It’s easy to get excited about starting a service-based side-business.
After all, who doesn’t love the idea of extra income? But finding your first customers can be tough. It starts getting even trickier when you actually start landing clients; now you need to deliver on the high-quality service that you promised!
So now you need to balance finding clients and servicing them with your full-time job. (Not to mention any other obligations you might have.)
It can become quite the juggling act, as you may already be well aware!
We don’t have the luxury of dedicating all the time in the world to our side-hustle (or else it wouldn’t be a side-hustle!) so it’s imperative that you’re implementing the right strategies to maximize productivity.
But productivity doesn’t have to be rocket science, either. Here are the best simple productivity hacks for staying on top of your small business when you also work full-time:
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Dedicate specific times for pitching
If you’re just starting out and/or have no clients, then most of your time should be dedicated to pitching anyway. But once you have a couple of clients, it’s easy to let this practice fall to the wayside.
Unless you are totally tapped out on capacity, pitching should still be a part of your routine. Daily is best, since the sooner you respond to a new job opportunity, the more likely you are to get it – but even if you’re pitching once or twice a week that’s better than not at all. The point is to schedule the time specifically to do it.
Be efficient and organized during these pitching sessions. I keep all my favorite job sites and leads bookmarked so I spend less time in Google and more time zeroing in on opportunities.
You should track your pitches using a spreadsheet or a Trello board so that you know what gigs you pitched when. (Remember last week’s post on Trello? 😀 )
Assign a specific space for working
I’m not going to lie, I do an awful lot of work on the couch. But more and more I am shifting to a dedicated “workspace” to do my client work. I have found this to be an invaluable productivity hack!
That doesn’t mean you must have an official home office. Any quiet space with a relatively ergonomic chair will do the job fine. I have used the kitchen table as my official workspace before.
Anytime I work from the couch, I typically end up with a headache or back pain from my crappy posture. And guess what happens then?
I’m less productive.
But not only is a dedicated workspace better for your back, but it’s also psychological too; When I sit in my designated workspace, I mean business. No more facebook surfing or browsing through the latest deals on Sephora!
Master the art of “Done”
Before we delve into this, by no means am I suggesting that your finished product should ever be less than your best work. But there’s a time for fine-tuning and a time for just cranking it out.
For example, one of my biggest challenges is finding time during the busy work week to make headway on writing assignments. While I do the majority of my side-biz work on weekends, I will dedicate shorter bursts of time throughout the week to tackle smaller tasks.
Weeknights I typically dedicate to more administrative VA tasks, but sometimes I also brainstorm article ideas and write outlines and rough drafts. And trust me, my rough drafts are just rough.
They’re ugly. But ugly writing is what allows me to bang out an 800-word draft in half an hour. (I did this whole other post on Ugly Writing, check it out!)
Just getting ideas into a Google Doc is the goal. Often these sessions turn out being super productive because by keeping them short.
Then when I have more time on the weekend I polish them up.
There’s also something to be said about stopping yourself from obsessing over tiny details. I have been known to get hung up on trying to choose the “perfect” stock photo or font for way, way too long. (I still catch myself falling down the Canva font rabbit hole sometimes!)
Capitalize on available time
You have more free time than you think, you just usually spend it doing other things. Look, the reality is that some sacrifices will need to be made if you’re going to get your side-hustle off the ground.
Take a hard look at how you’re spending your time and ask yourself, where can I cut back? (An hour less of TV never killed anyone… Just sayin’.)
Another thing I’ve started doing is working before work. Even getting up an extra 30-45 minutes can go a long way.
I also use a timer to keep an eye on how long I’m spending on each task. Toggl is an awesome tool for this, it’s free and you can even use it to generate time summary reports for your clients!
Maybe it’s psychological but when I see that timer running, I buckle down and do my best to make the most of every minute.
Choose your work wisely
You might not see how being selective about your work can be a productivity hack, but hear me out. When you’re first starting out, you will see any client as a good client. But once you build up a portfolio and start getting busier, you may need to be more selective about what kind of work you’re doing, for who.
Remember also that the service provider and client relationship is a two-way street. It’s equally important that you are a good fit for them as it is that they are a good fit for you!
And don’t work for less than you’re worth! It’s not worth your time and there’s enough work out there that you don’t need to subject yourself to that.
If you’re not getting paid what you’re worth, or you and your client aren’t a good fit for each other, it will result in a lot of dissapointment and wasted time on both sides. Because that business relationship won’t last and you will be no further ahead than before you took them on as a client.
As a side note: Some people – particularly us women – can really be their own worst enemy when it comes to charging what they’re worth. They either feel guilty for charging fairly for their time, or feel their skill are less valuable than they are.
(PS – Jen Sincero’s book, “You Are a Badass at Making Money” is a really good read for getting your mind right about money!)
Just Keep Going
There’s going to be times when you don’t get as much done as you hoped you would. There might be times when finding new clients feels like trying to find a panda in a sea of snowmen.
And occasionally you may learn you are not a good fit for a certain client, or that they weren’t a good fit for you.
All of these things can be very disheartening. But if you only take away one thing from this article, it’s this:
Push through the tough times and give yourself the time to rest when you need it.
But don’t give up. Because I 100% believe that if you keep going, you will get to your destination, sooner or later.
How do you balance your side-hustle with your other day-to-day obligations? Let’s hear it in the comments!