known brands are extremely high. This can really eat into your profit margin, so it’s important to get the best deal.
It’s a balance between using payment platforms that your customers will trust and paying low fees.
Some days are going to be tough, and you’ll need to know how to compartmentalise and be resilient.
You’ll need to be prepared to pivot, adapt, and listen closely to customer feedback (even when it’s brutal). Working with a coach or listening to podcasts can be helpful for boosting your focus and determination. My favourites are Dean Graziosi, Mums with Hustle and GoalDigger.
You’ll probably have an endless stream of ideas, from new products and services to test, through to blog post topics (to boost your SEO and engage customers who aren’t quite yet ready to buy) to social media posts.
Some of your best ideas will come in the middle of the night or while you’re exercising. Keep a journal, use Trello, or add iPhone notes to keep track of your ideas.
I have a stack of notebooks with courses I’d like to create, Masterclasses to run, potential partnerships, and topics that are important to my customer base.
It goes without saying that you’ll need to be organised and efficient. You’ll need to have good systems for storing client information, somewhere to house your stock so you can get to it easily and quickly, and you won’t have time to procrastinate.
You’ll become fascinated with your potential customers, talk to your family and friends non-stop about it, and intimately know every success and failure of the past year.
You’ll become so emotionally connected to it. Being part of a community of like-minded people can help channel this energy, especially when you need to talk through your challenges.
Hiring support means that you can work on your business, not just in it. There may be times when you need to focus more on your ‘day job’, or you may have a significant client or project.
If that’s the case, you could consider hiring support for your marketing campaigns, social media, or SEO to make sure your business is top of mind for customers. Working in your business is just as important as working on it – and there will be times when you need to flex between both.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned is that you have to set your own deadlines and stick to them in order to get your products and services out to market. Work hard to meet these deadlines and you’ll be so pleased with what you create and as a result.
Starting a side hustle is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things that you can do, whether that’s selling cupcakes on the weekends, providing evening consulting services, or making jewellery for social-media savvy generation Zs.
What’s more, no matter how successful it is or how long you run it for, you’ll create a legacy by giving it a go and fulfilling an ambition or passion.
Olivia Bath is the founder of The Women’s Vault and an award-winning communications specialist and contributor. The Women’s Vault helps to create more women in leadership, plus employee wellbeing and return to work programmes in partnership with businesses. She’s been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, and Global Banking & Finance Review.
Have you got any tips about starting a side hustle? Let us know in the comments.
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