Julie Berninger, 33, tried many other things. She runs a blog that brings in thousands of dollars a year. She had a podcast that, although it was never a source of income, allowed her to meet hundreds of foreign experts and financial experts. And her Etsy shop, where she sells items like bachelorette party activity lists, brings in $1,000 a month in passive income.
After years of doing it, it occurred to Berninger that she could learn some of the side gig lessons she learned. In 2019, she teamed up with colleague Cody Berman and the two founded Gold City Ventures, an online course business focused specifically on creating additional income streams.
The two began by taking courses on freelancing, blogging and opening an Etsy print shop like Berninger. The latter was their most popular course by far, and in 2021 Gold City Ventures brought in $1 million in revenue.
Berninger, who lives with her husband and daughter in Massachusetts, resigned in July 2021 to focus on her full-time career. Here’s her career advice for other entrepreneurs.
Working in corporate America
Berninger spent years working at companies such as Amazon and MetLife. She recommends that any entrepreneur spend time working in corporate America before taking the plunge. “You’ll learn so many skills that are really transferable to your own business,” she says.
Berninger, for example, served as a project manager at some of her day jobs. “You learn how to work backwards from the end result,” she says. “You learn how to make a timeline, and you learn how to manage resources.” The latter really helped build her business. Whenever she had a budget, she would use it to hire freelancers to take on some of the work.
“In whatever career field one pursues, you get something out of your day job,” she says. Think about what those skills might be and always think ahead about what else you can learn there that might be applicable.
Take advantage of trainings and educations
Some companies offer their employees various internal training and scholarships for education outside of work. Take advantage, says Berninger.
Her companies would sometimes bring in guest speakers, for example. “I always went to every one of them,” she says. “Especially at the end, when I was working at tech companies, they brought in the founder of Reddit to talk to us. They would have people who wrote books on entrepreneurship.”
All this offered opportunities for her to learn how to be a better entrepreneur herself. “It’s just getting inspiration and getting outside ideas and learning as many skills as possible,” she says.
‘Take those breaks along the way’
“This is something I’m still working on,” Berninger says of his final piece of advice. “But you build those breaks along the way.”
Even if you’re pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams while working full-time and only have small windows to get things done, taking momentary breaks will help you focus. A 2011 University of Illinois study found that among different groups of people who completed a 50-minute task, those who took two short breaks remained focused throughout the experiment. Performance declined for those who did not take breaks.
And if you can spend those minutes doing something that brings you joy, that’s an added bonus. Ashley Whillans, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and author of Time Smart, recommends doing activities like texting someone important to you or checking your vacation status. Both are proven mood enhancers.
“You can get really crazy and there’s always another ladder or level to climb and there’s always something more you can do,” says Berninger. “But learning how to enjoy the road on the road” could help you get the most out of it.
34-year-old mom’s Etsy shop brought in nearly $160,000 in 2021: How she built her party while working full-time
This 26-year-old turned her side hustle into a $170,000-a-year business: ‘4 things I wish I’d known sooner’
4 Sides for Recent Graduates: You can pay as much as $85 an hour
Apply now: Be smarter about your money and your career with our weekly newsletter