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So You Want to Start a Side Hustle: Using systems to balance multiple endeavors

Creatives are known for their innovative ideas and lofty ambitions. It’s as if a steady flow of ideas is constantly streaming through our minds for many of us. In theory, this is an exciting fount of inspiration; however, with so many thoughts clouding our heads, it becomes difficult to take action on any of them. Instead, ideas remain as they are: mere ideas.

Sometimes, though, we are struck with such an exciting notion that we must pursue it. You may be working in your business when you discover a new way to serve your community. These enlightening moments are what breed side hustles. Perhaps you have a thriving event planning business but want to build a passive income stream of digital products. Maybe you’ve always dreamt of launching a podcast business or starting a blog in another industry.

You don’t have to let go of the company you’ve already built to pursue these dreams. It might feel like a lot of weight to carry (and it will be!), but that’s no excuse to let your big ideas fizzle out. With the right systems and processes in place, you can keep your business operating at full speed while dedicating the time and energy to launch your new endeavor.

putting ideas on a wall

Here are some key strategies to optimize your operations so you can pursue all of your dreams with vigor.

Run an operational audit on your existing business.
You cannot consider taking on any new projects if your current business requires your constant oversight. Otherwise, you’re putting both endeavors at risk, and it’s not worth losing what you’ve already built. Before taking any steps beyond ideating your side hustle, you need first to shine a light on your existing business.

Write out all of the workflows you have, from client management to sales and marketing. Then, break each process into steps and identify the areas that take up your time and energy the most. This will bring to light the gaps in your business so you can adjust your workflows and implement new systems to increase efficiency. In many cases, you may find that there are automated solutions to menial tasks that fill up your schedule, like invoicing, payroll, and email marketing.

Bring your team on board for support.
In addition to implementing digital tools to optimizing your existing business, you can also look to your team to fill in for you. Perhaps you’re ready to delegate social media management and sales calls so you can pursue your new direction. Be mindful of each team member’s skillset and capacity to ensure you aren’t overwhelming them.

team zoom call

If you don’t have a team yet, it’s an excellent time to consider hiring some support to help you navigate the transitionary period—at least until your side hustle is up and running. Building it will take a fair amount of time, but you might find that the work levels out after launch so you can focus on maintenance. Either way, it can help to hire support staff to keep the ship on-track while you focus elsewhere. It doesn’t have to be a full commitment like a full-time or even part-time employee; consider starting by contracting a marketing specialist or a virtual assistant who can step in to pick up the slack.

Be patient with yourself.
At some points, you might feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Working 10+ hour workdays and missing activities you’d otherwise enjoy can do that to you. Suddenly, it’s 4 in the morning, and you’re immersed in website development, workflow management, or some other corner of your business. You might ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

This is a natural response to being overworked. It doesn’t mean you need to give up, but instead, you likely just need to take a break. You don’t have to solve every problem in one night or even one week. Allow yourself the grace to take care of yourself first.

healthy lifestyle and wellbeing concept - a set of inspirational reminder notes with a cup of tea: eat healthy, exercise, seep well, keep things simple, think positivelyGet your sleep, eat healthy, spend some time with your family, and create the space you need to rest. Your work will be there when you get back, and when you sit back down, you will be refreshed and better equipped to tackle whatever comes your way. You’d be surprised how much clarity you can find beyond your computer screen!

Launching a side hustle while running a full-fledged business (or working a full-time job) is not for the faint of heart. It will require long hours and dedication, no matter how you look at it. However, the effort will always be worth it if it means achieving your dreams. Take it one day at a time and keep taking steps in the right direction. Nobody finds success overnight; focus on being methodical and systematic in your approach, and you can’t go wrong.

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Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development. She is also the owner and founder of Taylor'd Events Group, a leading event planning company that serves local and destination clients in Washington State and Maui, HI.

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