Danielle sits at her desk each day in between meetings sketching designs of the jewellery she longs to make but doesn’t, because she thinks to herself again and again that no one will ever buy it.
Georgia works in a bank but secretly dreams about starting a baking business and becoming the next cupcake Queen. But she doesn’t, because she thinks she needs to have a commercial kitchen and a retail store and lots and lots of money.
And then there’s Mary, who gets woken up at night with words and images for a novel. Her muse tells her that this story is e v e r y t h i n g — it’s current, creative, inspiring and compelling. And yet as she gets the train to work every day with last nights visions still fresh in her mind, she tells herself one of the biggest lies all creatives and would be entrepreneurs tell themselves — if it was that good an idea, someone would have done it already.
What Danielle, Georgia and Mary all have in common, besides dreaming of doing something other than their day jobs, is that they also tell themselves this lie, which is potentially the biggest dream killer ever: I don’t have time.
I hear from dozens of women each week who dream of starting a something on the side. It may be a creative project like writing a book or starting a blog. Sometimes they want to become a coach or thought leader and replicate my business model. I speak with women who want to branch out and start a small business focussed on their passion. And then there are women who secretly want to build an empire.
I’ve worked as head strategist for a 5 Billion dollar company, have founded or co-founded numerous businesses, I work as a creative, coach creatives and entrepreneurs as well as those dreaming of it and I run my own successful multi stream business that started as a side hustle. I have seen a few things and busted lots of myths when it comes to starting something and keeping it going.
So if you are longing to start your own side venture or creative project, here are a few things to keep in mind and a couple of thoughts to get you started.
You have the time. Telling yourself you don’t have time is a dream killer if there ever was one. If you are telling yourself this, do this exercise: For two weeks, keep a time diary. Map out and write down where your time goes in 30 minute increments. This may sound painful, but it will give you a really good sense of what you are spending your time on, and where you may be wasting it. If you are serious about starting a side hustle, then you need to be super conscious of where you can carve out the productive and creative moments. You will be shocked at how much time you actually have when you start getting clear about what you can use it for.
Take the small moments. We think we need great stretches of free time to create anything meaningful. We don’t. You can get your book started in ten minutes a day. Start writing that blog in an hour a week. Create a mind map for your new business idea setting aside 30 minutes tonight. Use your lunch break, your morning commute, when the kids are doing their homework or when the family has gone to bed. Get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. Carve out that ten creative minutes before you walk into the office. Small moments lead to great output. Stop thinking you need a three month sabbatical and take the time that is in front of you.
You don’t need to know how it ends. Don’t have a grand master plan laid out for five years? You don’t need it right now, so forget about it. Having built detailed five year plans each year of the seven years I was head of strategy for one of the worlds largest tech companies, they have their place don’t get me wrong, especially when you are operating at that level in a complex environment. But that’s not what you are doing here with your side project. I don’t have a five year plan in my business. And I certainly didn’t when I started. I just started. See what’s in front of you right now. Look six months down the line if you can. Mitigate your risk for sure. Then start. Things move fast and you can adjust as you go. Just start.
Let the passion be enough. For most of us, we want to start a side gig because we are passionate about something outside of our day job. Or we want to expand on something that is one small part of what we do and we want it to be bigger. It may turn into a full time gig, it may not, and in most cases you can’t possibly know starting out where it will take you. If you are passionate about writing that book, becoming a designer, training to be a coach or opening a bakery, then begin where you are and let the passion for the project be your guiding light. People are always asking how to find their purpose. We find it by following the bread crumbs of our passion or curiosity and seeing where it takes us. So go follow that and see where it leads.
Test your concept. When I was thinking of leaving my relatively safe corporate job to start my own business, I did all the things I write about here. I also tested my concept. I was working four days a week, a strategic decision made after I had burnt myself out, knowing that I had to get a life. Part of that was pursuing the work I wanted to do supporting women. So I wrote my first book over three months to test the validity of the content I was thinking about. I tested the concept by submitting a book proposal, and landed a publishing contract. I started coaching private clients on my day off, to see whether this would be a valid business model. It was and still is. And so it goes. How can you safely test the concept of what you want to build or create? Start small if you need to. Get a coach to support you. Stop waiting. Start playing.
Find your people. Where are your people? We all have a tribe, a community who shares our interest and our dreams, who have conversations we care about, who have aligned goals. You may not have found your tribe yet and that’s ok. But start looking out for those communities that will feed and support your dreams and perhaps even enable your side hustle. The online world has made this ever so accessible. Look for Facebook groups, LinkedIn communities, Instagram families. Check out off line communities through Meet Ups, courses in your local community, business groups, writing retreats. Find where your people hang and go and hang with them. This is one of the most important parts of bringing your dream to life — knowing other people have done it or are doing it enables you to see that you can to.
Take a risk. It may feel safe to stay where you are. Doing the same things with the same people on your same schedule. It can be hard to get outside the proverbial comfort zone. But comfort zones can also kill us. Not literally of course, but they can numb our spirits and deplete our soul energy. If you want to truly live and fulfil your potential, at some point you have to take a risk. It can be a small step — you don’t have to quit your job and take a second mortgage on your house — but it needs to be a step in the direction you wish to head. You are worthy of an adventure. You are brave enough to take a courageous move. And you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.
My invitation to you: What is it that you have been dreaming about? What do you secretly long for? What is the side hustle or creative project you would just love to start? Write it down. Declare it. Tell your best friend. Then take the first small step to bring it to life. Do it this week. Then take another step next week and keep going. You can do this. I just know it.
For more articles like this one and dozens of free resources for your career, business and life, visit megandallacamina.com. For career support, coaching and guidance, The Career Toolkit virtual 12 week program starts again in September. Details here.