Making a 6-11 job work for you / by Carley Batley

Sarah launched Geo Heaven at the end of 2016. Since then she's run a successful business alongside her 9-5 job. We asked Sarah to share her advice on making a 6-11 job work for you.

I launched Geo Heaven at the end of November 2016. I work full time as a special needs consultant teacher and wanted a creative outlet.

I had the idea for Geo Heaven at the start of 2016 and drew up a plan of everything that I needed to get sorted. I had the product ideas and the brand name but I wasn't sure where to go from there. I attended an event about building a creative business through Instagram and met other people who were starting out with creative businesses. It was great to have a new network of friends to whom I could ask questions. I read a tonne of blog posts about setting up creative businesses and drew up a list of everything that I needed to do.

One of the best bits of advice I was given was to set myself a launch date by hosting a launch party. This gave me a goal to work towards and I still wonder if I’d have actually launched the company by now if I hadn't have done so. It’s easy to find excuses not to do things when you work full-time. The event doesn't need to be big, you could even have it in your front room. The main purpose is to give you a concrete launch date. I found a venue that gave me a room for free and then created a free Eventbrite event to invite friends and family to. I sold stock at a discounted rate on the night and it was really fun to do. There was a good buzz on social media after the event as friends had been posting about the evening.

Running a company as a 6-11 job is fun but it can be challenging at times. You need to be dedicated and you really have to commit to it if you want to run a successful business. There will be nights that you come home tired from work and really don't want to do anything but if you have orders to pack then you need to prioritise them. You need to structure your days and factor in time for your day job, creative business and time for you.

It’s easy to find excuses not to do things when you work full-time. I still wonder if I’d have actually launched the company by now if I hadn’t set a launch date for my business.

It can be hard to keep on top of the never ending to-do lists from your day job, 6-11 job and housework. I have found bullet journalling really useful for this. A bullet journal is a customisable organisation system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. You use a notebook (preferably with dotted pages) to create your own system. I use mine as my diary, to do lists, sketch pad and planner. It’s really useful to have everything in one place and I have a much more detailed daily schedule. When I suddenly remember ‘oh no! I really need to do that tonight’ I can add it to my daily to-do list in my daily schedule. If I have things that I need to get done by a certain date then I’ll initially create a list and then add each item into my daily schedules so that I have an achievable plan for when I will get things done. It’s really helped with my stress levels! If you want to find out more about it there are a lot of YouTube videos that explain the basics of bullet journalling. Even if bullet journalling is not for you it’s important to find an organisation system that suits you.

Keeping motivated is important and this can be difficult at times. You will compare yourself to other successful creatives and ask yourself why you can't be more like them. I find it useful to have a long term plan in place. When I’m feeling unmotivated I can refer back to the plan to see what I need to do to move forward with the business. I have the year mapped out month by month and list any big events and what I want to achieve for the business that month. It can sometimes be hard to find creative inspiration, particularly if you’re having a hard time in your day job. This is where self-care comes in. Make sure that you build in some ‘you time’. It can be easy to put too much pressure on yourself but so long as you tell your customers you are taking a little break then you don't need to worry. I find the best way to reignite my creativity is to get away from everything for a while. Whether that be taking a weekend off from Geo Heaven and relaxing at home or going away somewhere on a short holiday. You need to re-charge your batteries and switch off from stress to find that creativity. It’s important to keep on top of your business but you also need to look after yourself. Your business cannot run without you!

Having a work-life balance is important. There will be busy times and not-so busy times in both your day job and evening job. Christmas is a super busy time all round and you need to stay focused and realise that a quieter time will be coming when the Christmas chaos has died down. I’ve found there are times when I don't think I have a very good work-life balance and times when I think I’ve got it nailed. I think this is the same for everyone and you just need to check that you’re not doing so much in those busy times that you are burning yourself out.

Online it can often look as though people have everything together all of the time, they have the same self-doubt as you.

I’ve found it so helpful to have a network of creative friends to speak to. Northern Craft socials have been a great place to meet like-minded creatives. I’ve found some excellent Facebook groups for creative entrepreneurs and the Etsy Leeds group has a very active and welcoming community. It’s great to have a whole bunch of creatives to ask questions. I think one of the most useful things I’ve found about chatting to people at Northern Craft socials has been to find out that everyone is human! Online it can often look as though people have everything together all of the time but as soon as you chat to them you’ll discover that they have the same self-doubt as you and have stresses and troubles of their own. If you're not local to Leeds then it’s worth checking out if there are any relevant MasterMinds Meetups in your local area.

I love running Geo Heaven and I’m striving to make it my full-time job. I’m going to keep being organised, find time for my business and for me, prioritise and try to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Geo Heaven will be at Northern Craft Summer Fair on Saturday 5th August. Our fair runs all weekend at Northern Monk Brew Co.