The following is an excerpt from my interview with Stacy Verdick Case on my podcast, You’ve Got This.
The Great Recession brought out the side gigs in earnest. Have you found that more people are starting side businesses?
Stacy: I have, and I’ve noticed that because I’ve done this for a while, the ones who aren’t doing a side hustle right now are looking to and they’re asking questions. It’s really been fun for me to see this take off because it’s a great way to be with your kids and make some extra money. I think the gig economy is great.
Any advice for someone who’s thinking of starting a side business? Are there any first steps?
Stacy: My go-to advice is not to overthink it because for a lot people, they end up talking themselves out of starting. If you’re making something handmade, Etsy is such a beautiful way to easily get started and not really have much risk. Listings are twenty cents and the site does take a percentage of your sale, but it’s still a nice way to get your feet wet and test out the waters before you go full in and decided to get a credit card reader and go do in-person sales. It’s a way to get your sales started and have feedback from customers because when you’re making stuff, you never know how it’s going to be received by the public. I think that’s my best advice for those selling a product. So many times, I stand with the moms at my daughter’s school, and they say, “I’ve thought about doing this for years, and I really want to do this someday.” But there’s always a reason why now is not the right time. However, there will never be the perfect time.
That’s a great point because it will never be the perfect time. Some of us are little more optimistic and willing to take a risk. We should evaluate whether we’re ready to take the risk and putting yourself out there.
Stacy: That’s where Etsy comes in because it’s low risk, and you’re not putting yourself front and center facing your customer, which I think is the gateway for a lot of moms. It’s really hard to create something that we put our heart and soul into, and then stand in front of someone who says, “Oh, that’s ugly.” It can be soul-crushing to hear that. Etsy’s nice because potential customers can reject you without your hearing it.
I will put in a plug into festivals, especially local ones. If you’ve done the Etsy store and thinking of doing both, it can be daunting, but you can get such great immediate feedback from things. If you go into it not thinking you’re going to sell a $1,000 worth of merchandise, but thinking of it as market research for you. It really depends on why you’re doing it.
Stacy: The nice thing about the local ones is that the cost is less. The best tip for those selling at a festival—do have your family and friends come by and act like shoppers because other shoppers are more inclined to walk up to you if you have other shoppers looking at your stuff.
When you have kids, you have to set realistic goals for yourself when starting a side hustle. Any advice on getting started and feeling you’re accomplishing something when you have kids at home, especially young kids?
Stacy: When I started doing the upcycling furniture, I’ve done it all my life, but the business portion, my daughter was still at home as a toddler. I was not prepared. That point about not being ready to go from zero to 60 is absolutely valid. I started by renting a booth space and being all in, and after about a year, I had to give it up, it was too much. When you don’t have the inventory prepared, I would say, if you’re doing this with a toddler at home, start the Etsy store first rather than renting a booth on a regular basis, get your inventory up and prepared. It depends on what you’re doing. The business portion is what everyone has to do, whether you’re selling handmade or resale. My computer was my phone, so I built my website while she was at dance classes. I was the anti-social mom sitting in my car working. The beauty of working a side hustle with your kids is that you don’t have to keep regular hours, so you can work while she’s in dance class. My daughter has two hour archery classes three times a week, so I have six hours to be the anti-social mom who works instead of chats with the other parents. I wrote a blog post saying “I’m not anti-social, I’m just busy.” I need to get work done and I can’t lose six hours a week.
Stacy: A lot of time when I’m being perceived as being anti-social, it’s not affecting my daughter. She’s in a class or she’s doing something else. It’s okay for me to be perceived as anti-social because I’m okay with it. I know the instant she gets out of that class, the computer is away and we’re fully together. She has all my attention, until it’s time for her to go to bed, then I’m back at work. It’s a wonderful payoff for me. I don’t care what the mom next door thinks of me, as long as my daughter thinks I’m a good mom. My payoff is a daughter how sees two things. First, there’s a mom who’s paying attention to her when she’s around instead of looking at my phone. Second, she’s seeing a mom who’s striving for something. I want my daughter to see me reaching for my goals. I remember when I was pregnant, a well-meaning friend told me, “Now you give up your dreams for hers.” And I thought, “Huh? I don’t want to give up my dreams.” I knew I was having a girl, and I thought, “Is that what we want our daughters to learn that we get pregnant and we give up everything?” For me, I don’t have mommy guilt because my daughter works with me all the time.
Whether you’re a spectacular success or whether you only sell a few things a week, you’re showing your kids that you have worth outside of being a mom. It’s a tangible way of showing you’re an interesting person. We have ideas and passions and goals.
For more on how to manage or start a side hustle with kids at home, listen to “A Little Work on the Side” on the “You’ve Got This” podcast.