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Are you launching a side hustle while managing work and a pandemic?

launching side hustle during pandemic

I was really excited to hear from you last week, and I want to take this time to answer one of the questions that you shared here. 

This question is from Sadie, who asked “How do I balance work chaos with personal pursuits so I can start a side gig and a vegan business with my sister?”

I love this question. And Sadie – I want to acknowledge you for trying to make the side hustle + job thing work. Amazing! 

Launching a side hustle has so many benefits;

  • You can earn additional income that can help support you (especially during a pandemic and if you’re in the midst of a job search)
  • You build new skills that you may not be able to develop at your regular job – and you get to brag about these at your interviews, and
  • You learn, grow and push yourself out of your comfort zone. 

But how do you do it when work is crazy and you have a lot going on personally? 

Here’s what I recommend. (+ I share this as someone who started Work Bigger while I was working full time at the largest news organization in the world and learning to be a new mom.)

Manage the overwhelm

I’ll be honest, when I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I skipped over this whole part. I just wanted to do, do, do because I thought all the value was in the action.

Unless I was doing, there’d be no progress. 

The thing is I burned out badly. And because I was so overwhelmed and tired, my work wasn’t focused or strategic. (I thought it was, but it definitely wasn’t. )

I shut down my first business feeling defeated and exhausted. But I also learned a huge lesson: You can’t make an impact when you’re running on fumes, and you certainly can’t build a business. 

Building a business requires you to be thoughtful and clear-headed. 

So if you’re starting a side hustle while working full time, I recommend working on your mindset every single day. I’m a big fan of testing out different mindfulness and healing tools, from Rapid Transformational Therapy to yoga to journaling and meditation. 

I’m also a big fan of planning ahead and implementing different time management strategies. The more you plan your time, the more you can free your mind to be present so that you can focus on your side hustle during side hustle hours. 

Some habits you can build include scheduling your day in advance (I love to do it the night before), and also estimating how long each project will take you. 

Start small, and be strategic 

I made the mistake of trying to do all the things. 

Before Work Bigger, I started a company named BOULD. And I ran myself to the ground. 

I shut down that company, and after that, I took a month to clear my head. I made the decision that if I was going to do this, it would be fun and I’d enjoy it as much as possible. 

So I asked myself, “How can I do this in a way that’s doable right now?” 

That question shifted everything for me, and it forced me to be more strategic. 

I decided launching a blog was the easiest way to start. It would allow me to start building and moving toward my goal, but in a way that was manageable. 

So think of it this way…

If you have 30 minutes or 2 hours in a day in the first month what can you accomplish within that time? Less is more. Progress is still progress, and once you experience the WIN of setting a goal (i.e. I will accomplish X goal in 1 month), you’ll be motivated to keep going. 

Lastly, always reward yourself at the end of the month. The reward will help you build a new habit, which will help you pursue the bigger wins. 

Focus on finding product-market fit first

I spent a lot of time doing a lot of BS work that got me nowhere. If you can avoid what I did, I highly recommend it. (Although if you can’t, it’s ok too because everything is a learning process.) 

Rather than focusing on business cards and branding and all the cosmetics, start with finding product-market fit. This can take a long time and a lot of testing. 

With your product, start simple. For Sadie who is building a vegan business, she can start with one recipe and go gather feedback from a few people.

As you collect feedback, make sure you collect answers to the following questions:

  • How did people respond, and what did they like or dislike? 
  • Who raved about it? 
  • What else do they want?

Look at body language as you record your responses. Observe and take notes. 

Surveys are great for market research but to find product-market fit you need to put yourself out there and observe which potential customers are truly excited about what you’re building. Then you can focus on them. 

Some of my favorite frameworks on product-market fit are design thinking and The Lady Engineer’s approach

In conclusion

One of my favorite quotes is, “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought” by Marie Forleo. 

The best way to get started is by doing. And doing doesn’t mean running yourself to the ground. 

Doing at Work Bigger means taking strategic steps, being present and focusing on your wins.

That gets you to your goal in a healthy, focused way. 

We’ve done a lot of interviews with side hustlers these past few years. Here are some to check out.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Are you thinking of launching a side hustle but you’re wondering – how do I do it? And is it possible with the pandemic and my schedule? Share your questions in the comments. 


Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Sadie is my sister and we will take your advise here and add it to our Sheets file to reference and review during our next side-hustle meeting! Your advice and time taken for us is appreciated and I and so happy to have this motivation going into the next few months! We had our first kick off meeting and it went well but like you said that less is more and the PMF article is clutch for next steps! Gratitude and motivation run rapid through me and thank you for your answer and you will be a reason why we are successful!-Sadies Sister

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Hi Amanda – I’m so glad to hear the article was helpful for you both! I’m wishing you both lots of luck and success – you’ve got this! Keep us posted on your progress – rooting for you 🙂

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