How to balance your passion project with a full-time job

it’s no surprise One in three Americans has a side hustle, Many of us have our own careers – that we can really enjoy – but our passion projects are what really inspire and fulfill us.

In fact, the company I co-founded is Masthead Media, which started as my own passion project. After growing it at nights, on weekends, and over lunch with my business partner, Julie, it eventually became my full-time job.

The entrepreneur in me loves hearing stories about other founders—and when I was collaborating with one of my clients, I learned he’s no stranger to passion projects either.

Tiffany Hamilton runs a mission-driven company called wear victor With his teenage son, Isaiah. The company is an inspirational activewear brand inspired by Isaiah—who has high-functioning autism, which puts him at high unemployment risk as an adult.

Together, they formed the company to secure her future, create economic opportunities for differently-abled people like her, and inspire her to conquer odds. The company, which was launched on World Autism Awareness Day, recently received the DC Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

I wondered, given the exciting pace of her new business, how could Hamilton (also a single mom) pull it off—especially because she has a demanding full-time job at a major cloud-based software company.

As she and I talked, I learned some of her secrets for balancing work, family, and her business — and reflected on myself.

Find the synergy between your 9-to-5 and your passion project

It’s not uncommon to think that starting a side business will accompany your full-time job – but it doesn’t have to be.

Often the skills you’ve acquired throughout your career will help you build your business. But more than that, this side hustle can improve how you look in your 9-to-5 role, too.

“Whatever I do to increase brand awareness [for Victor Wear] There’s an application of my marketing skills,” Hamilton said. She says running her own business has helped her become a stronger marketer, which, in turn, “helps tremendously with marketing my side business.”

Dedicate consistent time blocks to work on the business

Since my partner and I were removing masthead media from the beginning, we would get up early one day a week and spend a few hours creating a business plan. Working within these time constraints allowed us to focus on immediate and long-term goals – and made us more productive than we could have been at all times in the world.

Hamilton likewise pauses time to work on Victor Ware. “Often, I can’t devote more than a few hours – if even that – to business,” she said. “But those small chunks of time add up to big achievements.”

To make the most of your time, Hamilton recommends setting clear priorities. “Have a goal for how you’ll use your time, such as sending an important email, reaching out to an influencer for a collaboration opportunity, or creating a social post.”

Take advantage of free resources

When most of your work hours are devoted to your 9-to-5, it can be taxing to find time and energy to learn new skills, grow your network, or even find new business opportunities. may fall.

But there are plenty of resources out there that can help guide you – and many of them are free!

,score And sba Have been an amazing resource,” said Hamilton. “All their mentoring services are free and the mentors are amazing! I was paired with a mentor who worked for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Bahama and other major clothing brands and was able to get coaching sessions every Sunday so it wouldn’t conflict with my work schedule.”

She continued: “There are a lot of generous people in the business community who are willing to dedicate their time to helping entrepreneurs succeed. Take advantage! And of course take advantage of the many resources for small and minority-owned businesses Lift.”

Reach your community for support

Back when masthead media was still my passion project, I relied heavily on family and friends for support. Our website and business cards were designed by relatives, friends who connected us to people in their networks who became customers. One of my former publishing industry bosses became my co-founder—and he also helped run the business, inspired me, and held me accountable (and still does today!).

Hamilton shared a similar sentiment when it comes to the benefits of keeping your network in the loop on everything you’re working on.

“Tell them what you’re doing with your business: ask them to follow you, request referrals for services, ask for product reviews, and tell them your needs,” Hamilton said. “I told my employer’s colleagues about my business, and they were incredibly helpful. One of the execs ordered T-shirts for our entire team of 15!”

No matter what type of passion project you want to pursue—creating a nonprofit, freelancing, starting your own DTC brand—you don’t need your full-time job to get in the way.

Finding the balance between a passionate project and a 9-to-5 leaning into your expertise, your community (and coworkers!) day.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.