What No One Tells You About Starting a Business, Side Hustle or Freelance Career

There’s plenty of advice out there for women interested in launching their own thing—whether it’s a side hustle, freelance career, or full-on business. But there are some things that the shiny pictures on Instagram of bossing it up don’t show you. So, the Young Professionals Committee gathered a panel of women who run the gamut in their careers to give us a REAL behind the scenes look at what it is like to step outside the corporate world.

Last month, a full time freelancer, a product-based business owner, a service-based business owner, a full time employee with a side hustle and a moderator who launched a business coaching other young professionals in their own side hustle journeys–in short, a panel of bona fide experts. They shared it all — the good, the bad, the inspiring and the daunting. Here are their top nuggets of wisdom:

  1. Nothing that seems easy is. Mai Vu, founder and CEO of MaiVino says that social media can be misleading when it comes to success for entrepreneurs. “You read all these stories about how these people did this or that and look, they’re the greatest brand ever,” she says. “And you’re like, well that seems easy, why don’t we try that? And then you get there and it’s like, oh this is a long road. And you just have to be patient, you have to learn that this is a 10-year thing, a 20-year thing.”
  2. You have to dream even bigger than you think. Leah Gervais, business coach and entrepreneur mentor, says, “It’s important to push yourself to make your dreams even bigger. Then if you don’t reach it, it is ok, but you have to go for it. Building a business is not for the faint of heart.”
  3. It’s easy to get distracted. Bola Sokunbi of Clever Girl Finance talked about the struggle of getting distracted by new ideas. It’s easy to get distracted by every shiny new object,” she says. It is important to make sure you’re focusing on your top goals and priorities before adding more. Author Hannah Orenstein stays focused by assigning herself deadlines and word counts. “It’s really easy to say you can do [this project] in six months” but breaking it down into weekly goals ensures you stay on track. Her trick? Color-coding. Finding your accountability trick is crucial to staying focused.
  4. You will be tired. All the time. Building a business or side hustle is no joke in terms of time commitment. “For me the hardest thing was just being tired all the time,” says Bola. “I was working full time and then working on my business from 9pm to 3am. I was perpetually exhausted and had to keep asking myself, ‘why are you doing this?’” She needed to stay focused on her “why.”
  5. You have to focus on why YOU started. “The hustle is definitely real,” says Bola, “And I think you have to bring it back to putting things in perspective for yourself and prioritizing what matters most.” Full-time freelancer Brittany Risher agrees. “Remembering why you started, remembering why you love to do it and not getting overwhelmed by how things appear on social media,” is key.
  6. You are worth more than you think. The one thing Brittany wishes she knew? “If you ask for what you want, you’ll often get it. Don’t undersell yourself. Have the confidence to ask for more.”

-Bridget Thoreson


Learn from the pros.

learn more


Tips to help you figure out how to have it all.

learn more


Join today and get inspired by the NYWICI community.