I am returning back with another excellent side hustle story at Growthfunda Side Hustle Story series
He left a job & converted self-learned skills to a side hustle and then turned it to Digital Marketing Agency at the age of just 22.
So let’s hear the story of a down to earth entrepreneur, storyteller, author, and founder of Akaybee Media Studios
And don’t forget to take an take from this side hustle success story.
Side Hustle Story & Interview with Akshay Borate
1. Hey, Akshay could you please introduce yourself.
Hi, I am Akshay Borate. I am a marketer by profession and run a digital marketing agency in Pune, Akaybee Media Studios.
I also co-host India’s first Marathi language digital marketing podcast, The Marathi Podcast.
Apart from this, I am a published author who published a book on Social Media Marketing called Go Social – A Beginner’s Guide for Social Media Success.
Besides this, recently I have started a Facebook community for marketers named Marketingwaale! Within 1.5 months, we are 830 members and growing.
So this was a professional introduction.
I love playing cricket, chess, reading books, watching movies, and whatnot. I am an enthusiastic guy who almost like all good things to do.
2. Why did you escape from a full-time job?
Actually I never wanted to do a job. I thought I can’t become a good employee. I still feel so. I don’t like to follow orders. I don’t like the rules. I love freedom. The more freedom I get, the better I do.
So yes, I didn’t want to do a job but had to due to the poor financial condition of my family.
My mom used to work as a labor in the factory, where she used to earn around 3000-3500 INR a month. But later her health stopped supporting and she had to leave that job. So to run my house, I didn’t have any option apart from doing a job.
Besides this, I thought it’s not a bad idea to take real-world experience before starting a business.
So I picked a job. Worked for a year and left. There is another story. I left the job 6 months before the ‘actual date’. I had planned the month when I was going to leave the job, but some serious problems occurred in my family and I had to leave promptly.
So I could escape the job because I always wanted to. That was not accidental. From day 1 of my job, I was preparing!
3. What are your current projects\work\business?
We are a full-service digital marketing agency. Mainly we serve to Education, eCommerce, Salons, Restaurants, and Personal Brands.
Now I work as an entrepreneur where I delegate the work to my teammates and assist them when required. Personally I do ghost-writing. Writing is my hobby.
4. What is your side hustle story? What\Who motivated you to do a side hustle?
So as I said leaving a job was not accidental but planned. I did an offline digital marketing course first then I did an internship. During the internship, I started taking freelancing projects. This combined experience helped me to get a job.
I continued my freelancing even during the job days. 10 am to 6 am job. Freelancing at night. Besides this, I started networking.
Actually this was not intentional. Nobody told me that do networking if you want to move forward.
I am a happy-go-lucky guy. Friendships automatically happen to me. So, I joined digital marketing Facebook groups and made many friends there. Resultantly, knowledge sharing happened. Also, I used to do attend offline meetups. It kept my freelancing flow going.
Talking about motivation, strong will-power kept me going. I didn’t want to do a job. But how? I needed to do something. So I did.
5. How did you transition from a part-time side hustle into a full-time business as a Digital Marketing Agency? Any plan you followed?
A freelancer and an Agency have no much difference. Freelancer has to do all the tasks by himself, from pitching, client acquisition, communication to actual work. In Agency, there are multiple people, you can distribute the work. Also, you can hire people better than you, hence better results and consequently more clients, more revenue.
Combining internship and job, I had a total of 1.5 years of experience on paper in digital marketing. But in the real-world it was 2x.
I started collaborating with people. More manpower, more brains, better results, more clients! Within six months, I started an agency.
6. Sky’s not the limit. So why should someone not only depend on Job these days?
Because if you do, something like COVID 19 will screw you up.
Internet Marketing is magical. You can work with any business from anywhere, anytime. No boundaries.
I myself working from tier 3 city for the last one year. And honestly, this lockdown didn’t hamper my business. Because I have the liberty to work with every business.
Okay restaurants, gyms are closed? I can work with online course creators, personal brands, etc.
Having said that if any field is giving you this much advantage, you need to have skills to take that advantage.
One who has extra-ordinary skills is unlikely to remain jobless. He can start a business or create passive income streams or both.
But on a serious note, doing a job is not a bad option. Becoming an entrepreneur is not compulsory.
If you don’t have passion for entrepreneurship, you will fail. The world needs awesome employees too. So I would say, invest in skills and passive income streams. It will always help you no matter what.
7. Do you think one needs a lot of money to start a side business?
In a worst-case scenario, you need a second-hand laptop in a working state, a 199 INR 4G a month Internet connection to your mobile phone and domain & hosting which will cost you below 2000 INR.
That’s it. Rest everything depends on your skills and guts.
8. What challenges did you face while starting a full-time Digital Marketing Agency.?
Nothing. Starting an agency is easy. Anybody can do it.
Buy a domain, hosting, make a website, create a Facebook post – “ Guys, I am announcing my new digital marketing agency.”
In response, you will receive a lot of congratulatory praises, you will be the happiest person in the world for 2 days.
But then the real challenge comes, that’s running the agency.
You need someone to pay money for your services. How will you find clients? There are so many people providing the same services as you. How will you differentiate? How will you keep the cash flow going?
I have faced these challenges initially, even now I face, but now I know how to tackle it. Experience teaches you. However, the number of years doesn’t matter, what you do in those years decides fate!
9. Digital Marketing is too competitive now, so do you think it’s a good business idea and career?
Yes, it is competitive for sure, but what not is? Competition is everywhere.
I used to think this way a year ago, like – “ Yaar, bahot competition hai, kese hoga!”. But slowly I realized, if there is competition it means there is a market.
I should give reasons for people to come to me. And when I say reasons, here comes the marketing strategy. How you market yourself and your company decides how long you will survive.
Of course, results in matters and it should be the top most priority, but if your prospects don’t know you exist, how will they give their project to you? Here’s a simple growth hack – Market your results!
So yes digital marketing is definitely a good business idea, the only thing is you should be smart enough to find new ways to get clients and give good results.
10. There are so many Shining object syndromes in Digital Marketing, how should someone build authority and influence?
Good question Amol.
Take any component of digital marketing and it has the potential to make money for you.
Affiliate marketing, blogging, content writing services, SEO, Copywriting, the list is long. So newbies get confused about which part to choose?
Confusion increases even more when they see screenshots or success stories of other people. Even I have gone through Shiny Object Syndrome! It’s okay to be confused. It’s a human tendency. But it’s not okay to not let that confusion go.
I would suggest, talk to experienced people and decide your passion. Focus on one thing at a time. If you try to catch two rabbits, you will catch no one.
So calm down. Don’t think about your competition. Pick one thing and go deeper. The compound effect will automatically make you an authority.
11. Recently you launched the first eBook ‘Go Social’ that went viral, what message do you want to share via ‘Go Social’?
Even before start writing Go Social, I was clear about my target audience i.e. small business owners and digital marketing beginners.
You see there is so much chaos in the market about digital marketing. Many people teach digital marketing and most of them just talk about ads and tools. What I feel is we should understand marketing basics first. If basics are not clear, you won’t survive in the long run.
Small business owners usually can’t afford to hire good digital marketing agencies. And when they do themselves, they make many mistakes because they don’t know how digital or social media marketing works.
That’s why I thought to write a book that will help them to understand how each social media platform works and how they can actually leverage it for marketing their products/services.
12. I see that you are writing very engaging content across social media. So how did you master writing skills? Did you invested in any course?
No, I haven’t invested in any course. In fact, I don’t see any reason to buy a writing course. Writing comes from the heart. I write what I really feel.
On the other hand, you need to be wise and rational enough to write content that will woo the audience. For that, you need to keep feeding your brain. Read books, newspapers, go out, meet people, talk to them, observe life.
I can talk about almost anything. Bollywood, Sports, Politics, Philosophy, Music, you name it. And I use this knowledge in writing!
Moreover, since childhood, I have been listening and reading stories, so I use storytelling knowledge too. Besides this, my personality traits.
In short, it’s an amalgamation of so many things. Very hard to define how I mastered writing. Bas ho Gaya!
13. You are the co-founder of the first The Marathi Digital Marketing Podcast, how did you conceptualize this idea to action while doing a job?
No, I didn’t conceptualize The Marathi Podcast. It was Durvesh, my co-founder! It was his idea to start a podcast in Marathi.
I remember we were discussing, what can we do something that nobody else is doing and worth doing? Duru said, “ How about starting a podcast in Marathi?”
I loved the idea and within 2 days we started a podcast. Sorry, India’s first Marathi Language Digital Marketing Podcast. It became a super-hit!!
It’s very unfortunate that due to workload, we both are not able to give our time to podcast, but we will resume it soon, let’s see!
By the way, we also run a WhatsApp group called “ The Marathi Podcast Katta” consisting of 90+ Marathi Marketers and Entrepreneurs. You post any query and get the answer in the next 2 mins.
14. How can someone start a Digital Marketing career now? Any special course, degree, skills needed?
There are three options.
- Online course
- Offline course from an institute
All three are good and have their own advantages.
Offline courses are costlier than online, but you get a learning environment and a trainer in front of you. Moreover, discussions with other students are fruitful.
On the other hand, online courses are cheaper, but you need to be disciplined to complete the course. And if the course is pre-recorded, interactions are less. So, I prefer offline learning. I did the same.
Self-learning is free but challenging. You need to learn from blogs, YouTube, Facebook groups, and many other sources. If you are super-focused and tech-savvy, you can go ahead. In fact, many successful digital marketers I know are self-learned.
Talking about degree, it’s not super-important, however, at least graduation should be done. Many good companies have selection criteria for graduation. But if you are going to be self-employed or work in medium level agencies, a degree doesn’t matter.
15. What number one tip would you like to give to freshers, full-time employees who are willing to build a career as a Digital Marketer\Entrepreneur?
Get skills dude. No matter Covid-19 or any other tragic event, if you have real skills you won’t struggle to get a job.
For example, if I am hiring an SEO expert and one guy has ranked 10+ websites for competitive keywords, why wouldn’t I hire him? I want valuable employees so that I can deliver exceptional results to my clients.
Good employees = Good Results = More clients = More revenue.
Hence, spend your maximum time acquiring digital marketing skills, and don’t just learn, implement it. Create a solid portfolio.
Go to interview, crack HR round, and in Tech round, show the dashboard! You are SELECTED.
Don’t want to do a job? No issues.
Use skills to deliver results and be a full-time freelancer or agency. The bottom line is to get skills.
16. You are so active on Social media, so how do you manage time nowadays?
Haha! Actually honestly speaking, Social Media has a huge role in who I am today.
I got connected to the best people in my life on Social Media. Also, my personal brand is due to Social Media. Even, you interviewed me because we connected on Social Media and you read my posts.
So it’s not like managing time. In fact, I invest time on Social Media in marketing my content and establishing relationships.
You see, I am not a freelancer, so I have the liberty to delegate the actual work to my team and simply monitor it. I do only those things which I think I can do better than my team. Otherwise, my team does a better job than me.
17. Would you love to recommend someone for our next side hustle interview who has turned a job into entrepreneurship?
I know many people, but they all are my good friends. If I name a single person, others will feel bad. So, I leave it to you, haha!
18. How can someone reach you?
Message me on Facebook or LinkedIn!
19. Any thoughts about our blog?
It’s amazing. I love your hard work buddy. Keep enriching all of us with your knowledge. All the best, and feel free to contact me anytime if you need help.
Thanks a lot.
You should always side hustle no matter what. Leverage your own skills and interest to start your own business.
Digital Marketing is a big Ocean and there are a lot hell of opportunities out there.
If you have the right skills, then no one can stop you to grow. You should take action towards your goals.
That’s the key to success.
I hope you like this interview with Akshay Borate.
Do let us know your thoughts on this Akshay Borate interview in the comments.
And don’t forget to share this Side hustle story with your friends.
Here are few more amazing side hustle stories I covered:
- Meet Man Making Money Blogging & Living Laptop Lifestyle With $5000+ pm
- From $0 to $1000/month Side Hustle Story: Interview With Chayan Chakrabarti