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If you are a millennial, you are no stranger to the popular advice that extols that if you follow your passion, the money will follow.  This seemingly well-meaning adage can leave aspiring entrepreneurs jumping off the nearest cliff without a parachute. Without a plan, without money, without connections, and without a clear understanding of your ideal client or customer, entrepreneurs fall hard and stay there.

One of the easiest ways to give your burgeoning business a chance to grow is to work on it on the side. In other words, don’t quit your day job… yet. Although it may seem, counterintuitive, (and definitely less sexy), having a full-time job affords you the financial security to invest in your business on a regular basis.

Dr. Maria James, a brown girl millennial and founder of the financial management company, The Pocket of Money, LLC insists, “If you’re working a full-time job while starting up your business, organization and time management are key. “

Here are her top tips for 9-to-5 hustlers who dream of working for themselves.

Tip #1: Set your work hours. James says,Your potential slots of time are:
1) in the morning before work (30 minutes – two hours maximum)
2) lunch break at work (30 minutes to one hour)
3) a few hours after work once you handle the household (two – four hours.)
4) your weekends (six-eight hours).

“If you have three chunks of solid time, make time to consistently work on your business. Make those hours non-negotiable outside of an emergency. If you want to change your business from a side hustle to a full-fledged business, then you have to show up to work consistently. Be rigid with yourself, stick to your schedule, “ James recommends.

Tip #2: Get focused with a plan (even if it is a one-page plan).  Smart women with a lot of ideas and no structure are doomed to fail in business. There needs to be a plan, even if it is a short-term one.

“In order to get focused you have to have a plan. In order to create a strong plan you have to start with a goal. If you don’t have a proper business plan already, that’s OK. You can start with a one-page business plan. If you have a business plan, creating a one-page business plan for the quarter will help you stay focused and know where to focus your money as well. You can use a one-page business plan to organize your goals, design a budget and create revenue projections, which are all needed to grow your revenue,” James says.

Tip #3: Anticipate your challenges and create a strategy to bypass them. No one wants to think about Plan B, but Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D are fundamental to business success. According to James, “Once you have your goals written down then you need to think about what challenges you will encounter as you work on achieving these goals. Will there be marketing challenges or funding challenges? What will stand in your way? Consider all the different avenues that you need to achieve the goal. This will help you with the next step that you need to do in order to complete your one page business plan.”

Tip #4: Create realistic deadlines for your tasks. In order to achieve your business goals, you will need to create a deadline for each task that works in service of you reaching that goal.  James maintains, “This will help you create your timeline so you have a realistic idea of how long it will take you to achieve the goal. One of the things that can make us fall short of our revenue goals is having an unrealistic task list as well as timeline to achieve those tasks. On your task list will be: marketing items and/or production and distribution items. All of these tasks in these other areas will affect your ability to achieve your revenue goals.”

The #BrownGirlBoss Series seeks to provide inspiration, information, and support to aspiring brown girl entrepreneurs. This is Part I of the series.

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. Join Kara’s closed $20 Cash Crash Diet Facebook Group to get some sistergirl support and accountability for reaching your savings goals.  

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