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How I turned my side hustle into a fulltime business in less than a year

After years in local council, Helen Sampson was "sick of working for the man". Instead of giving up, she started a side hustle and kept her spirits high. In less than a year it became her fulltime gig. Here's how...

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When did you start your side hustle?

I started a consultancy business in September 2017. By May 2018 I had pivoted that business to be focused on web design and development, email and digital marketing and blogging.

Why did you start it?

Honestly I was really tired of the 9-5 “working for the man”. I wanted the variety and challenge that a small business brings as I didn’t feel that my skills were being recognised, utilised or rewarded. I thought I could make more impact to a range of businesses by going out on my own. I wanted to be in control of the effort and reward cycle and be personally accountable for my achievements.

How much time do you spend on it every week? And where do you fit this in? 

Initially I aimed for 10 hours a week and I did this quite quickly. This built up over the time up to 15-20 hours a week – on top of the 3 days I was doing in my paid job. I would come home from the job and then do my side hustle for about 3 hours in the evenings when my husband was at work and I would work on my non-job days, Monday and Friday doing my side hustle – oh and sometimes either Saturday or Sunday as well.

What’s your main source of income – how many hours do you spend doing that a week and why do you do that job? 

For the first 21 months I also had a job working in a local council, as a project manager. I switched to full time side hustle in July this year.

What’s your favourite thing about your side hustle? 

I love the work I do – with all types of clients – mainly small business owners and entrepreneurs who are doing it brave at the coal face of the community. I love that what I do brings them more business and helps them get into the digital world. I love that some of my clients are doing amazing things for other people and I get to help them share their stories and skills.

What’s your favourite thing about your day job?

 The thing I liked the most about my day job was working in the community and making a difference to people’s lives. Connecting with individuals and groups to hear their concerns, dreams and wishes.

What’s the most challenging aspect about balancing the two? 

The most challenging part was making sure I still found time to have some rest and fun. I worked consciously to make sure I had at least one day off a week when I just didn’t go near the keyboard. It was a day to either get out in the garden, go for a long walk, catch up with friends or simply sleep and rest. And I really tried hard not to feel guilty about not doing it all, all the time. Which is hard for me as I’m Type A.

How did you stay motivated to do both? 

I always had an end goal of ditching the day job when I got to a certain income level with the side hustle. As luck would have it I was able to take a redundancy package a bit earlier than I had planned, but it was actually really good timing for me as I had a lot of people enquiring about me working with them at the time, so I moved seamlessly from day job to full time hustle about 6 weeks ago and haven’t stopped yet!

What’s your end goal? 

My side hustle has now become my job, but it’s not full time. I spend about 4 days a week working in my business now and feel like I am getting back the balance a little. And honestly I am really happy with 4 days a week – that is my Full Time Equivalent.

Who is your inspiration when it comes to your side hustle? 

I listened to a lot of podcasts about side hustles and digital media, working in digital agencies, building customers and marketing on my way to and from the day job. Cathy Heller “Don’t keep you day job” was my favourite ‘heart’ mentor. I also listened to a lot of Robert Gerrish’s podcasts “Flying Solo” so I knew what it was going to be like once I made the leap. This was really important in so many ways – not only did it give me plenty of tools and advice about how to build and prosper in my business, it helped me visualize myself as a solopreneur, so when it came time to take the leap I knew exactly what it would look and feel like.

What’s one thing that would help you the most to create the working life you want? 

I now have the working life I want – the one thing that helped me was persistence and self-belief. To anyone wanting to do the same, I would say just don’t give up – keep going, even if you don’t have any clients right now – just keep working as though you do. And network, network, network.

What’s the #1 thing you do for your well-being while you ran your side business and a job? 

I always made sure I had one day each week which was focused on family, personal health, fitness, being outside, doing something fun and resting. It was very intentional and non-negotiable.

Lucy Kippist

is an experienced Australian editor with experience in writing, podcasting radio and television, with previous senior editorial roles at News Corp news.com.au, Kidspot and Kinderling Kids Radio. In her current role as editor of Flying Solo, Australia's #1 website for solo business owners she is pursuing her passion for women in the small business space. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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