When I was thinking of starting my business I knew I wouldn’t be able to work on it full time straight away. It would have to be a ‘side hustle’ at first until I could financially step away from my 9-5! I was ok with this. I was actually excited by this! Yeah, it would be a lot of blood, sweat and tears, blah blah blah, I’ve heard it a million times over. BUT I would love what I was doing and that would make it easy. Right? At least that’s what I thought going into it…
Three months in and I realise how very wrong I was.
Is it completely my fault? I’m not so sure when I think about it. There’s a good argument to be made about society romanticizing the idea of a ‘side hustle’, breaking free from those 9-5 chains and taking control of your life. It leaves you just dying to break into that world for the taste of freedom and contagious energy experienced by the Gary
And I’m sure there’s a lot of truth to that. But there’s a whole lot of other truth you don’t really hear about – at least I didn’t. So I want to share it with you right now. Because if you make the decision to go into this life you need to do so with the full realization of what you are in for.
First and foremost, people won’t support you.
When I made the decision to have my business I was excited. For the first time in a long
Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was asking too much for my conservative South Asian parents to understand me quitting my job and going to Colombia for 6 months to get this thing off the ground. But surely when I returned home and had to get another day job while I continued building this business on the side (welcome to the ‘side-hustle’!), the friends that were so eager to visit me in Colombia would now be rallying around me! I mean here I was having zero social life, spending all my free time doing something that I had no idea how to do and barely making any progress! I needed hugs, I needed words of encouragement, I needed you to share my posts
But I realised that I was the one that changed, I couldn’t expect everyone else too as well. They were still living the same busy lives, still focused on trying to hold their own shit together, still in the same 9-5 world and unable to understand the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship. And because they were completely unfamiliar and disconnected with what I was going through, they were not in a place to offer the support and comfort I needed to get me through those first few months.
The best thing I could do was to stop expecting it from them. I began building my own entrepreneurship community. Locally and online. Now when I have questions, want to pull my hair out and cry or even just celebrate a mini accomplishment (like my first Facebook Live –
Entrepreneurship does not have to be a lonely road when you are part of a loving community of empowering people.
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There Is No Immediate Payoff
Ahhh, one nice thing I can say about the 9-5 – you work, you get paid! That Thursday bank deposit is a sweet little cushion you can depend on that lets you justify trudging to that office and sitting in front of the computer until your eyes start to water!
Your side hustle? Not so much. People even say that if you break even in your first year you’re winning. I haven’t made it that far yet, but from my experience I can tell you that I worked my ass off in the first three months with nothing to show for it. Ok, not nothing. But I sure as hell did not make money.
Think about that for a sec. Who in the hell would work a 9-5 job, get up, ride the subway, sit through the soul-sucking meetings with people that use words like ‘synergies’, over and over and over again for three months, for nothing???
Well that my friends is the side hustle. You work, you don’t get paid.
The solution? You just gotta keep going. Put your head down, do what you need to, do what people tell you to do (your new entrepreneur comrades, not your 9-5 friends that don’t understand what you’re doing) and have some friggin faith in yourself that it will all come together. Eventually. But do not get into this if you think you are going to be some baller in Cancun, one hand on your Corona and the other on your keyboard. Like people who become Teachers for Summers off, you’ll be crying yourself to sleep if you’re motivations are that superficial.
You Will Spend A Lot Of Time Not Feeling Good Enough
Change is hard. Changing yourself may be even harder. I don’t know about you, but I’m used to the 9-5 schedule where I work myself to the bone during the day, come home and then get to feel good about myself while I sink into the couch watching YouTube. I put in
It was a shock to my system to no longer be able to do that, now that I was caring for and nurturing this baby side hustle. I would come home and rationally my mind would be thinking of all my business to-do’s, while my body was longing for that couch! But I didn’t have time to be tired, I had shit to do!? I had blogs to write, Instagrams to post, networking events to attend. Why couldn’t I just get my ass into gear?
It was a constant battle. And a lot of time YouTube and the
I was so accustomed to that external accountability that comes with the 9-5 world, that I was at a loss of how to self-motivate myself. I had thought wanting something would be enough. Does this mean I don’t want it bad enough? Or that I am destined to a life I don’t really want because basically, I’m not good enough?
No! Fuck no! It was only after driving myself into a near burnout that I learned about scheduling! That’s right, scheduling your time. Giving yourself little rewards if you accomplish what you set out to do that day.
Also as important, realising that I SHOULD NOT have been spending every waking free second on building my business. Because that’s when the work started to feel like work. And no matter how much you love it in the beginning, no one wants to work when you’ve spent the whole day working! You need downtime to rest and recharge so you can go back at it with a full cup. Because trust me, burning out is going to be a lot more disastrous to the progress of your business than taking it slow.
So there you go – a snapshot of my experiences and lessons learnt from the first three months in this crazy entrepreneurial world. Not exactly the freedom-chaser lifestyle I know. But look at me?? I’m still here! Plugging away, writing this love note to you, thinking about the Facebook Live I’ll be recording tomorrow and responding to potential-client emails as they come in.
And why you ask??
Because for all the moments of difficulty and sheer frustration, I also have moments of joy! Where all my hard work materialises into some achievement and I have physical proof of the business I am building. And for a moment it feels like it’s all coming together. Like I’m on the right path and will actually figure this shit out.
And it is these moments that I choose to focus on (because it is absolutely a friggin choice). These are the moments that tell me that I am getting somewhere. That everything is figure-out-able with patience and drive. That with every hurdle and headache and Saturday night spent inside I am getting closer to that life I have been dreaming of for myself. I know I will continue to have the shit days and the times where I just want to give up. But I also know how badly I want it and what I’m capable of. I am not where I was three months ago. And I’m excited to see where I’ll be three months from now!
*guest post by Allison Colin-Thome
Allison Colin-Thome heads up Career Off Script, where she helps millennials find work they actually want, so they can stop waking up for just a paycheck and instead have a career that means something to them. She cuts through their confusion by helping them figure out what they really need, what drives them and what it will take in a job for them to be happy so they can find careers they love and finally take their next steps with confidence. After a bumpy journey of her own, Allison left her career in Corporate HR to pursue the work she loved. She started her business while spending time in Colombia learning Spanish and can either be found sipping Earl Grey in a midtown Toronto cafe or online at www.careeroffscript.com and also on Email, Facebook and Instagram.
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