4 years ago, I barely had time to take a breath.
I had a 2-year-old son, a 9-month-old daughter, and a management consulting career at a top firm in NYC.
I traveled for 3 days every week, jumping on trains, hopping on planes, and staying in hotels. When I came home, I wanted to spend every second with my children and husband.
I didn’t want to live this way anymore. I wanted to be home to help my kids with their homework as they grew older.
At the same time, I got the itch to start an online business. I loved my career, but I had recently lost 40 pounds and wanted to share my story and advice with other women. Plus, online business seemed like a way to have the flexibility I craved.
But how was I going to find the time to do it all? I didn’t even know how to get started.
So I started super small.
And within 6 months of launching my website, I made my first $10K. Today my online business, MasalaBody.com, makes more than $10K every month — plus, I still have a FT job, and my kids are now 6 1/2 and 5.
I’ve made more than $100K in 12 months
Let me show you how you can grow a substantial business while also raising a family and working full time. And how you can do it all without losing your mind.
Reframe your thinking: There are no limitations
When you’re thinking about starting a business, it’s important to have a clear vision of what’s possible. It is completely within your reach to grow a business. There is no hierarchy, VIP club, or elite education you must have to do it.
If you struggle to believe this, start studying other online business owners. When you see that these “ordinary” people — people like you — have been successful, you’ll realize you can do it, too.
I read people’s stories, I met them in person, and learned from them whenever and whatever I could.
Take Luisa Zhou, who made $106K in 4 months online through online marketing coaching at LuisaZhou.com while she worked a full-time job.
Or Emma Johnson, mom of two and founder of the site Wealthy Single Mommy, where she helps professional, single moms build a full, awesome life.
Emma has grown her email list to over 12,000 and started a podcast with guests like Arianna Huffington and Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, all while being a top writer for Forbes, Success, and other major publications.
And Bryan Harris, founder of Videofruit, who has over 80,000 subscribers. He stayed at his full-time job for a period of time as he grew his own business.
There are multiple business models, timelines, and personal stories of people growing their online businesses while being in full-time jobs. And many of these people also have kids.
Can you be one of them?
I argue, “Why not?”
You DO have time to build an online business
Although reading others’ stories is inspiring, you may still wonder: How do you find the time to grow a business, with a full-time job and kids to boot?
To start, I didn’t put an aggressive timeline on the growth of my business. I accepted that I had other responsibilities and was going to need time to develop my idea.
And, with a full-time job, I wasn’t desperate for income or struggling to get by, which really took the pressure off. I could take the time to fully flesh out and develop my business idea.
Still, I didn’t even have a spare second during my off days. I realized I needed to strategically create time to work on my business — and it’s not in the ways you may think.
Rather than “pushing myself harder,” I made four little changes that added up to hours of extra time to spend on my business each week. These changes will help you create extra time, too.
1. Prioritize your life
As much as I love going out with friends or attending meet-ups, I knew that time was better spent on my business. So decided to turn down anything that was not absolutely necessary outside of my job and family.
These activities take up more time than you realize: there’s planning and coordinating, changing plans, and getting ready to go. Instead, I poured all of this time into my business.
This was tough for me to do, but the payoff was worth it — it added up to 7 hours a week I could spend on my idea. (See how in #2 and #3 below.) Plus, I knew I would add this fun back to my life once my business was more established.
2. Take advantage of short spans of free time
With an online business, you have the advantage of being able to grow it from anywhere, unlike if you are building a brick-and-mortar business. That means you can spend any pockets of extra time you have making small steps to move your business forward.
I found the time to research my idea and audience by using free moments of 30 minutes or more I had in the morning, at night, and on planes and trains. Whenever I had a free moment, I would work on my idea.
I actually looked forward to these breaks and got excited every time I had the chance to work toward my dream.
Here’s an example of my typical work week while I was starting my online business. I like to color-code my tasks like this:
- Blue = work meetings
- Orange = flights
- Green = online business work
You can see how I fit my online business activities into short pockets of time, even while I was traveling for my full-time job.
Time added: 3 hours/week
3. Rethink weekends and vacations
I spent one weekend day each week and one- to two-week “staycations” (where I stayed at home rather than going on vacation) each year working on my idea.
These multiple-hour blocks were highly valuable because I could really concentrate on developing my idea without work “fire drills” or interruptions.
Time added: 4 hours/week and 30 hours/2x year
4. Be more productive
Finally, once I’d done all of these things, the times when I’d work on my idea became precious to me. So much so that I changed some of my lifelong habits that I came to realize were stripping my productivity away.
I identified my most productive hours and worked during those times. That meant shifting my sleeping patterns to get to bed earlier most nights and wake up earlier.
In just two weeks, my body adjusted to waking up earlier and it became my new normal. Now those hours in the morning are some of my best work hours. I feel like I’m really getting ahead.
Time added: 6 hours/week
Thanks to these four things, I gained 13 hours every week plus one or two 30-hour staycations a year. See how that adds up?
You can gain just as much time. Start by identifying how can you add 5 more hours to your week to grow your business. Here are a few suggestions:
- Use small pockets of free time in the mornings, nights, and on weekends
- Block off some time on weekends and/or take time from work if you can afford it
- Decide what your non-negotiables are, and make a decision that anything else cannot be a priority while you build your business. (You can add these things back later)
- Talk to people at work and friends when you are out so that researching dovetails with your everyday life
- Think about when you’re most productive and shift your schedule so you can work more during those times
In less than 10 minutes, you’ll see how you can find 5 hours to free up every week. That’s 2 ½ extra work days per month. Plus, as you start doing this, you’ll find ways to free up even more time.
Knock out one goal at a time
Now that you’ve found the time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of running blindly toward your “big picture” goal, working on one random thing here and one random thing there.
This doesn’t work.
Instead of concentrating on your end goal, you want to set clear, small goals that, combined, will help you achieve your end goal. As you complete each small goal, you build momentum that keeps you moving forward and getting results.
For example, I decided to make my first product an ebook. I spent every free moment documenting recipes, taking pictures of them, and compiling everything into a book.
This project took me months to complete, but I stayed focused. With each recipe completed, I felt the momentum of creating something even bigger.
One recipe became an ebook of 35+ photographed and tested recipes
Eventually I had more than 35 tested recipes compiled into an organized, beautifully photographed ebook.
… and then I realized that I’d created the wrong first product.
After further audience research, I realized I could help people more by turning this ebook into a weekly recipe and menu plan, and offering premium coaching services.
So I took the recipes from my ebook; categorized them by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks; and created weekly meal plans with them.
Then, instead of offering basic coaching at an hourly rate, I developed a 10-week program with more hands-on guidance and accountability. And I used the weekly meal plans as part of that.
I ended up making my first $10K online within 2 months of launching my program.
That $10K all started by documenting one recipe.
Stop now and create a small goal that gets you one step closer to your big end goal. If you need help, here are some ideas:
Narrow down your target audience
Talk to people you think are your audience and ask what they think about your business idea
Create your first product
Research Amazon book reviews for feedback on similar topics and document what readers want
Launch your first product
Create a reverse calendar from the date you would like to launch, detailing each item you need to create
Write your first guest post
Research 5-10 online blogs and create customized pitches to 3 that seem most accessible
Plan a live event
Identify a date and location
These small goals may seem insignificant, but they add up as you keep accomplishing more of them. Before you know it, you’ll have your first $10K and then keep earning more from there.
Have fun building your business with family and friends
As you keep checking small goals off your list, you may become so focused and energized that you forget to come up for air. I actually had my husband remind me to stop working at times because I was so engrossed in it!
To be sure this didn’t happen too often, I made growing my business part of my everyday life. Rather than sitting in a room by myself, staring at a computer, I involved my family and friends.
My husband photographed my recipes, my kids helped me cook, and I asked my siblings and parents for advice.
It wasn’t hard, because a lot of things I was already doing. For example, one morning I was making my Healthy French Toast anyway, so I took pictures of it for the ebook.
Creating and documenting recipes was more fun when my family was involved
I also had my friends taste-test my recipes by hosting cooking parties that doubled as networking opportunities for all of us.
They got to enjoy great food and meet new people, while I got the chance to see how everyone liked the recipes and to practice telling my story. Then I used everyone’s feedback to refine my products. It was win-win all around.
My cooking parties gave me the chance to network with industry experts and other online business owners
How can you make growing your business fun for you and anyone else you include?
Even if your business idea isn’t as interactive as cooking, you have to talk about it and get feedback. That means you will be engaging with others. So think how you can do this creatively:
- Can you throw a party and make your idea the central theme?
- If you have kids, can you practice talking about what you’re doing and see if they are excited?
- At work, can you start a newsletter or a new group that allows you to get feedback on your product and blog post ideas?
- At a family gathering or social event, can you ask others about their struggles, which will give you ideas on how to improve your product?
Commit to growing your online business
If you start an online business on the side, as it grows, eventually you’ll reach a decision point: Where do you want to take the rest of your life? Do you want to continue to do this as a side gig, or do you want to pursue your business full time?
For me, it happened when I hit around 1,000 subscribers and had made my first $10,000.
By then I knew I had a system that worked. I knew I could scale my business to reach thousands and, one day, millions of people. And I knew this would allow me to control my schedule and be much more flexible.
But I also realized that in order to do all of this, I needed more time to work on my business.
This was a huge decision. My entire life since I was an undergrad, I had been a management consultant. I liked consulting, and I always thought that was the path I would follow. I was scared to change now.
So I shifted my role at work to a more flexible position. I didn’t want to quit, as I did not want to risk my steady income, and thankfully my company had this option available.
I realize that not everyone has this option, but it’s worth talking to your boss to see if your company could do something similar for you.
Since I made this change, I’ve been able to commit to launching my program in multiple ways to test what works.
I went from $31K in my first year of business to over $40K in only 3 months this year. And I see my revenue increasing as I add more streams of income, learn more about my market, and continue to grow my subscriber list.
Total: $41,735 in 3 months
It’s scary to face a decision like this. It requires both mental shifts and lifestyle changes that are counter to what you’ve thought and done for years.
However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to think through how you can keep growing your business while maintaining the stability of a full-time income.
- Can you change your role at work or take on less responsibilities? Are you ready and in the position to quit your job?
- Can you adjust your commute so that it is not as far? Or work from home more often so that you don’t have the commute at all?
- Can you modify your work hours?
- Can you hire a housekeeper and any other help so that you can offload those things from your plate?
- What other investments can you make to free up more time so you can focus on growing your business?
You can create a successful online business while working a full-time job
Working a full-time job, raising a family, and starting an online business at the same time isn’t crazy. It’s totally possible, once you realize how to create the time.
Working on specific small goals during an hour here or 30 minutes there adds up. And if you include your family and friends, it’s also a lot of fun. Plus, you have the security of a steady income (and usually health insurance) from your job.
I’ve been able to grow a 6-figure business with a full-time job and two kids. I’ve always kept my eye on what’s possible and what I know I can achieve — and that’s what keeps me going.
I see how I’m impacting people every day now. Readers and clients thank me for what I’ve taught them and tell me how I’ve helped them transformed their lives after 5, 10, or more years of feeling stuck.
My program helped Tree find her abs and feel sexy
I have confidence helping so many people, and it’s so fulfilling, way beyond money. The fact that I’m helping real people feels amazing, and it’s a feeling I never felt with my full-time job.
It’s also liberating to no longer think so hard about whether we should take a trip to visit my parents or if we can join a family reunion in the Caribbean. My schedule is so much more flexible, and I feel like I can give my kids the opportunities they deserve to have, from learning new sports to going to camps.
Now I get to spend more time with my family while growing my business
I want to help you start your online business, too. Think: What is one way you can make more time to work on your business?
Tell me about in the comments below, and I will get back to you.