How I Built a Multi 6-Figure Business While Still Working Full-Time


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shannon-weinstein

This week’s guest took some of the skills she already had and then went out intentionally and found buyers for those skills.

Shannon Weinstein is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who turned her fractional CFO (Chief Financial Officer)/tax strategy service at KeepWhatYouEarn.com into a full-time income stream — while still working a full-time job.

Tune in to the Side Hustle Show interview to hear:

  • the low-cost, high-return marketing tactics that Shannon used to start her business
  • how she found her first customers
  • how she took the leap to turn her side hustle into a full-time job

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The Inspiration to Start a Digital Accounting Practice

Shannon values location and time flexibility. Her husband has health issues, so she hated getting phone calls that he may need to go to the hospital when she was working an hour away.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Shannon realized that she could start her own business, do that from home, and consequently improve her work-life balance.

As a CPA, she had built a career around tax strategy, tax compliance, and virtual CFO services. She didn’t mind doing the work, but she hated how she was asked to do it at her day job.

She decided to offer her services after enough people asked for her help and she was able to get results for them. “I realized how much I enjoyed it. I realized that I could get paid to do it.”

Shannon’s side hustle started out as a CPA practice, but it eventually evolved into a CFO firm/fractional CFO business.

Related: The Best Side Hustles for Accountants

Quitting Her Day Job

Shannon quietly ran her side hustle until the day she gave her four weeks’ notice at work.

She broke the news to her team, revealing that she had a multi 6-figure CFO practice and a Top 100 entrepreneurship podcast.

Shannon had built her platform on Instagram because she knew her co-workers weren’t there. On Instagram, she focused on delivering value and building an audience over the course of two years.

When she finally quit her job, she was able to promote her practice on LinkedIn and Facebook. “It was super exciting to be able to kind of be open and be out there as a business owner and be proud of it.”

Getting Initial Traction

Shannon had a three-pronged approach to getting the word out about her practice during its early days.

Instagram Presence

She first promoted her side hustle on Instagram, where she now has over 5,600 followers, partly because her co-workers weren’t there and partly because it’s a forgiving platform.

“If you’re going to show up on social media to try to build a business … you want to go to the most forgiving platform in terms of the time it takes to make something and to put it out there.”

Shannon wanted to deliver value on Instagram instead of just selling her services.

To decide what content to put out, she would join Facebook groups, combing them for questions people had about taxes. She’d collate those questions in Asana and take note of recurring ones.

She’d then take a video of herself answering those questions while lip-syncing or dancing — a tactic she says is a really good way to get engagement on the platform.

She’d also add relevant hashtags like #accountant and #CFO to her early posts to improve her reach.

Podcasting and Podcast Guesting

Shannon’s side hustle also gained some traction through her podcast, Keep What You Earn, where she talks about how entrepreneurs at all levels can navigate the financial side of entrepreneurship to grow their businesses with confidence.

She has even guested on other podcasts and offered to coach prospective clients via phone calls.

Pricing the Service

Shannon struggled to put a price on her services in the beginning. Since most of her clients were startup entrepreneurs, she knew they didn’t have a ton of money.

What happened was she’d just throw out whatever number she thought was fair until she and the client landed on something that was fair.

“You kind of figure it out as you go along based on who you’re serving, what value you’re delivering, and the types of services you do.”

fitnancial-solutions-pricing

Now, over two years later, Shannon charges between $500-1,000 for individual tax returns and $1,000-1,800 for business returns.

She also offers a monthly service, which is set up for recurring revenue, for people who need tax preparation services.

That costs anywhere from $1,000-4,000, depending on whether the client is a tax strategy client or a CFO client.

What’s Driving Traffic/Sales?

Podcasting

Podcasting plays a big role in driving traffic to Shannon’s business. She started her Keep What You Earn podcast in August 2021. Last year, it got over 100k downloads.

Shannon attributes the early growth of the show to her question “bank” — the tax-related questions she stored in Asana. “That question bank turned into a library of episodes.”

When people would ask her questions about tax and business through different forums, she’d direct them to the relevant episode for answers. That’s how her podcast started to get traction.

Listeners would also sometimes take a screenshot of the show in their podcast app and share it on social media. “It was super helpful in just getting the word of mouth around.”

Shannon keeps episodes between 10-40 minutes long and makes sure to include freebies and lead magnets.

As for promoting the podcast, she uses Instagram for that. What she does is post a snippet of the episode and then link to it in the caption.

She also typically includes the call to action “Go listen to the full episode of Keep What You Earn to learn more about this” in her captions.

Shannon uploads videos of the episodes on YouTube as well. “The more you can put your content on different platforms, the more likely it is someone’s going to find it.”

Podcast Guesting

Showing up as a guest on other podcasts also helped immensely in getting the word out about Shannon’s side hustle.

She quickly learned there were two steps to finding the right shows to be a guest on and getting results from being a guest on those shows.

Number one is researching the shows that she thinks her ideal client is listening to. She’d ask herself questions like “Who is listening to this?” and “What do they need help with?” Number two is always sharing something to promote or to point listeners to, ideally something like an email list.

“I would try to use those podcast interviews to get people into lead magnets and other things to help me grow my audience.”

One lead magnet in particular that converted pretty well following a guest appearance is a podcast playlist quiz.

podcast-playlist-quiz

“What it does is it creates almost an archetype for the person to say, ‘Hey, you sound like an early-stage business owner or early-stage entrepreneur just starting your own side hustle. Here are some great episodes from Shannon that might help you right now.’ And then you get a playlist of 10 or so episodes.”

That lead magnet does two things: put the listener on Shannon’s email list and get them to download the episode to get to know her a bit better.

She uses the quiz platform TryInteract.com to build podcast playlists as it’s user-friendly for non-tech-savvy entrepreneurs.

Any Other Revenue Streams?

Shannon’s bread and butter are recurring monthly service agreements. They pay the bills and keep the lights on, so to speak.

She supplements that, though, with KeepWhatYouEarn.com, where she offers educational courses and coaching to early-stage entrepreneurs.

Currently, that makes up about 10% of the revenue pie chart, but Shannon is hoping to grow that to 20-30% this year.

“I recommend everyone start with some type of recurring revenue source to add stability so that you’re not constantly selling,” she says.

What Does a Typical Day Look Like?

Shannon likes to take a walk in the morning or afternoon to think of ideas, which she’ll later jot down in Asana. After her walk, she’ll spend the rest of the day finishing up client work.

Fridays are her content creation day because they tend to be lax. That’s when she’ll revisit her ideas and turn them into content.

She says this routine allows her to dedicate time for creative thinking while keeping things focused during the week.

Taking the Side Hustle Full-Time

In 2021, Shannon made almost $200k in revenue — and that was with a full-time job. She estimates that she only dedicated about 20% of her time to the business.

In 2022, she aimed for 300k in revenue. After doing a cash flow forecast, however, she learned that the business was making enough money that she could quit her job.

That’s when she decided to go all in.

She said she would’ve gone out and looked for another job if it turned out that her side hustle couldn’t fully replace her income from her full-time job.

“It’s not the end of the world. It’s totally fine,” she said. “I realized that even if I left, I can find another similar job.”

Any Surprises Along the Way?

Shannon was surprised at how quickly she was able to quit her day job after starting her business.

“I have benefits. I have 401(k) and all this stuff. Why would I leave that and take this risk?” she said.

But she realized that a core part of her job is to lower risk, so that’s what she re-focused on. “What I still can’t believe is that it actually worked.”

What’s Next?

Shannon plans to offer a more robust course library for entrepreneurs of all stages, from crafting offers to scaling.

She also has a couple of live and virtual speaking engagements lined up.

Shannon’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

Trust your gut.

freshbooks 2021

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

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