The Balancing Act is a Tribe series on juggling work with something a little extra. Part one is work and the side hustle. We speak to our very own Micha Swallow, who’s dived into a side business while continuing to work as a full-time recruiter.
Micha Swallow is a full-time recruiter and part-time personal trainer extraordinaire. The 30-year-old moved back to New Zealand three years ago and started at Tribe in the business support and admin team. Under her belt was a personal training qualification she had completed back home. Eighteen months into her role at Tribe “getting my feet under the desk”, Micha’s boss Emma encouraged her to put an application in to become an F45 instructor.
“I had been talking about it for so long,” Micha says, “Emma put my hand up for it and gave me that extra kick.”
It was during the first COVID-19 lockdown that Micha decided to take it a step further and go out on her own.
“I’ve always wanted to push myself and put myself out of my comfort zone. While recruitment was slowing down, I felt like I wanted to fill a gap and it was the perfect time to bring my passion to life.”
Ready, set, go
Micha invested in a recommended wellness coach to figure out exactly how she wanted to enter the well-being space.
“She really helped me with my vision and the fundamentals of how to launch a business. I wouldn’t have had any clue as to what to do first or even thought that I had it in me to make it possible.”
Spending time on your story and your ‘why’ before getting started is hugely important, Micha says.
“I spent time redefining success to me and thinking about how I want to spend my time, what my ideal role looks like and what balance looks and feels like to me.”
Rather than attaching success to a job or place, Micha says she instead concentrated on the feeling of success. This meant she could check in with how she was feeling to make sure she was on track.
“With my personal training, it’s more about the journey and how I’m impacting people’s lives. I feel like I’ve now got a good balance of purpose-driven focus through my PT and results-driven focus through Tribe.”
“I remember listening to a talk last year about how our age group was all about the side hustle and I thought ‘that will never be me, I couldn’t juggle it’, so it’s quite funny that I’m here now.”
Telling your employer that you’re starting a side business can be a scary process, but Micha says giving yourself time to build trust in your current role makes it easier.
“I’d like to think Tribe would know it wouldn’t necessarily impact my day-to-day,” she says, “when I’m here, they know I’m here to do the job at hand.”
Having a conversation about your employer’s expectations is key but it works both ways, Micha says.
“You need to be in a place where you have a voice and a platform to have an open and honest conversation. I’m lucky I have great mentors and managers that I can speak to.”
It’s important to be upfront so your employer can support you in your goals. Micha says any good manager should want you to feel success whether it’s in your work life or home life.
“It’s enabled me to be a better version of myself at work. I’m the one ticking every box rather than relying on an employer to tick it all for me. I’ve filled my cup with other things.”
Micha says her side gig makes her feel more centred because it’s truly something she is passionate about.
“People say ‘are you busy or how are you juggling everything’, well it doesn’t really feel like a juggle because what I’m doing out of the normal nine to five is what I love doing.”
The PT work fits in around her current role - before or after work, lunchtimes, evenings and weekends. Figuring out how you work best is critical in balancing different roles, Micha says.
“I work really well with a routine and clear structure.”
The personal training business teeters on being 24/7, so Micha says it was important to set boundaries and be transparent about what clients are paying for.
“You’ve got to 150 percent want it.”
Micha is known around the office to have her foot on the gas. Burnout was a looming possibility with her results-focused attitude and worry about ‘doing’ all the time.
“I felt like I had to be doing a million and one things to have that feeling of success. Now I’ve redefined success, I don’t feel the need to be doing a hundred million things all the time.”
Managing her ability to combat burnout meant a shift in priorities too.
“It’s the same if you don’t have a side gig, what are you doing day-to-day to tap out when you’re at your maximum?”
For Micha, it was never at the top of her priority list but now she feels like she’s managing it properly.
“It’s important to know what allows you to tap out and that it’s okay to have a break and prioritise it as you would booking your appointments and booking your meetings.”
Micha takes the same realistic approach to set goals so the pesky old self-doubt doesn’t sneak up on her.
“I do feel pressure because I want to see growth in my job at Tribe and I also want to be successful in launching my own business. For me, it’s about setting realistic goals and not getting bogged down in the detail.”
The final words of advice from Micha are to understand the purpose or mission of your business - for her, it was supporting others.
“You’ve got to be committed to what you put your mind to and be consistent. When you find your why, you show up for that pure reason and it helps you stay on the right track.”
Follow Micha on social: Instagram @Micha_fit