This Side Hustle Q&A features Dixie Bagley, “a once single mom of two who started a business empire with negative $1,500 in her bank account.” Today, Bagley is a wedding planner, dessert shop owner and the founder of the Southern Wedding Collective, an online directory for wedding vendors in the South.

What was your day job when you started your side hustle?
I was a personal trainer at the time.

When did you start your side hustle, and where did you find the inspiration for it?
In 2008, my husband and I purchased a very unique European-style barn with the intention of turning it into our home. While remodeling, I hosted a wedding as a favor to an acquaintance. The feedback was incredible, and that “favor” started the ball rolling toward transforming the barn into a wedding and event venue.

Related: This 29-Year-Old Left His Marketing Job to Pursue a Side Hustle — Now He Earns Nearly $200,000 a Year: ‘So Attracted to the Adrenaline Rush’

What were some of the first steps you took to get your side hustle off the ground?
I signed up for a wedding show — which was a complete failure. I had zero interest from potential clients, so I moved on to Facebook. I posted photos of the venue every day and came up with a package, which I posted on Facebook as well. I immediately booked two weddings, and after that, the leads started flowing in from referrals and sharing about successful events.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while building your side hustle, and how did you navigate them?
One of the bigger challenges was learning to take the public’s opinion with a grain of salt regarding what and how I should do things regarding the venue. There were a lot of strong opinions on what I should do with the barn due to its local history. Many people felt they had a valuable opinion of what should be done and how it should be done. One of the other big challenges was learning how to set and respect my boundaries and balance my personal time with work. In the first five years of getting the venue off the ground, I was terrible at work-life balance. I was consumed by the venue and did not give much thought to my own personal time.

Related: This Mom Started a Side Hustle After a ‘Shocking’ Realization in the Toy Aisle. Her Product Was in Macy’s Within the Year — Seeing Nearly $350,000 in Sales.

How long did it take you to see consistent monthly revenue? How much did the side hustle earn?
Consistent revenue came within the first six months. In the beginning, I offered limited packages at a minimal investment, yet I still managed to book about $100,000 within the first year.

You now own several successful businesses. How did you go from side hustle to owner of multiple companies?
Once the first business became consistent and respected within the industry and the community, other opportunities started to land in my lap. If they were a good fit with our existing business and a good business opportunity, we gave it a lot of thought and moved forward with those companies — not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of the community and the clients they would be serving.

What do you enjoy most about running your businesses now?
The independence and freedom of being my own boss allow me to incorporate personal vacation time into my life without having to ask permission. I can work as much as I want to and enjoy my personal time as well. I get to choose what my work-life balance looks like.

Related: I Was a 25-Year-Old Nurse When I Started a Side Hustle to Combat Anxiety. It Made $1 Million in 7 Months — Then Sold for a Life-Changing Amount.

What’s your advice for others hoping to start successful side hustles or full-time businesses of their own?
Have patience with yourself and your potential clients. It is a nonstop roller coaster of learning experiences. You will be presented with so many personalities. You will face challenges, both with yourself and clients, that will force you to examine yourself, your outlook and your way of dealing with things. Have patience and be honest with yourself and your clients [about] your capacity and abilities as new opportunities arise.


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