Are you in the middle of building your own business?

So here's a fairly common story line:

Creative girl loves doing all kinds of creative things. She's talented, but she's not sure what to do with it.

In college or university she thrives on all of the learning and projects, but she absolutely loathes the family get togethers and social functions where she's met with a barrage of questions such as:

"so....what kind of job will that get you?".

After some time the routine of excusing herself starts to wear her down, and by the time graduation has happened she's hit the panic button:

What am I doing? I gotta get a job! So into the corporate world she goes, sliding into a cubicle of death and leaving original ideas at the door. 


Have you had the experience of working a full time job and running a business on the side at the same time? How did that go for you?

Last year I was at my 'crunch point' I was working full time as a graphic designer in a corporate office in the city, whilst still trying to freelance after hours and on weekends. It was completely unrealistic. Who actually wants to sit for 9+ hours a day in a stuffy office eyeballing a screen, only to come home exhausted and then try to sit in front of another one? It was nothing short of draining. I had no time for friends, my weight went up and down like a yo-yo and I mental health suffered big time. It was also incredibly difficult having clients to manage. Trying to explain to someone that you aren't available during businesses hours and that even minor changes have a 24 hour turnaround time is nothing short of embarassing.


In January this year I finally took the plunge to quit my full time job and moved into a new part-time role. This gives me 2 days a week, plus the weekend if I choose, to build my business. It's not much, but it is a far better work life balance. Ideally we would all like to just quit our jobs and work on our business full time. I've seen a few people actually pull this off, but they have mostly been in the coaching industry. For the rest of us, it is just not financially viable (or even sensible) to completely sever ties with some sort of stable and reliable income.


So how can we make the best of this transition period?


The good news is that we can absolutely make this work in our favour.

Over the past 8 months I have developed some excellent strategies and ideas that I'm happy to share with you today. I have by no means found the perfect 'work life balance,' if that even exists, but I have found some excellent ways to make the most out of this awkward time.


Once you have really decided to go after your passion and become entrepreneur (good for you, by the way) you can relax about the whole 'meaningful job' thing. The job that you select to be your part time income doesn't have to be your career- instead it is actually better to find something that will best compliment your business, lifestyle and working style.


A good friend of mine who co-owns the fashion label works part time. She chose a job in a completely un-related field. Even though she's a fashion designer, she works for the Fire and Emergency Services and she feels that an unrelated job allows her to have a mental break from her creative work. Because it isn't her career, she can go in, do her shift, leave and that's it. There's no over investment and she's pumped for her creative business days.


Consider whether it could be worth selecting a job that gives you mental freedom and energy to enjoy your business building time.


I like to channel the wise words of Marie Forleo and ask this question. How can I make this work for me? How can I make this work for my business?


When I made the decision to go find myself a part time role, I was not only looking for something that would best compliment my lifestyle but I was also looking for something that could widen my skill set. I've joined an online marketing team for a major car & truck dealership.


People who know me must have thought that was pretty random. When I started I didn't know a thing about cars and could only tell you if it was a red one or a blue one. Even the role itself sounded pretty out of character- spending my day making sale banners for a website with cars all over them was a far cry from anything I'd done before. But that my friends, was the whole point.


Not so much the car thing- it could have been any product- it's the fact that I would be in a retail environment. I was attracted to working along side online marketing gurus.


I was excited to see what I could learn about strategies for selling online and how I could apply the things I was learning to my own business.

That's the magic of making a part time job work in your favour. Even if you haven't selected your job for that reason or you don't want to find a new one, it doesn't matter. You just need to start looking at it from another angle and say,

"OK- what's happening here that I can learn from? Can I recruit some of these coworkers to follow my brand? Can I get them to help spread the word? Is it a retail environment? Is there a new skill set I could pick up? Is the boss really good with numbers?"


If you are caught in the cycle of dreading your job days and viewing them as an interference, maybe it is time to pause and think about how you can still make those days contribute something positive to the business you are trying to build.


If you are working part time, then your business time is as precious as gold. I'm guilty as charged when it comes to overcommitting, but in the past year or so I have become a lot better at this. I think many of us have some common creativity side effects.


One of these is an attraction to new things

We gravitate towards new ideas and possibilities like a single person who has just walked into a room of Ryan Goslings. We are pro-active, we are the Doers and in our excitement we just want to say yes! yes! yes! and in a short moment we can become swept up in a project. Problem is we then realise we are in too deep, we have over committed and can be at risk of burn out.


The other is an obsession with research.

We loooove to research. It can take many forms, thanks to the internet. We got Pinterest, Instagram and blogs galore. It's a total visual and inspiration smorgasbord. So many minutes and hours could pass while we read about other people doing great work and not doing any great work ourselves.


Do yourself a favour. Start to say no. NO! And that includes to yourself. Do whatever it takes to rip your eyes away from that laptop and put the phone down. I repeat, put the phone down!


When you are trying to balance part time work with a part time business the best strategy you can possibly work on is being smart in how you allocate your time. If you are like me and you have 2 business days, you gotta make those work days. It is so tempting to see them as free time for socialising or running errands. Yes- we are building our businesses so that we can have a work life balance, however it's a good idea to be brutally honest with yourself about how much time you are really putting in to productive business building. Be a master of your own time management and start sticking to that time-blocking on your calendar.


It's amazing how much extra productivity you could squeeze in if you start saying no to shiny attractive distractions and start saying yes to doing the hot business hustle.


I'd really like to hear from those of you who are currently in that transition period between Full Time Job and Full Time Business Owner. What are your struggles? What have you been doing to cope and feel like you are still on track?


I'd really love to to hear what you think about what we've covered today, so please join the conversation and leave a comment under today's post. Don't forget to sign up to the mailing list so you can get updates and freebies and other fun stuff that I only share by email.



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Megan Guise
Megan Guise


Owner of Megan Isabella Design. I make original art cushions for the kind of person who swoons over the set design on Mad Men.

6 Responses

Megan Isabella
Megan Isabella

October 09, 2014

Hailey I’m really glad this was helpful. I know exactly what it is like to feel stuck. Even with part time work, it can feel so frustrating- you want to get the business happening but it seems like it is moving at snail pace! Practising patience is the key. Let me know how you get on :)

Hailey Sims
Hailey Sims

October 06, 2014

Thanks Megan for you tips. I have been trying to work out what I wanted to do all yea, try and find work or take my freelance design more seriously. I have also been working part time in another occupation but I feel that I don’t take my design work seriously when I have another job. It as been a tough year trying to work out what I wanted to do and this has helped my out a lot so thank you :)

Megan Isabella
Megan Isabella

October 06, 2014

Wow Jae- that is quite a hectic schedule. I’m glad you liked my tips- I hope they prove helpful. Good luck x


October 06, 2014

I totally feel this! I’m currently balancing a part time job, full time uni and building a business. woo! haha Thank you so much for sharing, these tips are amazing and I definitely need to work on number 3 haha xx

Megan Isabella
Megan Isabella

October 06, 2014

Absolutely C, how long have you been in the part time arena? I would love to hear what you have been doing to keep afloat?


October 05, 2014

This entirreeee story is great to hear. I am in the exact same boat. Talk about keeping a float – life is crazy but i’m glad I made the leap. Fingers crossed it was worth it! It’s nice knowing i’m not the only one here in Perth xx

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