Mike From Rustic & Main has been an inspiration for me personally for a while now. He not only makes amazing rings, but also hosts a man-centric podcast that is truly inspirational. With this in mind, I thought he'd be an awesome addition to our "part-time entrepreneur, full-time bad ass" series.
With the success of his Rustic and Main venture, he's had to pause his podcasts and hire employees! Follow along as he tells, in his own words, the struggles and joys that come with full-time awesomeness.
Me: What made you decide to start your own business whilst working full-time?
Mike: I think entrepreneurs are going to find things to do outside of the normal 8-5 no matter what. We want to create. I have a desire to jump from my full-time to my business, which is part of a larger strategy of doing work I fully believe in and can direct. A lot of people will do odd jobs on the side to make some extra money. I say, take that time and invest it into something that is going to grow beyond the hourly rate.
Me: How do you balance your full-time job with pursuing your dream?
Mike: This is always a challenge with entrepreneurs. I think anyone can setup a virtual store front today and sell some stuff, but the real challenge begins when you start to become successful. Success is, oddly enough, the greatest challenge to budding business owners. There are a few things I do that have really been a big help in balancing things.
Time Management - You've got to schedule your day. I can't emphasize this enough. Know what your priorities are and when you are going to do them. Get up early and hustle late if you have to. Don't get burned out, but set aside dedicated time to get things done.
Hire People - It's been said that if you have a business that can only afford you, you don't have a business, you have a job. From the get-go you've got to think about revenue potential and it needs to be enough to bring others in to do the main work. This has been really helpful for me. Breaking the business down into processes that other can step in and help with is critical. Find some folks you trust to come in from time to time and then turn them loose. Realizing that I am a business maker as well as a ring maker has been a big help to me.
Me: How did you manage your time in order to get your business off the ground?
Mike: This was tough, as I have another project, Wolf and Iron (wolfandiron.com) which I was already committed to. I had to put Wolf on hold for a bit and focus on Rustic. I spent several months just trying to get the process of ring making down, and come up with some initial designs and business setup. Unlike Wolf and Iron, I had money invested in Rustic, so there was some pressure to see it through, and quickly. That helps keep you prioritized.
Just like above, Time Management is key. Also, taking it slow and doing it right. I didn't want to launch softly, but I didn't want to have it all figured out either (which never really happens). There is a middle ground business owners should be shooting for in terms of what is the minimal viable product to start with, and build on the momentum from there.
Me: Did you have to keep it a secret from your employer, or were they supportive?
Mike: I didn't keep it a secret, but I didn't openly advertise it either. When I'm at work, it's all work, except for lunch...and breaks. LOL. A lot of entrepreneurs that have a potential business begin to feel negatively towards their J.O.B. in light of the promising outlook of their new endeavor. Don't fall for that trap. Even if you have a job you hate, there are lessons you can learn. And, from a commonsense standpoint, it is income that you don't want to devalue or risk because of arrogance. Give your employer your best, and be open with them if you begin to need more time in your business.
Me: What’s the hardest part & what are the benefits?
Mike: The hardest part of Rustic and Main is time, at the moment. Time to make rings, come up with new designs, social media, etc. There are a lot of time-savers that I employ which helps greatly, but most of my day is still spent in my full-time job.
The benefits have been many. Getting paid is nice, but seeing a business grow is better. Having customers respond so favorably to the rings when they receive them is such a boon to my spirit. What's more is that these rings are typically for weddings or anniversary's, so they're extra special to folks, which makes me all the happier.
Me: What advice would you give to those who work full time but want to start up?
Mike: Man, there are a lot of things I could say here. Firstly, think about why you want to do the business. Are you just looking for some extra cash, or do you have a vision of something greater? Also, be honest about the reality of your idea. What is the market potential? Is anyone else doing this? Is it a truly unique idea or in some ways better than the current offerings. There are a number of ways to do an honest evaluation, but you have to be willing to say no to yourself if this doesn't hold the potential you are looking for. There's a quote I like regarding this: "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have." - Emile Chertier
I would also say, know your strengths and weaknesses. If you are not good at marketing, you're going to have to either get good very quickly, or hire someone to do it. The same goes for any area of your business. You don't want to be the guy who does it all, but you may need to be initially. Either way, the business needs to be profitable enough to hire people do certain things, and if it is not, well, a one legged stool is not very stable.
Me: Do you now work full-time on your business? If not, will you ever do so?
Mike: Not yet, but I could. Financially, I could jump to Rustic full-time now, but it would not be the wisest move. I want to get a season under my belt and see some stability before making the move. When a business goes full-time, it really changes. Taxes change, meaning they go up, and health insurance and other things that we employed take for granted are now your responsibility. If you have the ability to get others involved in the day-to-day operations of your business while you focus on getting out of debt, building a rainy day fund, and remain future focused, certainly do that before jumping all in.
If you feel like your full-time job is holding you back, it usually is because you are too needed by your business. Your goal as an entrepreneur should be to fire yourself and the business still run. If you can do that, then you have a solid business. Most preneurs' I know do best when they are building new things, and that is what you want to set yourself up to do.