Side Hustle Blog Series: Makeda Mutema-Newton

Side hustlers are a unique bunch.  In addition to working a full-time job, they manage a side business too.  We're going to take a look at an amazing side hustler, Makeda Mutema-Newton in this edition of the Side Hustle Blog series.

Hi there, Makeda.  Welcome to the Side Hustle Blog Series.  Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business. 

Sure.  I’m Makeda, owner of My Virtual Newton, a soon to be resource shop for new entrepreneurs who need support with their social media platforms, and founder of Conference Connection , the creative entrepreneur’s guide to conferences, retreats and workshops.

Wow, two businesses!  There have probably been at least a few challenges with running two businesses.  What has been the most challenging aspect of building your business?

The most challenging aspect of building my business is having a full time job at the same time.  It is a major hindrance because of the lack of time I have to fully submerge myself in my ideas and get them accomplished.

How do you handle it running two businesses and a full-time job?

I get very creative and use whatever time I’ve got as efficient as possible.  First of all I only have meetings with my clients when I don’t have to take my kids to school/sitter, which is Monday and Fridays.  I’m able to get to my job 30 minutes earlier and take my calls.  I use my lunch breaks to #movetheneedle forward in my business.  Any ‘on my business’ work I have to do that’s usually when I do it.  That includes virtual coffee chats.  And Monday to Thursday I go to bed around 9pm so that I can be up by 4am to get working on client or other business related work.  Friday sunset to Saturday sunset is when I observe the Sabbath, so I automatically lose 24 hours each week.  

Wow!  What’s a typical day schedule for you? How many hours a week do you work?

I’m up at 4am to work in/on My Virtual Newton & Conference Connection.  Then I try to start getting ready at 7am.  I leave the house at 8:30am so that I can get my bagel from Starbucks and get to work by 9:30am.  I’m there til 6pm and arrive home at around 7pm.  I bathe my boys, feed them, hang out a bit and tuck them in bed by 8:30pm.  That gives me 30 minutes to get ready for bed.  Two to three days a week, my son goes to the sitter and on three days a week my older son, 7, is homeschooled.  My wonderful husband has taken on that responsibility.  We own Newton’s Cab Co. and have transitioned it to an airport transportation only service where we can have a schedule and plan in advance with his schooling :-)

Having a support system is key in working this way and it sounds like you and your husband are making this work for your family.  Awesome!  How do you manage your projects?

Ughhh… such a great question!  It can be so tough sometimes, being motivated ya know, and getting the things done in your business.  For the most part, I started focusing on one task at a time, setting goals with due dates, getting an accountability partner (I’ve got two) and working in Trello to make sure I’m seeing it.  I also purchased a project management journal that helps with that specifically.  My personality type loves have a ton of things going on at the same time, but I realized that I was not being effective that way.  So Q1, I’m focusing on My Virtual Newton so that Q2 I’ll be able to focus on Conference Connection.

I'm a Trello lover myself.  Working this way has to have its drawbacks, like giving up something.  What did you have to let go of or sacrifice in order to allow your business to blossom?

So far I’ve had to sacrifice my family time and of course it does something to you.  Children grow up so fast, before you know it they’re 10 and you’re like, ‘Where did the time go?’  I don’t want that to be me so I’m trying to find pockets of time where we can spend together and it’ll be worth it.  This year, I’ve had to sacrifice the need to have multiple things going on and the inability to focus on ONE thing.  I have to say, it’s so efficient and effective.  I’m seeing the constant movement toward launching my digital resource shop on April 1st.  That right there, is amazing!

You go, Makeda!  Investing is key to growing a business.  What tools or people (professionals included) have helped you to cultivate your hustle?

I’m not a book reader but I enjoy reading business articles that can give (let’s say) five points that can help me to make some quick movements in my business.  I also enjoy listening to podcasts (no more than 30 minute episodes) that can put me in a mindset to get work done or learn something new.  Facebook groups have been great too.  But I must say, I attended a VIP Intensive Workshop in February hosted by Reina Pomeroy (Reina & Co.) and Tonya Dalton (Inkwell Press) and it was awesome.  It was an investment in time to work on my business.  For someone who has a full time job, that is a huge investment.  Conferences and retreats I’m sure are great but there’s nothing like a workshop where you get to learn and implement.

Do you ever get tired, Makeda?  When do you know you need a break from your business?

I haven’t gotten to that point yet, probably a perk from having a full time job if you wanna look at it that way ;-)

That's incredible!  I love your mindset.  Keep it up!  What is one of your biggest upsets/setbacks/fails as a side hustler/business owner?

My biggest upset was finally coming to the realization that I had to close My Virtual Newton in order to pursue Conference Connection as my main business.  As a side hustler, that’s a tough pill to swallow.  As you can tell, I’ve decided not to fully close it but transition it to a resource shop for new entrepreneurs ;-)

That had to be tough but it sounds like you found a way to make it into a win.  What advice would you give to individuals just starting out?

You can go ahead and do all the things but there will come a time in your business where you will need to focus.

Great advice.  How have you adjusted your family schedule to your business?

I didn’t have to adjust too much, I’d say I just had to be more mindful and intentional about the time I was spending with them.  So now, I just carve out time in my schedule to spend with them in some way.  

What are your top three tips you can give that have helped during your business journey?

Use your time wisely - sometimes you’ll want to slack off instead of doing work but it feels so much better when you get started and are midway through the work.  Set goals with DATES! - this is imperative as it holds you accountable for completing something on time.  Get an accountability partner - you can hold CEO dates (where you schedule a Zoom call and just work instead of chat) with this person or you can get simply use each other to check on your goals and timeline.

Can I implement a few of those tips?  I'm headed off to look for an accountability partner!  What did you do first to build your clientele/customer base?

I went to networking events, in person ones.  I didn’t know anything about Facebook groups yet so I was trying to attend two per month.  I still try to attend one event per quarter.  The one thing that I realized is that the more of these events you attend and see the same people, the more they get to know, like and trust you.  It’s the same concept in Facebook groups, show up more and people will be more inclined to hire you.

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One thing I see business owners struggling with is setting their rates.  What was your strategy to charge what you deserve in your business?

I didn’t have a strategy, if I’m being completely honest.  My target audience was people like me, new entrepreneurs with a job who may not have the space in their budget to spend on the things they needed in their business.  I wanted my prices to be affordable and reasonable.  I noticed that some other entrepreneurs’ prices were extremely high, there wasn’t space for a new entrepreneur to use them.  The best example I can use is not everyone has $1000 for a logo.  Creating passive income allows me to keep my prices reasonable for new entrepreneurs and make more money passively.

Great points, Makeda.  How were you able to get your spouse on board with your vision?

The good thing about my husband is that we’ve been on the same page about being entrepreneurs.  I grew up watching my parents run their own business and be successful too.  I originally wanted to be a lawyer, work in a firm for 10 years and then open my own but after seeing the cost of law school in my first year as an undergrad, I changed my mind.  I wanted to do my own thing - whatever that meant.  My husband was always on board with that.  He has the entrepreneurial bug too, his father is an entrepreneur.  It makes life so much easier when you’re on the same page about anything!  

There's nothing like doing your own thing.  What are your favorite tools that help you manage your to do lists and time?

I love Trello!  That’s all :-)

You and me both!  What’s next for your business?  Are you working towards going full-time?  Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m launching my digital resource shop at www.MyVirtualNewton.com on April 1st with masterclasses and templates or challenges to go with each masterclass.  I’m launching the shop with 6 items and hoping to increase as I see the need.  I’m relaunching www.ConferenceConnection.com in the fall with a plan and targeted goals.

Thank you so much, Makeda.  You're doing some really awesome things and I can't wait for your relaunch.  If you want to learn more about Makeda, follow her:

My Virtual Newtonwww.MyVirtualNewton.com 

Instagram: @myvirtualnewton

Facebook: @myvirtualnewton

Conference Connection -  

Instagram: @theconferenceconnection  

Facebook:  @theconferenceconnection

I'd love to feature other side hustlers so reach out and contact me.

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Regina Lewis

Regina's passion is helping a new generation of virtual assistants launch their new business or take their business to the next level.  When she's not working at the local ministry, blogging or tinkering with Squarespace, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching "Downton Abbey" to the point that it irritates her boys and people-watching from her front porch.