How to know it’s the right time to leave your full-time job for your side hustle

In late 2016, months before I was to start a graduate role, I launched Etoile Collective – a beauty accessories e-commerce brand with the aim to enhance the lifestyle of beauty enthusiasts. Never thinking this side hustle could grow to something that could support me full-time, Etoile was born out of my love for makeup products and an interest in starting and scaling a business.

In the years that followed, I became privy to the work that was involved in growing an e-commerce business and it became very apparent to me very quickly that I enjoyed this much more than my full-time job. Safe to say, I was very ready to make the transition as soon as Etoile could prove that it required me full-time and had the potential to grow rapidly if I did.

In the lead up to my resignation, I monitored a couple of things in the business to assess the viability of going full-time:

  1. Growth profile and its drivers: albeit from a small base, Etoile was growing very steadily month on month without any paid marketing. This gave me confidence that we had a lot of untapped potential. If we had already exhausted a number of growth avenues, I would have been a lot more weary on taking the leap
  2. My contribution to the business: how many hours was I putting in for the current outcome? Would there be enough work for me if I moved on from running it as a side hustle and went full-time?
  3. Profitability: could the business support me going full-time? If not, or if you prefer to reinvest everything back into the business, do you have enough of a cash buffer to support you?

However, despite what the numbers say, I had an incredibly strong gut-feel that it was time to leave. I broadly identified key areas of growth (for us, it was expanding our product range, switching on paid marketing and undergoing a brand overhaul) and backed myself to be able to deliver on these strategies. I think it is equally important not to over analyse your situation as this may lead to paralysis and you mightn’t ever take the leap.

I stayed at my full-time job for two years before leaving. In hindsight, it was absolutely worth it and I have no doubt in my mind that we would not have been able to achieve the growth that we have if I was still working another job.

Michelle Hu, Founder, Etoile Collective

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