Celebrating Small Business Saturday with Chelsea Fagan

With Small Business Saturday coming up, it’s time to celebrate talented men and women everywhere who are driven to start their own businesses. At Adobe Document Cloud, we can’t think of anyone who better represents the entrepreneurial spirit and never-say-die attitude of successful business leaders than Chelsea Fagan. Chelsea built The Financial Diet, a personal finance (and more) blog for millennials, from a side hustle to a thriving small business.

Chelsea was a copywriter at a media company that was not paying her enough and that didn’t offer overtime. With few prospects for increasing her earnings there, she decided that starting a side hustle was a great way to make more money.

In deciding on the type of side hustle, Chelsea wanted something that took advantage of her existing skills. She also focused on things she could do remotely because she didn’t want to eat up additional time with transit. Based on those criteria, Chelsea started taking on writing projects on an hourly or per-article rate — as long as the projects didn’t violate her existing non-compete agreement. She eventually transformed this writing gig into The Financial Diet.

“It’s never too late to start a side hustle or small business,” said Chelsea. “Even if you’re being paid well, it can still be difficult to increase your pay dramatically over time at your current job. If you have aggressive savings goals, you can either spend less or earn more, and more often than not, you’d prefer the latter. Besides, starting a side hustle can be pretty liberating. It can allow you to have the life you want to live.”

So, how did she do it? How did she dive into her passion, stay focused and manage her time effectively so she could contribute blog posts, create videos, go on tour, do guest appearances, and even write books?

She did it by managing her side hustle like a bad-ass boss.

What does it take to be the boss of your own side hustle and turn it into a successful business? Here are some lessons we gleaned from Chelsea’s blogs and videos — some very practical, some more psychological.

1. Set your side hustle up right

While setting up a side hustle as a formal business isn’t usually the first thing on your mind, Chelsea thinks it sets you up for success. By making your side hustle a legal entity, usually an LLC, you can better protect your personal assets and maximize your tax benefits.

You also need to create your digital framework, which includes a logo and a basic website with your own domain name and personalized email address. This will project an air of professionalism and make it easier for people to find you.

Finally, get some business cards. These also make you look more professional and can ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities when you’re meeting people face-to-face. The good news is that with a little research, you can do all this very inexpensively.

2. Get the right tools

It’s no surprise that someone as accomplished as Chelsea finds tools to help her be productive, and she has a few favorite apps.

With Google Calendar and Spreadsheets, you can more easily manage everything you need to get done (from planning and executing large projects to scheduling everything in your day-to-day business and personal life), so you never miss something important.

Adobe Scan can help you manage documents while you’re on the go, including capturing handwritten notes, business cards, or receipts. Adobe Acrobat Mobile App lets you view, annotate, sign, and share PDFs. And as your business grows, the Adobe Acrobat DC service enables you to manage complex document workflows, including collecting feedback from multiple people while still maintaining control of each document.

3. Capture what you learn from experience

When you’re moving fast and hopping from task to task, you can’t afford to forget what you’re learning as you go. That’s why Chelsea writes down or records everything, including things that have nothing to do with work. You can use a journal, phone recorder, notepad app, or even a sticky note or your bathroom mirror to make sure you never forget a thing. In addition to knowledge building, doing this can help you stay “attentively present” in everything you do, so you can fully throw yourself into what needs to be done without distraction.

4. Stop lying to yourself

Chelsea admits that she, like most of us, can all too easily lie to herself. For example, she had a habit of convincing herself she was working her hardest when giving only 30%.

But she finally realized that “…you are only ever going to be as accomplished or fulfilled as you personally insist upon being, and when you allow yourself to lower the bar — or never even set it in the first place, as I have done so many times — ultimately, you are only lying to yourself.” Want to start a successful business? Be honest with yourself about what it will take.

5. Lean into it

One of Chelsea’s most important pieces of advice is never let the “down moments” make you doubtful! You will always have tasks you won’t necessarily love to do, and some of them may take a long time or push negative emotional buttons.

But if you look, you can always find ways to appreciate the tasks. Whether it’s a challenge to overcome, finding something new to learn, or just a ritual you create — like enjoying your favorite snack while you pay the bills — you can always tackle each task with vigor, and lean into the parts that bring you joy.

If you’re investing the time and hoping to create a profitable small business out of your side hustle, you need to manage it that way. If that means being a bad-ass boss, then embrace it! We celebrate Women’s Small Business Month for a reason. Women continue to face many obstacles when starting businesses. But as Chelsea has proven with The Financial Diet, with the right idea, the right attitude, and the right tools, you can be the driver of your own success.