Let’s face it, building a business, no matter big or small, can be tough. Downright hard. For us solopreneurs, it can be its own kind of struggle. That struggle is unique in its own way when you are still knee deep in your “9-to-5” and building it as a side hustle.
I make sure I put those quotes around “9-to-5” because how many of us really devote just 9 AM to 5 PM to our careers? Not many of us, I can tell you that. When you factor in work you do at home, commuting, getting ready for work, and travel it’s quite clear that our careers take up a substantial part of our time as well as our mental space.
This presents a challenge for those of us building something special on the side. By our very nature, we are heading full throttle into that job of ours. After all, we didn’t get the bright idea to start a business on the side because we like cruising half-heartedly through our day.
Many of us also strive to be good spouses and/or parents as well. Not to mention being there for family and friends.
With all of those demands that we attend to very passionately, it is easy to let your little creation take a back seat among the many parts of your life.
This is dangerous. It’s dangerous because the last thing you want to do is let your business slide into nothing more than a glorified hobby.
So, what can we do as solopreneurs to guard against this? Well, here’s a few ways.
Do SOMETHING, Every Day
One of the best ways I keep my business in my sights is to make it a daily ritual. No matter how wiped out I am, no matter how many things I have going on, I try to do at least one task related to my business each day.
Making sure I do this lets me honor what that business is. It’s part of me and what my place is in the world. By doing something every single day I am giving that business the respect it deserves.
Yes, I know there’s the days your brain is absolute mush or the kids have sapped you dry. I have those days too. But, those are the days I might spend 20 minutes scheduling social media posts or writing 100 words.
Low impact tasks? Maybe. But, it’s better than zero impact and keeps the momentum going.
Honor Your Business Funds
One of the quickest paths from fledgling business to glorified hobby is to disrespect the money generated by or invested in your business.
This means mixing business funds with personal funds. It means spending business funds on personal things. Just don’t.
At the very least, get a separate bank account for your business. If your business is profitable, “pay” yourself at designated times and with predetermined amounts. Don’t use it as your personal financial stash.
If you really want to amp it up, invest the time and money into setting up a separate entity for your business such as an LLC or a corporation. Doing so isn’t mandatory for your business, but it will help you fortify that belief that you are serious about what you are working on.
Metrics can be a perilous wire you walk. Measuring the wrong things for the wrong reasons can cripple your business. But, when used correctly, they can be an incredible asset that keeps you serious and honest.
The key is to have metrics that are in alignment with what you think are important areas of focus for your business.
If customer engagement is important to you, track it.
If having repeat customers is important, track it.
If you can track the success of your customers, do so.
If you want to stay focused on keeping customers happy, track your lifetime value of a customer. Few things keep you engaged better than knowing what you will lose if you don’t remain focused on keeping a customer happy.
As they say, what gets measured gets improved. If you want to keep yourself honest about your business, put metrics in front of yourself that remind you what is important to your business. If you subconsciously slack off on your business you will see it in black and white.
Have a Plan for Your Side Hustle
Call it what you will. A plan, a budget, a forecast. Doesn’t matter to me. But, having one is key to remaining serious about your business.
If you have revenue streams, you should have a plan about what you are going to do with that revenue.
You don’t need one to impose an iron fist rule over your business. Instead, taking the time to plan, and more importantly, revisiting that plan reminds you of where you are headed.
Devoting some of your mental space towards looking ahead keeps your goals and/or aspirations on your radar. What you focus on expands. If you put a plan or budget in place, the future expands for your business. If you give it a half-hearted effort or don’t do it at all, you end up stuck in the now and the daily demands of life will quickly reduce the time you devote to your business.
Stay on Target
These are just a few ways to keep that side hustle from collecting dust as another hobby in your closet. All of these ideas above lead into one thing.
Have a ritual for your business, stick with it. The more you keep the work you do for your business in front of you on a daily, regular basis, the less likely you are to treat it as a second tier part of your life.