Feel like your business is squeezing the life out of you? Sick of worrying about money every week while you figure this self-employment gig out? Do you secretly want to find a part-time job to support your business but think that means you’re giving up, not hustling hard enough or being weak?
Finding a part-time job is not a failure!
A few of my Profit Lovers have been hesitant to admit that they have secured employee side gigs to ease the financial pressure on their businesses. No doubt many women in business assume I would say that it’s a terrible, horrible idea and you should just work harder instead. But I think it is the perfect solution, and not just because of the cashola situation! It can get you out of your office and remind you as to why your business is so important to you anyway! I am going to share some tips on how to make a side gig work with your business, but before we start here is something you might not know about me…
I had a side gig and I am NOT embarrassed to admit it!
I feel really proud of the sacrifices I made to get my business to where it is today. A betcha-didn’t-know-this fact about me is that I love photography. I am good but not great. I am a hobbyist at best but good enough to change a few hundred dollars for family photo shoots. I used that skill to put food in my belly and keep a roof over my head while my business was gaining momentum. Now, this wasn’t an employee position as I was running my own show but it was still a side gig. I learned a lot about marketing and business during that side gig too!
*I would recommend that if you do need a side gig you find a part-time job, it was definitely challenging juggling a full-time business and a side business. Let someone else worry about the marketing and paying your wage.
I scrubbed toilets at night
Taking family photos on sunny weekends is hardly a chore and it paid ok (its the photo editing stuff that is the killer of profit!), it wasn’t hard work. What was hard work and I mean really hard work was the other side gig I had. I scrubbed toilets. I scrubbed strangers toilets. My bestie had a baby at home and a husband who had been retrenched. She was on the hustle too (and let me tell you, no one knows how to keep their family afloat like my bestie). She found us bond cleaning work for a local real estate agent and so at nights we scrubbed toilets. We scrubbed toilets and showers and ovens and window tracks of tenants that were so filthy the real estate agent had to call in cleaners.
“I never wanted to be like this…”
There are so many upsides to having that piece of mind that money is coming in from your side gig so you don’t need to lie awake at night sweating from the stress of wondering where your next dollar is coming from. But I gained so much more than just an income. I gained a new sense of focus and commitment to my business. My side gigs fueled my passion to make my business work. One night, standing in front of a heavily mirrored lift door on the 12th floor of a fancy apartment building holding buckets and mops I heard my best friend say in a defeated voice “I never wanted to be like this”. I looked up and saw us standing there. We were both tired and filthy. I knew exactly what she meant. It had nothing to do with our cleaning jobs, we weren’t embarrassed at all, it wasn’t about our appearance, we didn’t really care. It was that we had struggled hard to put ourselves through university (where we met), we had struggled hard not to follow in our parent’s footsteps. Both of us grew up in trying circumstances with little to no money and mums who made huge sacrifices. We wanted better for ourselves and she wanted better for her kids.
Use your side gig wisely
If you use your side gig in the right way it can be the biggest asset you have to fund the growth and success of your business. Standing in that hallway I knew instantly that I was going to be a successful business coach. My commitment had been renewed and I had focus and momentum that got stronger with every toilet and tile I scrubbed. If you’re smart about your time and how you use your money a part-time job could be the difference between giving up or a six-figure + gold mine.
My photography is now a hobby I love, not something I "have to" do to make ends meet
My tips on how to use a part-time job to grow your business
Tip One – Use your time for the stuff that matters
You’re going to have less time to work on your business but that doesn’t mean you won’t have “enough” time. It is Parkinsons’s law; “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. When you don’t have a lot of time you’re less likely to pfaff about on Facebook, recipe hunt on Pinterest or hold lengthy email conversations that could have been a two-minute phone call. Use your time wisely and focus on only the tasks that generate sales like building your sales and marketing funnels, tracking your numbers, building your database and automating processes. Diarise set working hours each week and stick to it! You wouldn’t just not show up to your paid job so treat your business with the same respect.
Tip Two – Set boundaries
You “may” have some people around you that see your part-time job as a sign that you have dumped your business. We would all hope that your friends, family, and partner get the point of your side gig and do what they can to support you but that might not be your reality. Don’t allow anyone to disrespect your time boundaries, financial boundaries or to speak about your business failure. You haven’t failed, you’re being creative and your more committed than ever.
Tip Three – Don’t become an “employee of the year” at your part-time gig
As with family and friends you need to set some boundaries around your part-time gig. Something I learned a long time ago is that it takes a special someone to be self-employed. Those special someones make awesome employees because they’re often extremely hard working and can juggle multiple roles at once. Us business ladies know how to get sh** done and that can be our biggest downfall as an employee. It is so easy to become the Ms-Fixit in your new side gig. Don’t do that! You will end up focusing on the growth of someone else’s business instead of yours. Your side gig serves a very specific purpose and you need to keep the reigns held tightly or you will spend your days making someone else’s dream come true.
Tip Four – Watch your coins
If you took a side gig to relieve financial pressure (like I did) make sure you’re sticking to a budget still. I had a very tight budget in my first year and it was tough as I had never needed to worry before. Once I had my side gig it would have been easy to return to my old spending habits, putting me right back in the place I was before I started my business. Instead, I stuck to the budget and used every spare dollar to grow my business. I watched not only my extra money from the part-time jobs but also every business dollar. There is an English saying “watch pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”. It is so true! Spend every dollar wisely, you’re investing in your future success and security, not just making money for tomorrow.
Tip Five – Don’t let your dream die
Finding the energy and persistence to push through the day when I had been elbows deep in bleach and filth until midnight the night before wasn’t easy. Getting my business to the point of profitable would have taken two maybe three, or even four times as long if I hadn’t dragged my butt out of bed for 7.00am networking breakfasts. This is a short-term pain (and honestly, not that painful) for long-term huge gain.
Know exactly what your dreams is, set up your personal and business budgets, figure out when you can pay yourself from your business and go for it! Don’t get complacent or lazy when it comes to your business. Your part-time gig should be motivating you, not distracting you.
A final word on soft porn, side gigs, and my tipping point…
I knew it was time to give up the side gig when a lovely couple asked me to take some photos of them. We went to a secluded beach where the male showed me all the poses they wanted to have captured. I do very non-posey photos so this was not my style at all. Most of the shots were basically soft porn. That was my tipping point. I knew it was time to retire the camera, hang up my toilet brush and return to my business full time. I am so glad I had those side gigs and so glad I worked on my business so I could end them.