Today, I run six businesses with my husband that bring in $10,000 each month, total.
My companies are Money Talk With Tiff, a financial education and coaching service, and DanJai’s Natural Products, a homemade soap company I started in 2013. My husband’s businesses are a custom tie-dye apparel company, a video production firm, and a logistics and shipping business. We also own a rental property together.
But my road to entrepreneurship took a lot of twists and turns.
When I was in college, studying business administration and management, I thought I wanted to get a good corporate job and work toward being the executive assistant to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
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Once I graduated in 2015 I landed an entry-level job as a receptionist, but within a year it became clear that even though I was good at admin work, it wasn’t the right fit. I wanted a role that was more self-directed.
That was one of my first inklings that I wanted eventually to be my own boss.
In 2016, I decided to make a shift and go into human resources. I started at a new company and I loved my work in HR, being able to tackle new challenges every day and help employees at all levels of the company make the most of their benefits. I even got to put on my financial education hat every so often.
In 2017, I started Money Talk With Tiff as a side hustle. I’ve run the company full time for over a year now and I love it. I made some missteps along the way, but they’ve only helped me make my business stronger.
Here are some of the most important lessons I learned:
1. Know your numbers
Before turning your side hustle into a full-time career, spend some time with your company and personal budget. Figure out how much you need to make in a month to cover all of your bills, then break it down to a week, then down to a day.
In my experience, saving anywhere from 3-to-6 months’ of expenses before you go full time can go a long way toward helping manage your stress level.
For the first year in business, I ran things part time, and I spent more money than I made. I was fortunate to have my day job to fall back on and to help me cover some business basics like a web domain, tools, and software.
In 2018, when I was heading into my second year of side hustling, I decided to quit my job and focus on Money Talk With Tiff. At the time, I had one month’s worth of expenses saved. I thought I had it all figured out.
It became clear very quickly that I had not saved enough to manage the venture for the long term.
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I had to spend a few hours every day driving for Uber and Lyft just so I could have enough to pay bills. I had been a ride-share driver for three years before I launched Money Talk With Tiff to help pay off my student debt, and while I did enjoy it, it was still valuable time that I wasn’t spending on my business. So, as a contingency plan, that ultimately wasn’t sustainable.
In 2019, when I left the corporate world to run Money Talk With Tiff a second time, I had saved up four months’ worth of expenses. It was a slow start, and I ended up having to use some of those savings to cover the shortfall. But three months in, I was making enough from working with clients that I didn’t need to rely on the emergency fund.
2. Develop and cultivate your network
Once you have your budget in place, it will put your earnings into perspective to help you make the best possible decisions for you and your company. Part of that process is making a contingency plan. This isn’t setting yourself up to fail. If anything, it gives you more breathing room.
One of the best ways you can do this is to cultivate your network.
In all of my old roles, I made sure that I did my job to the best of my abilities, put in two-week notices, or longer, when applicable, and left on good terms. Those solid relationships with my former employers ended up being really important as I grew my business.
In 2018, as that first month of full-time entrepreneurship was coming to an end, it was becoming clear that I needed to step back and reassess. At that point, I received a call back from one of my previous employers. They had been looking to fill a temp position for someone who was going on maternity leave and none of the other candidates had worked out. They saw that I had recently left my job and reached out to me to see if I would consider filling in.
I was able to negotiate hours and salary from a position of strength since I was coming back to help them out. They accepted my terms, and I worked there for six months.
That first attempt at running the company full time didn’t go the way I hoped. But taking that time allowed me to save up and stay the course, continuing to run Money Talk With Tiff as a side hustle before taking the full-time leap again.
3. Go full time when you’ll gain value from the switch
There are plenty of “dual-preneurs” who work a full-time job and run a business on the side. When I was running Money Talk With Tiff part time, I was making about $300/month. I decided to focus on it full time once I saw that it was the best way to reach more clients and scale up.
I wanted to get into more consulting and doing financial wellness presentations to employees at companies, and a day job would conflict with the hours of operation of any potential company clients. With individual meetings, I could only reach one person at a time. But with these presentations, the pool of people I could potentially work with could grow exponentially.
After going full time again this summer, from August 2019 to February 2020, I had at least one speaking engagement scheduled every month. And while like so many business owners, the pandemic has required a shift in plans and expectations, I have been able to hold events virtually this year as I continue to ramp up that side of the business.
4. Understand your foundational ‘why’
If money is your only motivation, my best advice is to not take the leap. For most entrepreneurs, cash flow is going to be rough in the early days of your business. You have to have a cause outside of the money that motivates you. Find your “why” and make sure it is a strong foundation, because odds are things will get shaky.
My “why” is the lives and financial trajectories I have been able to help change. I personally live with anxiety and depression, and some days are harder than others. But every day, I receive emails, texts, messages on social media from people I have worked with. Those inspire me and propel me forward.
When I first started, I was only charging one-on-one clients about $20 an hour. But over time, seeing my clients pay off credit cards, get approved for homes, have credit scores beyond what they could have imagined, nail down budgets, and build savings has made it all worthwhile.
Tiffany Grant of Money Talk With Tiff is an award-winning personal finance blogger, podcaster, coach, and educator. She has paid off over $50,000 in debt and has a goal to be debt-free by 30. She has helped many people become more in tune with their money by providing financial education in a relatable format.