How to Build Your Business Around Your Day Job


Have you been dreaming of starting a business? Is it one of the things on your bucket list? Are you worried that you can’t do it with your current day job?

You can.  Start it as a side hustle.

I first learned about the concept of a side hustle from Pam Slim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation and all around amazing person.  Side hustles are a super low risk way to get started on your idea, test it and grow it to a full time business. Pam says, “it can also be part of your backup plan in case you lose your job.

You can also just use it as a method to have some extra income every month to help pay off student loans, buy your favorite books, or add to your savings. is my side hustle. My full time job is pretty much a 9-5 Monday through Friday type gig. Based on that, I work on my business before and after work, on weekends – and sometimes during lunch.

If this sounds like something you want to start, there will never be a better time than today. Even with the day job. Even with your other commitments.

Here are 7 tips on building your side business:

1. Get clear on the amount of time you have to spend on your business.

Time is probably the biggest struggle when you have a day job because you don’t have a full 12 hours to spend on building your business. It’s important to figure out how much time you have to spend. And be realistic. If it’s only 30 minutes a day, that’s OK. If it’s only an hour a week or on a weekend, that’s OK. Just figure out what time is business time and stick to it.  And if it’s business time, you want to be working on things that’ll help you move forward with your business.

2. Figure out what you can offer right now.

Just one thing. What’s the simplest thing you can offer right now? A 30 minute coaching call? An ebook? A class taught at a coffee shop?  Figure out one thing you can offer that’s super easy and super fun for you.  You could even offer the first 10 calls or products free and get feedback on those before you feel ready to start charging for things.  Or you can focus on blogging. Get into a consistent routine with writing and start building your audience and figuring out what they need.  You just want to focus on one thing to offer right now to get you started.

3. Keep it small. Keep it simple.

When you’re starting out, the key is to have a good foundation but not to spend a ton of money. Money spent on hosting and a WordPress theme is a good place to start. But this is not the time to spend $3K to $5K on a designer. I say this because, this is your first site, your first attempt at this. Bootstrap as much as you can. As you start out, you want something super cute (of course) but also super simple because most likely your business, your focus and even your target audience will change. (For example, I really thought that would be a social media management company when I first started).

4. Start building your tech toolbox.

Yep I’m a big fan of the tech toolbox. These are tools and resources you can use to help you save time and automate things as you build your business. If you need a website, you can grab a hosting plan from Bluehost for less than $100/year. You can set up a Mailchimp account for free.  You can even use a tool like Calendly to allow folks to schedule time on your calendar for a meeting.  You have options here.  The goal is to be aware of ways that technology can help you save time and allow you to get things done while you’re at work.

5. Get connected.

Use the social media channels that you’re already active on to promote your business.  Share your latest blog post on Facebook.  Start following potential clients on Twitter.  Get out in your local community and let people know what you are doing. Add people to your mailing list so they can stay updated on the things you’re working on.

Meet people. Make connections. You never know where your next opportunity may come from.

6. Use your day job’s powers for good.

Once you start doing this side hustle thing, you might start resenting the day job or thinking it’s the enemy. First of all, this is normal because you can often feel like the job is standing in the way of you doing what you want to do. The day job is a good thing. It helps you take care of your rent and your basic needs while you build this business on the side. This gives you the flexibility to experiment and try and fail as much as you want without worrying that you’ll lose everything and be living in a van down by the river.

Aside from the money thing, think of your day job as a training ground for your business. If you want to try something new, volunteer for it at your day job. Use the resources and connections to learn as much as you can. You’ll be a better employee and you’ll rock at your business.

7. Don’t kill yourself doing this.

Sucky days are gonna happen. You’ll constantly feel this tug of war between your job and your business. This is why Tip #1 is so important. Figure out the time you have to spend on your business and stick to that. But also be realistic with yourself. Take the time to do other things that are fun and have nothing to do with your job or your business. This way you won’t burn yourself out.

There may be days where you are ready to tear down the website and throw the business out the window (trust me, I’ve been there.). That is a sign that you need to take a pause on your business and maybe your day job and have a blanket fort day. Or a day in nature. Or go color. Because there will also be days when you are ready to cry and your heart is so full because a client left you an amazing testimonial. Or a client was ready to give up until reading your blog post. These are the moments that will make everything worth it.

Building a business can be the most rewarding and exhausting thing that you do but the point is that you CAN do it. Even with a day job.