Turning my side hustle into my main hustle was a decision that just made sense for me. In the following paragraphs, I will share what drove me to my decision to work for myself and what actions I took to establish my business as my full-time job.
From Side Hustle to Main Hustle
For years, I had been working my business as a side hustle while working a full-time corporate job. The problem was I was becoming busier and busier in my corporate role and spending less and less time with my family or on what I wanted to do.
My job was becoming my life. Here is an example of what I mean. I once went on a family vacation with my husband and daughter and while walking through the zoo with them, I had to step away for a 30-minute work call. In the mornings before they would wake, I would work. And, on the drive to and from vacation, I worked in the car. I was always working. Daily, my toddler would cry and say, “Mommy, no work!”
After my vacation, I was told that a particular higher-up wasn’t happy with my performance while I was on vacation. Really, I didn’t work enough while on vacation? SMH. I was crushed. I felt like I was constantly making choices to sacrifice my family for my work out of fear of disappointing management and being perceived as a slacker.
Now, I don’t blame the company for any of this, I blame myself. I am the one who continually made the choice to put my job before my family. It was me who made the choice to show up to work instead of going to the oncologist with my mom. I am the one who chose to miss out on family events to try and look good at work until one day I didn’t.
The day arrived when I had found that I had just had enough of not choosing my family. The day had come when I realized I was tired of being unfulfilled both professionally and personally. When nothing you do is good enough at work, you’ll never find joy in what you do even when you love the work.
So, I resigned.
My plan was to take a year off to spend time with our daughter before she started school but anyone who knows me knows that I thrive on achievement and projects so that didn’t go exactly as planned. Instead, I started some personal projects, like building my website and building my online course, The Instructional Design Lab. I started putting myself out there to work with clients, and before I knew it, I had as many clients as I WANTED to handle given the number of hours I wanted to work each week.
Notice I said, “given the number of hours I wanted to work each week.” As a consultant and freelance instructional designer, how much I work is now completely within my control. I have the power to balance my work and family life as well as dedicate time to my health. And, I do keep things balanced! I still get up early to work but I don’t work weekends and nights. And, I put family and health first.
While this path is NOT for everyone, it is definitely for me RIGHT NOW.
So, how did I transition my side hustle into my main hustle and attract enough clients to pay myself a salary?
Before making the decision to go full-time, you need to consider expenses and tradeoffs. First, if you are giving up a salary from a job, you won’t have that and you won’t have the benefits that came with the job. I recommend having at least 6 months of savings in the bank or a spouse/partner who can support you while you ramp up your work to ensure that you are not hurting your life financially. It’s one thing to live smaller while starting out and a whole different thing to go broke and to miss out on benefits like insurance.
Avoid putting yourself and your family in a bind.
How Much Do You Need to Make?
It’s time to apply the math you learned in school. You need to figure out how much you need to make before your turn your side hustle into your main hustle.
Some things to consider:
- What will your hourly rate be?
- How many hours do you need to work to reach your income goals? Remember, not all hours are billable. I typically have one full day each week that is not billable.
- You also need to keep in mind that your work will ebb and flow throughout the year, so your income is not always stable.
- How much time will you need to take off during the year for things like vacation, check-ups, or other things?
- What are your business expenses? You might think you don’t have any, but you most likely do. How much does it cost for your email account, your website, your software programs, your tools, etc.?
- These are all business expenses that should be factored into your breakeven point. Yes, you should figure that out! I know exactly how much I need to make each week to stay in profit mode.
What Products and/or Services Will You Sell?
I sell both services and a product. I offer my services as a consultant and freelancer to businesses, and I sell a product, The Instructional Design Lab, as a learningprenuer.
When deciding what you have to offer, it can be hard to use an objective lens to determine whether or not you have something to sell that would interest others. The one sure fire way to find out is to test the waters.
If you’re already in business with a side hustle, you probably already have some ideas on this. If not, starting a side hustle is a great way to put yourself out there to test the interest of your target market while maintaining your safety net (i.e. your job).
Treat Your Business Like a Business
I have worked for a couple of different network marketing and direct sales companies, and let me tell you, they are so good at selling the dream of entrepreneurship. And, the network marketing builders are so generous in sharing what they believe are the key principles of building a successful business.
One of the principles that has stuck with me over the years is to Treat Your Business Like a Business, Not a Hobby. If you treat your business like a hobby, you will earn a hobby income.
How do you treat your business like a business? Every business is different so how you do it may be different from how I do it. Note, that I am not a lawyer, and I do not offer any legal advice only personal opinions and recommendations. In fact, I do recommend you use a legal service for advice and assistance with setting up your business.
Here are some things that have worked for me.
I have an accountant and a full accounting, payroll, and tax compliance provider, whom I work with to help me keep my business in order. They stay on top of my expenses, bank reconciliation, taxes, and pay my salary.
The tool I use to manage all of this is Quickbooks in the cloud. With Quickbooks, you can manage sales and expenses, generate invoices to customers and establish payment terms as well as pay bills, create reports, tax filing and more, all for a nominal monthly fee.
Quickbooks also enables my customers to pay my invoices with one click directly from the invoice itself, or through any other method of payment, and the payment is reconciled directly in Quickbooks since my bank statements are also fully integrated. It is really easy to use and surprisingly cheap!
I mentioned both hourly rate and invoice terms earlier. These are things you may want to think about as you prepare to work with clients. These both factor into how you pay yourself.
- Will you pay yourself a salary or will pay yourself by project?
- Will you bill hourly or by the project? To bill by project, you will need to know how you work and what your velocity is. Velocity is speed. Before accepting a flat fee project, I recommend you know how long it takes you to do different activities. The best way to know this information is to document your work. Even when working on flat fee projects, I use a time tracker to track my activities by the minute. If you don’t have any projects to use as a guide, here is an article from ATD by Robyn Defelice that lays out how long it takes to develop a one hour training.
- Speaking of time, some consultants track their time in 15-minute increments, always rounding to the nearest 15-minute increment. Personally, I track exactly what I work. I have an excel spreadsheet where I enter my start and stop times, breaks, and the hourly rate to calculate the charge to my client.
If you want to be seen as a professional business person, you should look the part with the rights tools and image. You can do that with a sleek, professional, working website. That means using quality images, proofing your content, and testing links regularly to make sure they work. I also recommend setting up a business entity that works for you. As you see on my website, my business is set up as an LLC. I am operating a legit business, which lends to my credibility and enhances my professional image.
What about your email address? Are you using a plain gmail account or is it customized, such as @yourbusinessname.com? What do your social sites say about you? Are they set up to be personal or professional? If you are using your social sites to market your business, I recommend keeping your personal activities separate from your business activities. Not everyone does this. Some people marry the two together very well.
When will you work? What’s your starting and quitting time? Whatever schedule you set, honor your schedule. Let your family members know that you are working during the hours you set. These hours are not for laundry, cleaning, running errands, or long lunches. These are your business hours and should be used as such, unless your business is a hobby.
In a future blog post, I will dedicate a full post on marketing your freelance instructional design business so I will only briefly cover how marketing influenced my transition from my side hustle to my main hustle now.
In network marketing and direct selling, there is a key principle that says you should do 2-5 exposures every day. Two if you are part-time and 5 if you are full-time. And, I believe this applies to soloprenuers too.
An exposure is marketing. It is exposing people to your business. I market, or expose others to, my business every day of the week via my website, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I also blog.
Doing these things gets my business name out for people to see. It’s not about pushing services or my product as much as it is about creating awareness. I also participate in group discussion threads to engage with others. These are a handful of the marketing strategies I used to transition my side hustle to my full-time hustle.
Right now, today, if you asked me what my goals were for 2019. I could tell you. If you asked me what my goals are for Q1, I could tell you. In fact, I could open a PPT document and show you exactly what I have planned for the year.
No one sees this except me. So, why did I go through all of the trouble of planning out my year and my quarter and putting it into a nice presentation? Because I NEED TO SEE IT regularly. I need to know what I am working towards and how I am measuring up against my planned achievements.
Having something to work towards is motivating. It pushes me to do things that I may not want to do and when I may not have the motivation to do it.
Use goals like a light post to guide you through the darkness and uncertainty. Even if you miss your mark, you will find yourself closer to your target than if you had done nothing.
INVEST IN YOU!
How does this fit into my transition from my side hustle to my main hustle? Well, it fits like a glove. I quickly learned that I did not need to figure this all out on my own.
There are soloprenuers and entrepreneurs out there who are giving away free content as a carrot to get you to buy their full products. The great thing about their free content is that it often gives you just enough information to put you on the right path.
You don’t need perfect knowledge or to know everything when you are just getting started. You just need enough information to get moving and get yourself to that next milestone. When you get there, level up your knowledge and skills a little more and stretch again to the next milestone.
In addition to free courses, I did pay for one online course, and I purchased some books. I even watched some YouTube videos and joined some Facebook groups and Reddit discussions. We live in the day of information and there is a lot of great content accessible for little to no cost. I recommend learning a little, doing a little, learning a little more and doing more.
Got questions or comments?
My free Facebook page is a great place to add your questions and engage with other instructional designers on different topics related to instructional design, so jump on in and join the conversation.
The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShield