This article was originally written by Sage Company Founder Carly Klassen for her blog It’s targeted toward individuals who want to start their own small business or “side hustle.”

Last year, I started The Sage Soap Company. I make natural products like soap, bath bombs, bath salts, body butter, balms and other bath and beauty products. I won’t lie – it has been a journey with many highs and many lows.

The hardest part has been “putting myself out there” – literally trying to sell products that I made with my hands to people that for the most part, I don’t know very well. The fear and anxiety of failure can be crippling. It’s one thing to make handmade goods to share with friends and family – it’s a different story when you’re trying to sell them.

A lot of people have shared stories with me about how they’ve inspired to start a business after watching my progress, or they have asked me about how to get started on a “side hustle” project. Here are a few tips that will come in handy if you’re thinking of starting your own project.

  1. Just start.I’m pretty sure that I read this advice in the book $100 Startup, but don’t quote me on that. Anytime you want to get going on a business, you have to find a way to get your idea/product/service to your public. Post on your personal social media, ask your colleagues – see if there is interest and get going! It’s a great way to test the market and see if your business could be viable on a larger scale before you start investing in your project.
  2. Get ready for criticism.It’s true what they say: everyone IS a critic. You could have the best products or the best services or be an expert in your field – but someone will be critical of what you’re doing. I find that most of the criticism I receive is from people who have their own fears about what business and work means to them.Make sure that when you’re receiving criticism it’s coming from a place of guidance. For example, if you have a friend who is an expert in e-commerce, and they say to you, “it’s great that you’re doing e-commerce, but you need to improve the writing on your product descriptions” – that’s constructive and can help you move forward with your business.If someone says, “I can’t believe that you’re spending so much money developing a website on something that you don’t know is going to work” – that’s NOT constructive and can be a hindrance to your project development.Those are two pseudo-made-up examples, but I have receiving all sorts of criticism that is very similar to them!
  3. Quiet your mind.Starting a business is an anxiety-inducing endeavour – even if it’s a side-hustle and not your primary source of income. Spending ALL of your time thinking about what you COULD be doing and what you SHOULD be doing are not equivalent to actually DOING.I struggled for a long time (and let’s be real – I still struggle with this) to not spend all my time thinking about work. It can give you insomnia and make you ill. There is definitely such a thing as thinking too much.What helps me is organizing brainstorming/planning and development. This ensures that when I’m at home and my mind starts to wander – I can remind myself that I’m not supposed to be “thinking about work” until tomorrow at 9am.Sounds simple. It’s not.
  4. Surround yourself with people who believe in you.This one is as simple as it sounds – you need to be around people who believe that you can accomplish your goals and who support you through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. I’m not saying that you want to be around people who pat you on the back every time you do something, but you need people who are on your side.
  1. Dream big, but manage your expectations.You’re probably not going to make a million dollars in your first 4 months of starting a business – unless you have a lot of capital to invest into your project. For most of us, that’s not the case. You’ll probably lose money in your first 4 months. If you break even after 4 months – you’re doing well! If you’re not – that’s okay too. It will vary depending on what you’re doing. Once you get to break even – set realistic, achievable goals (SMART goal-planning is helpful).

Starting a business is not for everyone. It requires a lot of time, planning and hard work. And you will have no manager looking over your shoulder telling you that you’re doing something right or doing something wrong. But if you’ve got the guts to see it through, it’s deeply rewarding and I highly recommend it!