From side hustler to a full-time entrepreneur in 12 months

The Leveraged PhD

June 2019 – Building the foundations

For those of you who have been following along on my journey, you know that I’ve become burnt out from academia. Currently, on summer break, I’ve been doing some deep work on what I need and want for my life and career. I have lost faith in the academy and want to build something more for myself and others.

I’ve got a few side hustles going on (The Professor Is Out, The Leveraged PhD, Speaking, Consulting) and just recently refined my consulting into Ecopreneur.Coach. In order to be more accountable and (hopefully) show that it can be done, I am putting my journey out into the world. After quitting my tenure track position I have secured a 1-year visiting position. My goal is to build my business so that at the end of this contract I can choose to stay or leave academia.

I was going to wait until the 1st of July so that I had a nice clean deadline to hit however I believe the best goals aren’t made as new years resolutions and just like the 1st of January there is no magic in the 1st of July. I started this 12-month countdown on the 19th of June 2019. I have until 19th June 2020 to be a full-time entrepreneur.

What I did this month :

  • Deep work on what I want my life to look like 1 year, 2 years and 5 years from now.
  • Brainstormed business ideas
  • Narrowed my business idea
  • Offered free services to a friend to test my concept
  • Narrowed my business idea some more
  • Researched and purchased my domain name
  • Set up the basics on my website
  • Wrote my first blog post
  • Joined Facebook groups related to my new venture
  • Set up social media accounts for my new venture
  • Wrote and scheduled 3 blog posts

Total costs June: $166.46

  • Domain: $82.54
  • Theme: $83.92

Total income June: $0

July 2019 – Pitching my first clients

I had a lot going on this month (packing, social events, and some much-needed downtime/family time) so time spent on this side hustle was minimal. I did make some great headway and pitched to my first two clients. Here is a list of everything I did this month:

  • Wrote and scheduled 4 blog posts
  • Participated in discussions in Facebook groups (which is where one of my potential clients came from – she reached out to me after I commented on some else’s question)
  • Scheduled content for Instagram
  • Meet with a potential client over dinner
  • Put together a customized package for said client
  • Meet with a potential client via video call
  • Put together a customized package for the second potential client
  • Deep work on what my business will look like – still working on this one!

It is looking like one client will hire me. Stay tuned!

Total costs July: $21.82

Dinner with a potential client: $21.82

Total costs YTD: $188.28

Total income June: $0

Total income TYD: $0

August 2019 – Signing my first client

With a move and a new job to settle into side-hustling time was again limited this month. I did sign my first client! If you remember, I pitched to two clients at the end of last month, one said no but the other signed on for three months. You’ll see income coming in over the next 3 months. Obviously totally stocked to be seeing that money coming in. Just today I got a lead on another client who is a referral so I will be chasing up with them early next month. I’m also contemplating a name change for my business now that I have drilled down and had time to develop my vision and business direction.

Total costs August: $0

Total costs YTD: $188.28

Total income August: $1,243.99

Total income TYD: $1,243.99

September 2019 – Major Mindset Shift

I settled into my new academic position this month. With full-time work, my client, and The Leveraged PhD September social media challenge I found myself overwhelmed this month and not spending as much time on my side gig. I was getting frustrated that I didn’t have the time to work on my business and grow it. My husband reminded me of my initial goals and encouraged me to take a step back. My goal was to breakeven in my business this year not to make money. My plan is to build a solid base for my business so that I can take it full time if I desire mid next year. Once I was reminded of this, I relaxed a little and started being more strategic about my time and tasks. I gave myself the grace to be a beginner and learn and build without the pressure to be successful today.

The biggest change this month was that mindset change which resulted in me looking into outsourcing some of my tasks. The idea is to spend some of my revenue on outsourcing so that I can free up my time and reduce my stress. I’ve been chatting with a copywriter who will write some blog posts for me and I’ve been contemplating outsourcing social media too but I haven’t looked into that yet as I am still not sure if I want to do that.

The other major action for my business is that I have bartered my services for branding design. So while I technically have another client they aren’t paying me in money. She is doing a full branding package for me (that includes mood board, logo, sub logo, guidelines, colours, fonts, icons). She will also be designing my business cards, some social media templates and website design. I am so excited about this as my imagery has been very disjointed until now. Having this solid brand base will allow me to build my brand quicker and with more impact.

I also invested in Acuity a scheduling software that allows my clients to book in their appointments based on my availability. No more backwards and forwards trying to find a time. I was on the trial and my clients (and I) loved the easy of it. There is a free various however the paid version includes timezone conversion (important to me as I’ve been pitching clients all around the world), calendar syncing, and online meeting software syncing). I subscribed for a year to get a discount.

Total costs September: $218.14

  • Acuity (Scheduling software) $218.14

Total costs YTD: $406.42

Total income September: $1,283.82

Total income TYD: $2527.81

October 2019 – Trying to find the right balance (while also coming up with more side hustle ideas)

This month I tried to embrace the slow route. As a perfectionist with high expectations, it is so easy for me to get caught up in where I should be and what I should have achieved by now. It is also easy for me to find myself projecting where I won’t be in the future and becoming overwhelmed. This month I spent some time contemplating how to find the right space between working too hard and not working hard enough. I also had another few ideas for businesses and I’m thinking of starting one of them.

I finish up with my first client on the 2nd of Nov (she signed a 3-month contract) so this will be my last month of income from her. I loved working with her but I am happy to be finishing up on the project. The work I was doing for her didn’t make my heart sing but I am so glad that I did it because it helped me refine what I do want to be doing (and it brought in income).

I pitched another potential client who was recommended to me via a friend who had dealings with the owner. They ultimately decided that it wasn’t right for them right now. While nos are hard to receive they also remind us that if we are winning to get back up and try again then this is truly what we want to do.

My logo is finalised and I’m loving it! My designer is now working on my complete branding assets and I’ll be able to rebrand shortly. I can’t wait.

This month I realised that I was stuck preparing to prepare. Lots of thinking, strategising and planning but little action. While it is important to take the time to plan and think about the big picture eventually it is just an excuse. To get myself out of that rut I am drafting 25 blog posts by the 25th of Nov. I’m off to a good start and I am on track to get the drafts complete. Check back next month or follow me on Instagram to see if I meet my goal.

Total costs October: $0

Total costs YTD: $406.42

Total income October: $1,298.50

Total income TYD: $3,826.31

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I’m doing market research, to help me on my mission to help academics build businesses that bring them joy and prosperity. 

If you’ve started a business or ever thought about it, I’d appreciate you completing my survey.

In exchange for a few minutes of your time, you can go in the draw to win one of three 1:1 strategy sessions [valued @$350] to help you get to the next stage in your business journey.

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