As an entrepreneur leading a double life, Shanta Speller understands that it takes hard work and dedication to turn a side hustle into a fulltime job. Still working as an associate director of program manager for TIME.com, she runs her balloon decorating business, Bunch of Balloons, in her spare time. Over the course of the past two years, she’s seen her dreams of becoming a fulltime business owner come closer to being a reality as her clientele and income increases. Speller shares her personal tips on jumpstarting your side hustle with BlackEnterprise.com. —Jenisha Watts
Remember, Your Greatest Investment is Yourself:
A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs never actually become business owners because they fail to take the steps necessary to succeed. In some cases that means educating yourself on the industry you’re trying to conquer. Many times people refuse to gain that knowledge because they feel they don’t have the time or money. “Instead of making excuses,” says Speller, “take a risk and pay for a class to develop and sharpen your skills to grow your business.”
Stay the Course:
If starting a successful business was easy, everyone would have one. While outside advice can be beneficial at times, it can also be harmful in deterring you from your goal. There will always be someone trying to talk you out of what is seen as a “risk” or not the norm, but those are the words of people happy with where they are in life and don’t see the bigger picture. “Don’t compromise your vision for other people,” advises Speller.
Nothing Can be Built Without a Solid Foundation:
No matter how great your idea, we all need help in making things happen because being a one man or woman show is the fast track to burnout. Sometimes, your support can come from those closest to you. “Recruit trustworthy, reliable family and friends to help, when needed. Although, I like to think I can do it all, I can’t,” says Speller. “I have a small circle of family and friends that believe in my vision. My crew is actually my cousins, but when we’re on the job, we aren’t cousins; we are employees for Bunch of Balloons.”
Make Your Website SEO Friendly:
Even in today’s digital age, it’s the little things that can have the most impact. “Know about SEO [Search Engine Optimization],” says Speller, who built her company’s Website herself.. “It’s important to know about the pitfalls that don’t make your site succeed. Some examples of pitfalls are bad user navigation and not taking advantage of Google Analytics (a tool that tracks your website and marketing effectiveness). For my gallery pages, I had to use Google Analytics and when my page went live, I monitored my reporting. I could see where people were clicking on my site.” You can also see where they’re not clicking and adjust your game plan accordingly.
Remember to Stay Balanced:
The hardest part about starting a side business is remembering to make time for yourself. While it might seem hard to juggle a 9-to-5 with your new project and remain social, but you have to remember to enjoy life just as much as work. “I try to prioritize as much as possible with what I need to do for the business,” says Speller. “Whenever I have free time, I do it.”
We All Need Advice:
Staring a side business is scary, and most times this will be your first time stepping out on faith but you are not alone. Finding a mentor or someone who has already paved the way can be beneficial in your own success. He or she can offer advice on what mistakes to avoid and what steps to make to ensure success. “Don’t be afraid,” says Speller. “Just do it.”