My entrepreneurial journey started while I was working for someone else. As head of innovation, my day job was to turn ideas into profitable new products and services. At night and at the weekends I was working on a side hustle - getting my own business Prolifiko off the ground.
Juggling my day job alongside a side business got me hooked on the approaches people take to make ideas happen. I found there are similar patterns - whether you an intrepreneur, an entrepreneur or doing a bit of both with a side hustle. In writing my book How to Have a Happy Hustle I interviewed innovation experts, startup founders and ideas makers to translate the processes they use into everyday language and practical advice for people to follow. Here are some approaches that work.
1. Dream big but start small.
Ambition is great – it gets us out of bed in the morning and striving for more. But without a plan, your dreams can come to nothing. You must start. And by starting small you bypass the fear centres of the brain, lower the stakes, and are more likely to rack up the wins that will keep you motivated, positive and moving forward. If you want to make ideas happen, think of the smallest thing you need to do to start, it could be telling someone about your idea, naming it, or buying a website domain.
2. Forget perfectionism.
Don’t wait until you’ve honed your idea to perfection, instead get your products and services into the world quickly and often. Think of each version as an experiment to gather data to inform what you’re doing next. By doing this in small increments you learn fast and improve your idea as it takes shape in the world - and it stops you forging ahead with a failed plan when the evidence tells you to quit or change course.
3. Gather feedback
Find out what works by asking people for their feedback. For example, imagine you’re launching a cake baking business, don’t spend days baking full-size showstopper to test, but instead create small cupcakes that people can taste. Then you can quickly change flavours, colours and icing until you land on a version that people love.
4. Connect with other people
Working in isolation is the worst thing you can do. Not only is it lonely, you’ll lack the support you need to keep going. Find friends who can encourage you, early customers who can test and feedback, communities of fans who will spread the word, and networks of people on a similar journey - whether they’re business advisors or other people starting out. Relationships will help you and your idea thrive.
5. Prioritise and make time
You need to prioritise to fit a new business idea or side project into your schedule. That isn’t easy. It involves saying ‘no’ to nice offers, setting boundaries, and reprioritising what’s in your schedule so there’s space to make things happen. There are many ways to make time - you might build a daily habit, working at the same time each day, perhaps before or after work or during your lunch break. Some people prefer being spontaneous and making the most of delayed trains or cancelled plans. Others schedule time, booking appointments across a week or a month. The important thing is to treat your idea like any other commitment. Don’t feel bad when you really don’t have the time, but make the most of when you do. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve, even when you’re feeling tired and uninspired.
How to have a happy hustle
When researching the book, I found people are motivated to make ideas happen because they’re looking for fulfillment and new experiences rather than looking for extra income. As you get your idea off the ground, notice what you enjoy doing, reflect on what works and what you’d like to do more of, seek out engagement, and be motivated by what excites, challenges and stimulates you.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Building a business is tough – that’s why it’s a hustle. It involves time, effort and hard work, often alongside your current commitments. If you start small, work on an idea that excites and motivates you, and build it step by step, you’ll increase your chance of success and find fulfillment in the process.
Bec Evans is a writer, speaker and startup founder. She’ll be sharing stories and advice from How to Have a Happy Hustle: The Complete Guide to Making Your Ideas Happen on Thursday November 21 at Hub26 - you can get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/make-your-ideas-happen-with-bec-evans-kirklees-tickets-77978378429