How To Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Profitable Business
Does anyone else think ‘side hustle’ sounds like a dance you’d do at a wedding? No? Just me? Cool. Hey look! A banana!
If you’re reading this, you most likely have (or are planning to have) a side hustle that you want to want to turn into a full-time business. That’s the dream, right? Running your own business, making sweet moolah doing something you love. I’ll take four.
As with most things (like talking to cute boys or riding unicycles), it’s not as easy as it looks. Here are a few things you should be doing if you plan on turning that side hustle into a full-time gig.
1. Plan, plan, plan
If you just start hacking away at your hobby business and hoping for the best, you probably aren’t going to get very far in a hurry. You need to set goals of how much you need to earn and when in order to quit your full-time job. You don’t have to wait until you’re making precisely the same as your full-time job, but it should be about 70% so you can cover necessary expenses. Then when you free up your time, you can quickly scale to cover that extra 30%.
2. Be prepared to have no spare time for ages
When you have plans to turn your side hustle into a full-time gig, you should have a wee little funeral for your evenings and weekends.
‘We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of leisure time. Lazy weekends having BBQs with friends, chilled out evenings watching bad reality TV, Sunday morning sleep-ins and dinner at the pub with friends. It was fun while it lasted, but you’re dead to me now. Good-bye!’ *dramatic sob into a lace-edged hanky*
I’m not being dramatic here, starting a small business when you have a full-time job is a huge commitment and not one you should enter into if you like having a social life. At least in the beginning, a side hustle takes up a lot of your spare time so be prepared to sacrifice Friday nights at the pub and weekends spent ploughing through Netflix and least for the first few years of business.
3. Get connected
Attend events, flirt with industry giants on social media, cold email people you admire and get your fabulous face in front of the right crowd. Consistency is critical, so don’t drop off the radar for months at a time then all of a sudden come back with a vengeance. Be a lovely, helpful and consistent presence so that when the time comes to ask for favours, you don’t feel like a total jerk who only talks to people when they want something.
4. Give yourself deadlines
Deadlines to get your site up and running, deadlines for product launches, deadlines for sales targets. If you don’t set deadlines, you won’t be able to track your progress, and therefore you won’t be able to improve your sales.
5. Give yourself breaks
I know at the beginning of this article I was all fire and brimstone about never having a spare second to yourself when you run a business but for goodness sake, take some breaks. Get proper sleep, eat well, exercise and take care of yourself. If you go overboard, you’re going to suck at your side hustle AND your full-time job in which case you might get fired, and then all you have is a crappy side hustle you were too exhausted to scale correctly. Sad face.
6. Work smarter, not harder
Work on the things that are working and that means you need to track what you’re doing and where you’re getting results. You obviously need to be using social media platforms like Instagram, but if you’re not getting sales or referrals from Instagram, there’s no point in spending a tremendous amount of time on it. Track what’s working and put more of your effort into those areas and do only the basics in the areas that are underperforming. When you’re full time in your side hustle, you can revisit those underperforming areas but for now, put your precious time into the shit that’s working.
7. Get a sustainable flow of customers BEFORE you quit your day job
It’s quite easy to make a side hustle look like it’s doing well but unless those dollar bills are landing in your bank account, you’re never going to be able to quit your day job. Yes, your product, branding and socials are essential but not as important as sales. Sales are the thing that’s going to get you out of your day job. Put most of your effort into sales and the minimum amount of energy into the other stuff.
8. Prioritise customer feedback
Retention and customer satisfaction should be your top priority. You want customers to be loving your product or service, and you want them to recommend it to more and more people. A lot of side hustles launch in a flurry of excitement, with lots of sales to show for their first few months of business but then they peter out because the product isn’t strong enough or the company doesn’t grow and adapt with their customers needs and wants.
9. Learn to say no
You need to get your priorities straight and right now your main priority should be your side hustle. That means you might want to think twice before you commit to a freelance job, a promotion at your day job or an eight-week holiday trekking around South America. These things all sound great (and they probably are) but they’re only going to distract you from what you want, which is to turn your side hustle into a full-time business. Don’t be distracted, set your goals, keep your eye on the prize.
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