Line chef turned entrepreneur Ellen Marie Bennett noticed that pro chef aprons were poor quality, so she launched her company while still working as a line cook, hustling the heck out of whatever connections (and farmers’ market stalls) she could arrange. That was years ago. Today she’s not only got a factory (plus aprons on the staff of the best restaurants in town); she’s evangelizing the merits of small business ownership. Not convinced that your nights-and-weekends business is ever going to be more than a hobby? Here's some inspiration.
6 Tips for Turning Your Side Hustle into a Career (from Someone Who’s Done It)
If you can dream it, you can do it
Bennett has this motto painted on Hedley & Bennett’s apron factory wall as a reminder for everyone on her team. But the business owner advises that planning needs to happen, too. Start by writing down your dream, think about what you want it to be and where you want it to go. Make to-do lists. That's how dreams become realities.
Intern, apprentice and soak up all you can
It's so important to roll up your sleeves and get dirty, in whatever field you're interested in, before you commit your career to it. Being in the proximity of someone brilliant and learning everything you can is the best way to determine if you're on the right path before fully diving in.
Be your own cheerleader
Don't wait for anyone to encourage you. You have to be your own cheer squad and believe in yourself.
Give yourself deadlines
When you become an entrepreneur, you're your own boss. You need to keep yourself accountable, so set deadlines and stick to them.
Perfect your pitch
When you finally make the decision to turn your side hustle into your career—dun dun dun—the hustle becomes real. It's not just a passion anymore, it's your livelihood, so you need to have your pitch down. Practice delivering it in a concise, exciting and inspiring (but not braggy) way.
Shout it from the rooftops
Every person you come into contact with should know about your business. You're controlling your own destiny now, so it's time to start spreading the word loud and proud. Bennett networked like crazy in the tight-knit world of chefs, which is how she got orders with top restaurants like Animal and Otium, and eventually 4,000 other places across the U.S. After five years in business, the 30-year-old is now the CEO of a multi-million-dollar business, one that started as a humble side hustle.