How I built a 5-figure side hustle alongside my job in 6 months
Updated: Oct 5
If someone had told me in May 2020 that in 6 months time I'd have a bonafide business that was so successful that I'd be turning clients away, I'd never have believed them. But that's exactly what happened.
Having just gone back to work full time after a time off due to stress, you'd be forgiven for thinking that starting a side hustle may not have been the best of ideas. But you'd be wrong. You see the hustle I started was a beautiful accident, born out of a passion that grew during said time off. And it not only helped me recover, it also totally transformed my life, giving me purpose, structure and a vision to work towards.
The rise of the side hustle
Whether it’s to earn a bit of extra cash, keep up a hobby, or pursue a passion, side hustles are becoming more and more common for people in full-time employment. In fact its estimated that 1 in 4 Brits now have one, which when you think about the year we've just had is perhaps hardly surprising. Recent research by Superscript found that three in ten side hustles were started during the first lockdown.
When speaking to clients and potential clients, I hear the same. An acknowledgement deep down inside that they've got more to give the world than in the job they currently have. This doesn't necessarily mean they dislike their job - in fact quite the opposite - many are happy enough, but feel slightly unfulfilled - like there's something missing personally. That's certainly what it was like for me.
Here's how I built my side hustle
1. Got clear about what I wanted to achieve and why
Once I got into the groove of studying I was super productive and motivated, but as soon as I qualified, I seemed to lose all motivation. I struggled with procrastination, constantly putting starting the business off 'until tomorrow'. So I reflected on what was going on and realised that the goal I'd set for myself just wasnt exciting enough for me. Turns out 'Start a coaching business', just wasn't cutting the mustard, so I went back to the drawing board and really thought about my 'WHY'. I then remembered all the reasons I'd wanted to qualify as a coach in the first place, ie to help people who were going through the same thing I did . I also asked myself 'What is starting a coaching business going to give me?'. Answer: 'Purpose, passion and fulfilment'. The second I wrote those things down and tweaked my goal to 'Start a coaching business so I can help people find their mojo, just like I did', my motivation sky-rocketed. It's when you really tap into your 'Why', that goal setting is powerful shit.
2. Hired a coach
Once I got clear on the above, I knew I was going to need some help to get me there. I knew I should probably invest in my own coach (after all, its walking the walk, right?), but I resisted mainly due to cost. I told myself stories about not being able to afford it and thought 'It can't be that hard - I'm sure I can work that shit out for myself!' Turns out I couldn't. I once again got really stuck and overwhelmed and didnt know where to start. So I went back to the drawing board, reviewed my my finances & asked 'How can I find the money', instead of telling myself I couldn't. And when I finally decided to take the plunge, holy shit did things change! In the 4 months I've been working with my coach, the following amazing things have happened (all while having a full time job and being pregnant):
I started a business & got so busy I'm having to turn clients away
I found & honed my niche - helping women find the career & business of their dreams
I got over my fear of visibility, got back on social media & tripled my following
I found the courage to share the story of my burnout transformation
I collaborated with a client & launched a coaching programme that sold out in 3 days
I made back my investment in coaching & the same again
3. Created time for it
Notice how I didnt say 'Made time for it'. One of the biggest concerns I hear from people around their side hustle is lack of time. Their lives are already busy enough with a full time job and dealing with the inevitable stresses of life that 2020 has put on us. But I managed to create time to work on the business outside of work hours. Before work (see my article on the amazing benefits of getting up earlier), lunchbreaks, after work and weekends. Even if you just picked one 1-hour slot during one of those times every day, that's an additional 7 hours you've found already. Given that the average side hustler works an additional 6-15 hours per week on top of their job, you may need to eventually find a little more than that, but you get the gist. Start small, make good habits and build on them.
4. Was completely open and honest with my employer
The 'Do I tell work?' dilemma is something my clients talk about a lot and I get it. I certainly had a lot of fear about talking to my boss initially and its something I spent a long time working through with my coach as I realised it was really holding me back. I felt like I was living a double life, like I had this dirty secret and I didn't want to post anything on social media for fear of being 'found out'. But we delved into the beliefs I had about it and I realised that all the fears I had were just projections and I actually had just as much chance of the conversation being positive as negative. And it turns out I had nothing to worry about. Once I told my boss what I was doing, how much it fulfilled me, that it wouldn't impact my work for him, that in fact there were a number of ways it could actually benefit the company, he was 100% supportive. And I felt free, like a weight had been lifted. I can't reccomend talking to your employer enough (obviously check your employment contract first).
5. Structured and planned my time
Number 3 will only really work if you can work out when you can find the extra time and I cannot tell you how much my life changed when I got a physical planner to structure and plan my time. Every Sunday, I look at my work diary, schedule in my lunchbreaks and also schedule in 'side hustle time' around the beginning and ends of my work days. I'll also check what's happening at the weekends and schedule in time there too, remembering to make time for self care and social life. There are tons of 'paper planners' (I use Best Self), but if you prefer to do everything on line, Asana is also really good.
6. Got visible
Once I'd talked to my boss, I finally felt able to get visible on social media. I can still remember now the panic I felt as I hit 'publish' on my first LinkedIn post (it was actually on a call with my coach - thank you Adam!), but I leant into the fear and did it anyway and the reaction was brilliant. Slowly but surely, I started telling my story more often and built up the confidence to post regularly on other channels as well.
7. Networked my ass off & developed a 'Friends & Family offer'
I also utilised LinkedIn and Instagram to contact friends, family and ex-colleagues to offer complimentary coaching sessions. My coach helped me see that this would help build my confidence (the best way to build it is to practice!) and get referrals and recommendations for LinkedIn and testimonials for my website. And it worked. Within a couple of months I landed my first paying client through a friend and the rest, as they say is history.
8. Surrounded myself with likeminded people
Building a side hustle is hard bloody work. So I found it super helpful to have a group of people going through the same thing to talk to about it and bounce ideas off. Whether its someone you know, or you find relative strangers in a coaching group or Facebook group, get out there and find your tribe. They'll cheer for you when you're doing well and lift you up and motivate you on the harder days. Its also really great to be able to get inspired by people who are a few steps ahead of you and be able to help people who are a few steps behind.
9. Worked on my imposter syndrome
I've deliberately saved arguably the most important one for last. Imposter syndrome is unfortunately part and parcel of entrepreneur life. It basically comes with the 'job' because the 'job' requires you to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone and try things you've never done before. But the good news is, there are ways to work on it. I know all the above may make it seem like I've totally got my shit together and know what I'm doing, but news flash - I really don't! There are still days when I wake up going 'Who the hell am I to be putting XYZ message out there?' but I'm a work in progress every damn day and I've found 4 sure fire ways to tackle these thoughts that hold us back.
The moral of this story is that anything IS possible. You can hold down a full time job and build a successful business on the side. You just have to want it enough. So I implore you to start taking messy, imperfect action. Do one thing this week that will help you towards your dreams. They're out there for the taking - all you need to do is start moving.
If you're looking for someone to help you get moving towards your side hustle and career change dreams quicker, keep you accountable and give you a gentle 'push (ok ass-kick) , then book in a free discovery call with me to see if we vibe!
Business Coach and Side Hustle Queen
Hi, I'm Lauren. I burnt out, hit rock bottom and used the experience to manifest my dream life. I now help badass women start their dream service business on the side of their 9-5. I'm living proof that you can - and deserve to - have it all.