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15 Hours to a Side Business You Love

Updated: May 11, 2021

Have you ever been holding your breath, and you didn't realize it until you exhaled loudly? It was with the sound of the sigh that you recognized how anxious or afraid you had been. Sometimes you hold your breath for a just moment like when you catch your child climbing in a teetering chair, and then he/she dismounts safely. Whew! As a mother of two young sons, I have caught myself in many instances like this one.

Yet, my most recent cheeks-bulging-eyes-popping-holding-my-breath moment came as I listened to a podcast. And remember, I did not even realize I was holding my breath so the cheeks and eyes description is completely hypothetical but helps to convey the relief I felt when I finally exhaled.

Finally Exhaling

For me, I realized how anxious I had been to start my own business while being a full-time mother when I was listening to Dan's interview on his 48 Days podcast. He was interviewing Patrick McGinnis, the author of The 10% Entrepreneur.

Dan began the podcast with a statement like, "People think I want everyone to be an entrepreneur, but I don't. I want you to be one if you want to be." With that statement, something clicked, and I immediately perked up because until then I often felt overwhelmed when I listened to podcasts like Dan's. Even though I appreciate his ideas, the people he talks about and talks to, and his gentle, yet firm encouragements, I just cannot figure how to implement all of the great things I hear and still be a full-time, stay-at-home mom.

See, I left a fulfilling job as a teacher to stay home with my sons full time, and I really want to keep that my number one priority. When Dan further introduced his guest, Patrick McGinnis, and the concept of being a 10% entrepreneur, I finally exhaled...loudly and a breath I did not know I was even holding!

15 Hours a Week + 10% Entrepreneur = A Relief

At that moment, I gained two concepts that made my entrepreneurial dreams possible. Until that podcast, I honestly thought I had to be full-time entrepreneurial to create something of my own. But, Dan gave me a formula--spend 15 hours a week creating a side business, allowing me to keep my fun and rewarding full-time gig as a stay-at-home mom. And, Patrick gave me the mindset--pour only 10% of your time, money, and/or energy into a new endeavor. I know it sounds so simple, but sometimes you need for someone to say out loud what you did not know you needed to hear. Invest a small part of yourself on the side while keeping your full-time job.

15 Hours a Week

Dan breaks down the 15 hours a week to create a side business to these segments: 3 hours doing research, 5 hours creating content/product, 4 hours working with clients, and 3 hours doing marketing. This formula is designed for someone who is developing a coaching or counseling business. But, what if you do not plan to coach, perhaps you want to sell a product or you are still forming your business model? What does 15 hours look like for you? Below are some ways to spend your 15 hours each week according to Dan (and with my interpretation).

3 Hours of Research. This segment is pretty standard; you need to inform yourself by reading books, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and/or attending conventions. Use this time to learn more about your skill and about best business practices. (I often keep a book by my bed and one on my phone; that way I find pockets of time right before bed or while exercising or driving to be researching.)

Dan has made it clear, though... you cannot spend all of your time researching. He really called me out with this statement; it is much easier to be busy "researching" than actually writing, knitting, coding, painting, calling possible clients, speaking, bookkeeping, washing cars, or whatever skill you plan to market. You must do something with your knowledge! (Dan, I hear ya! This blog post is an example of me doing something so thanks for the kick in the pants.)

5 Hours on Content or Product. This portion is also self explanatory. You have to spend time creating what you plan to sell (product) or what will sell you (content). For you who have read Mike Gerber's Book The E Myth Revisited you will recognize this time segment as one where the technician shines. Those of you who love baking, mowing, sewing, walking dogs, writing, planting, organizing, designing, cleaning, or whatever the "ing" is of your business, here is where you naturally want to spend most of your time. Great! You should enjoy the verb of your business! Yet, as Dan and Mike Gerber warn, you must do more than just be a technician; do not spend all of your time and energy on this portion.

4 Hours with Clients. This segment of time is less straightforward if you are not in the coaching or counseling business. How will you spend this time if you plan to sell on Etsy or do not actually meet with clients? If you are a heavily product-based business, then you will need to spend this time making product. For example, if you craft handmade jewelry or picture frames or sew heirloom dresses, you will need this time plus the other five hours mentioned above to actually create items to sell each week (for a total of nine hours on products weekly).

However, if after several weeks of doing this and lots of your handcrafted products still sit on your shelves, stop using this additional four hours for product making and use it for marketing. Or, if you do plan to coach or counsel and have no clients, spend these four hours marketing until you get clients.

3 Hours on Marketing. I have to? These are my sentiments on marketing, but I know what Dan will say. YES! And, he is right. If no one knows you are out here doing your thang, then it is as if your business does not exist. (That hurts me to write and even more for me to accept as reality. But, it is true.)

If you are already involved in social media, then stay that way. Let people know what you are doing business wise. Get out of your own way, and tell somebody. (Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job inspiring people to do this; warning, though, his language can be rough on Instagram.) If you are not already on one form of social media, choose ONE venue and get involved. As a scaredy cat of social media, I recommend Instagram; I find it less intimating than Facebook or Twitter. Honestly, though, you have to find one that you enjoy, or at least one that does not make you break out in a cold sweat with each post you make.

Also, go the old-fashioned route. Tell people at your church, on your tennis team, at your gym, on the subway, and at the ballpark what you are doing. It is a slower process than a mass tweet, but people remember more from face-to-face conversations than from something they briefly glanced at in their news feeds.

Cold calling and emailing are viable options as well. Spend time doing research on what groups and businesses could use your products or services. Then, craft a friendly, informational email or pick up the phone to let them know you are in operation. And, do not get discouraged if your first contact does not jump at the opportunity to work with you. Continue to spend three hours each week on marketing, and things will happen.

To Conclude

Dan's 15 hours-a-week formula gives people a way of creating a successful side business in manageable chunks of time. It is a well-rounded formula as well. For example, I would never do marketing and would spend all of my time researching or writing content. Yet, I now have a weekly goal to spend 3 hours on marketing, and that focus will help grow my business. As I reflect on my aspirations for a side business, this Abraham Lincoln quote keeps coming to mind, "I will study and prepare myself, and someday my chance will come." If we continue to prepare ourselves...our businesses, our day will come. So keep at it!

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