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9 Steps to Starting Your Own Business When You Work Full Time

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Many people who get bitten by the entrepreneurial bug are fueled by passion and energy, but have no idea where to begin. Jullien “The Innerviewer” Gordon has devoted his life to helping full-time workers bring their “side hustles” to life at minimum risk. The best time to start a business, he told Levo in yesterday’s Office Hours, is from a healthy place of power, and while you have a steady income from someplace else.

Think of it as building a bridge to where you ultimately want to go, the author says.Your employer is your biggest client, he says, but not your only client, and not your only source of income. Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a fear-based thing, and having a side hustle is a great way to test it out. Here are Gordon’s nine steps to starting your side hustle:

1. Find your “why.”

Be clear about why you want a side hustle. Think about your definition of success and what your passions are. What’s going to wake you up in the morning? The ‘why’ has to be so big that watching TV isn’t even on your schedule anymore; your ‘why’ should make you want to cancel your cable service altogether, Gordon jokes. Your side hustle will be something you’d rather do than watch TV or get lost on Facebook because you’ll be creating value in a more meaningful way.

2. Find the courage to start.

A lot of people don’t know where or when or how to start, and they wrestle with the ideas of failure, procrastination, doubt, and debt. In order to get yourself to take the first step, make commitments for yourself—meetings with clients, investors, etc.—that obligate you to follow through. Make these plans far enough in advance that also require you to prepare and get ready for whatever commitment you made for yourself. Sometimes we have to play psychological tricks on ourselves to pull ourselves out of doubt and fear, and that’s a completely legitimate place to begin.

3. Find time and flow.

Once you set the object in motion, you’ll need to carve out time to keep the inertia going. Gordon wakes up and has a First Period, which is what he calls the first hour of his day that he devotes only to himself and the things he wants to accomplish. If you’re having trouble finding the time, start with half an hour or 15 minutes, and then increase it bit by bit. It may mean waking up earlier to work on your side hustle or going to bed later, but use that time to get things done.

4. Find your idea a market.

So many ideas fail when they are based on products or services that no one wants, says Gordon. What you need to do for your own side hustle is build the idea without having to invest a lot of time or money upfront. Test your idea out on a few people to begin with, and see how they respond. Or create a prototype and find out what people think. It may require you to give away your product or services for free for a while, but if it helps you improve and mold your idea to a market, it’ll take off running in the long run.

5. Find a business model and the right resources.

Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean you can monetize it. You need to find the model that works for your side hustle. There are many different models you can apply that may work for you; the trick is to find the one that requires the least amount of work but has the biggest impact.

6. Find your brand.

Everybody and their grandmother is branding these days. But because we live in an age where someone can replicate your idea in 24 hours, you have to stay on top of your brand. Spend some quality time thinking about how you want to present yourself and your company to the world. It’s important to know who you are and what you stand for, says Gordon, both online and offline.

7. Find your clients.

This is one of the hardest thing to do because, plain and simple, people hate sales, Gordon says. No one wants to be seen as a sleazy, slick-haired salesman, but it’s important to sell if you want people to rely on your product or service. These days, selling doesn’t have to involve manipulation or persuasion. Look at it as an ongoing conversation between someone you value and who values you until there is a fair exchange between both parties. Frame it this way, and it won’t feel like selling anymore; you’re taking the pain out of this step.

8. Find the right tools and technology.

It’s all about automation. You want to run your business; you don’t want your business to run you, especially if you’re working a full-time job as well. Investing in the right tools that allows you to automate and reduce the number of fires you may need to put out is what will give your side hustle the necessary security it needs to thrive.

9. Find and manage the money.

If your side hustle is a seedling, money is the water that gets it to sprout. Finding money could be raising capital, finding investors, or making sales. You need to know what needs to be in place in order to be fundable. Key things include cash flow, customer base, credibility, commitment, competition, and capital requirements that will get your side hustle off the ground.

Get more amazing insights from The Innerviewer from his Office Hours:

Photo: lechatnoir / iStock

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Side Hustle #Office Hours #Starting A Business
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Carly Heitlinger
Carly Heitlinger

One of the points that Jullien mentioned during the Office Hours is super important. I think so many people (especially women) struggle with the idea that their employers will be mad. I loved how he said that having a side business is akin to running marathons. An employer doesn't care that you run before work or after work (or maybe even during lunch)... so they shouldn't mind that your hobby is running another company.

**Important note here, of course, is that it can't actually interfere with your "job" work!!!

This is such a great article. I loved the point of dedicating time in the morning. I set my alarm for "Time to work on Personal Brand" :)

Definitely something we should always keep in mind in any situation. Leave it at the door, as they say.

In response to "plain and simple, people hate sales..." - it's true! If you are selling to promote your passion, "selling" will not feel "sleazy" at all. If you are passionate about your business you will be speaking from the heart in an authentic way. (It should not feel like work!) Great article.

Elana Gross
Elana Gross

Christine that is such a fantastic idea! Thank you for sharing it! I had a similar trick when I was at my old job and blogging "on the side" I'd call it Blogging Before Breakfast!


I watched this segment all the way through and was overwhelmed with all the valuable information Jullien was giving. So many great points for career AND life situations.

Love these points--would be great to see each step as a follow up article!

great points for career situations.

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