Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Everyone I know tells me that I am a hustler, and they mean it in the best way possible. Often times we'll be in a meeting or group conversation, and we'll have that Pretty Woman conversation. You know the one where Vivian says to Kit, "Tell me one person who it's worked out for." And Kit responds, "Cindaf*ckin'rella." Yeah, I'm the Cindaf*ckinrella of yoga instructors. My co-workers say, "Who do we know who makes their own schedule, pays their own mortgage, and doesn't have a rich husband helping them out? Angelique."
When I graduated yoga teacher training, many of us had this dream of living the yoga teacher life. It was the life made popular by influencers on Instagram. It was the life of travel, celebrity, and being a successful entrepreneur. Except, what no one told us is that it is hard freaking work and not everyone makes it. How many starving artists do you know in Los Angeles? How many bartenders and servers barely scraping by in NYC? And now, in the time of government shutdowns from Covid-19, how many fitness instructors are making bank?
Friends, it's not all doom and gloom, but it is hard work. It's a hustle because it never ends. You hated your 9-5 job? Good, because as an entrepreneur, you might work 24/7. You couldn't stand your co-workers? Good, because as a solopreneur you have to do this project all on your own. Clients driving you crazy? Great, you can choose who to work with, but if you're just getting started, you don't really have the luxury of turning people down. According to Dictionary.com, the definition of hustle is: verb; to proceed or work rapidly or energetically; to push or force one's way; to be aggressive; to promote or publicize in a lively, vigorous, or aggressive manner. You get the idea. You have to promote yourself and your business all the time, in a way that earns you friends and followers, or people who love to hate you. These days, anything sells. What's your schtick?
I am a generally nice person with a lot of passion and an outgoing personality. I want my hustle to stay in line with my values, so I have to employ certain strategies to make it happen. It's not foolproof, and you have to find what works for you in your field and with your personality, but these five strategies may help you as well!
1. Wake up early.
This seems like such a small and annoying thing, so why make it number one? I mean, you just got done working for someone else so why can't you sleep in and just work later into the evening? Oh, my friends, I'm so glad you asked! I have no children, but my neighbor whom I share a wall with has a 5 year old son. I hear him zooming around the house all day, full of energy and exuberance. He usually wakes up around 6 a.m. and goes until 9 p.m. His mother looks exhausted on the rare occasions that I see her. Now, let's make her start her own business at 9 p.m. after he finally falls asleep. Let's make her work until midnight. How productive do you think she will be?
Most of us are able to focus better when our mind is fresh after a decent night's sleep. We can work faster and more diligently. Our minds don't drift to that argument we had on Facebook at lunch. Our kids aren't awake yet, or our dogs haven't started barking. And we control how many hours we work based on the time we set our alarm for. I always thought I was a night owl until I started getting up at 4 a.m. to teach yoga, and now I am definitely a morning person. When I'm up, I'm up. And in the quiet of the wee hours of the morning, I get so much more done. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than your used to. Get comfortable with that time and then repeat. Your goal is to awaken between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. everyday of your work week, and possibly your weekend too. How successful do you want to be?
2. Find a great planning system that you love and stick to it, no matter what else comes along.
I love to plan, but sometimes I spend so much time planning that I run out of time for doing. In the beginning, I wrote my notes in a notebook. Then I switched to Evernote, which took me weeks to learn how to optimize for what I needed, but I dreaded using it. Finally, I found Trello and I'll never use anything else. It was a project management system made for me, that I get excited about using. I store all my notes and ideas in there and it keeps me organized. It was very simple to learn and using helpful tutorials from kimberlyannjimenez.com, I mastered it in a matter of hours. Now I always know what I need to work on and where I am in any given project. I'm able to run my yoga business alongside of my consulting business with ease. And because it is web-based, I always have it with me when I need it. I can spend my time on IPA's (income-producing activities) instead of looking for my notes.
3. Always be a student.
Some days I am in yoga teacher training mode, and other days, I am consulting small businesses about their Pinterest presence. And when the weekends come along, I'm voraciously consuming courses on how to manage my client's Facebook campaigns, making TikTok videos so I can teach my clients best practices (follow me @angeliqueflynn), and attending my own yoga teacher training so I can better serve my students. One of the principles of yoga is svadhyaya or self-study. If I stop learning, I stop growing. In order to make my business more marketable and to help more people, I need to be on top of the new trends and best practices.
Don't be afraid to pay for other people's courses. Not only will you learn something, but you might also get some ideas about how to run your own course. I'm not talking about degree programs here, but rather learning from the experience of someone who has done it before on their blog, podcast, or online course. You can subscribe to my newsletter, for example, by clicking here.
4. Build your network.
One of my greatest tools for success in any industry is networking. People buy from people they know, like and trust. This is my sale's mantra. If no one knows me, I'm not going to attract clients. Of course I believe that to know me is to love me, so the "like and trust" part comes easier to me, but if you are not sure of your own reputation, I highly recommend checking what you put out on social media. If 75% of it is positive and helpful, you're pretty good. If not, it's time to turn over a new leaf. If the ONLY way you network is online, then that percentage should be closer to 95%.
So what does it mean to network? Any time you interact with someone, you are networking. Sometimes it is professional networking and sometimes it is social, but everyone you meet is now in your network. Make sure you get their name, and friend them on Facebook or Instagram. Or collect their business card and find them on LinkedIn. Maybe even ask if you can email them. Your network is your future client base, and the people that you refer your clients to or get referred from. Stay in touch with your network through social media marketing and/or email marketing. But remember, you are always networking. Put your best foot forward. If you are shy or introverted, it becomes especially important to rely on your existing network of friends and family for those introductions you need. Make sure everyone you know knows what you do! Remind them often.
I know, I know, the hustle takes up all of your time. Whether it's your main gig or your side gig, you are busy. If you are a decent human, chances are, you're already supporting causes you care about financially. However, cause-related marketing is more than a donation.
The reason for volunteering is threefold. First, you are helping someone else. At the end of the day, the difference you made in someone’s life matters more than how much money is in your bank account. Do what matters first. The rest will take care of itself. Second, you feel pretty good about helping others. You don’t do it for the attention or the accolades, although people around you will notice (and this helps a lot with the “trust” part of the sales mantra). So you get to help someone else and you get to feel good about it. Third, when you volunteer, you are building your network (see strategy #4) alongside of building your brand. Your brand is associated with kindness, trustworthiness, and compassion. For example, own a pizzeria? Go into the community and volunteer at a food pantry. Heck, if you can, donate food to the pantry and stay to help hand it out. You’ve just helped someone eat, you feel good about it, and your customers feel good about eating your pizza. Everyone wins!
Find a cause that aligns with your mission or values. When in doubt, your local Rotary club is a fantastic option. Being a Rotarian gives you opportunities to help people locally and internationally. It is a worldwide humanitarian organization creating permanent and positive changes in communities. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? Visit www.rotary.org to find a club near you. The bonus benefit of joining Rotary is that it opens up doors to other volunteer opportunities, and introduces you to business connections. And this should go without saying, but volunteering is also fun!
So you thought becoming an entrepreneur meant sleeping in, making your own schedule, taking long vacations, and bringing in oodles of money…that’s okay, I think maybe we all secretly hoped we’d get there without the hard work. But for those of us who have to hustle hard to be successful, we find strategies that make the hustle possible. Adopt a few of mine and let me know what you think!