Whether it’s a hobby that evolves into something more, or a passion project that you work on in your spare time outside of work, one thing’s for sure, running a successful side business is not easy. Without being able to dedicate 100% of your time towards your business, it’s easy for things to fall by the wayside. Xero customer Candice Benge, who is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has owned and operated her upholstery company, Benge Fabrik, for six years.
Although Candice’s business is successful today, the path to scaling it while maintaining work-life integration hasn’t been easy. Candice shared just what it takes to run a successful side business.
1. Find a mentor
Candice worked as playwright for 10 years before deciding to switch careers. She was looking for a job that wouldn’t tie her to a desk and would give her time to raise a family. Candice discovered her passion for upholstery and got her business up and running — working multiple jobs including waiting tables and babysitting. Then her business really started to flourish.
She took classes at a local community college in order to upskill with regards to her trade. During the course, she started an internship. There she found someone who was more than willing to share their years of experience with her. That person then became her mentor.
2. Fake it ‘til you make it
When Candice first started her apprenticeship she relied heavily on friends to promote her business. She called herself an upholsterer before feeling like her skills matched the title. She says letting go of fear is key to gaining confidence in your ability.
“Don’t be afraid, play the part before you’re actually good at it. You’ll figure out how to do the job when you’re there,” she says.
After two years in business, Candice started to grow her client list. She used the job board Thumbtack to find people to help her with her marketing efforts. This let her spend less time in front of the computer and more time focusing on her passion.
3. Find your niche
Before starting a part-time business, Candice says it’s important to know your industry and the key players in it. This will help you make informed decisions when it comes to finding a niche that is cost effective and unexplored. Candice’s plan to hone in on her niche is to break into the high-end luxury market with a seasonal collection of table linens. She is also utilizing her network of peers to leverage information.
“Knowing your peers is helpful. In my industry, knowing the right place for the lowest wholesale prices is important. So you have to know people in the know,” says Candice.
Growing a clientele and scaling a business can be challenging for side business owners — but by being confident, leveraging the help of industry peers and carving out a niche you can find success.