During my first conversation with Florence, here is what she said about the side job:
"In the beginning, I thought I could manage the two - the brand and my job. But actually I couldn’t. I am organized in general, but for my brand I’m not organized and tend to get distracted easily. Sometimes I'm happy I have both - I love the kids! (She works with youth workers and works mostly in the afternoons and evenings.) Being an entrepreneur is tiring so the job gives me a break to be free. Also I save money for the brand to continue."
Oh, the never-ending quandary of taking “the side job”. "How can I make the time for the other job? Of course it will bring money but how will I organize myself and will I advance my project at the same speed, if I take this job?" I had to write a separate article on this because it’s such a purveying question and comes up all the time.
Should I take a job while I get my brand underway?
Depends. Don’t you love that word….the most frustrating words in English. The short answer is, if the job can fulfill the following criteria (inexhaustive), then go for it. If it can’t, let's talk about the other alternatives.”
You need lots of brain space to think...deep think. When we have projects (or colleagues) that drain our head space, there is no chance we can think deeper about our vision for the brand, how to go to market nor simply how to figure out the how to. Allocating 3 days for the job and 4 days for your brand, could work, but ideally you are managing brain space for deep thought and preparation, not simply managing your time. Think of it like your computer. An ideal computer that processes information very quickly, is one with a large storage capacity not always the processor speed. You will have more space to meander around in your brain for deep thought and get out ideas quickly. If working with kids makes you feel free and gives you more brain space, even 5 days a week, it could work better than working 3 days at a more stressful job in which you’d have to use planning or project management skills.
Whether you have experience as an entrepreneur or not, it makes sense to get some guidance during your journey. It can be on the light or heavy side. Do you know the difference between coaching vs consulting vs mentoring?
According to the International Coach Federation, a coach encourages client self-discovery and elicits client-generated solutions and strategies. A consultant offers solutions and sometimes it is contacted to do the work for the client. Mentors act as a guide. They are typically experienced or skilled in their chosen field and act as a teacher in sharing their experience; transferring their knowledge and skills to a ‘mentee’. Mentoring may include advising, counseling and coaching while the coaching process does not include advising or counselling. I used to be a consultant and now I mentor in private sessions.
Some of us take classes and other use other approaches like watching documentaries, You Tube, a friend’s help, going to events, reading books, etc. These resources are great but if it's not long-term or set up as a plan, we can get distracted. Do you have a program or someone to help keep you focused? During my five week and five month classes, we go through everything together, step by step, from process to pitch and pretotyping. In group groups and sometimes one on one, it's personalized. Also, I teach methods to answer your own questions around your journey because sometimes the people we need most, are not always accessible when we need that dire question answered.
Mind Your Time.
Go slow. Your start should be a slow build so your not overwhelmed. But I guarantee most brands don’t do this. I know. I am one of those people. You get an idea and you are so excited you just run...and run until you can’t go any further. Sometimes it's because of a broken workflow, lack of know-how or a bruised ego. Then you stop or backtrack...but for how long.
Here's what I'd do differently:
If I started another brand I would do something similar to our solopreneur, Florence, is doing - taking it slow. If I couldn’t afford consulting (the doing and handholding), I’d take some classes and get a mentor full stop. I would get help building a plan from my idea and above all, make sure my vision and motivation was solid and something bigger than myself, not stemming from my own desire for greatness or desire to show off my talent. I discovered that that is one of the main differences between an entrepreneurial mind set and being just a designer or an artist. There begins to be a moment where the pull eases and you have to push. That is the moment of failure. Ok, wait, that is not quite right - that is the moment of….misery.
If your job can give all that to you, then super! If it can't, what should you do? Try another alternative.
"What Tyese? Are you Kidding?!" Nope. Give yourself a time limit for your launch and allow uninterrupted time to focus on your project in long spurts. Think of starting or re-starting a project like you would taking on a long-distance sports challenge. It really is like riding a bike, across a desert, ups and downs of rolling green hills, through a breeze on the beach and back again. Wouldn't you take focused time to prepare yourself for that 3 week or 3 month journey? Giving yourself time is the best gift you can give yourself.
Take time with no pay or a sabbatical for 1-3 months if you can. The objective is to envelope yourself in the journey of entrepreneurship. Move in with your parents, a friend or someone for a set period of time. Can't stand to be at the relatives even for 2 weeks? Don't worry, you might be in your room or out doing research or seeing clients most of the time anyway!
Rent out your place. Say “no” to friends or events that suck your time - you are on a greater journey than they know. Save your money for the brand; network online instead of paying for cafe or food out; research; take classes; get help. But DO give yourself a time limit to do this. You won’t be a hermit forever; just until you prepare for your launch or relaunch. Then go back to your regular life with a new routine, fresh vision, in a new headspace.
If this isn’t feasible, ask yourself why? Got Kids? Husband won’t understand? Single mom/dad? Be creative! You simply need to fulfill the main criteria: headspace, guidance, go slow. Grab a sitter for the weekend and lock yourself in your room with a pizza deliverer on speed dial. The answer to "am I doing something greater than myself" should inspire you to find those small or large blocks of time.
Work full time.
Take mini-sabbaticals throughout the month while you work full time. Craving out full days or weekends to focus on your project is better for deep thought planning or launch preparation. Craving out hours out of the day is better for task and project oriented things. You are working on changing your mindset and preparing yourself for a journey. Have you ever wondered why business school students are eating and sleeping case studies and creating projects til there blue in the face? It's so they leave the school with a totally different mindset. You learn to think differently, to see the world with new eyes. This is your main objective.
There is one more important question that affects your decision to take a side job and one that most people don’t ask. Do you just wanna stick your toe in the water to see if the idea is feasible? Or are you ready to prepare for the journey? These are two very different questions.
If you are still untangling ideas, keep your day job. If you are ready for the journey, start looking for a side job and start planning for your mini-sabbatical. DO give yourself a deadline for each scenario.
Got questions, shoot me a message.
Wanna see how Florence's story evolved in four other parts, Check out Part 1 of the Interview.