The Niche Movement’s Leap of Faith series features stories from entrepreneurs about their personal journeys with their businesses, ranging from newly formed side hustles to entrepreneurs who have been in the game for many years. This week’s blog features Megan Gillman’s journey as an entrepreneur. Read on to see how she sustains her growing business.
My friend asked me yesterday if my business was self-sustaining yet. I said, pretty honestly, that I was bringing in enough money to sustain the business (to pay for my website, insurance, occasional supplies, etc.), but it definitely wasn't ready to sustain ME yet.
When I was thinking about starting my own business the biggest fear I needed to overcome was my fear of being totally reliant on someone else to pay my bills and take care of me. I didn't want to be a burden on anyone. So I applied for a part-time job at a local call center.
In many ways, having this part-time job has given me the freedom to move forward in the pursuit of my goals in a way that I wouldn't be able to if I was in a full-time job, or if I was completely self-employed.
The benefits I've gotten from having a part-time job that supports me are great, and not just financial.
Going from being employed full time while taking night classes to being self-employed for half my time left me with, well, a lot of time on my hands. With all this open space on my schedule, it became so hard for me to figure out how to best use my time. I would end up spending hours on administrative tasks that had a relatively low value to my work, and end up feeling like I didn't have the time or energy to put into more creative activities.
Having a part-time job made it so much more important for me to manage my time effectively. Weirdly, having something taking up a big chunk of my time makes it easier for me to plan and arrange my schedule. It provides some boundaries inside which I know I can go wild.
Having a part-time as opposed to my old full-time job leaves me with more than enough time to start growing my business from home, and if something really important comes up, I can always have someone else cover my shift at work, or pick up someone else’s shift if I’m short on cash one month.
Having a job that is so far outside of what I want to do for the rest of my life has given me newfound permission to treat it as just that: a job. In the past, because I was working in a field I enjoyed and cared about full time, it was very difficult for me to separate my life from my job. I stressed about everything that went wrong at work, and I felt slighted if I wasn't recognized for the awesome work I was doing. I felt like I always needed to give 110% because it was work that was important to me but also because my identity was tied up in how good I was at my job.
With a part-time job answering telephones, I feel like I'm able to more easily separate my self from my job. I don't take it personally if someone gets upset on the phone, and I don't stress out when things are a bit off, like if the company is short-staffed for a week or so. I'm able to come in and do *my* job and let other people take care of the rest.
Finally, having a part-time job has allowed me a bit of predictability and financial support that has empowered me to run my business the way I want. This is probably the most important thing I've gained.
Self-care as an entrepreneur doesn't just mean yoga and bubble baths. It means making sure you are taking care of all your basic needs, including the need for income to pay your bills and help meet your financial goals. I'm blessed that I have a partner who is on this journey with me and is helping to support our household as well, but having a part-time job helps me focus on the business I want to build without having to worry I won’t be able to pay my mortgage.
I know that I want to run my business in a way that feels aligned with my values and goals, and so it's important to me that I be able to let it grow organically instead of trying to push my way into success. I know that this will be a slow process, and I don't want to be tempted or forced into making business choices I don't align with just because I need money to cover my bills.
Because my part-time job has a pretty steady number of hours each week, and a base pay rate, I'm able to rely on some stability in my finances. This gives me the freedom I need to grow my business in a slow, sustainable way and ensure that I'm doing the work the way I want to, without outside pressures.
The key is to be a part-time employee, not a gig worker. Uber, Fiverr, and VIPKids offer flexibility, for sure, but you’ll be hustling you build your part-time gig at the same time you’re working to get your own business off the ground. It’s more reliable and less stressful, to find a part-time job where you’re paid a fair hourly wage.
Taking the Leap
So if you’ve been considering taking the leap into self-employment, consider getting a part-time job to help support you in ways you might not expect. I work at a call center right now, but Whole Foods pays $15 an hour starting salary, and there might be lots of small businesses in your area that are looking for part-time workers. Who would have thought you could get so much freedom by punching the clock?
Did you like this blog? Get more from Megan Gillman over on her wellness blog.