If there’s one thing any creative professional knows, it’s that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Instead, it takes years of practicing, experimenting, trying, failing and trying again as you hone your craft, and that’s all before you even have the necessary chops to start your own business. Even once that happens, it takes years to build the reputation, clientele and experience required to quit your day job and pursue your creative venture full-time. So what’s the artistic hopeful to do in the meantime?
For most people, the answer is working multiple jobs. Creative professionals around the world spend their days in offices, boardrooms and business meetings, only to rush home to spend the evenings and weekends working their second job.
How can a creative professional find the time to do this and make their lives a little easier on themselves? That’s what we’re here to talk about today. We want to go over some tips for starting a business on the side, balancing two jobs and maintaining your passion even through the busiest seasons.
Keeping your work life, your side business life and your personal life all on track at once is no easy feat. There will be times you feel like you’re juggling too many balls at once, and you’re constantly in danger of dropping one, two or all of them. The biggest key to keeping this juggling act going smoothly? Organization, organization, organization. Let’s break this down.
1. Develop a Work System
Have you ever seen an assembly line at work? Products march down a conveyor belt at an even speed, passing through various machines that each methodically complete their step in the production process before passing the item on to the next phase. The process is the same every time, and the products that come out at the end are uniform and precise.
The assembly line is an excellent model to attempt to imitate with your business. By developing one specific, set way to complete a task every time, you save yourself the stress and extra work of figuring out a new way to do something each time.
For example, maybe you accept clients only through email, or exclusively through your website sign-up form. That helps you better keep track of who is in your pipeline, as opposed to a scenario where you have client requests coming through mail, email, social media, your website and friend referrals. By narrowing incoming requests to one portal, you help yourself stay on track.
Log clients as soon as they come in, keep track of where they are in their process, what the payment looks like, when money comes in and more. In this way, your business turns into a steady flow, where one thing leads into the next until your customer exists out the other side with their completed service or product.
2. Develop a Work Schedule
If you’re spending 40 hours at a day job, you don’t realistically have a lot of time to spend on your side hustle. To get all the work done on time, you’re going to need to practice efficiency, and the best way to achieve that is through creating a schedule and sticking to it.
Write down due dates, create paper systems and set goals for each day, week and month. Plan your work time so even before you sit down in the evenings to work, you already know what that night’s priorities are going to be. If you feel it’s helpful, you can schedule your time down to the exact minute. Or, if you need a bit more flexibility, at least keep close track of the things you want to get done on any particular day.
Without a schedule, it’s easy to spend minutes, hours or even days working on unimportant, low-priority tasks, only to look up and realize you’ve missed your deadline. Avoid this by creating a strict schedule and using it to keep you accountable.
3. Find Tools to Help
It’s no secret the world is moving at a breakneck pace, whether you’re working two jobs or not. Plenty of people realize this and have created tools to help you keep up. Things like physical day planners and calendars are probably the most traditional tools out there to help you today. Additionally, spreadsheet tools like Microsoft Excel can be an enormous asset. There are also plenty of apps to help you do things like schedule meetings, prioritize responsibilities, track goals and so much more, all in the name of staying organized.
What works for one person doesn’t always work for another, so feel free to experiment. Find an organizational tool or tools that fit seamlessly into your life and use them to help you stay organized.
Maintaining a Work-Life Balance
When working two jobs, it’s crucial to maximize your time, stay on track and get things done. However, we’re all only human, and we all have our limits. If you were to do nothing but work and sleep, you might have two successful careers, but you would probably be miserably unhappy, and eventually, your jobs would start to suffer as well. We all need time away from work to relax, recharge and spend time with the people we love.
How do you strike that crucial balance of work and rest?
1. Set Realistic Goals
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your business won’t be either. Remember, you’re creating an entire business from the ground up, sometimes all by yourself, and this takes time. If you’re constantly comparing yourself to other established brands, or impossible benchmarks, you’ll only make yourself unhappy.
Rather than setting yourself up for disappointment when you inevitably fall short of unrealistic standards, set reachable goals for yourself, and then celebrate when you meet them. Commit to writing these goals down, after taking time to think them through. If you exceed them, cheer for yourself and celebrate with your friends. If you meet them precisely, do the same. And if you happen to fall short, remind yourself it isn’t the end of the world, and there will be other months and years. One setback doesn’t make you a failure.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
When working the second job in your spare time, especially if that job forces you to work from home, it’s easy for that work to spill over into your private life and blur the boundaries between the two. Prevent this from happening with the following tips.
- Schedule your life: Your private time is just as important as your work time. When blocking out your weekend or evening, don’t be afraid to pencil in a block of time for reading, family, hiking or relaxing over Netflix and dessert. If you physically schedule it into your day, you’ll be less likely to skip it in favor of continuing to work.
- Setting boundaries in time and space: Designate one room of your house as the office. Make it a rule that your work stays in that room and that when you leave it, work is over. You might also set a time boundary, determining that after a specific time in the evening, you’ll stop working and switch into relaxation mode.
- Unplugging from work: When you’re having designated “me” time or family time, make it a rule that you don’t open work emails. If someone from work calls you during those hours, let it go to voicemail. Resist the urge to make yourself available 24/7, as this is unsustainable and will lead to burnout.
3. Schedule Your Work
There’s nothing worse than the overwhelming feeling of dread that can hang over you as you try to relax, filling you with the knowledge that you “should be working” right now. That is especially common if you don’t have set work hours for your side job, and instead work at it whenever you have a spare moment. But stop and take a deep breath. It’s alright. Your brain exaggerates, and no one needs to work every hour of every day.
To avoid this feeling, schedule your work time. Decide that after you get home from your day job at 5, you’ll take a dinner break, then work on your side business from 7 to 9. When 9 p.m. strikes, pack up your work and put it away. You met your quota of hours, and now the rest of the evening is for relaxing. And if that feeling of anxiety rears its head, shut it down by telling it you already finished work for the day.
Focusing on the Finances
If you’re starting out with a new business, it’s essential to keep careful track of your finances. Why? If you don’t, they can quickly spiral out of control, with your expenditures far outweighing your profits, leading your business to shut down before you’ve even gotten it off the ground.
To avoid this possibility, follow these tips.
1. Reign in Expenditures
As an entrepreneur, you’ll have hundreds of different problems demanding your money. Unfortunately, you have a limited budget, and you’re most likely going to have to decide which expenses are worth your money and which are not.
One of the best guides you can use to make this determination is to ask yourself if an expense will help your customer. Will the customer have a better, faster or more positive experience because of this purchase? If not, skip it and save some money. Focus your investment dollars on fixed expenses you can’t get away from paying — think materials, or utilities — and things that will boost your customers’ experiences, leading them to come back and recommend you to their friends.
2. Consider Your Pricing
You’ll also need to think carefully about how you’re pricing your service or product. After all, if you are too expensive, no one will be able to afford your work. But if you price your work too cheaply, you’ll struggle to turn a profit.
Here are the two most important factors you can use to help you determine the right price.
- Competitors: What are your competitors charging for comparable services? Avoid straying too high above this mark, or all your clients will flock to competitors instead.
- Your budget: How much money are you spending? How much do you need to charge to turn a profit?
Ideally, these two factors will work together to provide the perfect middle-of-the-road pricing that works for both you and customers. If this doesn’t seem to be happening, ask yourself where you can make cuts in your budget.
3. Set and Share Financial Goals
If you don’t have any set goals, it can be difficult to define and determine success. You’ll wander forever in the nebulous state of wondering how well your business is doing, but not having any real metrics to measure it by.
Solve this problem by setting concrete financial goals for yourself. These goals can be anything you want. You might say you want to turn a profit of X percent every month, or that you’d like to earn X number of customers in a year. The specific goal doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you define it for yourself.
Then, once you’ve set your goals, don’t keep them private. It’s easy to ignore a goal you’ve never shared. By inviting others into your goal, however, you’re challenging yourself to be accountable. It’ll be harder to fall short of the goal and tell yourself, “Oh well, it wasn’t a really important marker anyway.”
Maintaining Your Passion
We’ve all heard the sad stories about people who loved designing, building, programming or creating as a hobby. It was something they were passionate about, and something that helped them unwind while also feeling a sense of joy and purpose. Then, they turned it into a job, and the stress of earning money swallowed all that passion.
As someone who’s trying to turn your hobby into a business, how do you avoid this? How do you stay passionate about something and continue to find joy in it, even as it becomes work?
1. Keep Learning
Once a hobby turns into a job, we often grow static. We become so focused on pumping out products or services of equal quality every day, we can sometimes forget what made the hobby so fun in the first place — learning.
Part of the fun of a hobby is that you’re constantly learning, growing and improving. Every time you master one skill, this enables you to move onto the next one, as you continue in your pursuit of this passion, becoming better and better at every turn. To avoid burnout, seek to continue this trend even after your play becomes work. Read books, listen to podcasts, attend conferences and more in your quest to continue expanding your knowledge.
2. Network in Your Industry
Everything becomes more enjoyable when you share it with other people. If you feel like work has sucked the joy out of your former hobby, try connecting with others who share this passion. See what new developments and innovations they’ve been working on. Share their infectious energy and excitement. Talk to them about your current projects and watch them get excited for you.
By staying informed about the cutting edge of your industry, you’ll constantly be feeding your brain with exciting new ideas. That will help you maintain your passion and interest, even when the going gets tough.
3. Bookend Your Day With Excitement
The reality is that not every task and project is going to be fun. There are some jobs where you’ll have to put your head down and slog to the finish, although they’re often far from enjoyable and they may even be painfully boring. You don’t want these jobs to bog you down, however. One of the best ways to do this is by reserving the beginning and end of your day for tasks you enjoy.
Organizing your day like this helps in two ways: First, you’re creating a daily work schedule that isn’t all things you dislike. Second, you’re injecting a little burst of enjoyment at the end of your day. This approach allows you to end on a high note, sending you into your evening with a good feeling. Additionally, you’ll know you have another piece of excitement when you start to work the next day, giving you extra motivation to get busy and start working.
Support Your Side Business by Staying Happy and Healthy
It isn’t easy to work two jobs at once, especially if one of those jobs is starting a new business. One of the best things you can do to help yourself out in this area is to prioritize your health and happiness. If you’re feeling bogged down in the daily minutiae of your side business, why not hand off the smaller details to someone else?
Táve is a business software that handles daily business tasks like lead tracking, workflow management, online contracts and so much more. By leaving these things in the capable hands of this software, you’re now free to spend more time doing what you love, and what inspired you to start a business in the first place.
Ready to experience how Táve can improve your business? Sign up for a free 30-day trial today!