There’s something about a new year that gets you thinking about what you’d like to achieve. For some, the idea of creating something is exciting. For others, wanting to get the hell out of their job is the driving force. And for a lot? Well, maybe you’re not 100% sure, but you know you want something more. Fair enough, I’ve been there with all three.
So who the hell am I? I’d say I’ve definitely been a bit of a ‘side-hustler’ in my 20’s. I started this blog 7 years ago, I’ve done freelance content marketing on the side for the last 8 years, and then in 2018 I started and successfully ran my first product-based business, Lucky Girl. My side-businesses have gone from pocket-money, to full time income for one (with the other two still on the side), and the intention that my passions will pay for my wedding next year. Cool, eh?! So based off this experience, what are my top tips for starting a side-biz in your twenties?
1 – Fuel your passion:
What things do you absolutely bloody love? Even better, what are you already doing where you lose track of time? Is it art, science, coding websites, or even social media? If you’re good at it (your mum will say you’re good at everything, so ask more people than her), then write a big long list of everything you could do as a side-biz under this category. Your favourite ones will be clear to you, so follow your gut here and work out logistics when you’re down to the final couple of options.
I started my blog because my passion was firstly writing, followed by fashion and beauty (my main themes). Think about everything involved with your idea, and if the MAIN factors make you go “ugh”, then seek something that sits better for you. There’s no such thing as one size (or idea) fits all. You’ll see this with my next tip…
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2 – Find a gap:
Everything’s been done before… Mostly. But it hasn’t had your spin, brains, or creativity put into it. Remember that before your ego jumps in to say “You’re not original, Babes. Best not to do it”. The trick is finding a gap in the market, targeted to a niche group of people and making it your goal to serve the fuck out of them. If you’re targeting everyone, you’re targeting no one, so have the guts to step out and say “Hey, this isn’t for everyone and that’s okay”.
I think this is something that has made Lucky Girl (in my eyes, at least) a success. Sure, everyone wears t-shirts, but I’ve specifically targeted bad-ass babes (through my visual branding and brand voice), and seek women that are gutsy enough to put their trust in me, ending up with a mystery print in their letterbox every couple of months. You see where I’m going here?
3 – Invest, but be smart about it:
I truly believe that nearly all businesses need to invest money and without a doubt time in order to be successful, but I urge you to be smart about this as you’re starting out. If you don’t have the money to invest into something, you better hope you’ve got the time (and drive) to hustle in order to make up for this. When money does start coming in (yay), be kind to yourself and invest at least 30% in your future i.e. back into your business. Your family will 100% thank you for it!
In 2012, I started some freelance script writing for a kids TV show (cool, eh?). With ZERO previous experience to show, I wrote some relevant script examples and brought them to my interview. You bet they were impressed, and yes, I got a 100% return on this (time) investment! Show that you give a shit, and you’ll be surprised what opps come your way.
4 – Make plans and schedule them in:
Once you’re on your way, don’t slack the moment your Instagram account is live (presuming you’d have one for your biz). Think about it, any of your previous goals (professionally or personally) have been achieved because you’ve worked through ’em. So, set up your goals (and a date in which you’d like to reach them), and work out ALL the steps you’ll need to make realistically to get there.
I set up my goals for the whole year (dream big, girl), then break them down to every quarter. Once I know what my next 3 months look like, this is broken down even further to monthly, and then to weekly (and daily) tasks. It seems like a lot, but you gotta have that big goal in mind always, with actionable steps that don’t freak you out.
5 – Be ready for the hard knocks:
You’ll probably freak out when sales (or clients) don’t come rolling in straight away, you’ll most likely get sucked into the comparison trap with your “competition”, and you’ll definitely get pissed if your friends don’t support your business in some way (you need a support team, yo). The hard knocks are gonna happen, but hey, it makes the wins that much sweeter. Remember, people don’t talk about the behind the scenes, or the years leading up to their perceived success. You are not alone, and this will only make your business (and you) stronger and better aligned. Business (and life, actually) is about learning; you won’t learn if you do everything right.
Test and learn. Test and learn. Test and learn. Reflection is so important when you’re in business, so trial something then take the time to analyse what worked and what didn’t, and divert from there. Remember, hard knocks mean you’re evolving!