If someone had told me in May 2020 that within just 6 months I’d have a bonafide business that was so successful that I’d be turning clients away, I’d never have believed them. But that’s exactly what happened.

The reason it seemed so bonkers at the time was because in September 2019, I had a breakdown at work which culminated in me getting 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 acknowledging that I’d actually been in the wrong career for 15 years hit me like a truck. 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 coaching experience had such a powerful effect on me that I decided THAT was what I wanted to do. So I signed up to train as a coach on the side of my 9-5.

And when I’m speaking to clients and potential clients, I hear similar stories. They haven’t always got to the point of break down, but they can see it coming. They have the same acknowledgement deep down inside that they’ve got more to give the world than in the job they currently have. This doesn’t always necessarily mean they dislike their job – in fact quite the opposite – many are happy enough, but feel unfulfilled – like there’s something missing personally. That’s certainly what it was like for me.

And yes I know, having just gone back to work full time after 5 months off due to stress & anxiety, you’d be forgiven for thinking that starting a side business may not have been the best of ideas. But you’d be wrong. Because the business I started was a beautiful accident, born out of a passion that grew during said period of time off. And it not only helped me recover, it also totally transformed my life, giving me purpose, structure and a vision to work towards.

So without further ado, here’s how I built that 5-figure side hustle – that was so successful I was turning clients away – alongside my job in 6 months.

1. Got clear about what I wanted to achieve and why

So once I decided to become a coach, I studied my ass off alongside my job and once I got into the groove of studying I was super productive and motivated. I loved it.

But as soon as I qualified, I seemed to lose all motivation. I struggled with procrastination, constantly putting starting the business off ‘until tomorrow’.

So putting my new coaching learnings to the test, I did some reflection on what was going on and realised that the goal I’d set for myself just wasn’t exciting enough for me. It turns out ‘Start a coaching business’, just wasn’t cutting the mustard, so I went back to the drawing board and really thought about my ‘WHY’.

I then remembered all the reasons I’d wanted to qualify as a coach in the first place, i.e. to help people who were going through the same thing I did. I also asked myself ‘What is starting a coaching business going to give me?’. Answer: ‘Purpose, passion and fulfilment’. The second I wrote those things down and tweaked my goal to ‘Start a coaching business so I can help people find their mojo, just like I did’, my motivation sky-rocketed. It’s when you really tap into your ‘Why’, that goal setting is powerful shiz.

2. Hired a coach

Once I got clear on the above, I knew I was going to need some help to get me there. I knew I should probably invest in my own coach (after all, it’s walking the walk, right?), but I resisted mainly due to cost. I told myself stories about not being able to afford it and thought ‘It can’t be that hard – I’m sure I can work that shit out for myself!’ Turns out I couldn’t. I once again got really stuck and overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start.

So I went back to the drawing board, reviewed my finances & asked ‘How can I find the money’, instead of telling myself I couldn’t. And when I finally decided to take the plunge, holy shit did things change! In the 4 months I’ve been working with my coach, the following amazing things have happened (all while having a full time job and being pregnant):

  • I started a business & got so busy I’m having to turn clients away
  • I found & honed my niche – helping women find the career & business of their dreams
  • I got over my fear of visibility, got back on social media & tripled my following
  • I found the courage to share the story of my burnout transformation
  • I collaborated with a client & launched a coaching programme that sold out in 3 days
  • I made back my investment in coaching & the same again


3. Created time for it

Notice how I didn’t say ‘Made time for it’. One of the biggest concerns I hear from people around their side hustle is lack of time. Their lives are already busy enough with a full time job and dealing with the inevitable stresses of life that 2020 has put on us. But I managed to create time to work on the business outside of work hours. I started getting up earlier so I could work on my business before work, I worked at lunch breaks, after work and weekends.

Even if you just picked one 1-hour slot during one of those times every day, that’s an additional 7 hours you’ve found already. Get really honest, think about all the dead time and wasted time you have and put that into your business. Start small, make good habits and build on them.

4. Structured and planned my time

I cannot tell you how much my life changed when I got a physical planner to structure and plan my time. Every Sunday, I would look at my work diary, schedule in my lunch breaks and also schedule ‘side hustle time’ around the beginning and end of my work days. I’d also check what’s happening at the weekends and schedule in time there too, remembering to make time for self care and social life. There are tons of ‘paper planners’ (I use The Circle Planner), but if you prefer to do everything online, Asana is also really good.

5. Created a Beta Offer with an introductory discount

So because I was still off social media after my breakdown (plus, I didn’t want work finding out about my side hustle yet), I needed a way to find clients without social media. So I developed my ‘Behind the Scenes Client Attraction Strategy’, which landed me my first 6 clients in 4 months. These are the steps I took:

1. Got clear on my starter niche

Figuring out your niche and then within that who your ideal client is is crucial. It helps make your message super clear, which makes your offer and marketing so much more effective. But it can also be a massive hurdle when people aren’t 100% sure who they want to work with at the  beginning. So I say, just start with  a starter niche. An inkling of an idea that will get you working with people and experimenting and you can then use that as a process of elimination.

2. Created an offer that solved my ideal clients’ problems

Starting with the problem my ideal client was facing, I was able to create an offer that solved them and would hopefully be a no-brainer for them to buy

3. Created an introductory discount

I found a pricing sweet spot that was low enough to make it a no-brainer deal for people and enabled me to get experience working with as many people as possible. But it was also enough to not completely devalue my services.

4. Did Market Research with my ideal client

Instead of blindly putting my offer out and hoping for the best, I did market research with my ideal client to validate it. This gave me the confidence to promote it knowing that it was something they genuinely wanted.

5. Promoted it through my network alone

I set myself a goal of finding 50 people to send my offer to, in the hope that they would pass it on. So I brainstormed all the possible people and sent it to them – and this process is now what I call my Outreach Onion. My first 3 clients came from my friends posting my offer on their Slack boards at work and my 4th was through my wedding photographer!

6. Was completely open and honest with my employer

The ‘Do I tell work?’ dilemma is something my clients talk about a lot and I get it. I certainly had a lot of fear about talking to my boss initially and it’s something I spent a long time working through with my coach as I realised it was really holding me back. I felt like I was living a double life, like I had this dirty secret and I didn’t want to post anything on social media for fear of being ‘found out’. But we delved into the beliefs I had about it and I realised that all the fears I had were just projections and I actually had just as much chance of the conversation being positive as negative. And it turns out I had nothing to worry about. Once I told my boss what I was doing, how much it fulfilled me, that it wouldn’t impact my work for him, that in fact there were a number of ways it could actually benefit the company, he was 100% supportive. And I felt free, like a weight had been lifted. I can’t recommend talking to your employer enough (obviously check your employment contract first).

7. Worked on my imposter syndrome

Ergh Imposter syndrome is rife and unfortunately is part and parcel of entrepreneur life. It basically comes with the ‘job’ because the ‘job’ requires you to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone and try things you’ve never done before. But the good news is, there are ways to work on it, like my Awesomeness Inventory Tool that I created for my clients, which helps you realise just how friggin awesome you are. And just to reassure you, I know this story and how I appear on Instagram, might make it seem like I’ve totally got my shiz together and know what I’m doing, but news flash – I often feel like I really don’t! There are still days when I wake up going ‘Who the hell am I to be doing this or saying that?! I’m honestly just like you, a work in progress every damn day.

8. Got visible

Once I’d talked to my boss, I finally felt able to get visible on social media. I can still remember now the panic I felt as I hit ‘publish’ on my first LinkedIn post (it was actually on a call with my coach – thank you Adam!), but I leant into the fear and did it anyway and the reaction was brilliant. Slowly but surely, I started telling my story more often and built up the confidence to post regularly on other channels as well.

9. Surrounded myself with likeminded people

Building a side hustle is hard bloody work. So I found it super helpful to have a group of people going through the same thing to talk to about it and bounce ideas off. Whether it’s someone you know, or you find relative strangers in a Facebook group, get out there and find your tribe. A group coaching programme like Side Hustle without Social which is full of amazing women who will cheer for you when you’re doing well and lift you up and motivate you on the harder days. It’s also really great to be able to get inspired by people who are a few steps ahead of you and be able to help people who are a few steps behind.

So, I really want the moral of this story to be that anything IS possible. You absolutely can hold down a full time job and build a successful business on the side. You just have to want it enough. So I implore you to please just start. Start taking messy, imperfect action. Do one thing this week that will help you towards your dreams. They’re out there for the taking – all you need to do is start moving.

But 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.

This article was written by Lauren Leopold one of Careering into Motherhood’s Partner Coaches. Lauren is Side Hustle & Business Coach. Helping you sign your first paying clients without social media, so you can build your business behind the scenes & quit the ratrace for good. To find out more, get in touch via her profile page https://www.careeringintomotherhood.com/coach/lauren-leopold/.