- 5 Lessons This Entrepreneur Learned Building a Side Hustle - January 28, 2022
Like many entrepreneurs, I knew I wanted to run my own company from early on. I received an MBA, then spent several years in management consulting, which helped me learn how top executives think, what works in strategy and how to run a business. I planned to use this experience to seize future entrepreneurship opportunities, but I also dabbled in entrepreneurship along the way and actually helped start a company while I was still in grad school.
I quickly discovered starting and scaling a company isn’t easy. As I looked for ways to further my knowledge and create impact at greater scale, I left my startup to take a job at CVS Health, which continues to be a great opportunity. In this role, I can build programs and products that I am passionate about with the resources and scale of a major corporation. So now, I’m at a period in my life where I am working a full-time job and building a company on the side.
As one of the largest healthcare companies in the country, working with CVS has helped me gain a deep understanding of the U.S. healthcare industry and especially the great challenge posed by high rates of chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
While striving to improve the healthcare system at work, I was becoming personally interested in and practicing intermittent fasting to improve my own health at home. The more I experimented with fasting and learned about its potential to address some of the greatest problems associated with chronic disease, the more I realized that it was the entrepreneurial breakthrough I was looking for.
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Taking the work home
My 15 years of experience in the corporate world and time running my previous startup taught me what it takes to launch good products and services, and the challenges associated with getting people to adopt new ways of life.
Specifically, it takes a large investment to educate, market and sell to people in order to change behavior. Unlike medications or dietary supplements that often require deep pockets for marketing, intermittent fasting requires no products. While great because you can do it for free, it also means no commercial engine can help to drive adoption.
One day my wife introduced me to a product that was designed to help with fasting. I tried the product and realized that products could improve the fasting experience, but these particular products didn’t align with the science that makes fasting work. I soon started experimenting with different types of supplements and diet products to help people find success with intermittent fasting. This led me down a deep rabbit hole of science as it relates to health and personal wellness. I knew I could engineer a better diet product as I toiled away on the project on the weekends.
I started talking about these new fasting products and the benefits of intermittent fasting with friends, family and former colleagues to see what they thought of the idea. The results spoke for themselves. I was shedding pounds and looking healthier than ever. Interest in the business quickly grew as I began touting the success of fasting. That’s how I knew it was time to officially launch Fastwell.
What I learned from my side hustle
Starting Fastwell and essentially becoming an entrepreneur on the side hasn’t been easy, and I have learned quite a few lessons along the way. Following are the top five that I hope will help all the people who are side hustle entrepreneurs, just like me.
Experience saves you time
Having prior experience working in major corporations and with a previous startup really helped. It saved me time, as I didn’t have to learn a completely new area or the basics of starting a company – including raising money, structuring the entity and finding and incentivizing the right partners.
Build the right team and delegate
As a side hustler, I am not concerned about owning or controlling 100 percent of the Fastwell brand. In fact, it’s essential that I can share responsibilities, and the potential profits, with a few key partners. Their skills and support are critical to getting this company off the ground. Everyone on the Fastwell team is in a position to work for free in their spare time, so the team also isn’t as concerned about short-term profits as they are in seeing the idea reach its full potential.
Use your own capital, if you can
Having a full-time job means a having a good paycheck, which allowed me to use my savings to get things started, rather than depending on investors who are usually hesitant to hand over money until they see some traction.
Through personal funding, the Fastwell team has been able to develop the brand and generate results before reaching out to investors. Plus, having a full-time job has given me the financial security to start a company without having to worry about how to support a family.
Passion drives motivation
Part of the motivation to start Fastwell was my own personal experience and passion for the product. Everyone on our team has come together with our own personal experiences of how fasting has helped us personally. The observation that fasting is a low-cost and natural way to address chronic disease is my strongest motivator to work late hours and on weekends to make fasting more accessible and easier for all.
Be smart with your time
Working full time and starting a business in my off hours has taught me how to be more judicious with my time. As a team, we are extremely selective when taking on projects and pursuing ideas.
This has also driven how we think about our business model. Fastwell is a direct-to-consumer product business, which allows a high degree of automation and outsourcing. Other business models such as health services and B2B products are incredibly operations and sales intensive, which requires a much greater investment of time. So, it’s important that your business model is well suited for the side hustle.
It has been a long, interesting journey, but thanks to my experiences in the corporate world and the support and passion of my team, my company has continued to grow and help people successfully adopt an intermittent fasting lifestyle.
Being an entrepreneur on the side is not just possible, it’s my way of life.
Originally published July 17, 2020.