How I built a £10k side business in under a year (and the lessons I learned)


In September 2019 I got signed off work with stress and anxiety. The combination of realising I’d just been promoted into a job that was completely wrong for me and a couple of fairly significant personal events had hit me like a brick.

I felt frustrated & useless. I’d well & truly hit rock bottom & knew if I didn’t do something about it, I’d be there forever.

So I had some coaching to get me back to work and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. The experience had such a powerful effect on me that I decided THAT was what I wanted to do.

This is Part 1 of my journey of turning that light bulb moment into a real, legit side business.

May 2020

I found out I was pregnant and having been coaching for free as part of my studies for a few months, I decided now was the time to get my first paying clients. I was still off social media after my breakdown, so I needed another way to find clients. I was scared but pulled my big girl pants on and created my first offer of £50 for 4 sessions. This may sound bargainous, but because I’d worked in a corporate job my whole like and had never asked anyone for money, this felt like a HUGE sum to be charging. Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and sent it out to everyone I knew.

May-July 2020

My friends passed on my offer to their friends (one even posted it on her slack channel at work) and I got my first six paying clients! Sure, they weren’t paying me much, but they were paying me something for doing what I loved. I was high as a kite.

July 2020

After studying my ass off, I qualified as a coach one month earlier than planned. I hired my first business coach and mentor to help me get it off the ground. He taught me the ‘Prosperous Coach’ methodology which involves inviting people in your network for a complimentary coaching session with the idea that they’ll either sign up or refer you.

I also felt like I’d been leading a double life, keeping my side hustle from my boss, so I decided to take the plunge and come out of the side business closet. Luckily my boss couldn’t have been more supportive. Phew!

August 2020

I signed my biggest client yet (a whopping £400 for 4 sessions!) who was a referral from my wedding photographer who was one of my original £50 clients. He said his girlfriend owned ‘an interior design business’. She turned out to be Athina Bluff, owner of Topology Interiors with a massive 22k followers (at the time) on Instagram. I didn’t realise it then, but my relationship with Athina would end up being a total game changer for my business.

September 2020

Having spent the last 2 months offering literally everyone I knew a complimentary coaching session, I signed 3 more paying clients. Brainstorming who to offer the sessions to was the inspiration for what is now my ‘Outreach Onion Method’.

And after helping me go from an hourly rate to a package model, my coach encouraged me to start increasing my prices every time I signed someone new. So by now I was charging £900 for a 3 month programme, which would have seemed impossible two months before. I now felt like a legit small business owner. I coached in the mornings before work, in the evenings and at weekends, literally every spare minute I had. It was full on, but I loved it.

October 2020

Athina asked if I wanted to be the resident coach on a group mentoring programme she was creating for budding interior designers. My initial reaction was to run for the hills. I didn’t feel ready, but my coach (and the fire in my belly) told me to cut the shit and go for it.

I also started dipping my toe back into the world of social media, setting up my Instagram profile and posting my first ever article on LinkedIn. I was terrified of people from work seeing, but as my coach pointed out, I had nothing to hide anymore, so I had no excuse!

November 2020

Just 4 weeks after our initial conversation, Athina & I launched the ‘Interior Designers’ Toolkit’. We smashed our goal of 10 sign ups with a massive 18 in just 3 days. I couldn’t believe it. The combination of her years of industry experience and my coaching skills turned out to be absolute fire.  For the first time, I could really see how this could become my full time business.

December 2020

And good job I did because after their coaching sessions with me during the Designers’ Toolkit, five women approached me about carrying on with 121 coaching. They all signed up, meaning I was almost full – something I could never have imagined would happen so soon.

Jan 2021

Six weeks before I was due to give birth, I landed another 2 paying clients through a combination of referrals from my original £50 offer and my complimentary sessions. What felt bonkers was having to start turning people away as I was due to go on maternity leave soon.

Feb 2021

I had my daughter Edie and I went on maternity leave having made my first £10k. Actual, real money that I had made myself, doing something I was passionate about. So, I now not only had a beautiful baby girl, but also a real business on the side of my 9-5. Life was now unrecognisable from what it had been a year ago. The feeling was pretty surreal.

So, what did I learn?

1. Your friends, family and wider network are your biggest advocates and will act as your salespeople if you ask them. They’re the first place you should start when you want to get clients. Not social media.

2. Having a business coach may seem risky and scary but the investment is 100% worth it. My first one helped me increase my prices 125% in less than 2 months, which I would never have done on my own.

3. You never know where the initial complimentary or ‘low price’ clients will lead you. The majority of my 121 clients ended up coming from the Designers’ Toolkit, which I can trace all the way back to Athina’s boyfriend (my wedding photographer) who I coached for a measly £50 right at the start. So follow the breadcrumbs – you never know where they’ll take you.

I hope my story inspires you if you’re starting or thinking about starting your own side business.

And if you want help doing this faster, with the added benefit of someone who’s been exactly where you are right now, then my group coaching programme Side Hustle without Social could be for you if:

  • You’re still in your 9-5 and want to get your first paying clients into your service-based business in the next 4 months. But you don’t to use social media, so you’re looking for an alternative approach
  • You know exactly what business you want to run and you’ve either re-trained or want to use your innate talents to do work you love.
  • You’ve either only worked with people for free so far, or you’ve had some people pay you, but they were ‘only’ friends & family, so in your head they don’t count.
  • You want to work with people in real time. If you want to create passive income, selling a £29 course, this is not the programme for you.


It’s a 4-month group coaching programme that helps you build your business behind the scenes, without posting a single thing on social media.

‘SHWOS’ is teaching you my proven framework of how to:

  • Design your ‘Side Business Success Strategy’ to help you find the time, space & confidence to propel you out of procrastination and into action
  • Create your vision for the business, making sure it completely aligns with your values and lights you the f*ck up compared to your job.
  • Get over your fear of selling with my ‘Tell, Don’t Sell’ approach, then design a Beta Offer with an introductory discount to ease you into charging for your services really gently.
  • Validate your Beta offer by doing market research with your ideal clients, so you can be really sure it’s what they actually want.
  • Use my ‘Outreach Onion’ method to promote your offer simply through the people you know – ie, with no social media required.
  • Run discovery calls without feeling the sick and onboard clients with ease.
  • Get more clients and grow your business without relying on social.


Just drop me a line to find out how you can join the next intake. Get in touch via my profile page.