Kimberly Palmer’s new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” is all about that – starting an entrepreneurial side-business as a gateway to financial security and personal satisfaction. With profiles of successful “side-giggers”, inspiration and helpful advice, the book is a complimentary companion to Mom, Incorporated: A Guide to Business and Baby. We caught up with Kimberly to chat about her inspiration for the book and how moms can channel their entrepreneurial spirit through a side-business.
MOMINCORPORATED: In your new book, The Economy of You, you write about entrepreneurial side-businesses and your experience starting one while working full time. What inspired you to write the book?
KIMBERLY: After my daughter was born four years ago, which coincided with the height of the financial crisis, I was suddenly gripped with worry over what would happen if my husband or I lost our jobs. I really wanted a back-up plan – income I knew I could count if I was unexpectedly laid-off. I launched my business of money planners on Etsy to create that income.
After I did that, I quickly discovered a booming world of entrepreneurs just like me — people who were launching something on the side to supplement their income and serve as a back up plan. I discovered first-hand how empowering that can be, and wrote the book with the goal of inspiring other people to do the same thing, and laying out a game plan to make it as easy as possible for them.
MOMINCORPORATED: How did your own experience prepare you to start your side-business?
KIMBERLY: I’ve been writing about money for about ten years, and I love it – so I knew my side-business had to relate to personal finance in some way. I’d always been a fan of Etsy as a shopper, and one day when I was browsing, I discovered an entire section of “paper goods” and calendars, and I suddenly realized that I could create digital products that would fit well into the site. That hit me like lightening, and within two weeks I opened up my shop.
MOMINCORPORATED: At Mom, Incorporated, we are geared toward moms who want to start their own businesses and the unique challenges of motherhood and entrepreneurship. How old are your children and how do you manage the juggle between full-time work, entrepreneurship, and family?
KIMBERLY: My daughter, the one who inspired my Etsy shop, is now 4, and my son is now 1. I took a six-month maternity leave when he was born, which helped me a lot. Now, I juggle everything by focusing on finding little snippets of time to get things done instead of larger chunks, which are harder to find. I try to take advantage of commuting time, lunch breaks, naptime and then evenings after they go to sleep for the night. I save my vacation days for when things get really intense and I need to take a time out, either for myself, my kids, or my business.
MOMINCORPORATED: Do you have any support?
KIMBERLY: My biggest support is my parents, who live nearby. My husband has a job with crazy hours, so I’m the one who is in charge of snow days, sick days, and all of the other unexpected schedule changes. My parents help me so much – they come over to my house, or pick my kids up early from daycare and preschool, or invite us over on the weekend so I can run on their treadmill while they play with my kids. I’m really lucky to have them nearby and so willing to help.
MOMINCORPORATED: The book has profiles of 100 successful “side-giggers.” Did you notice any themes emerge among them?
KIMBERLY: Yes! One of the most striking things to me was how almost all of them struggled with failure, or at least bumps in the road along the way. Building a side-business isn’t easy for anybody. Once I realized that, I found it easier to push past my own inevitable hiccups, like slow sales periods or negative feedback.
Another theme is the importance of tapping into your online community of fellow entrepreneurs. Whatever your niche is, there are probably people out there already in it. For me, it was the world of creative entrepreneurs. Connecting with your “tribe” by reading their blogs, talking over social media, and even meeting up in person can help you find much-needed support as you build your business.
MOMINCORPORATED: What are some of the initial challenges that a mom might face in starting a new side-business and how might she address them?KIMBERLY: One of the most common challenges is marketing, and learning how to get word out about your product or service. Even if you have an incredible and valuable idea, no one can buy it if they don’t know about it. So you have to learn how to toot your own horn a little – tell the story of how your business started, reach out to bloggers who might be interested in covering it, and communicate with your target audience over social media and your own blog.
MOMINCORPORATED: What would you tell a mom who is wondering how to determine if creating an entrepreneurial endeavor is worth the time needed to devote to it?
KIMBERLY: I think it all comes down to how it will make you feel and if your side-business will provide an incredible sense of satisfaction that you’re not getting elsewhere in your life. Even though my Etsy shop just makes a fraction of my overall earnings, with my full-time job bringing in the bulk of my income, it is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done in my professional life. I get to create things that other people find useful, and that’s an amazing feeling. If your side-business gives you that deep sense of satisfaction, then the additional stress or time that goes into it is well worth it.
MOMINCORPORATED: Do you have any advice about starting a business while raising a family?
KIMBERLY: Make sure you choose a side-business that connects with your deepest passions, skills and expertise. If you know that you’re helping people by leveraging your own unique background, then it’s a lot easier to push through those initial challenges to create a thriving business.
Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” and senior money editor for U.S. News & World Report, where she writes the popular Alpha Consumer blog. In addition, she is the creator of Palmer’s Planners, her own line of digital financial guides and money organizers for major life events and goals. You can connect with her at bykimberlypalmer.com, where you can also download worksheets to help you build your own side-business.
Have you started a business as a side-gig or have thoughts to start one? What kind of businesses do you think would make a good side-gig? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.