One of the most common questions I get asked is how I was able to grow my business. The short answer is: slowly. And, a lot of people do not want to hear that, but it’s true. If you are really looking to grow a business that will sustain and scale, while working a full time job, you have to have a lot of patience.
That being said, over my last ten years as an e-commerce shop owner, I have developed a few strategies that can really help in the process of scaling your side-hustle, and I am excited to share them with you!
I started my side-hustle when I was working full-time as an art director at an ad agency in NYC (NOT a 40 hour-a-week job) . And, like 70% of other side-hustlers, I was aiming to pay off a debt with my extra income (student debt, specifically). I had actually opened an Etsy shop in 2010, while I was still in college, and had sold a few digital files. When I moved to NYC I suddenly realized I was going to need to make some extra money if I wanted to be able to pay for anything beyond rent - and so I decided to put some serious effort into my Etsy shop.
In 2013 I sold $12k on Etsy (which was a lot of money for me). I told myself that for 2014 I would do everything I could to double that, with a goal of $25k for 2014. I sold $50k that year.
So, how did I successfully scale my shop while still working full time?
Here are the 3 rules that allowed me to scale my side-hustle!
Have a Daily Number
When I set my goal of selling 25k in 2014, I took it further than just a goal for the year, or even monthly sales goals. I literally did the math to figure out exactly how much I needed to sell each day ($68.50) to reach my goal. And, having that number in my mind, I would push myself just a bit harder every day, trying to reach that daily goal. Because, selling $68.50 is a lot easier to do than selling $25k. And days when I sold MORE than $68.50 were total morale boosts because I felt like I was getting a leg up on my larger goals.
I cannot recommend this habit enough if you are truly looking to reach a specific sales goal (which you should always be doing). I still implement this strategy today.
Start delegating as SOON as you can
I hired my first part-time employee in 2014. Could I have gotten by without hiring someone at this point - yes I am sure I could have. Did it take a big part out of my extra earnings? Yes, it did. So, why did I do it? Because (and I don’t know how or why) I had a the foresight to realize that delegating anything I could to someone else would allow me to scale my business faster.
My first employee helped me with listings, replying to clients, and some design work. This allowed me to come up with new products, and focus on marketing my business. Did it pay off? Yes, because in the first 12 months with part time help I was able to go from $50k in sales to $175k in sales.
The most common reaction I get when I share this information with people is “where did you find someone?” and “but, I have no idea how to hire someone.” You can do it. I found her on craigslist and we she worked remotely with me. You will figure it out!
Be creative with your time
The biggest thing I hear from clients who are working full-time is that they don’t have enough time to dedicate to their side hobby. Well, I am here to assure you that you do, if you want to. You just have to be creative with your time.
I would create lists of tasks I needed to do, and then categorize them into things that take 5 minutes or less, things I can do from my phone, things that I needed to be at my computer for, etc. Then, when I had a spare 5 minutes waiting at the pharmacy, or 20 minutes on the subway, I would get right down to working on those tasks that I knew I could knock out in those situations.
You can easily squeeze in (at least) an extra hour of work-time each day with this tactic, and then you can tackle the bigger tasks a few times a week when you are able to carve out the time for them.
And there you have it! These are the 3 core strategies that I used to grow my side-hustle while I was working my full time job.
In 2015 I sold $175k, paid off the last of my student loans, and quit my full-time job - and I have not looked back since!
The great thing is that these strategies don’t just stop working after you have successfully scaled your side-hustle, they continue to work as your business grows.
I still create DAILY revenue goals for myself and my team.
I actively work to delegate all tasks I possibly can to others so that I can focus on the big picture stuff for my business, even though this often means investing large portions of my business profits back into the business.
I keep a bunch of different to-do lists on my phone//computer’s notes program with things I can work on when I have a few minutes to spare.
Keep at it! All you have to do it keep at it, day after day, and eventually things start falling into place :)
“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” -Zig Ziglar