How to build a successful side business while working a full-time job

Several months ago, I outlined for myself the topics I wanted my blog posts to cover this year. I am not claiming or pretending to be an expert on the subject. I simply want to share some of the things we have learned along the way, with the recognition that we have so much more to learn.

We moved to Brawley in 2016 for a job opportunity in the Imperial valley geothermal industry. Within a few months, we moved to a small acre lot in the country and immediately started planting seeds. While that initial planting was extremely unsuccessful, we learned a few things. We learned planting peas in full sun in August in the Imperial Valley without enough water is a doomed enterprise.

While continuing to work full time, we have since started the farm, a dog-sitting business, and we are in the process of starting two more businesses (more to come on those later)! At times it has been a struggle. We have gone to bed entirely exhausted, and there have been times we talk about scaling back.

Starting a successful business is difficult. There are so many things to learn, and it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.

There are three tips I want to share. These three tips have been extremely valuable for me, and I am sure they will add value to you as well.

Be flexible with your time

This can be a hard one to learn. I like to plan my week out ahead of time, and list all the tasks I hope to accomplish during each day of the week. Of course, I inevitably miss something that I had already committed to doing, and I often need to reschedule my own list in favor of prior commitments.

I continue to plan my weeks ahead of time. It helps me stay focused on the most important things. I have been using an app for several months now to help me keep track of all my different schedules. The app is called Todoist, available for free. I can use it to make to-do lists for the day, prioritize the most important things, and set up recurring tasks. My monthly blog posts are in there, and I know I would let them slide without the app.

Almost daily, I don’t complete my entire list. However, I can move the uncompleted tasks to another day and sleep well.

Recognize there is always another day to get everything done. It’s not really a race, although sometimes it can feel like it.

Expect to fail

I can’t stress this enough! Expect to fail.

However, don’t simply fail and be done with it. Look at your failure, decide what went wrong, and try it again.

Earlier I mentioned the spectacular failure of my August peas. For a few years after that episode we didn’t plant anything at all in the summer. We learned and adapted. Of course, we didn’t give up. We recently made a few adaptations and we have a reasonably healthy crop of pumpkins and watermelon growing!

Fail. Learn. Adapt. Keep going.

But the first step is failure. Embrace it.

Done is better than perfect

It’s natural to want to do the very best things. It’s good to look at options before making a decision. However, sometimes we get so involved in looking and evaluating options, we never actually make a decision!

Done is better than perfect. Settle on an action that will have positive results, and just do it. Kinks can always be fixed along the way.

It can be easy to fool ourselves. We convince ourselves we are being productive when looking at several options. But have we actually done anything? I catch myself in this trap often; I think I’m doing great work by planning and making estimates, but until I actually do the work, I’m really just procrastinating. Done is better than perfect. Every time.

Remember, building a business on the side of your regular full-time job can be tough. You’ll put in long hours, make mistakes, and get frustrated. You’ll also get to see your ideas taking shape and progressing while you build something from the ground up. There are few things more rewarding than that.

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