Whether you're building a side-hustle in hopes of leaving your full-time job, or just pursuing a passion and extra income in addition to your corporate role, there are ways to make them work together more effectively.
I spoke to Zhou to get her insights on how entrepreneurs can better balance their full-time roles with independent projects to create more success on the side.
Leverage Your Income To Create Growth
Businesses grow in one of two ways, Zhou says. You either put in time to make it grow organically, or you spend money on advertising and other means to buy growth.
"When you're in a job, you have more money than you have time, so use your money," Zhou advises.
You can use some of the income from your full-time role to help buy services and products, or the time of others, to create growth in your business. This could come in the form of advertising, software, sales support, tech support, coaching, an assistant or something else; whatever moves your particular business forward even while you're on the clock.
"By leveraging my income from my job to buy advertising, support for technical tasks, and guidance from those who had done what I wanted to do, I was in effect able to buy a shortcut," Zhou says.
Validate Quickly, And Simply, Before Building
Too many entrepreneurs and side-hustlers get overwhelmed trying to launch an empire, spending huge amounts of time setting up a website, ordering swag, creating content, and populating social channels in hopes of building a compelling brand that attracts inbound clients and customers. But Zhou advises a simplified approach.
"The best way to make sure you get results in your side business without becoming overwhelmed is to follow a simple plan that only has one goal per step," Zhou says.
- Confirm someone is willing to pay for your services
- Offer your service to those people
- Continue to connect with potential clients until you get 3 paying clients
Doing this as simply as possible is best, Zhou says. For example, you can confirm there's a market for your services or product simply by having a few phone calls or coffee meetings with folks who would be potential clients. Offering your services to them doesn't necessarily mean you need business cards and a full portfolio website, at first; it could be a simple follow-up email or conversation.
Once you've got three clients, and begin to work with them, you'll have more funds to invest in creating a brand around your pre-validated idea, with even more information about what works best.
Use Weekends Wisely
"After a long day at work, it takes near-superhuman will to come home and work another few hours on a side business," Zhou admits.
Instead, Zhou advises separating tasks for your side hustle into two categories: Weekend activities and weekday activities.
"Use your weekends were for heavy-lifting, such as planning, content creation, and more mentally-intensive activities," Zhou says. You'll have larger blocks of time available to you to get things done, and you'll be able to dedicate more attention and effort since you won't be drained from a full day of work already. This allows you to make big chunks of progress at once.
"Then, your weekdays can be used for 'easier' tasks, such as sharing your pre-written content, responding to client enquiries, and engaging with your audience," Zhou says. These quick activities are more manageable when your time and energy are being tapped by your full-time job, allowing you to make progress with the resources available, and to keep moving your business forward.