How this man turned his hobby into a 6-figure business

Student Loan Hero
Kegs & Code Co. founder Lucas Alcalde

Have you ever dreamed of ditching your day job? Maybe you want to write a novel or start a business but worry about making ends meet.

If you’re afraid to make the leap, you should know that it’s possible to do what you love and make a living. Lucas Alcalde is a perfect example. A passionate home-brewer, he launched a business called Kegs & Code Co. Juggling his regular job and his business, he grew his company over the course of three years. Now, it’s his full-time job.

“I’m super excited to say that I quit the 9-to-5,” Alcalde said. Here’s how he turned his side hustle into a successful business.

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Launching Kegs & Code Co.

Alcalde loves beer and started brewing his own as a hobby. Although he enjoyed it, he was frustrated by the lack of consistency.

“Everything started when I brewed a batch of beer, and it was great,” Alcalde explained. “Everyone loved it. Right after that, I brewed another batch, and it was really bad. In both cases, I didn’t have notes to show me what I did right or what I did wrong.”

Alcalde searched for a journal specifically for brewers but couldn’t find anything that fit his needs. So, he decided to create one.

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He designed a journal, but he didn’t think much would happen with it.

“I never actually thought this was going to be a full-time thing,” he said. “And then a couple of my friends told me I needed to think bigger than just a journal.”

To get funding for his idea, he launched a campaign on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site. To Alcalde, putting the campaign online was a significant motivator.

“Since the journal was on Kickstarter, if I failed, everyone would know,” he said. “Within five days, it raised over $12,000. At that moment, everything changed for me.”

The success of the campaign showed Alcalde that there was demand for his product. He was so excited that he considered quitting his job. However, his wife convinced him to slow down.

“She told me that I didn’t really have a business at the time, just a product,” he said. “And she was right. So I worked as a computer engineer for the next four years.”

Balancing his side hustle with his full-time job

Alcalde said juggling his side hustle with his regular job was difficult, but he carved out time for it.

“For the last four years, I spent every spare minute of free time on my side hustle,” he said. He even set an intense schedule for himself.

“I woke up at 3 in the morning so I could work on my side hustle until 7 a.m., when I had to go to work,” he said. “I had an hour-long lunch, so I’d take my laptop to Starbucks and work for another hour.”

Maintaining a rigorous schedule was important to him, even though it was difficult.

“So many people say they don’t have the time to start a business or side hustle,” Alcalde said. “But if you really want something, you’re going to wake up early or work late to make it happen. It pays off.”

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Quitting his job

As Alcalde’s side hustle grew more successful, working his 9-to-5 became more challenging.

“I knew I needed to go to work and do a good job because people were counting on me,” he said. “But at the same time, every single morning I felt like I was walking away from something bigger.”

Kegs & Code Co. started to receive more publicity, and Alcalde received several large orders. These developments signaled that it was time to take the next step with the business.

Alcalde explained that four things happened that made him feel like he was ready to quit his day job:

  1. He had a foundation. Alcalde credits his friends and family with giving him a foundation to draw on when things got tough. Having that support helped him face the challenges of his new career.
  2. He built a safety net. Alcalde and his wife decided they needed a safety net in place before he could quit his six-figure job. He saved enough to cover his bills for six months. It took him nearly three years to save that amount, but once he achieved his goal, he was more comfortable leaving his job. If you plan to leave your current role to pursue your own business, building an emergency fund is crucial.
  3. He created a plan. With a regular job, you have a routine and assignments dictated by a boss. But when you’re self-employed, you don’t have that structure. To ensure he stayed on track, Alcalde created a detailed plan of where he wanted to be in a year and broke it down into daily tasks. That approach helped him stay focused on meeting his goals.
  4. He just did it. Finally, Alcalde said there’s only so much you can do to prepare. Eventually, you have to take the plunge. Although he questioned himself and started to second-guess his plans, he committed to taking a leap of faith.

Alcalde quit his job in April 2018. Now, he earns a six-figure income from his business and makes more than he did in his old position.

Starting a business

Alcalde started Kegs & Code Co. because of his passion for home-brewing. However, it took a lot of careful planning, hard work, and early mornings to turn it into a full-time business.

Now that he’s accomplished that goal, he’s focused on helping other people achieve their dream of ditching the 9-to-5 to launch a business.

“What’s next for me?” Alcalde said. “I’m going to pay it forward and help other people get started. You’re not alone. That’s the bottom line. Other people are doing what you’re doing too.”

If Alcade’s story inspires you and you want to become an entrepreneur, here’s how to turn your side hustle into a full-time career. Or if you already have a great idea for a product or service, find out how you can get financing for your business with angel investors, low-interest personal loans, business loans, or home equity loans.

A version of this article was previously published on Student Loan Hero.

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