While we’re living in a time when it’s easy to start a business and make money, it takes a lot more to succeed and create a long-term, sustainable business.
In the United States, 40% of the population has a side hustle (around 70 million people 😳). And while you’d assume that the main reason why so many people start a side hustle is to earn extra money to make ends meet (it’s the third top reason), the #1 reason is to create more personal freedom.*
And yet, it’s all too easy to get trapped into creating another job for yourself vs. a side hustle you can turn into a full-time business that sustains you long-term.
We fall into the mentality of “hustle culture,” which is that one must work all day, every day, in pursuit of our goals. We’ll work as much as we need to gain the personal freedom we long for, which ironically is only taking us in the opposite direction.
Today, “hustle culture” is normalized, so it can be challenging to identify when you’re stuck in a “2nd job” and trading your time for money to know how to take steps to break out of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about working hard to reach goals, and I believe that you have to make certain sacrifices when you’re first starting a business — or what I like to refer to as an investment of time and resources, BUT “hustle-mode” can be quicksand if you’re not careful.
So, let’s go over how you can move toward your goal of gaining personal freedom and address the two biggest challenges of a side hustle: growing your business and dealing with limited time.
You’re Not Saying No
When we start our side hustles, it’s common to say yes to any business that comes our way. We want to start making money right away, right? And that’s OK. Learning about who we want to work with, how to streamline our offerings, and what business processes we need take time. The beginning phases are all about taking action and learning. AND, this is not a place you want to continue to be. You want to get to know what customers you work well with and provide the most value while also being profitable. Even though we want to sometimes, we can’t serve everyone, and we can’t say yes to everything.
Instead of saying yes to any and all business, start setting boundaries and narrowing in on who your ideal customer is. A good place to start is to look at your current customers. Who do you love to work with? Look at your business financials — what customer has been the most profitable? What type of business do they have? What are the key attributes of the owner (your client)? What is their annual revenue? Who do they serve? These details can help you build an ideal persona for your business. What’s important is avoiding the fear of losing money because of saying no to business. By serving a specific audience, or a niche, you can stand out from your competition and make it easier for your ideal customers to say, “Yes, this is exactly what I need.” This results in attracting more of the “right” customers over time and a more profitable business.
A niche is a profitable segment of any market or industry with a focused audience who is looking for a solution to their problem. Discover your niche, positioning statement, and competitive advantage with our Business Foundations Planner, which includes our 7-Step Formula to Finding Your Niche & Crafting Your Business Position Statement worksheet. Learn more here.
You’re Chasing Clients to Get Paid
Too often, I hear stories from business owners about how much time and energy they waste having to chase down money owed to them. That can be awkward! And it impacts cash flow. Issues with getting paid could be because they don’t have agreements in place that protect them, they don’t invoice often enough, or the payment process is not simple enough for your clients.
Instead of calling, emailing, following up, resending invoices, or worse – taking legal action to get your money, take time to implement a painless payment experience for you and your clients. Here are just some of the ways you can streamline payments:
- Request a client’s credit card when they sign up and keep it on file for automatic billing
- Set up recurring invoices that are emailed on autopilot each month, and payments are processed automatically
- Set up automated payment reminders
- Use a mobile app or swiper to collect payments face-to-face
- Set up a contract with terms and conditions that require a deposit
- Consider hiring help for accounts receivable
You’re Not Being Money Mindful
How do you know you’re making a profit? Do you have separate bank accounts and credit cards for personal and business expenses? What is it costing you to provide your service or product? When was the last time you categorized your business expenses? These are questions every business owner should be able to answer. Unfortunately, many don’t know the answer to questions like these because they don’t have a process to manage their business financials, don’t review their financial reports often enough, or have someone else do it entirely for them.
Your numbers are everything. Being money mindful helps expand cash flow, increase profit, and foresee any financial problems. While it’s essential to work with a bookkeeper and a CPA (typically, after your first year in business, you want to have both), you must have a foundational understanding of your business finances. First, be sure to separate your personal finances from your business financials. Secondly, take time to track your business expenses and income closely. By regularly monitoring and analyzing your financials, you can identify things like the need to raise prices, expand your services or products, eliminate a service or product that’s not profitable, and much more. And by understanding your business finances first, you will know what to look for and how to oversee an outsourced bookkeeper.
Check out Freshbooks as a solution to manage your business income and expenses, invoicing, and improve cash flow.
You’re Getting Stuck as the Business Operator
It’s not uncommon to wear many hats as a side hustler or small business owner. And that’s because businesses have many moving parts. With all these moving parts to keep track of, a mistake small business owners make is getting stuck working IN their business as the business operator. And because they are doing it all themselves, they cannot identify areas of the business that are not operating at full potential because they have gone unnoticed or unaddressed.
Business growth is limited when we don’t focus on assessing and planning for improvements to fill gaps and integrate crucial back-office systems and processes.
One way to optimize your business and remove yourself as the business operator is to analyze where you are and want to be. What are the processes you have in place, and how can they be improved? Have you taken the time to interview your customers, vendors, employees, or contractor? What data can you gather and review to understand performance in your business?
Secondly, ensure you have the right tools and technology. The right tools should help you work smarter, not harder, fit the specific needs of your business and have the features you need to fill gaps. All-in-one marketing tools like Keap that automate business, sales, and marketing processes or a business management platform like Dubsado can help you create workflows and streamline your business with less of your time and save you money.
You Didn’t Establish a Foundation for Your Business
Most side hustlers and entrepreneurs start a business to make money. They are trying to get by, survive, and just figure it out as they go. And I say that with no judgment — that was me. The problem with this is that the goal of just making money won’t sustain you long-term, mainly because it won’t matter anymore at some point. You will need something to get you up and excited about your business every day.
At some point in your career, there will come a morning when you’ll awake and ask yourself, “What am I really doing?” It’s at this point that earning money by making/selling whatever will no longer be motivation enough.”
Without vision, clarity, purpose, and accountability, you will likely spend time and money on unnecessary or wrong things or become reactive vs. proactive in your business (what I refer to as firefighter mode). All of which will significantly impact the growth of your business.
This is why a strong foundation is fundamental for your business.
First, take some time to consider why you are in business. What’s your WHY? Second, take the time to establish the core foundation of your business. This means taking the time to reflect and answer:
- What are the core purpose and values of your business?
- What’s the vision that will guide you and your team?
- What are your short and long-term goals?
- Who are your competitors, and what are they doing well or not so well?
- What are your strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities (SWOT) and leverage that to identify gaps in your market (a chance to offer something that customers want but that businesses aren’t currently providing)
- Who is your ideal buyer? Your target audience? What are their struggles? What do they want, and how can you give them what they need?
- What is your unique brand positioning? Your niche?
When you know your response to each of these questions, you can begin to set realistic expectations, know where you are and how to get to where you want to be, and set yourself up for long-term business success.
Ready to kick off your freedom revolution?
I help ambitious women entrepreneurs know which direction to go, where their focus should be, and how to create the results they want in their business (and with self-compassion along the way) 👉🏽 Schedule a Discovery Call