How to Make Self-Development a Priority in Your Side-Hustle
After months of planning, writing and asking for feedback, my new course for side-hustlers Make a Plan > Make it Happen goes on sale this week. With all of this coming to a head I’ve been reflecting on why I bumped my own self-development to the top of my priorities list and why I think investing in learning is so important.
This year I’ve spent upwards of £2.5k on learning this year. For some that will be loads and for others that will be nothing, and yes I totally accept that being able to invest in my business has come as a result of privilege and growing my business while i’m still earning in my 9-5. I invested this money because I believe it’s so important to put my own learning first in order to grow my side-hustle into my full-time gig. In my experience, so far, that theory has only ever proved to be true.
The self-development I’ve invested in this year has ranged from reading free blog posts and buying £3 books from eBay to investing nearly £2k on 1:1 coaching.
First up, why is self-development so important?
Well, because when you’re growing a business by yourself, YOU are your biggest asset. You’re what makes your business unique and it’s your skills that you use to grow your business and make it what it is. As well as all that you’re also wearing a lot of hats. You might be the finance director, CEO, designer, copywriter, head creative, marketing bod and chief maker and shipper all in one job title and so you need to build a range of skills to get your business off the ground.
But also, learning is fun. This is especially true when you’re learning more and more on the stuff you’re super passionate about. Through building my side-hustle I've realised how much I learning about physiology. It’s not immediately obvious how this is connected but it really is, I love learning about what makes people tick, what makes people trust some brands and detest others, how irrational fears hold us back from going after what we really want because of deeply embedded, primal survival systems.
As I’ve grown my side-hustle I’ve been constantly learning from experience, doing experiments and learning from the results. Yet the biggest game-changers in my business this year have come from taking courses, reading books, going to in-person events and 6 months of coaching. By investing in my self-development I’ve accelerated my learning and leap-frogged a lot of the heart ache along the way that can come by learning from experience all of the time.
Here’s a round up of just some of the self-development I’ve made time for this year
Books are often forgotten when it comes to investing in self-development but there’s a lot that can be taken from business books. As a side-hustler I really don’t have a lot of time so I tend to listen to books on Audible, if I hear a bit that inspires me I make a quick note in my phone notes and carry on with what I’m doing. I’ve listened to all of the books below this year through my £7.99 monthly subscription with Audible and gained all sorts of knowledge and inspiration from them, from how to price my products to how to simplify my life and make more time for the things that really matter and how to stop my inner critic from holding me back from playing big.
The Multi Hyphen method
You are a Badass at Making Money
The Year of Less
If you’re looking for some business-book recommendations take a look at my post on the best business books for creative side-hustlers.
Bloom and Grow - Instagram and Photography course by Sara Tasker
In the spring I decided it was time to up my instagram game so with the spring flowers popping I decided to take the Bloom and Grow course by Sara Tasker. Although this course can be taken at your own pace I started with a gang of other people and so we worked through the course week-by-week and chatted to each other about the weekly challenges in the private facebook group. Sara also did a couple of facebook lives which gave me the opportunity to ask specific questions on what I was struggling with.
This course got me thinking more creatively about my instagram photography and reviewing what I wanted my personal style to look like. I also gained an understanding of what photos worked for me on instagram and what didn’t as well as how to craft better captions. Not only was this a fun course to do (as I love faffing around taking photos) it’s also helped me reach more of my audience on Instagram and engage with people in a more meaningful and enjoyable way. In turn, that’s got more of my right people over to my website and onto my side-hustle letters list for my fortnightly email about all things side-hustling, planning and making big things happen.
1:1 marketing coaching with Simple and Season
Coaching with Kayte Ferris was my biggest self-development investment this year and I don’t regret a penny of it. I quickly realised that the quickest and most impactful way of growing my side-hustle was going to be through working closely with someone one-on-one. You can’t beat having those personal conversations about your business with an expert who’s not only super-knowledgable but also rooting for you every step of the way.
Not only did I gain so much value from this 1:1 coaching in terms of learning how to set the best foundations for my business and market it in a soulful and authentic way, I also gained moral support and an ear to bend when I was finding something tricky or being held back by my own self-doubt.
The value of working with someone one-on-one, for me, was in the personal conversations we had about just my business and the challenges that just I was facing. In the calls I had the opportunity to talk through exactly what I was struggling with and get clarity on my next steps by the end of each call. I could also bounce ideas off Kayte and send her emails or blog posts to get her personalised feedback on and encouragement on putting them out there when it felt like taking a big and scary step on my business. The other big plus of working one-on-one with someone is in the accountability. I knew that I needed to complete the tasks and actions that came out of each call in time for the next one which really made me drive my business forward at a pace I would have never got to by myself. My significant investment in coaching also helped me to take this seriously and get the maximum value out of it.
Before buying my Blogtacular ticket I debated whether or not to go a lot in my head. It felt like a big investment and generally, as a huge introvert I hate networking events. I was quickly proven that my worries were unfounded.
There are two big plusses to going to in-person events. 1 - you can chat to and connect with other side-hustlers or business owners who really get you, they get what you’re trying to do by building an independent business and they’re often struggling with the same challenges or have tips to share with you on dealing with a particular issue you’re struggling with. Everyones also in the same boat - they want to connect with other side-hustlers and small business owners so starting up a conversation with people is actually pretty easy and un-scary. 2 - you learn from the most amazing experts on whatever topics you’re struggling with, you can ask questions and get tons of advice and inspiration to take home. I’m still working through some of the actions I wrote down during the event.
I took so much away from this experience that I can’t fit it all in this paragraph, but I wrote a whole post on My Top Takeaways From Blogtacular after I got back from the event. If you’re thinking about going to an in-person event go and check that post out.
Make time capsule videos with Xanthe Berkley
I’ve recently embarked on doing more video on my blog. I struggle with writing and so doing video is a fun and easy alternative for getting across my message. When I had this idea I decided to do the time capsule video course by Xanthe Berkley. I’ve only just started the course and so I’m still working through it but it’s all broken down into sections making if approachable.
As this course is self-paced I’ve struggled a bit so far to make the time to do the weekly challenges without the accountability I’ve had previously from working one-on-one or with a group of other people working through the course at the same pace, with a facebook group to share what we’ve created each week. So, I’m setting up my accountability now by saying that I’ll have a video blog post for you next week!
So, how did you make the time to do all of this learning alongside growing a business and working part-time? I hear you ask.
Here are my tips for making your self-development a priority:
Make self development part of your routine. Put a dedicated evening aside or block out a couple of hours on a Saturday for your learning time
Understand how you’re motivated. Will you be able to self-motivate yourself through a self-led course or do you need the accountability from the course leader and a group of others in a Facebook group to help you work through it.
Know your learning style - do you learn best through reading, listening to audio, watching videos or one-to-one conversations about your business. This should influence what kind of learning you invest in,.
Do your research first. Make sure the course, event, coaching package etc covers what you want to learn more about in detail. Ask yourself, do you think you’ll get on with the person leading the course etc? Do you want to grow your business in a similar way to that course leader? What else comes with the package, a facebook group where you can build connections with other side-hustlers, the opportunity to ask questions directly with the course leader etc?
Once you’ve done your research and found a course/ coach/ membership group etc that you’re excited about, be brave and invest what you can afford into your self-development. If it helps you get around your money block it might be an idea to put aside a budget for your self-development each year - as any company would do for their staff.
Over to you: Ready to get serious about your self development and make it a priority? Make a Wish list of what learning you want to do and schedule your self development in.
If you’re a side-hustler who wants to get serious about taking your business to the next level, here’s where you can find about more about Working With Me and my course for side-hustlers Make a Plan > Make it Happen.