“In order to have the best life possible, you have to:
- know what the best decisions are and
- have the courage to make them”
Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work (2017)
The effects of Covid-19 has had a titanic effect on our livelihoods and the economy. Based on historical events such as world wars and market crashes, it seems like there will be a long turnaround for the economy to recover. While the political powers decide on what courses of action to make, many South Africans have taken the decision to start some form of entrepreneurial journey. As we have explained before, it is very risky to quit a stable day job and jump straight into your business endeavors as a means to earn a living, which is why we recommend having a job and a side-hustle concurrently. This phase in an entrepreneur’s journey is tricky and requires mounds of effort.
I work in a financial institution in the software department, and run a side-hustle in digital marketing and investing. The work-load is constant and sometimes overwhelming, therefore it is important to be prepared for the challenges in juggling full-time employment and running a side-hustle. In this article, we are going to outline some considerations for people that are challenging themselves with the difficult task of having a job and a side-hustle.
Disclosure to your employer
First of all, you need to disclose your side-hustle to your employer. We need to be lawful in all practices, and disclosure to your employer may be one of them. Here are a few points to guide you:
- Understand your company’s policy on side-hustles – there is no harm in asking human resources or your line manager
- Read and understand your employment agreement – an attorney can help you uncover all of your terms of employment
- Do not use your company time to work on your side-hustle
- Do not abuse your employer’s resources, including online tools, software, intellectual property and the work computer itself.
Disclosure to your employer about your side-hustle may actually help your cause. If your employer understands the type of side-hustle you want to run, he/she can advise you on what formal processes to follow and what practices to put in place.
Consistent hard work
Start-ups require a lot of effort to become profitable, and this can be slowed when one is also full-time employed. As a general rule, make sure to do side-hustle work at least every business day. If not, at least make one day out of the weekend as a day for side-hustle business. Do not aim to be perfect – aim to make progress.
There are many tools and tricks we employ to keep morale up, increase productivity and get the gears turning:
- Communicate with the people in your side-hustle business, and build the habit of fostering good relationships
- Be able to understand your potential clients and be empathetic – try to prioritize their needs and always look for ways to provide them with the most value so that they remain your clients for a long time
- Look for the right people – employ people that are skilled and motivated to work on your business, including working outside business hours. It helps to find specialized people who understand your vision for your business
- Be open to experiment – try different tools and see how they impact on your productivity in your side-hustle.
Try some of these steps in your side-hustle and productivity will surely improve.
Expert time management
I really wish that proper time-management would be taught in high-school, but that is a rant for another time. When you have a side-hustle, make sure to not use any of your employment time to work on your side-hustle. You are going to have to find time outside of your working hours for your side-hustle. This could mean that there are only three to four spare hours in your schedule to do side-hustle business, so it is critically important to work on the tasks that are most important and most urgent. I use the Eisenhower box below for all of my tasks:
The execution is simple and takes a little practice before it becomes automatic. For your side-hustle, write out a list of tasks. For each task, decide their importance and their urgency, and then use the decisions above to “Do, Decide, Delegate, Delete” those tasks.
Work on the most important tasks first – the tasks with the most positive impacts or the tasks that generates the most revenue. What tasks can be delegated, consider outsourcing these tasks to an expert in that field. One interesting phenomena to consider is “Pareto’s Law” – where 80% of the output can be achieved with 20% of the input. Think deeply about this, and look for ways to exploit this law to your advantage. For example, if you have a customer base of 100 people, and 20 customers contribute more to your profits than the other 80 customers, then focus on how you can offer more value and services to those 20 customers, and delegate the same tasks for someone else to service the 80 customers.
Aim to be flexible. Sometimes my employment over-runs its allotted hours in a day, which delays my side-hustle work. This can happen from time-to-time, so it is important to be flexible in your approach to business. Try to sculpt your schedule around your clients so that they get maximum value, and work on other tasks (eg. maintenance, optimization, stock take) during quiet periods. I personally use between 5PM to 6 PM for dealing with clients, 7:30 PM to 8PM to study, and 10PM to 11PM to work on the side-hustle.
Make sure that you inform your employer of your side-hustle, so that proper arrangements can be made to avoid any legal action and loss of business. A side-hustle business requires a lot of time and effort, so be sure to consistently work on your trade, and make sure to try some experimentation and focus on providing bags of value to your customers. Lastly, time is a finite resource, so use time-management methods to get the most out of your hours in a day.
Trishen Naidoo is the co-director of Fulcrum Venture Capital (FVC), a start-up company based in Durban that focuses on digital marketing and investing. FVC have enlisted the services of Nikshen Consulting to assist in growing their business with the correct coaching and guidance.