How I grew my business slowly and sustainably into a full time role

I am writing this post a few days after leaving my 'day job' a job which I have enjoyed over the past 5 years. I am not nervous, or anxious about leaving at all, I feel like this is how it should be, this is where my life is now and it feels right, like it was always meant to be.

The decision to take the leap wasn't hard, it just took me a long time to make it. Over the last 2 years I have seen my beautiful creative business grow and flourish from a kitchen hobby to a sustainable and profitable small creative business. It has thrived but so have I both in my confidence, focus and self awareness.

The time feels right for me to focus on Hazel & Blue fully and wholly and interestingly I have already seen the benefits of doing this since I made the decision. I am more engaged, I feel more connected to it and to people around me.

Side hustle to a full time business, taking to leap, small creative business success, hazel and blue candles

My decision to leave my day job is not about luck or privilege, it is about hard work, juggling two jobs, grit, determination and a huge amount of passion. Because Hazel & Blue makes me get of bed in the morning, it puts a spring in my step, it makes me feel whole. I am at my most happiest.

It just feels right.

For me having a side hustle was advantageous, it enabled me to grow my business slowly and at a good pace, I wasn't starting from scratch and so I was able to hone my new skills in a low risk and financial way. A recent research piece in 2017 suggests approximately half of all millennials have some type of side hustle, the trend is growing and for me I cannot advocate it strongly enough.

Over the last few years I ran Hazel & Blue as a side hustle. I learnt to manage my business really well, I prioritised tasks, I would work quickly and for short periods. As I only had one day off a week to work on the business, I had to be efficient and effective so I worked with intention. It would also mean working in the mornings, in my lunchtime breaks, at weekends and in the evenings. But it never felt like a struggle it made me happy and it fulfilled me like no other work had.

In other ways I would be quite selective with any new potential work for the business, turning away potential business if I could see no real benefits, I would say no to markets or fairs if I thought it wouldn't be a valuable use of my time, I would say no to potential collaborations if I couldn't plan in the necessary hours or the thinking space. I was able to sustain this quite effectively over the last 18 months as I watched the business grow slowly and sustainably.

I was managing quite well, but then things changed at the end of last year. The Christmas markets started and things stepped up a notch. Hugely. My website went haywire, my candle workshops sold out. Business enquiries came flooding in and I reached out to retail and started my wholesale journey because it felt right and I was ready.

But by the end of December, things caught up with me and running both jobs became too much. I was exhausted and I couldn't stop crying. I was emotionally and physically spent. I was encouraged to take a step back, and I paused and spent the time reflecting. I spoke with close family and friends round me, and slowly my mind started to breathe and I finally came to a conscious decision, it was like a light had been switched on.

I read recently that when you are on the cusp of a life changing decision you have probably subconsciously already made the decision, that somehow it was never a choice but rather a realisation that the decision had been made. I think more so and particularly when you are involving the concept of leaving your comfort zone, its normal to feel hesitant or fearful at the prospect. Sometimes the 'right choice' is the 'brave choice' because it can have a positive change, an opportunity to develop new opportunities and lifelong happiness and contentment. The decisions you make today, defines your future.

The decision to focus on my business was not hard nor did it take a long term, I did not agonise over it. It felt normal, like it was softly and patiently waiting for my permission to accept it.

I am looking forward to the next few months ahead, to focus on Hazel & Blue fully and intentionally, and with purpose. I have an opportunity now to really grow the business, but also to connect with myself and with others around me.

When I was writing this post and during my time growing the business, I found these people and articles really helpful and useful:

Katye Ferris - Simple & Season Soulful Creative Marketing Mentor and so much more. Katye's podcast 'Grow with Soul' provides value and content in baskets and spades and she has one of the most calming voices I have ever heard.

Josephine Brooks - If there is anything to know about a side hustle Josephine is your woman, she is a huge advocate for side hustlers and an expert in planning and productivity she also has a podcast dedicated to side hustlers called 'On the Make'

Fiona Barrows - Fiona is real and honest, she is a website copywriter and brand strategist for creative businesses and she lives locally to me! She has her own podcast called 'There are other ways' with real honest meaningful conversations. Fiona is so relatable and inspiring as she talks from her own experiences, something which I have huge admiration for.

Sara Tasker - Me & Orla Sara is an Instagram Guru not only providing practical tips she shares her expert knowledge and skills on growing your business online, she is on point, a brilliant business woman and a wonderful mentor for new creatives.

If you are feeling inspired to start a side hustler or even take the leap to full time business yourself, I would say do it and start small, because the small things lead to bigger things and that's where the magic happens and you never know where it might lead.

I still feel I have a long way to go with Hazel & Blue but this year feels more purposeful than ever, I have a lot of new projects, products and collaborations already in the pipeline, but for now I will settle in, take a breath and embrace the moment. I am so excited I feel like I have been given a gift.

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