5 super practical steps to growing a side business this year that feels good

If this is the year you've decided to go all-in on growing your business on the side and (finally) leave your day job, then congratulations! 

It's a scary move, but for me, the idea of staying where I was was even scarier. I made the move after working in the corporate world for more than 13 years, and here's my best advice on how to do it so that it feels good— like really good.

 

1 | Track Time

I’ve been tracking my time for work since 2004. As a management consultant who used to work with the Federal Government and other big clients, they needed to know how many hours I worked down to 15-minute increments so my company could bill them appropriately.

This habit stuck with me, and even though I’ve stepped away from the corporate world, I track every minute. I’m tracking the time to write this blog post to you. The biggest point in tracking your time is knowing where it’s going. If you say building your side hustle is the most important thing to you, then you should be spending time dedicated to exactly that.

It’s also an excellent way to avoid spending your time scrolling Facebook or belly-button gazing.

2 | Boundaries

Setting up clear boundaries in your business early on will pay off in the early months of running your business full time.

Start with boundaries in your full-time job first. This might mean blocking an hour for lunch each day, and the last hour of the day so you can tie up loose ends and run out of there at the end of the day.

In your growing business, you likely can’t focus on your side hustle work while you’re at your day job. This means you’ll dedicate specific hours to grow your business outside of day job hours. Maybe it’s 5-6am every weekday or just on weekends.

Also, consider how much effort you’ll put into your day job. If you plan to resign in six months, this isn’t the time to volunteer for extra projects. You should be doing what Tim Ferriss calls, the Minimum Effective Dose (MED)—the minimum amount of work you need to do to keep your job and feel good about yourself to sleep well at night.

3 | Save the extra money

If you come to count on any money you’re bringing in while you’re working your full-time job, it’s going to make it even harder to step away. Consider any money you bring in on top of your day job as a bonus and stow it away. It will give you a little cushion and piece of mind when you go out on your own. It could even become your emergency savings fund.

4 | Tell people

Plant seeds with anyone who will listen if it won’t jeopardize your full-time job. Let people know what you’re building, take friends up on their offers to help you grow and spread the word. In my situation, this also meant telling the kids what was going on. I told them, “Mommy is going to be working a lot at night and on the weekend lately, but I’m doing it so that I can be my own boss and be able to hang out with you guys next summer.”

5 | Gratitude

This one is tough; I get it. If you’re in a soul-sucking job where the hours suck, the work sucks, and your boss is the pits, you might very well have feelings of Sunday dread and hate your life. But here’s the thing (and this is hard, but listen up) you have to find ways to be grateful for your corporate job.

Because the energy you put into the job you want to leave will spill over into the job, you want to have. If you can find aspects of your job to be grateful for, this will make you feel good, which in turn will bring good feelings to your side business.

In my case, I found tons of things to be grateful for. I was thankful for a steady paycheck (an obvious one) that was going to help finance my dream while not compromising on my standard of living. It provided me with the skills I’d need to be an entrepreneur—communications, sales, writing, presentations, and being an all-around trustworthy human being. And lastly, the connections—in 13 years some old contacts from 10 years ago became clients, and not because I had to “sell” them on anything. I love keeping in touch with cool people. I want to know about what they’re doing and where they’re headed. And because we keep in touch, telling people what I’ve been up to in building my business felt totally natural.

 

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Jacqueline Fisch