A few years ago, Hey Sweet Pea started a new project, and they referenced this article. If you’ve watched their business shift over the past few years, you’ll know that they’re doing amazing things both personally, and professionally, and their passion for life is contagious. I book marked the article, and came back to it recently when I noticed a shift in my work that it aligned with.
Starting a business is hard. I started my “side hustle” during twilight hours, lunch breaks, weekends. I worked two full time jobs, for over two years. I missed fun nights with friends and family, but over time, I learned more about balance, and my attitude slowly shifted.
When I started my business, I was hungry. I wanted every job, opportunity, experience I could get my hands on. I took on everything. A client that wanted something I didn’t specialize in? Great, an opportunity for me to learn, grow my skills (and pull my hair out). An inquiry for a project that’s due tomorrow? Great, I’ll just pull an all nighter, then work both jobs the next day again. I spent hours staring at screens instead of spending time with the people that I love. I’d ask my husband to watch a movie, but I’d have my computer out the whole time designing for clients. I’m lucky my family put up with me, and helped me to find balance instead of leaving me to fend for myself.
Something inside me (or the internet) said I had to kick ass at everything I did, which I clearly wasn’t. Looking back, I’ve since shifted my perspective, and now find myself fully diving into the things I love, the things that feed my soul. I’m able to give my all to my work when it deserves it, and when I’m with my family and friends, I can be (more) present.
It’s been two years since I left my full time job, so looking back is a bit hazy, but here’s what I know. I made a choice, I chose to take on too many projects, I chose to keep my full time job longer than I needed to (and I’m glad I did), I chose to let my clients think I was sitting at my computer at all hours of the day, I chose to let my business define and consume me. I don’t regret any of those choices, but I did learn quite a bit from them. Here’s what I hope I didn’t waste my time doing: pretending it wasn’t a choice. My phone definitely shouldn’t be out at dinner, and I wish I had set my boundaries sooner, but I’m glad I know them now (and acknowledge that they’ll change again). If you’re working on your side hustle – stop wasting your time complaining, instead, fill those moments with things you love. Plus, if you’re not LOVING your side hustle, it’s probably not worth it. I loved the projects that had me working late, I did it because it fueled me, and was worth losing sleep over.
One of the major changes is that I didn’t position myself as an expert when I first started. I knew I had a lot to learn, but if I didn’t position myself as an expert, how were my clients supposed to believe I was? Since then, I’ve stepped up my game.
Now, I check my email daily, (learn more about my inbox zero-ish here and here) but I don’t reply daily. I communicate timelines and expectations with my clients, and keep a tight calendar so I can keep up with my deadlines. I want them to know they’re a priority, but I also know they’re not expecting me to reply within 20 minutes (if they are, I should definitely revisit my screening process). If I’m on a deadline, my day is blocked for that, and I’m ready to roll. I know most of the pressure I felt, was pressure I put on myself – it wasn’t a client telling me to reply sooner, it was my own head telling me I had to strive for more, letting my own definition of success slowly slip away. I take on projects that are the right fit, I schedule my clients for the time they deserve, and I charge more because of it.
We all hustle, but each person’s hustle looks different, I’m all for ending the glorification of “hustle” and reminding ourselves to prioritize, set boundaries, and take care of ourselves. When we’re our best selves, our business has the room to shine. And yes, it’s a ton of hard work.
The best advice in the article? Stop hating yourself for eating dessert. Now that, my friends, is SOLID advice.