Advice from Turning My Side Hustle into a “Sweet” Career

Chocolatier, Founder, & CEO of Magno Chocolates, Nataly Nicholls

Starting a side hustle is both exhilarating and a bit nerve-wracking. It’s exciting to think about what your “baby” can become, but there’s also that nagging doubt: Do I really have what it takes to scale this up? I’ve been right there. And honestly, I wish I would have had some more advice navigating those early, uncertain days. So this is for anyone tackling the doubts that many of us face when we start something new versus the comfort of sticking with a day job and the tough lessons of entrepreneurship. As I share my own story, I hope to offer some insights as to what has worked for me. Hopefully, they make someone else’s journey a little smoother.

Conquering Self-Doubt: Lessons from My Chocolatey Journey

Starting out as a chocolatier really threw me for a loop. There I was with a marketing and biomedical engineering background, trying to make it in the world of artisan chocolate. The impressive credentials and shiny bonbons of my favorite chocolatiers made me feel unworthy. But instead of letting those doubts consume me, I dove into every class available, buried myself in study sessions, and yeah, I had my fair share of chocolate mishaps. But with every wonky batch, my confidence and my business got a little stronger. It wasn’t until I had a chance to meet a well-renowned chocolatier in Napa Valley that I could finally shake this feeling of self-doubt. We swapped tales of struggles and successes, and it hit me: even this guy, a trained chef, had to hustle his way up. More than the practical tips he shared, his stories gave me confidence and helped me kick my own insecurities to the curb. It’s a lesson I’m passing on: trust yourself, enjoy the journey of learning, and remember that a lot of the pros out there also started from scratch.

Choosing Security Over Risk: A Balancing Act

Deciding whether to quit my day job and dive into my chocolate business full-time was tough. I remember this one Valentine’s Day, I was up until 3 AM making chocolates, only to turn around and start my office job at 6 AM. Safe to say, it was exhausting and straining on my well being and personal life. While sticking with the safety of a regular paycheck was comforting, I knew it was holding me back. Taking the plunge earlier would have saved me so much stress, ridiculous arguments with those close to me, and so many lost hours of sleep. If you’re juggling a side hustle and a day job, knowing when to take that leap can really dictate how quickly your business grows. The sooner you can focus your attention on what you’re passionate about the sooner you can take it to the next level. Have a plan, but don’t over-plan to the point that it affects your well-being or prohibits you from ever starting. There will always be a risk, but sometimes doing what seems like the safest option is a bigger risk in itself.

Setting the Stage for Sustainable Growth

Something I am thankful that I did from the start was establish a clear set of values for my business. In the whirlwind of entrepreneurship, it’s tempting to choose the cheapest options, but prioritizing my own well-being, and my team’s, and considering our impact on the community, has been essential. I have realized that if you build a positive culture it attracts good people and good fortune. This has opened up doors to us in terms of collaborations and opportunities. It also creates strong connections with customers and potential employees. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s a smart move for long-term success, earning respect for the brand.

Know How to Price Your Products

Properly pricing products and services is something I have seen a lot of my fellow female entrepreneurs struggle with. I’ve run into a number of amazingly talented and creative businesses, but their growth stalls because they don’t take the time to properly price their products. It doesn’t matter what you sell or what your service is, if you don’t account for all of your time and expenses, you will not be successful. If finances aren’t your strong suit, that’s ok. This is where you should consider getting some professional advice early on. This is something that I did and I am forever grateful for it. It’s vital for long-term growth and will end up saving you and your business money in the long run.

Mastering the Art of Delegation

In the beginning, I thought I had to do everything myself to succeed. Being a small start-up, it seemed more cost-effective to delay hiring anyone than doing it myself. That mindset led to total burnout and slowed down my business growth. Learning to delegate was a game changer. I started small, first offloading the most time-consuming low-responsibility tasks and built from there. I realized that freed me up to gain more clients and to better market my business. Little by little my team grew, and my ability to know when it was time to let go matured. This shift was vital not just for my business but for my personal health too. So, if you’re starting out, don’t be afraid to pass the baton on tasks. Building a team you can trust is key to scaling up.

Nataly Nicholls, the creative force behind Magno Chocolates, began her journey in 2017 fueled by a passion for art, design, and Colombia’s exceptional cacao. Starting from her kitchen, Nataly’s dedication blossomed into a full-scale production facility in Medellin and eventually opening offices in Colombia’s major cities. Her innovative packaging and exotic flavor combinations have earned praise at home and abroad. In 2023, Magno Chocolates ventured into the US market, setting the stage for future expansion. Guided by her instincts and attention to detail, Nataly continues to push creative boundaries, captivating customers globally as both owner and Chocolatier.

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