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A successful side business

Have you got a side business you want to develop as well as continuing with your full time job? This week we interviewed Brad Sang who has the good fortune of a full time job he loves as well as a successful consultancy called Engage365. We talked to Brad about his experience and advice he has for others for balancing the two roles. The good news it can be done and can often lead to better work-life balance.
 
What is your current full time role?
I am currently the National Marketing Manager at Airmaster. Airmaster provides heating, cooling and building automation solutions to many of Australia’s largest shopping centres, retailers, banks, universities and commercial office buildings. We employ 600 staff and have 11 branches across the country. My role is to oversee the entire marketing operations across the network at a strategic and operational level for Airmaster and their two subsidiary companies.
What were you doing prior to this and why the change?
 Prior to commencing at Airmaster, I held a number of consultancy roles specialising in Sports Marketing and worked across many sporting bodies, brands and events. This included everything from strategy, sponsorship and event management through to developing websites, graphic design and social media. I was lucky enough to work across Australia, and in markets such as the US, UK, Singapore as well as a major project in India for three Indian Premier League (Cricket) franchises. I commenced working as a consultant around the time that social media and online content was starting to make a serious impact on how brands were communicating with consumers and fans, so it provided some good opportunities and I evolved more into developing knowledge and offering expertise in the digital space. Whilst a consultant I established Engage365, and built a small team of consultants around me, each bringing a variety of skill sets that we offer clients.
The desire to move into my current role was a combination of seeking a new challenge, and also to address my work/life balance. When I started out as a consultant I was at a stage of my life where I could put as much time into it as I possibly could, which sometimes meant working long hours and into the night, and it included a lot of travel. With marriage, a family and a mortgage on the horizon I knew I needed to address this balance and sought to challenge myself in a new role and in a totally different industry.
 
Do you still keep up some work on the side?
I still work on a variety of Engage365 projects in conjunction with fellow consultants who manage some of these more regularly than I do (as they are still primarily consultants). My wife has also recently become more involved with the business and provides another resource in areas of her expertise across some projects.
How do you manage the work on top of a full time job?
For me it is all about productivity and using every hour in the day smartly, without it feeling too regimented. And this applies to both work and home life. I am very lucky in a number of ways that the culture at Airmaster is very focused on employee well-being and therefore after-hours work is kept at a minimum. Add to this, my commute to and from the office is just 10 minutes each way, so I am able to maximise my time effectively without having to ‘waste’ time battling Melbourne traffic. As such I am able to have dedicated time outside of a standard working weekday to work on Engage365 and still feel as though I am achieving a good work/life balance – as I set out to do from the outset.
Are you more selective in the work you take on? 
Yes absolutely – and not just because there is less time, but more so because of how Engage365, and the collective strengths of our consultants has evolved over this time. We continue to find newer, more efficient ways of delivering projects to clients that create win:win scenarios for all involved. We actually recently made a change to the business strategy that sees a focus on securing more “premium” clients and introducing some of our more efficient marketing techniques to them that is aimed to disrupt the traditional model of agency-style delivery.
 
Do you feel like you now have the best of both worlds or is there room for improvement?
Without knowing how being in full-time employment was going to affect the opportunities – existing or future – for Engage365 at the time, I feel as though I am on the right track. I say “on the right” track because, and without sounding like a cliché, I know that this is a journey and it will continue to evolve. And by continuing to evolve this means new ways of doing business, new demands on clients, new ways of doing things and of course, new challenges in your own life that your career will work around. So I continue to stay focused and not rest on my laurels.
 
What advice would you give others trying to maintain a passion or business such as yours on the side?
Everyone has their own goals for so-called side businesses, some do it in order for it to one day be their full-time business. For me personally, I couldn’t be happier at Airmaster, it is a fantastic organisation with a supportive management team that enables me to continue to craft my practice. This alone helps to maintain the passion I have around Engage365. My advice for those who look at their side business as I do is to enjoy it and to use your time wisely. It can be easy to get bogged down and set a single audacious goal to try and make as much money as you possibly can. But this can often be at the expense of either your full-time job or your personal life (or both). Set some realistic goals, be them financial or otherwise, and make a plan for how your side business can help get you there. Then, once you meet those goals, set new ones. Finally, don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way – you inevitability will but you’ll be better off with what you have learnt from it.