simplify your side hustle
From the first time I saw that positive pregnancy test, I knew my life, and therefore my business, would never be the same. As I prepared my business for my daughter’s arrival, I found myself getting rid of a whole lot of clutter that was surrounding my site. I found myself deleting pages I spent hours working on. I deleted videos that were still generating revenue on my channel. I unsubscribed and stopped using tools that I had once sworn by. I found myself simplifying every aspect of my business, and through it, I figured out exactly what I wanted this site to be.
I think we all get a little distracted by shiny objects when we first begin our side hustles. I hope these ideas and actions will help you to focus in on what you really want your business to be. Don’t skim through this post if you can help it, take some time to really think through each of these prompts and decide if simplifying your side hustle would benefit your business in the long run.
01. Core Business
When we first start a blog or a business, either we tend to have no ideas or five-thousand. Either way, working through what your focus is for your business will help you focus in on the things you want to spend your time on. Think of this part as your elevator pitch - when someone asks “what do you do”, what is your answer?
There are a few different terms we can use here; mission statement, core values, company focus. Whatever name you give it, writing out some key thoughts can help you determine why you’re doing what you’re doing. My business has changed a lot over the years, but my mission statement has remained pretty similar. Over the last seven years, I’ve gotten closer to the core of the mission statement and that has improved my business over time.
Here’s my elevator pitch to give you an idea:
I help women get organized and simplify their lives so that they have more time to grow a business, a family or their faith. I do this through blog posts, videos and courses so that however they prefer to learn, they can get all the tools they need to start getting margins in their day.
Your pitch doesn’t need to be long or complicated. Start with some simple questions first to get to the bottom of what your business is about.
Write this part down somewhere. What do you want to accomplish with your side hustle? What are your big goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years? Why did you start this business in the first place? Why would someone be interested in buying what you’re selling?
02. Essential Tools
What tools do you NEED to run this thing. If you had no money in the bank, how scrappy could you get? Just like having a messy desk can make it hard to focus, having a messy list of tools you use to run your business can make it hard to work.
I’m all for free tools and using what you can to save money, but if you’re using 18 different free tools to manage your social media accounts, consider how much time it would save to invest in a tool like Buffer or CoSchedule - the price doesn’t seem too bad when you compare how many hours you waste. Your time is valuable. Doing this might take some time. Switching to new tools can be time-consuming and cumbersome, but once you find that sweet spot, you’ll never need to switch again.
Avoiding shiny object syndrome is key. I love new tools and toys, but if I’m really itching to try a new platform, I’ll test it out for a couple of weeks before migrating all my info over to it. This way I can find what I do and don’t love about it. Then I can compare and decide if it’s worth the time it’ll take to switch. Most of the time, it isn’t. Most website hosts do the same thing. Most newsletter platforms offer the same features. What you pick is really up to you and you’re truly not missing out on much if you don’t switch.
Write out how many tools and websites you’re using right now to manage your business (all those accounts you wouldn’t use or pay for if you suddenly quit). To give you an idea, here’s what I use right now to run my business:
Squarespace ($144/yr) - for my website and email newsletters
Google Suite ($6/mo) - for my domains, email, file storage and calendars
Podia ($32/mo) - for my courses and shop
Tube Buddy ($39 one time) - tools and resources for my youtube channel
Linktree (free) - for linking to multiple resources from my Instagram account
Quickbooks (free with my turbo tax) - for bookkeeping and tax purposes
TurboTax Small Business ($106) - for my yearly taxes
Canva (free) - to create graphics for my YouTube channel and site
Capital One (free) - for my online business banking, check and savings accounts
PO Box ($92/yr) - this isn’t an online tool, but I do have to have it to receive packages and to add an address to my newsletter without giving away my private address. Most of the time it goes unused, but the security of my address not being easily searchable is worth the expense.
The only social media account I actively use and post to is Instagram. Technically YouTube, but I view that more like a blog than a social media account. There are two things I could combine here to simplify my site even further; I could host my own courses and shop on Squarespace and get rid of Podia all together. I might do this in the future - but for now, I love the freedom and flexibility Podia gives me when it comes to designing and selling my products. The money is worth it to me because I save myself and my customers time from working on a platform that isn’t meant to host a course.
List out all the tools you’re currently using, then go through the list and determine which you can cut out, or if there are any tasks you can combine in your list by switching to another tool. For example, you might be using two different platforms for your invoices and contracts - find a tool that can provide both for your customers.
This portion might be the hardest and most time consuming of all the steps. Every business has a different purpose and different goals for their audience, so it’s tough to give examples here, but I hope you can use some of the methods I’ve used to simplify my business to do the same to yours.
First, start by asking yourself some questions:
How will you accomplish what you want to get done?
Do you need to start with building more content, or start with doing more client work?
What tools and resources can you create for your audience that will get them where they want to go?
Next, figure out what you want to do about your social media platforms.
You don’t need to be on every single social media platform to grow your audience or get your content out there. Pick one or two places your audience really hangs out and focus on those. For me, this is Instagram and technically YouTube. I optimize my blog posts for Pinterest, but I don’t spend time working on a Pinterest strategy (Lauren has a great blog post about this). I have a facebook page, but I don’t post to it or update it, it’s just a place for someone to find a link to my site. I have a twitter account, and again, it’s just a place for people to find my website link. If you want to be on more platforms or be more intensional with your posts, that’s fine, but simplify it with a content library (Holly has a great post on this).
If you’re making great content, it’ll get shared without your help. Focus on content first, sharing second.
After that, it’s time to simplify your website.
Take some time to make a map of your site, offerings and products. Then cut out what you don’t need and combine what you can. I used Miro to do mine, but you can use a pen & paper too.
Even though I cut back A LOT on my site and business, I actually make more money now than I did with the previous set up. When you can focus on more important aspects and cut out the clutter, every piece of content becomes more valuable, and you’ll be able to make more of an impact.
The last step here is to plan how you want to grow. As you grow your audience, income or client base, what is your end goal for your business? Do you want to build a fortune 500 company? Or do you want to make your business passive so you can work part-time and spend the rest of your time raising a family or traveling the world?
Depending on your answer, how do you need to manage your growth to meet your goals? You might need to find ways to scale your business or outsource smaller tasks to a team. Or you might want to intentionally stay small by limiting your product lines, working one-on-one with select clients or staying a solopreneur.
No answer is the wrong answer here, but it is important to understand what your end goal is in order to continue to run your business in a manageable way.
Personally, I cut out all the one-on-one client services so that I would have more time to focus on building passive income. My goal is to be able to work a couple hours per week on my business and have it at least be self-sustainable and at best earn me some take home profit that I can pay myself every month. Knowing that goal, I can manage what services and products I offer really well, and I know what my goals are going down the road.
If you do a lot of client work, Maris has some more ideas on how to simplify your client-based business.
If you’re a designer, Kelly and Andrea hosted a workshop about which services you should offer.
If you struggle with shiny object syndrome and need more resources, this is a great article to help you out.