LIFESTYLE 6 years ago

How to Turn Your Side Hustle into a Full-Time Gig

If you guys follow me on Instagram you KNOW how much I love my Gr8nola- I never travel without it and now everyone on the CINCteam loves it too! But did you know the creator is my cousin! (Well, Allen’s cousin- but still!) Not too long ago I asked her to share her story on the blog and I’m so glad I did.

Keep scrolling to read her tips to turn your side hustle into a full-time gig:

Hi everyone! Erica Liu Williams here. I’m the creator of gr8nola, an emerging food brand with a variety of delicious and clean granolas including flavors like Golden Turmeric, Coco Cacao, and Matcha Green Tea. While some of you may be familiar with my brand, many are surprised to learn that my path into entrepreneurship wasn’t so obvious. Even though I started the business back in 2013, most are shocked to learn that gr8nola was only a side hustle up until last fall, when I finally decided to quit my full-time tech career of nearly 10 years to pursue my passion.

The idea for gr8nola came about purely by accident from an annual cleanse my husband Tank and I do every year after Super Bowl. When I couldn’t find “cleanse-friendly” yet satisfying snacks in stores, I started making my own granola. It was so good that I decided to sell it at my local farmers market, and after getting in touch with a friend in tech, gr8nola made its debut in the kitchens of one of the largest tech companies around: Google!

Even after winning Google’s business within my first year of launching, the transition from side hustle to full-time entrepreneur mode didn’t happen overnight—it took me over four years to muster enough courage to finally quit my day job (goodbye benefits, salary, and security!) and pursue gr8nola full-time.

I know I’m not alone in this—not knowing how or when it’s time to go “all in” on your passion or side hustle. I’m regularly asked what steps I took to build my business to the point when I knew it was the “right time” to take the plunge. There’s no roadmap or perfect way to do it – and honestly, there’s never a “right” time – but here are my tips for what you need to make it happen.

1. Set Reasonable but Challenging Goals

How did I decide to take my granola recipe and turn it into a business? I set a goal to “launch” gr8nola at a farmers’ market and arbitrarily gave myself three months to do it. I literally had no idea how or where to start, but this deadline gave me something to work towards and drove me to figure things out with urgency. Similarly, I set a goal heading into 2017 that I’d go full-time with gr8nola by the end of the year. And guess what? I did it!

2. Don’t Compare your Business to Other People’s Businesses

While finding fellow entrepreneurs to talk to and learn from is an important part of business, remember that everyone is unique and has different products, goals and growth rates. Sometimes it seems like people have hockey puck-like growth overnight. Me? It took me over three years to really start gaining traction, but being patient really paid off. YOU know what’s best for your business!

3. Get Comfortable with Learning Every Aspect of Your Business—especially the stuff that’s not in your wheelhouse.

When I first started gr8nola’s Instagram, I knew nothing about social media and initially hired someone else to do it, simply because I was so intimidated by the platform. Fortunately, an entrepreneur friend of mine really pushed me to learn how to do it myself first, because no one (not even an expert) can determine the standards I want for my brand better than myself. It’s so critical to get comfortable with every part of the business in the beginning, especially the unfamiliar ones, so you know how to set the bar for when and if you outsource down the road.

4. Always Find a Way to Make it Work

You’re mentally ready to take on your business full-time (or to the next level, if you’re not quite there yet) when you’re willing to make so many sacrifices when it’s still a side hustle. When I got my first order from Google for 1,400 pounds of gr8nola (yes, you read that correctly!), I had to find a way to outsource production from baking out of my home kitchen. It took extreme hustle to finally find a solution, but when your back’s against the wall, you WILL find a way.

5. Find a Support System

I definitely couldn’t have done this without my family and friends to lean on or the numerous folks from my former tech life and my current food world who believed in me and gr8nola from the start. I’ve gotten to this point by building a network of people who care about what I’m doing and encourage me when I need it. Pick a few people to do monthly check-ins with, and you’ll often find that extra nudge and encouragement when it’s needed most!

To all of my fellow entrepreneurs out there: What’s your biggest tip for taking your side hustle to the next level? I’d love for all of us to share more tips!

x Erica


Photography by Karla Ticas