Ask the Expert: How can Latinx small business owners juggle a 9-to-5 job and their own business?

Juggling a 9-to-5 job and your own business at the same time can be challenging. On the one hand, you may still have a day job to foot the bills while you get your startup off the ground. It pays the bills, supports your family, and allows you to live a comfortable life.

On the other hand, you may be dedicating a lot of time to your own business as a solopreneur, unable to hire others at the moment but knowing that the work has to get done. Research suggests that working another job to finance entrepreneurial ambition is easier for many Black and Hispanic business owners than other options. In fact, Hispanic-owned businesses were more likely to have loan applications rejected during the COVID pandemic. That, paired with natural skepticism that exists for some when supporting businesses of color, can mean finding alternative options to financing is a reality for these business owners.

The good thing is you’re not alone. When I began TheBlondeMisfit almost five years ago, I was climbing the corporate ladder and using money earned at my day job to fund my entrepreneurial dreams. I knew that money would come, but hard work and dedication came first. It took a lot of late nights and early mornings, sacrifices and mistakes. Thankfully, it made me resilient and skilled at multitasking.

When I talk to business owners today, I find that many of them want to quit their jobs without the right infrastructure in place for their business. Many success stories start off that way, but in a pandemic where job security is at an all-time low and people are struggling to support their families, I’m all for having a game plan. While it can become tiring burning the midnight oil for two companies, there are ways to juggle your 9-to-5 job and your own business without burning out.

1. Separate your business and personal expenses.

Once your business starts making money, it’s important to separate your business and personal expenses. You’ll want to do this by opening a separate business account that will house all your expenses and incoming payments. You can use a platform like QuickBooks to track and organize your expenses in their respective categories. As a business owner, you know there are a lot of smaller purchases that add up over time, and it’s always better to be prepared. Organizing expenses is extremely helpful when it’s tax season.

Tracking expenses is also helpful to avoid “dipping” into one fund to pay another. For example, if you are only bringing in $10,000 a month, you may need to reevaluate your budget if you’re constantly spending $15,000. At first, you may not mind dedicating extra funds from the day job to cover your overhead, but it’s important to also think about long-term growth and how to save for a rainy day.

Managing your finances may be difficult at first, but using resources like QuickBooks will help you stay on track. Even if you struggle with finances, you can still use an app or excel sheet (or even go old school and use a checkbook) to track expenses.

At the end of the month, look at your finances. It can be painful if you’re someone like me and orders takeout more than they care to admit, but having a healthy perspective on your finances is the only way to know where you’re spending too much or too little.

2. Abide by the quality and not quantity.

Whether you have one job or ten jobs, time management is important. One of the best pieces of advice I give to entrepreneurs is to focus on the quality of work instead of the quantity. What do I mean by this? It is better to spend five hours efficiently working on things in your business than to aimlessly put in ten hours and having little to show for it. A good way to do this is by implementing calendar blocking and creating to-do lists.

Prioritize the tasks on your list, and knock out the most important objectives first. Once you have your list finalized, add them to your calendar, and block off time off to complete them one at a time. It’ll be tempting to switch between tasks, turn the TV on, and text friends. But remember, you’re focused on efficiency. The results will show themselves when you see how much you’ve accomplished in half the time.

Another great tip is scheduling your busier business days with your lighter days at work. Perhaps Wednesdays are the days you have the least amount of meetings and therefore can use your lunch hour to drop off orders at the post office. On the other hand, maybe Mondays are client-facing days at your job, so it’s easier to just complete admin work when you’re off the clock. Find a schedule that works for you and stick with it.

There will always be exceptions when you may need to work a bit more on your side hustle. But set boundaries and stick to them!

3. Outsource small tasks when possible.

As a solopreneur, you may take a bit of pride in being a one-stop shop for your business. Commendable? Absolutely. The easiest way to burn out? Of course. While many of us may not have immediate resources to hire a full-time virtual assistant or additional staffers, you can outsource small tasks that require minimal oversight to one-time freelancers. Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork allow you to book freelancers for various tasks, and you can itemize the invoices (yes, in your QuickBooks account) for future categorizing during tax season.

I love using platforms like Fiverr because I can determine how fast I need a project completed and how much I want to spend. I can also workshop the project in real-time with the creator. Tasks like research, email drafting, appointment booking, and more can cut into your day. But hiring someone to do those tasks for you frees up your time and allows you to focus on things that really need your attention.

One lesson I’ve learned in business is that it pays to invest, and it costs to be cheap. Although you may not want to put the money upfront, think of the money you’ll save down the road. You’ll see it’s worth it to work with others and free yourself up from the hustle of 24/7 working.

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