Let’s not beat around the bush: There seems to be a myth amongst One Woman Shops that it’s shameful to take on part-time or full-time work for someone else when they’re working to build their solo business.
The feelings that come up: shame; embarrassment; failure. After all, how can you call yourself a business owner if your business isn’t fully supporting you?
Excuse us while we clear our throats -- as it turns out, we happen to have a lot to say about that.
Issue #1: That’s a whole lot of all-or-nothing thinking going on.
It’s not black or white. It’s not stop or go. And it’s certainly not all or nothing.
The author Barbara Kingsolver writes acclaimed novels, grows her own vegetables, runs a local co-op, and holds classes on farming out of her backyard. Do those “extracurriculars” make her any less of an author? No.
Just like babysitting, tutoring, tending bar, or any number of bridge jobs you might take on will not make you any less of a business owner, so long as you keep putting time into building your brand.
And the “gurus” who tell you that you have to be 110% committed or you’re not a “real” business owner? We happen to like Coach Jennie’s response to that one, after falling for that advice: “these all-or-nothing thinking gurus weren’t responsible for my rent.”
Issue #2: Working from a place of financial stress simply isn’t effective.
While we can come up with several reasons for a bridge job (and we share them, below), the biggest reason is because a solo business owner may find herself financially stressed.
And here’s what we see in our coaching clients, members, and community when they’re coming from a place of financial burden: desperation (that their audience can “smell”). Hasty decisions. Getting away from their values or what they’re truly aiming for.
What ends up happening is that they build a business for short-term gains instead of long-term appeal. This is through no fault of their own -- when there are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and responsibilities, those short-term gains are necessary.
But they aren’t ideal for building a business that will fuel you for a long time to come -- especially one where you’d like some semblance of solopreneur sanity.
The beauty of a bridge job
Here’s what we mean when we’re talking about bridge jobs: a job that gives you financial stability while you build your solo business.
A bridge job is literally anything that brings that financial stability -- from pouring wine tastings (Sara) to catering for a pizza restaurant (Cristina) to babysitting (both) and everything in between. There’s no shortage of bridge jobs out there.
What a bridge job allows for
Financial stability: We like to think of it as a comfy cushion. When you’re working from a place of financial comfort, you’re empowered with the confidence to take risks, fail faster, and reiterate. You have room to experiment. To work with people how you want to, not just in the way that will make you the most money. Maybe you just want money to put into your business? A bridge job can provide the money to invest in that new website.
Structure: Have you ever heard the adage, “If you want something done, ask a busy person?” As it turns out, most of us work better with structure. I (Sara) can speak from experience on this one: When building my business as a side hustle in addition to my full-time job, I was amazingly productive in the ~10 hours/week I devoted to it. Once I had my days wide open after quitting that full-time gig? Productivity became a tug of war. So if you’re worried about a bridge job taking away precious time, remember this: You can do big things with just 5, 10, or 15 hours a week.
Community: Depending on the role, a bridge job will introduce you to people who might end up as readers, followers, customers, clients, or collaborators in your solo business. And if the people themselves aren’t ideal partners in any way, shape, or form, let them serve as inspiration. (I’ve often considered becoming a bartender just for the appreciation of the stories I’d be sure to hear.)
Learning: Getting paid to learn might be one of the best feelings, ever. And if you go into your bridge job with this attitude, there’s no shortage of things you can learn. Learn from your boss; learn from your fellow employees; learn from the situation. I learned to upsell while pouring wine samples; Cristina learned the importance of connecting with potential clients and customers on shared interests. Keep an open mind.
Bridge jobs for building businesses
Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in business for a while but just aren’t there yet, there is absolutely no shame in taking on a bridge job that helps you reach your long-term goals and build the business you want to run.
Businesses take time. “Overnight successes” more often take 10 years than they do one day.
We don't share any of this to discourage -- we certainly are not saying that you can’t take the leap from your full-time job tomorrow or stay away from “the man” forevermore. We share this because we’ve seen all sorts of business situations amongst our community and members, and, it takes most (us included!) a long time to become both profitable and sustainable. In fact, had we been in this solely for the money, One Woman Shop likely would’ve folded by now. (#truth) We’re fueled by our passion, our belief in what we’re doing, and the progress we’ve seen so far in helping other One Woman Shops.
You are in this for the long haul, right?
Tell us: What fears creep up for you when it comes to the idea of a bridge job to ease your financial situation? Remember: There’s no shame here!
This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.