Brendan Hufford is the first featured teacher who is still teaching. Brendan has built a number of online businesses “on the side” while he continues to work full time. In our 10 question interview, Brendan gives some great insights for other teachers who may be considering a move to online commerce.
What are your qualifications and experience in classroom teaching?
This is my 9th year teaching. I taught for six years, was an Assistant Principal for two, and now am back in the classroom.
How do you explain what you currently do to make a living?
Currently, I make a living as a teacher and also through my online business. My online business ventures include:
- A jiu jitsu gi review website with sponsorships
- My own jiu jitsu brand for ecommerce
- Entrepreneurs and Coffee Podcast
- Hustle and Heart blog with online courses and products for honest business advice for dads.
Can you give some background about how you decided to leave the classroom?
I haven’t left the classroom, yet. My wife and I made the calculated decisions to allow me to continue building my online business and continue to work so she could stay home with our son two years ago. Now that we have a son due in January, I’ve decided to continue teaching this year. Overall, it’s a decision we’re incredibly happy with.
How long did it take you to make the transition?
Since I have summers and breaks off, it doesn’t take too long to make a transition into full online business mode, but I’ve found it takes my family longer than it takes me. Having me work from home is definitely a bit more stressful until we re-establish ground rules to help us all work better.
What are the top three things someone should know or do in order to successfully change careers?
- The hardest thing is getting started.
- Don’t rule out other industries. Your skills of teaching, working with a population that doesn’t always want to receive what you’re giving them, etc. translates SO well into many other industries.
- Don’t rule out working for yourself!
What is the best way to get started?
Since you don’t (likely) have a large income runway, you’ll need income quickly. Tap into the network you already have in your family, friends, church, bowling league, etc. and let them know what you do and that you’re looking to change careers. Ask them if they know anybody who does something cool for a living that they can put you in touch with. IF they don’t know anybody, ask them if they know somebody who doesn’t hate their job. Almost all of us have a friend who is obnoxiously in love with their career. Find that person and set a time to talk!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do what you have done?
Build your target audience first and survey them to find out their fears, desires, etc. and really dig deep. It will inform the services and products you provide, as well as the content that you make to market to them.
What were some of the problems you faced?
Taking on partners when I didn’t have to, and without a contract. It was one of the largest mistakes I’ve ever made in my business.
Which teaching skills have proved to be most valuable?
In my online business, I now teach what I’ve learned building a side business that’s done six figures in revenue. Literally everything I’ve learned in the classroom about building rapport and caring about my audience and customers (students) translates over.
If you had one secret to give about changing careers what would it be?
Analysis is paralysis. Stop analyzing and thinking about what you want to do and get started. Get creative. Stop considering everything and start making the move. Worst case scenario: You’re right back where you started.
If you’re wondering how Brendan manages to maintain a full-time teaching job and has the time to build an online business, you will get some great insights from his post, “Productivity for Busy Entrepreneurs” on his blog, Hustle and Heart.