Side Hustle Success Stories: Taking a Chance to Live the Dream

Thinking about starting something on the side? Check out FindSpark’s latest side hustle, Sidehustle.me, for all the tips and tricks you need to pull off a successful side project.

Featured Side Hustler: Amanda Sabater

Connect with Amanda: Twitter // Instagram // LinkedIn

Side Hustle: Living the Dream/NextRound Productions (Twitter // Instagram)

Full-Time Job: N/A

How did you know it was “safe” to leave your full time job, and how did you prepare?

To be honest, I didn’t know it was safe at all. In fact it wasn’t when I left my full time job. When I left I had no job lined up, but I had a little bit of savings and I knew I would figure it out from there. I knew I wanted a change and I decided to dive in head first. The company was in it’s infancy and this was my chance to bring it to life and I’d figure out the rest along the way. It’s been a year and a half since I quit my full time job and it’s been a lot of learning, a lot of hard work, some temporary credit card debt but also the most rewarding year and half of my life.

Tell us about your hustle:

My hustle is twofold. The first aspect is NextRound Productions, which I co-founded with my amazing partner, Flor de Oro Tejada in early 2013. The second aspect is “Living the Dream,” a web-series about NYC individuals who are figuring out creative ways to live their dream in a city and world that often tells us our dreams have to wait. The real hustle for my partner and I is building our company, NextRound, into what we want it to and know it can be, while creating and promoting our current passion project “Living the Dream” on no budget. During our first year of building the company, reaching out to clients, building networks and hustling to pay rent, we simultaneously created quite a difficult series to expose other artists living their dream. It was a challenge but also I believe “Living the Dream” kept us going in a lot of ways.

What motivated you to start it?

My partner and I were motivated to start “Living the Dream” in particular because we needed a platform to create the kind of work we were passionate about. We didn’t have the work and no one was going to pay us to make that kind of work, yet. Knowing this we decided to create it ourselves. Knowing that we were going to create this series while hustling to get paid and perhaps for a short time being forced to make work that might not be our “dream,” we knew we had to make this series something we were passionate about, something that could be there for us on the days when the company got really hard (and it did). We brainstormed our resources at the time, which were very slim, and realized that we had so many amazing friends doing incredible things. With that realization we thought, “Why not create a platform that showcases both them and ourselves,” and so “Living the Dream,” was born.

While building your side hustle, who has helped or supported you the most?

I have to say our friends and family have been the most supportive people we could have ever asked for. It hasn’t been an easy year creating NextRound or “Living the Dream” and on the hard days, they have always been that rock for us. But since I’m writing this from my perspective as a co-creator, my biggest supporter and help is my partner, Flor. Flor and I truly are two peas in a crazy pod. I think we both had fears that creating this company would hurt our friendship and we went into it knowing that if that was the case, we would leave it behind, but it’s only strengthened it. My strengths are her weaknesses and vice versa. She’s the most hardworking and supportive person in my life and I know that I couldn’t do what I’m doing without her.

Who is your biggest side hustle role model?

We have a lot of role models but one of our biggest inspirations is Marie Forleo. The network and opportunities Marie has created are simply incredible. My partner did B-school start to finish and I participated by proxy. It was one of the best decisions she’s ever made. So much love and inspiration both personally and professionally has come from that community for the two of us. Marie has created this army of smart, thriving entrepreneurs that we’re honored to be a part of.

How much time on average do you spend on your side hustle per week?

40-50 hours on NextRound and anywhere from 10-20 on “Living the Dream.”

What was the biggest element holding you back from starting and how did you overcome it?

Fear. Self doubt. Fear. Did I say fear already? The biggest thing that held me back personally was the “What if?” What if I leave my job to start a business and it fails? What if I can’t pay my rent? What if everyone thinks I’m an amateur or simply a fool? And after a little bit of back and forth I really hit rock bottom at my full time job and thought, “Failing can’t be worse than this.” Before I quit, (with no back up plan) I sat down and really thought about it. What if I left my job to start a business and then it failed? Then, I start a new one. What if I can’t pay my rent? Then I get a side job. (And I did for a short time) What if everyone thinks I’m an amateur or simply a fool? Who the heck cares what anyone else thinks…ever? Not me.

Once you stop fearing failure and worrying what anyone else in the world thinks the doors of possibility really open.

What is an example of a time you hit a rough patch? How did you handle the situation?

Last year I took a hard blow, a friend of mine really screwed me over in a very hurtful way professionally and by proxy personally because it was a friend. When you’re working with friends it’s hard not to take things personally because you’re invested in things so wholeheartedly. Everything suffered because I was so hurt and confused about my next steps. I tried to work through it for over a month and my partner tried to help in any way she could but she just couldn’t. I had to get back on the horse. One day I was on the phone with her apologizing for being unproductive and she stopped me and told me to take a week off. She gave me permission to just stop, to sit at home and watch Netflix and be sad and not work. I said that I couldn’t do that and she urged me to do it. And I did. That week off was exactly what I needed. The work that I was doing in the week s before wasn’t productive, my mind couldn’t be in the right place. After that week off, fully and completely off, I was able to come back with clear eyes and get back on the horse. That week off gave me the perspective I needed to get my head back on straight. Sometimes stopping work can be the most healthy and productive thing you can do.

What has been the biggest benefit of having a side project?

The biggest benefit of having a side project has been the ability to project it into full project that has given my creative freedom and agency. I’m not always making the exact kind of content that I want to be making right now, but I’m always making content. I’m always growing and working with new people. Not one day looks the same as last. Heck, not one day looks similar to the last. I’m living a life that I have truly designed for myself. That is the absolute biggest benefit.

What are your favorite apps/books/productivity hacks?

I’ve read a few incredible books that have really helped up my game. First and foremost, I can’t recommend “Turning Pro” by Steven Pressfield enough. It’s an easy read that puts a lot of your bad habits into perspective. I still haven’t truly “turned pro” in a lot of ways, but I’m on the right road. Other books that I’ve read recently and loved are “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” by Ramit Sethi, “The Promise of a Pencil” by Adam Braun, and “#Girlboss” by Sophia Amoruso. They’re all change-makers, and inspiring to young entrepreneurs trying to create their own agency.

I don’t use a lot of apps for my work, I’m a post it note kinda gal. I like the feeling of crossing something off a list or ripping a post it note, more than deleting it off a computer.

For someone starting out, what is your biggest piece of advice?

Something that I’ve realized, which is less advice and more of a discovery, is that my deepest moments of desperation have often swiftly been followed by my greatest moments of inspiration…when I’ve let them be.

Thinking about starting something on the side? Check out FindSpark’s latest side hustle, Sidehustle.me, for all the tips and tricks you need to pull of a successful side project.

Do you have a side hustle? Want it to be featured on our blog? Get in touch!

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