From idea to business
Aside from working with established brands, gyms and supplement companies we have had the immense pleasure of working with idea stage companies. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing an idea become a live, functioning business generating sales and lifelong customers. A question we often have in casual conversation with the founders of these brands is, ‘when do you think I should do this full-time?’
The back story
In 2014 during the first year of GymFuse, Daniel and myself needed income to support ourselves financially (read ‘buy food’) while we developed the business concept, product and service offering. We had the luxury of being fairly young, living at home and having few fixed costs.
Starting in 2014 until mid-2015 we delivered Chinese takeaways in our local area, both working from 5:30-10:30pm despite the unglamorous nature of the job, we earned a reasonable salary and had the opportunity to listen to e-books and podcasts in the process. In this period GymFuse began to generate traction and sales. Increasingly we were cutting short business development tasks to head out to fulfil our dinnertime delivery obligations.
Side hustle to main hustle
After weeks of deliberation we called upon the help of a mentor. “What do we do, we are sacrificing growth in exchange for a pay cheque. When do we quit?” We asked bluntly. The answer was simple, yet powerful. “What is your average return on 1 hour of work within GymFuse compared to 1 hour delivering meals?” BINGO.
The best nuggets of wisdom are usually incredibly simple and seemingly obvious. Sometimes it takes somebody removed from the situation to see it so clearly. We had our answer.
We left the job right away and began investing the newfound hours on building the business.1 year of developing strong foundations with the comfort of an income had set us on the right path, a path that allowed for sustainable and organic growth.
Starting out right
We absolutely advocate working on a new venture alongside your regular employment in the early days. There are plenty of glamorous articles and news stories of business owners making seemingly crazy decisions that worked out against all odds.
Often referred to as ‘jumping off the cliff and building wings on the way down.’ The overwhelming concern here is the high success bias in reporting. We do not hear the failure stories, simply because its not so cool to report and therefore we are bombarded by ‘winners,’ skewing our perception of success and its probability.
As unglamorous as it may sound, there are also a number of advantages to taking this ‘side hustle’ path.
Benefits of a side hustle:
- Take your time to position yourself in the market by understand who you are what values you hold as a brand.
- Prevent do or die scenarios whereby poor decision making is caused by the short-termist necessity to generate income immediately.
- You are in the special position of growing a small customer base with whom you can go the extra mile and develop excellent relationships with. Do things that do not scale.
- You can plan for scale before it arrives. Building strong foundations will pay dividends.
- Be bold and experiment. Enjoy the the liberating feeling of being new, small and unknown.
Investing for growth
Growth is hard, it takes persistence and sustained effort despite constant setbacks. The notion is of starting your business alongside a 9-5 is to invest lots of time today to enable freedom to live your passion tomorrow.
The hypothetical diagram above shows the ideal arc of the side hustle eventually growing to the income level of our current, stable job salary and eventually exceeding it.
We often believe that growth is the primary goal, but what does that really mean? We have found time again that creating specific, measurable goals massively increase the chances of hitting them.
When times are tough are your efforts appearing to be bearing little fruit, remember to keep in mind that the sense of pride and fulfilment will be overwhelming when you can comfortably build your business full-time. Therefore, it is vital the correct goals are in place to increase the likelihood of success.
A great exercise titled ‘dreamlining’ is detailed in Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week. A fairly simple but often overlooked exercise of breaking down ‘dreams’ and financial requirements in order to calculate a Target Monthly Income (TMI) and a Target Daily Income (TDI) along with a safety margin. This gives you ultimate precision for your growth planning and side to main hustle switchover.
Here is a link to an article that contains free worksheets and calculators, a great place to start.
Having definitive data to drive your planning can provide a level of clarity to goal setting that is invaluable. It is incredibly personal and dependent on your ideals and preferences on what defines an ideal lifestyle.
Build a strategy for developing your brand to the point of full time focus. Keep in mind the question ‘At what point is my time more valuable being spent on this project instead?’ Whilst guarding against prematurely switching and causing a stressful situation which is not conducive to optimal decision making.
Commit to the time investment today to allow for freedom tomorrow. It can be difficult and ultimately against our innate tendencies to delay gratification but when building a brand, it is absolutely necessary.
A few extra resources that go deep on the concepts mentioned in this post.
4HWW by Tim Ferriss: As mentioned above this book offers practical templates to develop goals and requirements for your business/ lifestyle requirements. There are also a number of other highly valuable takeaways to be had.
$100 Start-Up by Chris Guillebeau: Filled with real-life examples of business building alongside full-time work. Also packed with strategies for growth. Especially focused on concepts for young businesses who lack resources.
Enjoy the process! 😊