How I turned my side hustle into a full-time business

Web design has been and is still my side hustle and full time business.

Story time 😊😊;

I was studying for my Higher diploma in software engineering at the time. It was all programming; Java, C++, PHP, .Net, etc. One day, I was learning Java and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Man! Programming is difficult 😩😤 – I was tired and frustrated and I said to myself…

Tega you know being a programmer is not what you want to do for the rest of your life, this life isn’t for you. You want to do fashion, you want to do business, you’re an entrepreneur. And just like that, I convince myself to learn what I needed to know to pass my exams and focus on what interests me the most. I still kinda wished I learned how to program 😢😢.

Web Design was one of my courses, being the idea junkie that I am, I had this amazing Idea of creating an online market place for boutique owners to help them sell their stock on the website for a little commission. And Fabulous City was born!

First, I wrote out a business plan and a proposal. I can’t over emphasize the need for a business plan, even if it’s a small side hustle, a business plan is very necessary.

Next step was to build the website. So, I became interested in web design because;
1. I knew I couldn’t afford to hire a web designer, I was still trying to raise my 150k Naira capital for the business.
2. I had the opportunity to learn web design amongst other programming languages in school, so I decided to learn just web design which was the easiest (let it not be as if I wasted all my father’s money 😭😭). Also, I had the help of my mates who were really good programmers.

I started designing the fabulous city website; it wasn’t easy. I am a perfectionist and I had looked at so many top eCommerce website and I knew exactly what I wanted. I met someone along the line and he introduced me to magneto and WordPress. This was the beginning of my web design side hustle.

Once the website was done, I was sooooo proud of myself; I printed out copies of my proposal and started distributing it in boutiques. I can remember vividly holding my big brown envelope of proposals and trekking from boutique to boutique along Adeniran Ogunsanya road and Bode Thomas road in Surulere Lagos. 😅😅

Imagine my disappointment when most of the boutique owners turned down my proposal. Nigerians as at then weren’t opened to the idea of having to display their goods online. One woman in Lagos Island market – O yes! I went all the way there, I was that enthusiastic about my business. She said no o! I no want make people steal my styles, I dey ok for my shop here. Sigh! 🙄😔😪

I just couldn’t understand why. I mean I wasn’t even asking for my commission on any sale I make through the website since I was just starting up, all I needed were pictures. They literally had nothing to lose but o well….

I gave up on the business – one of my biggest regrets. I told myself Nigerians weren’t ready, whereas I was leaving for Mauritius in a few months so who will handle my business.

I had so many excuses why I shouldn’t put any more effort in the business. And that was the death of Fabulous City.

I kept a copy of my proposal; I still read through it and say Tega I am proud of you for at least giving the business a try but next time never give up on a business idea because a few people disapproves.

I continued learning web design, as a matter of fact I fell in love with web design. I started building my network by telling friends and family that I am a web designer. I built 2 free websites for my friends then.

My first paid web design job was from a friend in August 2013. When he told me, I was too excited; I called my mentors and asked them how much I should charge him. I told him 50k naira 😳👯😳 and he negotiated for 45k naira. Ah! 45k naira was big money for me then, in a few minutes I got a bank alert for 25k naira. At that moment, I knew this was another business.

My cousin gave my contact to a potential client in UK. He emailed me and said he wanted a Request for proposal (RPF) to build ICAAN UK website. He sent their requirement documents and when I read it, I knew that this one pass me o!

I had to start up a company immediately, I created a team, I had to name the company and as then I was in love with the word ‘Fabulous’. My nick name then was even Ms. Fab 😂😃😅

I decided to go with Fab Innovation, bought and domain name and hosting and built a website. Packaging! 😂😃😅 One would think the business was almost 5 years old.

I asked 2 my mates in school to join my team and we set out on the project. Writing the RPF wasn’t easy. Thanks to google, I am sure I copied and paraphrased a lot of things. When it got to the quotation part, the guys insisted charge a million naira. My jaw dropped!

1m ke? You guys want us to lose this project abi. We decided to bring it down to about 600k Naira if I can remember. I had spent my own share of the money in my head even before it was approved. I was that sure we were going to get the project with the powerful RFP we wrote.

Alas, the projected was awarded to another person. Tbh, I was heartbroken but life goes on. 💔💔💔

Another lesson I learnt was not to give up on your potential clients; always keep in touch because you never know. Fast forward to 4 years later, he has referred me to a lot of clients in the UK. Majority of my clientele are UK based thanks to him.

The key to turning your side hustle into a successful business is to never give up. Believe wholeheartedly, “You got this.”

That didn’t stop me this time around, I became a freelance web designer. And slowly, I turned my side hustle into a full-time profitable business that I know will be sustainable long- term. I knew what I needed to make money, and was willing to take work I would not even consider now in order to make the dream of turning my side hustle into a business a reality.

My price went up of course and I started charging from a 100k above for a website design that will take me a few days, sometimes a few hours to design. I added additional services like; content development, graphic design, web site maintenance, and digital marketing. And I still have a team because I can’t do it all.

However, freelancing isn’t as easy as it seems. Unfortunately, being a freelancer means that your income and your workload are unstable and inconsistent. Freelancers are responsible for finding their own work and making sure that the money keeps coming in. Some months you are swamped with work, other months you’re praying to get even if it’s only one job. There is always a level of uncertainty about where the next project is coming from. You just have to learn the tips and tricks of freelancing before you dive into freelancing.

Yes! I do have a full-time job.

My bed room is literally my office, I work from home almost every day of the week but it is mandatory I go to the office on Saturday’s.

It’s a secure job but not so easy; essentially, everything I do boils down to digital marketing and website design. My boss hired me initially as a freelancer to build an eCommerce website. And as a smart business woman, I build a good ongoing relationship with my clients; and for this singular reason, my business is based on referrals. He gave me an offer and I accepted it.

I love the flexibility of my Job because it gives me time for my side-hustle and other things although this hasn’t been the case of late. I have been crazy busy with both and literally had no time for myself. I am also grateful for the learning experience I have had on the job.

So, my friends, a side hustle is a great way to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

However, It’s not easy juggling a full-time job and a business on the side so if you are going to invest the time and effort in a side hustle, make it count.

Start treating your side hustle like a real business, with plans, budgets, and prioritized action lists and remember it’s never too early to invest in expert help.

If you are serious about leaving the corporate world to follow your passions and enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with owning your own business, then start with a well-executed side hustle.

It’s a great way to build your skills and your business while you still have the security of your full-time job.

I hope you learnt a thing or two from this post.

Do you have a side hustle? Have you ever thought about turning it into a business?

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