Tracey MinutoloOne cool thing that’s been happening as I run this blog is I’m starting to connect with other sidepreneurs that, like me, are trying to spread the message of sidepreneurship. Well today’s interview features, Tracey Minutolo, a sidepreneur that is doing an awesome job of helping fellow sidepreneurs. She’s a lab supervisor full-time and on the side she helps people with day jobs launch a side business.

Tracey gave over 1,200 words of insightful advice below so let’s dive in!

1. WHAT IS YOUR DAY JOB AND WHAT IS YOUR SIDE BUSINESS?

I’m a full-time Quality Control Microbiology lab supervisor at a medical device and diagnostics company.  Right now, with our blood-screening products, my company is on the frontlines of the battle against Zika. It’s my team’s job to make sure that our manufacturing environments are meeting expectations and our finished products meet specifications before they go out the door.

I’m also a side hustle coach.  I help motivated 9 to 5’ers launch and grow profitable service-based side businesses they’re passionate about.  I use a framework that takes clients first through clearly identifying their goals and objectives for a side business and making room in their lives for a side business.  We then go through a process of uncovering and understanding their strengths, skills, and experience.  We brainstorm and generate business ideas together, evaluate, and select one, and move forward into identifying and researching target markets.  By the time we’re finished, the client is pitching their first client.

I also run the Side Hustlers & Financial Freedomfighters Facebook group.  It’s a place where side hustlers, multi-hustlers, and anyone working hard toward achieving financial freedom can get support, encouragement, and accountability, and make the connections that make a difference in moving their business forward.

2. HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR SIDE BUSINESS?

I’ve been a side hustler since before I was even aware that there was a term for it.  I’ve had part-time jobs and done all sorts of crazy one-off gigs for extra money (from caring for exotic birds to doing sleep studies at a local university). 

About two years ago, I decided I wanted to start something of my own, something more sustainable.  I really struggled trying to find that “perfect” business idea.  I’m a microbiologist by training, and since I didn’t want to become a consultant, that was a dead end for me.  I spent 7 months or so, spinning my wheels trying to figure out what I could do that anyone would pay me for.

My business idea grew out of what I was doing in my volunteer work.  For years I had been handling social media and online promotions for an annual fundraising event my friends and I founded here in San Diego.  Essentially I was the only one on the team who wanted to deal with it, so I took it and ran with it.  So, my first side business was providing virtual support (social media among other things) for podcasters.

Because I decided to work only with podcasters whose messages I fully believed in and loved, I ended up working with some people I really developed great relationships with.  One of those was a career coach, Scott Barlow at Happen to Your Career, who was more than happy to give me new challenges and opportunities beyond the VA work.  I was managing his Facebook communities and engaging with his clients and that led to an opportunity to become an “assistant coach” in his side business program.  Working with his students through the side business program “sealed the deal” for me and I was off and running with a new coaching business!

3. HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO WORK ON YOUR SIDE BUSINESS?

Just before I started my VA business, I had been studying for a certification exam for my day job.  I found the time to study in quiet hours before I needed to go into work.  After the exam, I just kept going with my new habit of waking up early.  I found that I really loved being up early.  There’s nothing like the peaceful silence of the early morning, and there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you’ve gotten more work done than most people you know before even arriving at your day job!

I work on my business between 5 AM and 8 AM weekdays and for a few hours on Sunday mornings.  

I’d be lying if I said that it was just that easy though.  It took quite a bit of communication and a  degree of compromise with my partner to work out the little details.  For instance, though I work with clients in different time zones, I don’t take calls before 6 AM my time on weekdays and not before 8 AM on weekends because the sound travels in our apartment!

4. WHAT’S WORKING FOR YOU RIGHT NOW IN GROWING YOUR SIDE BUSINESS?

At the moment, I am focused on building and strengthening my relationships.  It’s still early days for my coaching business and I’ve found that most of my clients have found me through my work with Happen to Your Career or through mutual friends.  My relationships have brought me this far and have resulted in the most satisfying opportunities. I really believe in the power of connecting and this is a huge focus in the work I do with my clients too as I help them build their businesses.

I’ve also just begun doing podcast interviews and have had some of my writing re-published.

I feel like because I am a sidepreneur, it’s much easier for me to look at my business growth on a much longer timeline vs. needing big results fast.  I am not in a rush.  I just want to take my time, become the best coach I can be, and have a blast with my clients as they tap into their ability to earn income apart from a paycheck!

5. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT STARTING A SIDE BUSINESS?

The first piece of advice I have is to take the time upfront to understand exactly what you want from your side hustle and what you can give to it.  How much income do you want to earn from it?  How soon do you need to begin earning with it?  Where do you want to go with it in the longer term?  How much time do you have to work on your side hustle?  When will you work on it?  Who in your life do you need agreement from?

Too often, people will start a side business and then realize that what it would actually take to get their hustle to the income level they want/need is something they are not interested in, or maybe capable of doing.  This is exactly the trap I fell into with my VA business, because I didn’t take the time upfront to match what I needed with what I needed to do to get there.

Beyond that, I would say just to get into action.  Don’t be afraid of not choosing the “right idea.”  You are never stuck.  Just get out there, begin talking to people and see what you can make happen!  If it doesn’t work, try the next idea.  Doors begin to open, opportunities begin to appear only once you’re in motion!

For those who are still trying to come up with business ideas, here is one of my favorite exercises I use with my clients.  It might help spark a few new ideas you hadn’t considered.

Ask a MINIMUM of 5 friends/coworkers/family (people who know you and/or your work really well) the following questions:

  1. What do you believe are my biggest strengths?
  2. What would you trust me completely to help you with?