Yesterday I took part in my first panel during San Antonio Startup Week. Since my school days I have always had a fear of public speaking. I would spend weeks before the presentation stressed out, unable to envision the speech going successfully. When I was asked to speak during Startup Week I immediately said yes before anxiety could take over. Naturally, I felt a bit of uneasiness before the presentation began, but through deep breathing and positive thinking I made it through calmly and happily. Yes, I actually enjoyed myself!

Anyways, this isn’t a blog post about how to overcome your fears and anxieties (although I could write a book on it). For anyone who wasn’t able to make it but is interested in making their side hustle into a full time job, this blog post is for you. Below are the questions that were asked during the panel as well as my responses.

At what point did you realize (or when do you envision) your side hustle was ready to become your full time focus. What are some of the reasons you didn’t quit your full time job earlier?
When I was interviewing for a position at Sammis & Ochoa, a local PR firm, one of the questions they asked me was, “If you could interview for any job, what job would you want to be interviewed for?” My answer? I wouldn’t want to be interviewed for any job; I would want to be conducting the interviews.

From the very beginning my S&O family knew I wanted to run my own company. As two entrepreneurs themselves, Tanya and Mario (owners for S&O) took my statement to heart. After a year with my work family I kicked off Twenty Something SA with my best friend, Jacqueline. A couple months later our Instagram account had sky rocketed and we were receiving numerous messages a day about advertising opportunities. That’s when my business idea clicked – I was going to create a social media agency.

The moment I made the logo for Moving Mountains Social Media I knew I wouldn’t be at my PR job for much longer. Moving Mountains officially launched November 2015 and I left my full time, comfortable, and benefit filled job January 2016. I left quickly because I was ready. I’ve always known I wanted to run my own company and I also knew myself well enough to know that if I didn’t take all my inspiration and motivation and run, I would be sitting in the same place two, three or four years later.

However, leaving quickly didn’t mean I wasn’t financially prepared. Even before I knew what my business would be, I began saving all my money. 2015 was a year of no spending for me and it left me feeling confident when I walked out of the corporate doors because even if I didn’t have any clients for half a year, or even a year, I would be able to cover my bills.

Did you tell your employer about your side hustle? What was your employer’s response, and what kind of advice would you give from a communication perspective to anyone aspiring to be a “side hustler”?
As I mentioned above, my employers knew my side hustle plans from the beginning. They knew my passion and they guided and mentored me the entire way. Mario actually took me down to city hall to get my LLC (Moving Mountains) and DBA (Twenty Something SA)! The support was unlike anything I could imagine. Throughout the entire year of 2015, Tanya and Mario coached me and prepared me for the business world. Mario and I would meet during lunch to discuss my business plans and exchange ideas.

I know for some this may not be the case. Many employers will not be as excited to help their employee pursue another work engagement, but I believe open communication is unbelievably important. Don’t keep your side hustle a secret. One, employers will find out eventually and two, you close doors on people who could help you succeed.

What kind of challenges did you face and how did you overcome those challenges with your side hustle? 

When my side hustle became my everything I struggled with a lot of pressure from myself and society. Throughout our entire lives we have been taught that success means having a 9 to 5 job, success is sitting in traffic to get to a job you might not even like, a job that might even me mentally destroying you. Success means having a paycheck every two weeks and spending it on extravagant cars and flaunting your money to all those who pass you. To me, this was never success, but the voices of society were so deeply embedded in my mind that I had to consciously work to retrain my mind to align with my personal idea of success.

After a year of being on my own and many, many internal conversations, I have found my perfect position in this world of business. I work at times when I am the most creative, I don’t beat myself up if I take a day off, and I make sure I do have days off to enjoy life. We’re growing up in a time where you’re viewed as a lesser person if you’re not working until you’re mentally drained, but it doesn’t have to be this way and I truly believe it shouldn’t be this way. It’s hard to go against everything the media and society tells you but once you escape it and begin forming your life to be exactly what you want, everything is beautiful. Since I’ve branched out on my own, feelings of anxiety and depression have decreased significantly. I’m happier than I ever thought possible. That’s what life is for me. When your passion aligns with your work and when you know work is not life.

Whew, I know this wasn’t a typical Twenty Something blog post but I wanted to share my story with you.

I’d like to end the blog with a HUGE shout out to Sean Wen of Pinch and Matt Wilbanks of HelpSocial! I couldn’t have asked for better people to sit beside.