Today we are here to talk to you about growing a business on the side while working full-time! We both experienced this tricky feat throughout the past three years and have learned a lot about balance, perseverance, and also having a life outside of all the work! If you missed the first "Make it Happen" series, check out our thoughts on having a business partner here!
Ever since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of being an artist and an entrepreneur. I just never knew that it would actually happen. When I was little, of course, I thought that my dreams could come true *cue Disney song* however, in high school and college, I realized that my dreams might not happen so easily. The reality of the world set in. I began to fear that I wouldn't be able to provide for myself financially or be independent as an artist. But, deep down inside of me, "little me" had hope. And, as I went through college, I became more and more aware of the potential that I had and the passion inside of me grew.
Then, a spark ignited. The spark started at the beginning of our senior year of college. Savannah and I were driving in the car to get dinner with our best friend Anica, talking about how amazing it would be to go to Disney over fall break. During the conversation, we looked at each other and realized that we could make our dream happen if we wanted to. We could go to Disney. We just had to stop dreaming and start making it happen. And so, two weeks later, we drove down to Florida and went to Disney. And it was one of the best times of my life. From that point on, we all began to look at life differently. We saw our dreams as something we could actually make happen if we set our minds to it. And it gave us hope.
The second spark ignited towards the end of our senior year in college. Savannah and I were working on a project for a class in which we had to create a business plan for a fake photography company. One night, we were sitting on the floor of our dorm room working on it, and we both realized that "we could actually do this whole business thing". Both of our eyes lit up with possibility and hope. We remembered our trip to Disney. And that started a whole slew of conversations about turning our dreams into a reality and owning a business together.
After graduating from college, I immediately went to work full-time for a non-profit foundation. The dress was corporate. The job was administrative. And just 2 months after beginning my job, I began talking with Savannah about Maiedae. For the next 6 months, I would come visit on the weekends and we would talk, dream, and imagine the possibilities of our creative future. Finally, I realized that if I wanted to continue to pursue this dream, I needed to make a commitment and move. So, I packed up, quit my job, and moved to Atlanta just 1 year after graduating. Since Maiedae couldn't support us financially, I got another full-time job working in a corporate setting. But Maiedae was growing quickly. What was just a few nights and weekends had turned into every night and almost every weekend. I would find myself wanting to work on Maiedae all the time. I lived it and breathed it. At my corporate job, I continuously thought about ideas for Maiedae. It was difficult to get it off my mind. I was tired and my husband, Drew, was even more tired of me working all the time. It was even worse than he described in this post.
But, in 2012, Savannah and I started setting some goals, hoping that by 2014 we could both go full-time with Maiedae. Maiedae kept growing. And, to our surprise, grew so much that Savannah and I were both able to quit our full-time jobs 1 whole year earlier than we had hoped! We are so thankful for the ability to do this and also grateful for the things we both learned while working 2 jobs.
After graduating from college in 2010 and getting married nearly a week later, I started my first full-time job in a corporate setting immediately out of college. I was so excited and thrilled to be working for a great company AND have a job. It was certainly an adjustment going from being a college student and working full-time to spending 40+ hours a week commuting and working. As well...being in a conservative, corporate setting also meant transforming my college student wardrobe into a "young professional" wardrobe...which certainly had its challenges. Me and pant suits don't really mix. Maiedae began taking form in July of 2010 and started as a handmade hair accessory business on the side. To me, it was more of a side hobby but in the back of my mind I hoped it might be something more one day. I actually thought of the name "Maiedae" while I was at work...oppsy!
Slowly over time, Jenny got on board with Maiedae and what used to be a few nights of dabbling here and there turned into frequent meetings and work nearly every night. After Jenny moved to Atlanta and we began more serious work with Maiedae, and as Maiedae began to grow, we slowly worked more and more each night until we were putting in nearly 20-30 extra hours each week just on Maiedae. It eventually got to a point in my job where I wasn't able to put my full heart into my full-time job and into Maiedae at the same time...so something would have to give. Although I enjoyed my full-time job and the work I did...Maiedae was my passion and what I LOVED!
During the holidays of 2012, I approached my boss about cutting back my time at work and only coming into the office 4 days a week rather than 5 days. Luckily, my position allowed for this type of flexibility so I was able to dedicate every Friday fully to Maiedae. That certainly helped balance the amount of work for a little while. By the end of 2012, I was feeling the itch and drive to quit my full-time job and dedicate all of my work time to Maiedae. With the support of my husband and business partner, we were able to make it happen and I officially left my full-time job in February of this year. It was one of the best days of my life and although I was insanely nervous about the success of Maiedae, I knew Jenny and I had worked HARD over the past couple years to build up the business making it so we would have a decent foundation to start on as full-time business owners.
As a huge blessing, almost immediately after coming on board full-time the business grew insanely and Jenny was able to quit her full-time job a few *long* months later to join me in a full-time pursuit. It's been a crazy ride with a lot of hard work to get to this place and I hope the tips we have for you below help you in your own personal journey!
A Few Tips for Growing Your Dream Business on the Side
1// First Things First - Figure out what your "dream business" is! Create a plan, a vision and set aside a lot of quiet time to figure out what truly ignites your heart and makes you passionate. Take your time with this! Don't put a huge pressure on yourself to start something now and be full-time now. Let your dream and your business grow and mature naturally. There are a ton of great books and resources out there and really help you define this that we would suggest checking out. See our list of suggested resources at the bottom of this post.
2// Have Patience! - Already working a full-time job and having other life responsibilities takes up a lot of time in your day to day life. Maybe set aside a couple days each work to work on your business, give yourself some time-mercy and have patience. When you have days off or an extra burst of energy, put some time into your business. Don't expect a huge growth overnight. BUT don't give up! Especially if it's something you love.
3// Start Small - When we first started Maiedae we focused on handmade goods. We didn't have a big booming business, but we were able to dedicate some time here and there to making goods and prepping for craft shows. We also blogged on the side, which was a great way to spread the word about Maiedae while working on growing our business. As we gained more time and more direction on what we wanted to do, we would dedicate that time to things like graphic design. Now that we are both full-time we have even more time to add on aspects of our business like full-time blogging, the Maiedae Mixer, more design clients, and still have room for additional ventures and plans. Focus on one thing and build yourself up slowly!
4// Get to Socializing! - One of the most important things about running a small business is getting your name out there!! Consider setting up a blog, Facebook page, Pinterest account, Twitter, and Instagram with your business name and begin networking! Make connections, meet friends, glean insight and knowledge from others who have more experience that you. Break into the world of business that you want to be part of by getting to know the people already in it. This will slowly create a platform for you once you begin your business and build it over time!
5// Organize Your Time - Make sure you are fulfilling your daily priorities and not letting your full-time job, relationships and other responsibilities fall to the side. Be realistic about the time you have to dedicate to your newly growing business. If you don't keep a calendar, now is the perfect time! Get yourself organized and your time organized so you are making the most out of each day. Have days/nights dedicate to growing your business and evenings dedicated to a date night or friend time. Make sure to continue doing what's important to you so you don't get burned out quickly on your new venture.
Speaking of Time, What are Some Ways I Can Make the Most out of my Time?
One of the hardest parts of growing your business while working full-time is really utilizing the time you have well. There is so much out there to distract us every day - whether it be technology, things we need to do around the house, kids, our 9-5 job, relationships, and the list goes on and on. Staying focused and being efficient are just 2 of the necessary tools you need in order to make the most of the time that you have. So what are some practical ways to make the most of your time?
1// Create a Schedule - When you know what you'll be doing and how much time it takes to do each task, it's easier to realistically schedule out work and get things done.
2// Use the Pomodoro Method - 5 minutes off, 25 minutes on - It really works!
3// Schedule out Free Time - It's very important to take breaks, but when you are working for yourself sometimes it's really difficult to not feel overwhelmed or guilty.
4// Be Consistent & Realistic - Having a consistent schedule can make a huge mental difference in your day to day productivity. When creating a consistent schedule, be sure to be realistic about what you can and can't accomplish in a given day.
5// Don't Work Where You Rest - It's important to create a workspace separate from where you rest or sleep. This helps create boundaries both mentally and physically that are healthy for yourself and your relationships.
6// Say No - Because you have a limited amount of time, you'll have to get good at saying no to things that do not fit within your schedule or your vision for the business.
When Do I Start Phasing Out of My Current Job?
This question will very much depend on the flexibility of your current job and your financial needs. Before making any moves, make sure you can meet your monthly budget in order to pay the bills you need to. If your dream business is making you half of what you need each month, then consider going part-time at your current job or maybe quitting your full-time job to find a new part-time job. Another thing to consider is insurance. If you are covered under a spouse, then great! That will makes things a lot easier, but if you have to cover insurance, make sure you research costs and factor that into your new budget. As well, look at your dream job and see if you've been able to see a consistent pay over time. Keep record of what you make each month to determine if you are growing financially in your small business and can see consistency.
If you have the flexibility, we might suggest cutting back to 32 hours each week so you can dedicate a full day to your business and still receive a consistent paycheck. The tricky part is, the more time you can dedicate to your growing business the more it can grow, but you have to have the time! It's a scary leap! Just be sure to think things through carefully, get advice from people you trust and take your time. When you are able to confidently leave your job or cut back it will be so rewarding!! Just don't go into it too prematurely.
Thoughts on Having a Life Outside of Work...
You won't have one. Haha. No, we're just kidding. We believe it is possible to have a life outside of work as long as you manage your time well. Now, it will probably look very different than before you worked 2 jobs. You might not be able to be as "go with the flow" as you were, or maybe you only have a few nights a week that are available for fun outside of work, but it is still possible. There are a few things we think you need to know in order to have a successful life outside of work. You want to be able to completely let go and be free mentally during your time "off"... so ... in order to do that you need to have a well developed schedule so that you can feel justified in taking the time you need.
Once you've scheduled out your free time, it's important to communicate your schedule to your friends and family. Maybe try to coordinate with a few of your friends for a weekly get together, don't forget about having a good date night each week! We both do this with our husbands and it has been a wonderful way to spend time together when the rest of the week gets jammed pack with to-do's. Utilize your time off well. Maybe beforehand you keep a running list of all the fun things you'd like to do in your time off - that way you can quickly decide what you want to do when the time comes.
Overall, it's important to have a life outside of work and it's important to maintain healthy relationships. Make them a priority in your life and realize that you might have to STOP working sometimes to go see your sister's play or just cuddle with your significant other. Strive to keep these areas balanced in your life.
A Few Suggested Resources for Growing Your Business
* Dream Job E-Course by A Beautiful Mess
* Indie Business E-Course
* The Anti 9-5 Guide by Michelle Goodman
* My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman
All in all, maintaining a full-time job and working to grow a business takes a lot of hard work and time. Keep your chin up, stay organized and persevere. You can do it! We hope this topic was helpful to you!! Please share your extra thoughts and tips in the comment section below! As well, please share ideas for future topic ideas. :)