Diana Goodwin Turned A Spare Time Side Gig Into A Business Worth $1 Million

By on January 5, 2017 in ArticlesHow Much Does

Everybody gets bored at work, but most of us don't get more than a few Facebook likes or Words With Friends points for our trouble. Diana Goodwin got significantly more out of her workplace dissatisfaction than most of us do, though, and her efforts at transforming what started as a simple side gig in her spare time into a $1 million business is the subject of a recent Forbes profile.

Goodwin is the founder and CEO of AquaMobile Swim School, described by some as "Uber for private swimming lessons." The company is now worth about a million in profit grosses, but it started as an idea Goodwin had while working at Bain and Co., a job she was satisfied with at first only to find her satisfaction dwindle over time. Then, she and an equally dissatisfied friend began discussing possible business ideas, when she remembered a swimming school she first began at age 19 in 2003, while a student at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management. She didn't quit her job right then, though, electing instead to stay on at Bain while managing the company in her spare time – here she explains why she made that decision:

"Other friends have tried to go out on their own without having a solid idea and have ended up back at work full time. You need to think about what the competition is, the size of the market and what could go wrong."

It was a challenge for Goodwin to manage her development of AquaMobile while honoring her duties at Bain, but she was also able to make the job work for her. For instance, she says that her job at Bain often required long plane rides, during which she could work on her side business. Eventually, she even took the step of hiring her own staff member part time to take customer calls while she was at her day job.

Now, Goodwin doesn't have to worry about any day job, and in 2010 she quit her job at Bain when AquaMobile was netting her about fifty grand a year. But even then, the company wasn't getting her full professional attention, so she took that opportunity to get an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in order to fully develop her business. According to Goodwin, it was worth it:

"Things really took off while I was working on my MBA. Developing my business the way I did, I felt less pressure and risk than if I had just quit a full-time job to start a new company."

So the next time you start to feel your spirit wander while you're at work, see if you might have a million-dollar idea somewhere in there – if you take the time and care to develop it properly, it might become your full-time job.

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