Use scheduling tools to master time management. Being organized is essential to balancing the day job with a side gig, says Miller, the social media specialist. He launched his business in mid-2010, when an increasing number of people began turning to him for advice and guidance. "Saying you do social media is like mentioning you're a podiatrist at a senior center," he jokes. Yet once he landed paying clients, the Chicagoan realized he needed a new way to keep track of his schedule—to "beef up my calendaring," he says. He turned to Tungle.me, a Web-based calendar that syncs Outlook, Google Calendar, and several other scheduling tools.
"Since I started [the business], there hasn't been a moment of spare time," Miller says. "Whenever I'm not doing work for my day job, I'm in my Twitter account trying to make new connections, establish my brand, or writing blog posts … I'm perpetually doing something to advance that effort."
Set concrete goals. As Miller points out, you can always do "just a little more" to help your business succeed. So set goals, and take a break or celebrate once you meet them, suggests Blake, the Google employee and author. "Being clear with your goals will allow people to work on their side hustle without feeling like they have to do everything all at once."
Start small. Consider putting your toe in the water before leaping in, says Kristin Cardinale, author of The 9-to-5 Cure: Work on Your Own Terms & Reinvent Your Life. Even if your eventual goal is to turn the after-hours project into your main job, it might be smart to give yourself time to figure out whether entrepreneurship is really for you. Do you multi-task well? Do you have the right business skills? Are you good at working with people? "A lot of times I think the burnout or the negative experience comes from the fact that [entrepreneurs] just have too much on their plate," Cardinale says. If you're going to keep your job while creating another income stream, plan ahead as much as possible so you won't feel overwhelmed.
Start pro bono to land clients. To create buzz about your products or services, consider giving them away for free initially. That approach worked for Miller. "Doing work for free outside of my existing job was a real stretch at first," he says. "But once I understood it for what it was, which was a pathway to paid [gigs], it was easier to stomach."
Harness the power of social media. Online tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help you build your clientele, and they cost nothing but your time. These platforms, which can create a sort of virtual word-of-mouth, also double as advertising, helping to decrease your startup costs.
Let yourself dream. We can't all become the next Facebook or Groupon, but let those success stories motivate you. One of the reasons Tim Murphy, a 30-year-old property manager, came up with his idea for a website that tracks job and school applications was because he felt that entrepreneurial tug. "I kind of felt that entrepreneurial drive to create something and experiment," Murphy says. "[There's] that bit of the American independent business ideology that says I can strike it big if I get the right combination of factors put in place." After hiring a contractor to design and build the site, he launched ApplyMate in June.
Aim to outsource. Once you're in a groove, seek out opportunities to outsource day-to-day tasks, says Scott Gerber, founder of the newly formed Young Entrepreneur Council and author of Never Get a "Real" Job. "Look to maximize exposure and minimalize your personal time [spent on the business]," he says. He's referring to business-related tasks, but this could also apply to your personal affairs. If you're overworked or over-scheduled, it may make sense to hire someone to deal with, for example, household chores or bills.