Tips For Launching Your #SideHustle
As a career coach/writer/entrepreneur who started a business with less than nothing in 2008, and today has coached people around the world, and in the Obama White House, I’m passionate about the life-changing effects of small business. My small business allowed me to make a comeback in my own life.
In the early horrendous “interesting” years of starting a small business with nothing but dread, determination and debt, I remember wishing there was someone to hold my hand, and tell me exactly what to do. But, time passes. I didn’t die. In fact, I started getting clients. And, I realized that the incredible thing about owning a small business is that every single day you have the opportunity, if not the responsibility, to create the world you want to live in. Some of you will be happy with a side hustle and one client a month, while others will end up running enormous Fortune 500 companies. Your empire, your responsibility.
This Women’s History Month
If you have even the tiniest spark of an entrepreneurial idea, guard it, cherish it, protect that flame. Your idea will save your life. Do you know how many women around the world, and here are home, are still ground down into dust, and made to feel that all that is worthwhile is how big their breasts are? Do you know how many women are born and bred to feel worthless? We used to burn women at the stake. Now, with social media, women burn themselves: progress!
This Women’s History Month I hope you commit to making your own “herstory.”
Use what you have to create what you need.
Baby, I know: getting started is terrifying. And how exactly do you get started creating a small business, or side hustle when you don’t have a MBA, and Carlota, how do I even sell, and who would I be selling to, and why would they buy from me and oh my god, what about taxes, oh this is insane, I’m going to get back into bed and binge watch Broad City again, go away, I’ll come out when it’s safe.
Trust me when I say that as a history major, and produced playwright, just the idea of business was frightening. But also trust, that you, like me, know a lot more than you think you know. Your business idea probably grew out of an experience you had, or a service you wished you could find. That’s. How. Empires. Begin. An idea.
And the stuff you don’t know?
That’s the exciting part of being an entrepreneur! Now you educate yourself, and grow your network, and research and challenge yourself to get the knowledge necessary to bring your idea to reality. People become entrepreneurs because they have an idea that keeps them awake at night, an idea that makes them feel alive, NOT because they have an MBA, or know all the answers. Being an entrepreneur is believing in your dreams.
Today, right now, write out a concise description of your small business/side hustle idea: how would you describe it to a good friend? Who might be interested in your idea? (These are your potential clients.) Why would they be interested? How would your idea benefit them? How would you find these potential clients? (This, btw, is a great time to join your college/grad school alumni association(s) and ask if they have any free resources for entrepreneurs. Nowadays, some universities have small business incubators. Do they have an entrepreneurs’ group? Join it! Sign up for upcoming events, workshops and mentors. You might be thinking, “Um Carlota, I’m not an entrepreneur yet…?” I just waved my magic wand: boom bitch, you’re an entrepreneur, get to work! #yourwelcome)
Write out everything you can think of regarding your idea, and then start listing your questions and concerns. The more concrete you can make your questions, the greater chance you have of being able to discover the answers. Answers lead to more answers, and more ideas. Check out Score.org—a fantastic and free source of small business information—and google your area’s Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Association. What free resources do they have for female entrepreneurs? Follow these groups on social media, and see how you can join and learn from the online conversation.
Visit your alumni association(s) Facebook and LinkedIn page. Do they have entrepreneurial groups and resources? Are there men and women who are willing to mentor young entrepreneurs? These people know all about your so-called stupid questions, they’ve lived them! Help yourself to get the help necessary.
Some of you might be thinking, “Well, that’s cute, but I don’t know everything about my idea yet, I better wait till the time’s right.” Okay, but years from now, when you’re still waiting to know everything (i.e. for official permission to be the woman you wish to be), and your friends have started numerous businesses, and maybe failed, but probably also succeeded, and changed their own lives…tell me how your perfectionism *cough fear cough* worked out for you. In my own experience, ideas lead to more ideas whereas fear only leads to more fear. Women’s History Month strikes me as an excellent time for women to reject the ambition-destroying myth we’re force-fed about embodying perfection, n’est ce pas?
Make time for your business to succeed.
If you have time to watch Narcos, you have time to build your own damn empire. Before you give me that look, and roll your eyes, bitch I wish you would. I started a successful business in a broke-ass apartment in Queens…and now I have clients from NYC to Cabo San Lucas to Australia. It took a lot of blood, sweat, tears, profanities and rejection to get here. Achieving your destiny is always going to be inconvenient. It’s never fun per se to open yourself up to the world. But what’s the alternative? Exactly. Shut up, get to work.
Right now, with your list of what you need to know, go through your monthly calendar and set aside time every day, even if it’s just 25 minutes, to do the research, make the calls, schedule the meetings necessary. Are you going to need certifications? Are there free training classes or apps? Make the time to get the knowledge, resources and advantages that you need to triumph!
Give your (wonderfully imperfect unique) self permission to succeed.
As a coach, almost every day I have men and women sit in my office, tell me their fascinating dreams and then immediately tell me all the reasons they’ll never work. Oh. Okay. Good meeting, NEXT! Listen if you don’t believe in you, how exactly am I supposed to believe in you? Today make a decision that you’re going to believe in your ideas UNTIL they come to fruition, not IF because, spoiler alert, unless you believe, no one else can.
You know how many people, in the early years, laughed at me, told me I was crazy? The same people who now read my articles on Huffington Post and XO Jane, who heard about my keynote at Wellesley College, and emailed me to say, “Wow, Carlota, I never doubted you.” Yeah? Jealous much, bish? #petty #goals
And yes, early years of this business were pure sh*t: no vacations. No money. No brunches. Nothing but work, 24/7. But at the end of my life, I won’t be thinking about all the luxury vacations I didn’t take. I’ll be remembering the broken clients who, because of me, got help, found love, and created opportunities. I’ll be remembering the brave woman who sent me a card on my birthday reading, “Happy birthday, you saved my life! Thank you for being born! You are loved.”
And maybe it was a birthday when I had all of $100 in the bank, but I felt like the richest person on earth because I knew how hard that client had fought to come up to the light. I held the proof in my hands. My mailman watched me cry at my mailbox and said, worriedly, “Hey, lady…d’ja get bad news?” And I said, tears streaming down my face, “No, no… wonderful news!”
No one has to believe in your business but you. You are the one who will have to fight for your goals and your dreams. If you believe in yourself, you’re luckier than most. Your entrepreneurial passion can save our bruised, battered world.
This Women’s History Month, I hope you will give yourself permission to make your own “herstory.” When I was broke, and exhausted and frightened and I wanted, desperately, to give up, I thought of the anonymous women who went before me… and I knew that surrender was impossible. Resistance was my responsibility. I hope it’s yours as well. That’s how seriously I take small business.
Clients sometimes ask me which woman in history inspired me, and it’s the millennia of women who were beaten, and raped, and killed and silenced. The women who never were given joy and opportunities, but simply rules and guilt and shame. The women who were taught to step on the throat of their own songs. Women just like me. Women just like you.
This is your time: go build your empire.
About the author
Success Strategist Carlota Zimmerman, J.D., helps men and women from all walks of life, and of all ages, identify and achieve their goals, with the primary objective being the enhancement of her clients’ professional and personal lives in ways meaningful to them.
Helping clients improve their lives in all aspects that count, Carlota’s expert counseling extends from focusing on clearly defining ambitions, uncovering networking secrets and crafting dynamic elevator pitches to successful job-hunting strategies, social media recommendations, and more. Her clients are located across the world, from New York City to the UK.