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Closet Entrepreneurs

Kendibone Sapepa

In a conversation I had not too long ago, I had realised and pointed out that one of the things I love about Johannesburg, is that it’s a place where more often than not, you meet people who have day jobs / 9 – 5 but also run businesses / side-hustles after-hours. These are often centred around their passion, interests or basically what they enjoy and are good at. They vary from person to person, for instance;
  • Nkgabi, who started off in advertising, left corporate and started her own company and also dabbles in some blogging for her blog; Diary of a Rad Black Woman.
  • Duke is quite talented when it comes to woodwork. He’s in construction industry but makes furniture, he’s made rails for me, server tables and is currently in the process of making pedestals.
  • Mlue is a chef who runs a catering business that he’s grown over the past few months. From participating in market days where he sells his local cuisine, to catering for intimate dinners and parties, he too has a 9-5 in advertising.
  • Myself, a market research analyst from 9- 5, who returns home to run an online clothing business; Barbara McKenzie.
Although the word hustle has historically had a negative connotation describing scams and fraud, over the past few years this has changed and now people are proud to be called hustlers. From the above-mentioned individuals and anyone else who leads such a busy life of juggling two jobs at once, they are multi-taskers and jugglers of note. And for those looking to grow their interests into income-generating ventures, here are a few tips on how to maintain the balance.

“Eat the elephant one bite at a time”
As closet-entrepreneurs we do not necessarily enjoy the luxury of working on our businesses all day like full time entrepreneurs do, so we need to roll out tasks in smaller and more manageable sizes. Diagrams and lists often help here and ticking or crossing off completed tasks enables you to see your progress at a glance and see what needs to be done immediately. For example, if you make products that you sell, one afternoon or evening can be set aside for collecting all that is needed for production and prepping for it. The next two afternoons or evenings can be set aside for the production and the weekend maybe for changes and so forth.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”
Whether you’re working after hours during the week or over weekends, your time needs to be well planned for to ensure that you’re getting the most of the limited time that you have. For example, answering emails at 09:00, then 12:00 and then at 16:00 allows you to fully focus on the work at hand instead of being distracted with emails that come in every 30 minutes or so. This enables you to have more hours to work effectively on your 9-5. For example, if you sell products that need to be shipped out, do your shipping on certain days for an hour instead of doing them individually for an hour every time there is a sale, this could save you a lot of time.
It is also important to note that scheduling your family and friends is just as important, as work does tend to take over one’s schedule leaving loved ones neglected.

Outsource
Often as owners of our businesses, we tend to want to do everything ourselves, which is not the wisest thing to do. Where you can get help and outsource, do it. For example, instead buying stock or materials yourself, you can hire a hire and pay a daily rate to a runner. Another idea would be to buy online and have your items delivered to you. You can save time and energy by using your income from your 9-5 to invest in your side business or simply add it into the product’s costing.

Do things that create more time
Often you’ll find that customers have very similar questions, one way to address this is to have a Frequently Asked Questions page that answers shipping queries, accounts queries, standard rates etc. This is where outsourcing is an idea as well, if you ship out products, having a company handle all your shipping is better than having to run to the post office everything someone makes a purchase.

Procrastination
Avoid this by all means. Although quite a difficult one to avoid, with proper planning and discipline, you can set aside rest days to binge watch Being Mary Jane or Insecure so that when you have to get back to work, you’re well rested and refreshed. Another idea is to also divide your work into smaller intervals of work with 15 minute rest periods in between them, this keeps you fresh and alert.
My own personal method to keep myself motivated is to spend about 10 minutes on Pintrest looking beautiful and fashion forward clothing from around the world, this not only inspires me but also gets my creativity going and excited to create more clothes. Others find a that a vision board helps, when you can see what you want to achieve, it gives them that extra push.

Conclusion
For those who have both day jobs and run a side-business, I believe you’re some kind special human. Aside from the 9-5 hours you work, you still come home and gather up some more energy to work on your side business. Naturally this means we have less time and freedom than full time entrepreneurs, but we still keep it altogether and keep our businesses going, and when you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired, it’s great to look back at what you’ve done and accomplished with that limited time, kudos to you!


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