This post has been updated to give the best tips for makers who struggle with running a creative business or side hustle while working a full-time job. It all starts with making creative business balance and we are going to talk all about that here.
The truth about Running a Creative Business while working a Full-Time Job
Last year, I left my 9-5 job and started working for myself. Before that point, a common question I get is how to deal with working a full time job and running a creative business. Neither one is easy and both take up a generous amount of your time.
I often hear people say they want to become an entrepreneur to take control of their own time.
The truth is when you become a creative business owner, you actually spend MORE time in a day. From working 8 hours a day, you will find yourself working 10-12, even 16 hours a day! And working 5 days a week to 7! You are almost never prepared for the amount of time it actually takes and will most likely feel like there is never enough time.
But here is the reason why: Dedication. Creative spend so much time doing what they love. All the days and hours spent working on your own business are all fulfilling. Find what you are good at and follow it with all confidence. Creative business owners would end up working a regular job and pursuing their business dreams. And because your business dream is something you are dedicated to, it ends up becoming a part of your life. Consuming the little time you have left at the end of the day.
Related post: My first six months running a Creative Business
Related post: My first year running a Creative business
How to Balance a Creative Business and a Full-Time Job aka “Creative Business Balance”
So how can you navigate through every day life without pulling out every strand in your hair?
Today I am going to share with you some tricks (and maybe life saving advice!) to creating a good work-business-life balance that I picked up along the way.
It is quite difficult to take the leap to full time entrepreneur from a full time job. Full time jobs provides you with stability and assurance. Let’s be real, we all have bills to pay! It is very common for makers to have regular jobs. Until you know it is the right time to take that leap, here are some tips to keep your head in the game. You never know, we might be taking that big leap together!
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1. Make a routine
Life is a lot easier when you know what to expect. Having a routine helps lessen the stress. I keep a planner that helps me keep track of everything. Every two weeks my wife and I sit down and fill up the planner. Then – get this – we STICK to the plan. So so easy. Aside from the planner, I use Asana to keep track of my tasks and projects for my business.
A simple schedule might look like:
Wake up at 5am – Respond to emails – Full-time day job – Gym – Work on business – downtime – bedtime
After making a routine you want to set some goals for each time block. If you haven’t already, go over this post I made about creating goals that actually grow your business.
Have a simple to-do list with just one main activity that you should do during a block of time.
For example for the time on the routine that is for my business I might have only one goal as easy as make a reel and post to Instagram. Downtime might look like spending quality time with family and friends. Gym might be a half hour walk.
Be fluid and forgiving.
Your weekday schedule may even look a lot different from your weekend schedule. Time management is really important in creating balance and avoiding burnout. Strategic planning based on our zones of creativity when we perform our best work is how we can make an effective routine.
2. Outsource What You Can
Most likely you are currently running a one wo/man show. A lot of us start that way. If you read my post on starting my creative business you know I am a big advocate of scaling at your own pace. At the beginning of almost every creative journey we wear every hat possible. Some hats fit us better than others. When you find yourself running out of time, or dreading a certain part of your business (cough cough book keeping) that is the sign where you need to start outsourcing tasks.
Outsourcing tasks does not necessarily mean giving up a part of your business. If you are not comfortable with that, it is okay! What I mean here is exporting any source of your day that you dread may it be hiring help to clean the house or do groceries, someone to handle your social media, help with editing patterns if you are a designer, starting a food subscription. Basically anything and everything under the sun which does not necessarily “spark joy” in your daily hustle.
Some ways I outsource my tasks when needed are:
- Training others to do simple things in my business.
- Hiring tech editors when needed (a great tech editing group is The Tech Hub on Facebook)
- Hiring help to prep items for events
Apps where you can outsource tasks:
- Instacart – have someone do your groceries for you while you work from home. Although I do not use this as much now since, this was a big time saver when I used to live alone.
- Planoly – automate your social media to free up accumulated hours spent thinking about posts. No more catching the right time to post
- Tailwind – tailwind is a Pinterest tool that so many creators use to automate sending out pins AND now bulk creating pins through their Tailwind Create feature.
Think about what you need to clear off your plate. You may need to shed a little dough to free your schedule, but think about how much you will get in return when you are more productive.
3. Get moving!
Like I mentioned above, makers are so dedicated to their craft that they lose track of time.
My friend, you need to get moving! Like physically moving!
I understand though. Yes, you are in your zone. Yes you have lots to do. But remember, when we are still in this hustle phase, there are no sick days!
Your creative career needs you to be the best version of yourself in order to propel forward. Taking short breaks – especially after long hours of working – does so much for our overall health.
I would always tell myself that I just need to focus on getting things done. I never wanted to take a break while I was in my zone.
“There is no time to work out”
“fast food is much more convenient too”
If these thoughts sound familiar to you, I will tell you right now, YOU ARE WRONG. You are sooo wrong. This very mentality made me suffer not only in my body but also my strength and self confidence.
When I decided to get back into a healthy lifestyle I found myself feeling more energetic and motivated! I ended up feeling better about myself! Making physical activity a regular occurrence really created an overall positive aura in my life. It was like the glue to balancing the my full time job and creative business.
This little movement break in time is key. You need that time for yourself, and your body needs attention. Do not forget that!
4. Take advantage of null time
I always carry along a WIP (work in progress) just in case I find myself with a little extra free time during my full time job, waiting in a line or room, in traffic or on a long ride.
Other times I would do some work on Canva and make graphics, respond to emails, engage on social, or just listen to a business podcast for motivation. All these things help move the needle a little bit and can be done during those little breaks where you would otherwise be bored.
The good news is, running an online business does not need you to be in specific place to run things. Most businesses nowadays have some sort of online presence that can be accessed on your phone. This turns any place into a great place to add a little extra work in.
5. Invest in courses
This is a new addition to my list of creative business balance. I used to be set off by courses and saying I can learn everything on my own. To be honest, everything you need IS actually out there for free. BUT you will not have a solid framework to follow, guidance in the process, and you will be spending lots of time just finding free resources. Investing in courses will get you where you want to be in less time.
Note: In my personal experience, you do not need to spend too much money on courses. The best thing to do is do your research, choose a mentor/course and STICK to following that course for at least a year. There are so many educators out there that put us into analysis paralysis. Once you find a path to go down, put your blinders on and focus!
In 2021, I invested in e-courses and spent a chunk of money and time in learning to grow my business. The result? I GREW.
When I decided to work for myself full time I knew I needed to do things right. Instead of wasting time – time I no longer had – to figure things out and experiment, I pulled the trigger and invested.
The main courses that I invested in that really helped carry my business on to the next level were:
Scale you Sales – an Etsy seller course made by Crickets to Cha Ching’s Podcast host Lauren Keplinger
Stupid Simple SEO – a SEO course that helps bloggers understand what the heck SEO is and how to increase their organic reach in Google. I am actually using principals of SSSEO for both of my businesses!
Courses can also help you learn new skills. The more you know, the more valuable your business will be. That is why these are called investments. Spending time to learn new ways to work more efficiently will eventually help you turn your side business into a full-time work if that is what you are aiming for.
6. LOVE YOURSELF
Your mental health is the pillar to success in balancing a creative business and a full time job. Learn how to ground yourself. You need to listen to your body and address its needs. Juggling a creative business and a full time job is tough stuff! You are a boss! But even bosses need hugs! This is me hugging the crap out of you! Take time to sit in silence and remind yourself what motivates you and why you are so passionate about your craft. Breath and tell yourself “I am okay”.
Aside from grounding exercises, a big part of self love is acknowledgment! See yourself! Do not jump from one ending to a new beginning right away. When you accomplish anything, ANYTHING, celebrate. Take time to congratulate yourself. Absorb the moment!. You work hard, outrageous hours, and you hustle like crazy. YOU DESERVE RECOGNITION. And that recognition needs to start with yourself.
When you love yourself and make you physical and mental health a priority, you are create the ultimate work-life balance. All aspects of your life will benefit from this key component.
Just always remember you are only human beings, reach out when you need help, and patient.
Share your own work-business balance tips in the comments below 🙂
Till next time,