How to Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Small Business: Part One

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2021 08 18 cindy choo

[3-minute read]

Welcome to Part One of our open and insightful conversation with designer-turned-business-owner and Truevo Account merchant, Claire Murphy. We’re grateful for the opportunity to speak with her, and trust that there’ll be plenty for you to learn from the hard-won nuggets that she’s unearthed on her journey so far. 

CINDYCHOO DS LOGO NEW 600

Claire started Cindy Choo Design Studio in response to the many requests she’d get from friends and family to bring creative ideas for their wedding stationery to life. After working as a designer and creative manager (juggling the many balls that a modern creative does) for years around the country, Claire faced a reality that so many did when Covid-19 struck: she lost her job. Fuelled by the inadvertent stroke of good fortune, Claire took the leap of faith to become her own boss and decided to take Cindy Choo to the next level. 

In Part One, we’re going to focus on Opportunity, Offering, and Preparation through the lens of Claire’s journey with Cindy Choo. In our next instalment, we’ll turn our attention to Attitude and Community. Without further ado, let’s chat. 

Opportunity

Tell us a little bit about Cindy Choo and why it’s important to you? 

It [Cindy Choo] was a nice design break from the more corporate work as an in-house designer and allowed me to try something different. I always wanted to work for myself.  I create bespoke wedding invitations, focusing on every couple’s individual story and providing a place that caters for the full design needs that a large event such as a wedding requires. 

What has helped you grow a passion project into a full-time business?

I was approached by a client and asked if I would be interested in working on some graphics and social ads as a freelancer for three days a week. It definitely gave me a push to register Cindy Choo as a business and to use that to build up some capital and begin to plan for weddings ahead of restrictions lifting in Ireland. Working with my main client for three days a week allowed me to have a steady income during Covid lockdown while also working on slowly building out the Cindy Choo offering.

Offering

What advice would you give to someone about to start an ecommerce store? 

I would say, get all your products and content ready before the [website] build. It will make the process much faster to have those first, rather than building piece by piece as you create your content.

Cindy Choo

Preparation

How did you take your first steps into bringing Cindy Choo to life? 

I did a course at the Local Enterprise Office online to figure out the tax system, the business plan, and possible approaches to business. As it was all very new to me, I found this very useful. 

Getting an accountant was a big step for me and I found his help and advice invaluable. He is someone I know is on the other side of the phone for financial questions. Pricing and quoting was extremely difficult for me at the start. As strange as it might sound, I did spend some time working on my mindset around money and finances and trying to break down some of my mental blocks to charging for my work and making sure I am not making a loss on jobs.

I redesigned my site to take payment, improved the user journey, and developed a style that can expand as my product range does.

Having a separate business account and paying yourself out of that monthly, has also been good for me. It means my tax is set aside so I’m not working up a massive tax bill at the end of the year – it’s already set aside in there monthly. It keeps my accounting tidy and easy for my accountant to understand. I use the business account card to buy what I need for Cindy Choo.

Dorita and Pauls invites

Opportunity, Offering, & Preparation

For any small business that’s taking shape, these three elements are imperative. You might not get them all down smoothly, chronologically, or even before the business launches. The main thing is to stay focused and remember your principles: why are you running this business, what do you have to offer, and what do you have to do to see it come to fruition? Get a consistent answer to these three questions, and you’ll be set to change the world, and we’ll be right there cheering you on!

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