Do you ever have days at work where you feel like you’re constantly watching the clock, counting down the hours until it’s home time? Do you feel like you’ve lost your motivation in your current job? Perhaps you’ve always dreamt of being your own boss instead? Whatever your reasons are for feeling like you need a change of career, if you’re prepared to work hard to make your dreams a reality, then becoming an entrepreneur could be the answer you’re looking for.
One recommended way to start a business on the down-low: start with a side hustle. While you need to have dedication and a strong work ethic to make your side-hustle happen, there are plenty of options out there which can make taking the plunge a bit easier. Starting with a side hustle is a great way to help conquer those initial entrepreneurship fears, and slowly build up your commercial acumen and marketing skills. If you want to become an entrepreneur and hustle on the side of your day job before jumping straight in, here are our 10 tips to help make it happen.
1. Make sure your day job doesn’t suffer
When you are starting out, it’s really important that you get the balance right – don’t let your side hustle adversely affect your day job. This means keeping the two separate, and making sure that you don’t work on your side hustle during the day. You don’t want to your boss to notice a lack of productivity, and potentially risk getting fired, especially when you are relying on your income to get your side hustle off the ground.
2. Find something that you enjoy doing
What is your passion? Do you have a hobby or skill that you’d eventually like to turn into a full time job? It’s a lot easier to put in the side hustle hours when you’re doing something that you enjoy doing.
For example, if you love writing then you could start a blog about your hobby or interest, which you could then look to monetize once it’s taken off. Or, you could share your love for travel, photography, food… Just make sure that what you end up doing is far cry from other ‘generic’ blogs and businesses out there. Focus on unearthing unique stories and angles, not parroting what someone else has already done.
3. Be prepared to make a couple of sacrifices
Having a successful side hustle means putting in the hours. You’ll be making the odd sacrifice such as working on evenings and weekends, missing out on social events, and cutting back on spending.
Side hustling can be expensive from a time and tools perspective, and you may not have savings or financial support to help you launch. Be ready to sacrifice a few non-essentials during your side hustle quest, but don’t burn yourself out either.
4. Look out for shortcuts
Did you know that to start a side hustle, you don’t always have to come up with your own idea or start a business from scratch? For example, you could look to buy a website or ready-made ecommerce business instead of creating one yourself.
Going to big website marketplaces can be intimidating: after all, some of these sites sell for millions. To find an affordable ecommerce business for sale, check out these websites — and don’t forget to also scour social media chats for potential sites and blogs for sale.
Buying a website is a great shortcut to being an entrepreneur as all of the legwork of setting up the business or website is done for you. All you have to do is pick up where the previous owner left off from, making sales from day one.
5. Use social media to your advantage
It’s so important for you to use the free power of social media when starting your own side hustle. Make sure you create profiles on the most popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help grow your audience and build a following. You might also want to try out more niche sites like Behance and platforms like Snapchat — anything goes, as long as your audience is there.
The key to social media side hustle success:
- Strategic scheduling (you might want to try out Buffer)
- Focus in on a few platforms at a time
- Beat the algorithm and get in front of people
- Advertise on social, but only to an accurately segmented audience.
6. Be prepared for life to get in the way
Don’t be too hard on yourself if life gets in the way and your side hustle has to take a backseat. You shouldn’t beat yourself up if you have to stop work as a result of illness or childcare — these challenges are a natural part of entrepreneurship and will help you become more resilient.
Accept that sometimes things do come up, but that obstacles are there to be overcome. And remind yourself that you will get back on it when things have settled down. There is no use working through a difficult period when you are distracted: down your tools, have a rest, and come back to it later.
7. Use your network
Use the contacts you have made through your working life, as well as your family and friends, to help your side hustle business take off.
Get back in touch with people that could help you with crucial tasks, but also be mindful about calling in too many favors. The best way to leverage your network is to inform, engage, and give back. Don’t just pop up on people’s timelines selling them stuff — really take the time to engage with these people: they are your future customers.
8. Look at what your competitors are doing
When starting your side hustle, take time to spy on what your competitors are doing – then go one step better. Have they published some great content? Why not make yours even more insightful and engaging? Are they partnering with other brands and influencers? Can you do the same? Learn how to strategically do ‘one better’ than your competitors in the areas where you are strongest.
Remember, you can’t beat everyone at everything! So, choose your battles wisely.
9. Build a sustainable cash flow before you jump ship
It’s so important to build up enough income before you jump ship and go it alone. Starting a new business with a cash flow deficit is dangerous — you need to ensure that you aren’t jeopardizing your dream by trying to go full-time too quickly.
Look into funding sources like venture capital, crowdfunding, loans, grants, and partnerships. All these are within your reach if you work hard enough to make a good business case.
10. Remember why you’re doing it
When times are tough and you are working long hours and getting little sleep, take the time to remind yourself why you started your side hustle. This means focusing on things like the benefits of being your own boss, having a better work-life balance, following your passion, and having more time to develop and grow as a person.
As Tony Delmercado (owner of a tax website that started as a side hustle) says: “Every time I get pulled away from my little business, I lose touch with what originally inspired me to start it. So, I ask myself, “What made me start this thing?” Be like me: Regularly revisit the reason why you decided to follow your passion by tackling that challenge. If your startup doesn’t still set your soul on fire, get out.”
Are you an entrepreneur who started off by side-hustling? What tips were most valuable to you in your early days? When did you decide to take the plunge and focus on your business full-time? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so share your story.