Turning a part-time passion into a full-time paying career is no easy feat, especially if you are responsible for keeping the lights on through a regular 9-to-5. But maintaining your balance does not have to result in around-the-clock burnout.
Make the start-up life a little easier on your grind by scaling back in certain areas of the gig economy business that can be outsourced or even automated. This will free up your limited time, energy, and other possible resources to focus on reaching your future entrepreneurial goals and aspirations.
Based on their personal experiences and objectives, experts from Fast Company Executive Board are here to discuss some practical guidelines for turning your side hustle into a thriving and independent hit.
1. PERSONAL WEALTH GROWTH
Your side hustle can quickly become a full-time business if your side income equates to, or surpasses, your full-time paycheck. I started my business as a marketing freelancer and within six months, I saw that I was making double what my employer was paying me and I was working half as many hours! At that point, it was clear that I should quit my 9-to-5 and freelance full-time. – Sharon Thony, SLT Consulting
2. PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITIES
When your side hustle swings the other way on the pendulum, it’s time to leave your job because at that point it needs all of your attention. In addition, if your hustle is solving a problem that’s truly needed then you may have to leave your day job earlier than the pendulum can swing in your direction. There’s never an easy time to jump off the bridge. That’s the scariest part (jumping) because you can’t return. – Maurice Kelly, Windpact Inc.
3. INCREMENTAL STEPS
It may take you nine months to decide if you even want to pursue your side hustle. Then it may take another five months to craft your business model, and all while you work your full-time job. You may decide to quit your job, and then immediately take another job, even though the intention is to launch your own business. These are all key steps in the process. – Robert Brill, Brill Media
4. NEW POSSIBILITIES
Sometimes your side hustle is just the first step in your next big venture. That’s exactly what happened to me some 15 years ago. When I began working as a student web designer, I soon realized that my customers wanted more than that. They also needed someone to get that website in front of the right people. So I became that person, and today, we run two successful marketing businesses. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
5. SOLID ANCHOR CUSTOMERS
Understanding the market that you’re going to serve, and how to sell to the people in it, is key. B2C businesses are entirely different from B2B. If you want to launch a B2B business, always find an anchor customer who is willing to pay before you leap. It will make your life much easier. – Christopher Aliotta, Quantalytix, Inc.
6. OVERHEAD COSTS
Take a look at your personal and professional overhead and what those numbers look like. Then come up with a round number that takes into consideration the rent, utilities, materials, food, and incidentals. Once your side-hustle is paying for your way of life, then that is an indicator that you can make the move with reduced risk. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency
7. EXPERIMENTAL PLAY
When you get into the mindset that your side hustle is not something you need to survive on, then you open yourself up to being willing to take more chances and explore possibilities. The ability to experiment and play allows you to build confidence, connections, and understanding. This will prepare you to take the leap and go full-time with your side hustle. – Tony Martignetti, Inspired Purpose Coaching
8. TARGET AUDIENCE COMMUNICATION
Go talk directly to the audience that would be your customer. Next, gather their pain points and make sure to solve them with your product or service. You can also start by providing the product or service for free (for a limited time) so they become your best advocates. Begin by testing different pricing strategies for the next round of customers, and if those customers bite then it’s time to make the leap! Kevin Shtofman, NavigatorCRE
9. OPEN MINDSET
Stop thinking about it as a “side hustle.” Period. Otherwise, it’ll always be your “side hustle,” and the modern markets require dedication and focus. Devote only the minimum required energy to keep your day job and divert everything else into your new business. It’s the only way to succeed and emerge as a winner on the other side. – Andrei Kasyanau, Glorium Technologies
10. MONTHLY INCOME STABILITY
Before leaving a stable job, think about your desired monthly income, and work on your side hustle to achieve that income target over time. Initially, it might require you to put in extra hours initially, but it will also help you to figure out if your side hustle is sustainable and can support you in the absence of a stable income. This will give you more confidence to work harder on your side hustle. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Agency, Inc
11. FINANCIAL RESOURCE MAGNET
In a B2B world, your side hustle will only take off once you’ve fully calibrated your mindset toward making money by making other people money. In my case, my side hustle didn’t become a full-time gig until brands experienced firsthand how our bespoke designs could grow their bottom line. That’s the kind of outcome that earns the trust of a client and opens a flood gate of opportunities. – Beau Oyler, Enlisted Design
12. AUTOMATED SALES PLATFORMS
When you’re working a full-time day job and trying to balance a growing side-hustle, investment into a sales-generation platform that is mostly automated is essential. It’s a way of operationalizing the intention of growing your thriving gig into a competitive small business, without the significant time investment that is typically involved. For example, seven years ago I launched a venue and operationalized sales by enrolling in Peerspace (I was willing to share revenues with the platform), advertising in local media, and entering our venue for awards to generate awareness. Automation is key for business owners just starting out. – Michelle Hayward, Bluedog
13. REVENUE FOCUS-DRIVEN
As someone who typically has several side hustles at any given time, the best approach to succeeding with a side hustle is to focus 100% on sales. Revenue covers a multitude of sins in any business, but if you’re looking to transition your side hustle into a full-time gig, you’ll need to find ways to increase side hustle sales revenues to make jumping ship worth your time. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC
14. A/B LOCAL TESTING
Start out small and test your product in your own local community. Experiment with different messaging strategies and listen to your customers’ feedback. This will provide invaluable insight into the potential demand for your product and how to effectively market it to consumers when you are trying to scale your business. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing