Business as a side hustler

Episode 140: Building a Business as a Side Hustler with Kelly McClellan

It’s no secret how much I love those bosses who are side hustling to build their business while working a full-time job. And, in this episode, I’m sharing a story of one of my fave side hustlers Kelly McClellan and her journey of building her business on a very limited schedule.

One thing I don’t talk about very much here on the show is that while I freelanced for years and years, I also had a side business. As a result, I have a special place in my heart for anyone with a side gig as I know how challenging it can be and just how committed you need to be. I’m thrilled to introduce you to leadership coach and consultant Kelly McClellan.


Here’s a bit about Kelly:

Kelly McClellan’s mission is to help women find their confidence and create a life and career that they love. Equal parts coach, consultant, and cheerleader, Kelly works with women who are looking to take their personal and professional selves to the next level.

Having spent many years in training and development in both financial services and healthcare, she left the corporate world to focus on helping others on a more personal level. Since taking this path, she joined the team at University of MN Carlson School of Management as a career coach, became a certified coach via International Coaching Federation, and opened to provide customized coaching to women leaders and teams. Kelly has completed over 2,500 individual coaching sessions and has led numerous local and national leadership and career workshops.

When she is not empowering women, you can find this mom of four kickboxing to her favorite AC/DC playlist, running around town with soccer-mom duties, or binge-watching her DVR’d shows while indulging in a little strawberry Haagen-Dazs. She also makes a killer margarita.


Tell us about your business and how you make money.

  • I have a coaching and consulting business where I focus predominantly on women who are professionals.
  • It could be an individual contributor looking to enhance their career and grow into leadership.
  • It could be a leader who is looking to become a more effective leader.
  • It could also be someone (in both of the previous cases) that is looking to make a transition of some sort. This could be someone who is unhappy in the current role and looking for something new.
  • There are some business owners that come into play now and then, but it’s generally somebody who’s in an inspiring leader role or a leader (who’s not a small business owner).


What kind of services do you offer?

  • My services are generally one-on-one coaching.
  • I don’t tend to do group work because I find that most people want that personalized experience.
  • I work with someone on a month-to-month basis for a particular goal they have in mind.
  • I do paid speaking as well, and that’s where I get most of my work from.


How did you start your business?

  • I have wanted to be an entrepreneur for many years, and it was always something that was put off to the side.
  • Two things had happened in a very short period of time.
    • One was a magazine quote that said, “The time will never be perfect. Start now.”
    • The second thing was that I was at a conference, and there was a woman who was speaking, and I thought, “I could totally do that.”
  • I called my personal accountant to see what I needed to do to set up a business.
  • Within a couple of days, I had the skeleton of a business.


Your business is a side hustle. How do you balance that with a day job?

  • I’m one of those people that tend to be better when I’m comfortably busy.
  • I put in about 3-5 hours a week, and that definitely varies depending on how busy my day job is.
  • There are some weeks I can do 5-8 hours a week where I can work on the more proactive things.
  • My day job is very accommodating, and I’m really fortunate in that respect. I can do a quick call with you and do a podcast, or call a client to finalize details for something. I’ve got the flexibility to do that.


You have a lot of commitments. You have the business, you have your day job, you have your family. How do you fit that all together?

  • I try to be forgiving to myself and try to be flexible in my week-to-week.
  • I look ahead and see where I have time to insert a meeting or time to write some copy.
  • For me, it’s definitely a moving target, and that helps me feel balanced.
  • If I had set times every week, I might not feel creative at that moment, or I might not be feeling awake at the moment.
  • There are little habits that I’ve started that help me.
  • I go to the gym every morning, and that helps me feel centered, and it gives me seven minutes to scan my email to see if there is anything hot that I need to take care of.
  • Before I go home at the end of the day, I’m looking ahead to see if anything has to shift.
  • My setup and close of the day help me have better tomorrows and weeks.


You mentioned that you get a lot of clients through your speaking. How does that work?

  • I find that when you have the opportunity to be up in front of people, and they hear you, they feel like they know you.
  • I’m very comfortable in front of the room, and I have a lot of energy at that moment in time.
  • What typically happens is that they hear me speak, and some time later, they’ll call me and say that they saw me at XYZ, and I was wondering if we could talk to see if we could potentially work together.
  • Sometimes it’s an immediate follow-up — within a week — but I just had a conversation with somebody who saw me last year.
  • Everybody’s at a different point in their business as well as their readiness.
  • I don’t push people to call me.
  • I only have 2-3 clients at a time, and that helps me manage this life.


How do you get speaking gigs?

  • The first one is always the hardest.
  • The best place I would start is professional organizations that align with the thing that you do.
  • Go to where your clients are hanging out.
  • Some groups and organizations will also have subgroups.
  • Once you are seen, it’s easier to put yourself out there.
  • I have a page on my website with my speaking information, and it highlights some things I’ve done in the past and some of my presentations so people can see if it fits.
  • Non-profits are always in need of speakers, and if you’re not comfortable with speaking (they’re not going to be as lucrative financially), but if you’re looking for exposure, and you’re looking for experience, these places can be great.
  • A lot of times, universities and organizations are doing annual events, and they’ll have where you can submit for speaking.
  • The bigger the conference, the further back they’re looking for speakers, so you have to plan.
  • Sometimes people will see you speak at X then ask you to come speak at Y.


You’re part of the Double It Mastermind, and I’d love to know how it has helped your business this past year.

  • As a small business owner or a solopreneur, I don’t have a team of five that is helping me crank out stuff.
  • I need shortcuts.
  • I was in the midst of writing proposals, and it was taking me a long time. I didn’t feel I was doing a good job with that part of it.
  • The templates that are available with Double It are huge time savers, and it changed my tone, and it changed how I presented myself and my services and offerings. That alone was so worthwhile.
  • Beyond that, there are structures available that we all need to have in place in order for us to be sustainable.
  • Another big thing is that I need the accountability.
  • When you’re a solopreneur, and you don’t have that person there to bounce things off of, that’s so valuable.
  • The value comes from having Maggie as that sounding board because she has seen so many versions of business and so many best practices that she can offer.


  1. Kelly shared how she gets so much done with limited time — which is applicable to us no matter our stage of business or life. The reality is that we only have so much time in the day, so it’s a good reminder to think about how we can be more efficient and focus on having the business AND life we’re after.
  2. She shared the daily practice of preparing for the next day by taking a few minutes, so she’s aware of what’s coming up. What habit do you need to make things simpler or easier on a day-to-day basis?
  3. Kelly does a lot of speaking, and it’s been one of her best ways to find clients. She detailed how she’s built up to being paid to speak and how to make the most of it. If speaking is on your agenda, take these lessons to help you turn those on-stage appearances into paying clients.

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