With the vast growth in the gig economy over the last decade or so, and in particular in recent years, more and more people have decided to boost their income by helping others on the side. Going down this path can not only assist you to have more disposable cash each year, or to reduce your debt, but it also gives many entrepreneurs a taste of life as a self-employed person, and inspiration to pursue it further.
Whether your side business is in carsharing, freelance writing, I.T. consulting, web design, or virtual assistance, it is worth considering whether or not you want to take your current side gig and turn into a full-time career in 2018 or beyond.
If the answer is “yes,” then it’s important to find ways to treat your venture seriously and to carefully transition over from a paid job to your own business. To help you on your way, read on for some key tips you can follow today to make the jump one that lasts.
Research and Planning Are Key
To begin with, make sure you spend plenty of time researching, before you go about trying to turn your hobby into a money-making venture. You need to understand lots of different things, including the industry you would like to join, what gaps in the market there currently are, and who your likely competitors would be (direct and indirect ones), and what they’re offering the market already.
Before you quit your job and rush headlong into your new business, determine who your prime target demographic would be, and if there is actually enough demand for your products or services that you’d be able to make a living. Ask yourself: is the market large enough? You should know how your venture will be different from your competitors, too, and the benefit(s) you will provide or problem(s) you’ll solve for people.
After you’ve completed your research, dedicate time to creating a business plan. You need to have a detailed, step-by-step strategy for how you will turn your side gig into something that works full time. This plan should cover things like your organization’s likely strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; marketing ideas; likely sales and profit projections; sales avenues, and more.
Don’t Try to Go Too Fast
Next, it’s wise to choose a “slowly, slowly” approach to turning your side business into something more. Building a venture takes time, money and energy, and will always require more of each than you ever expected. As such, you don’t want to burn through your resources too quickly, and end up being in a bad position where you can’t pay your debts or have stressed yourself out too much to continue.
To stay on track then, follow your plan so you know which progress steps to concentrate on each week and month. As well, avoid spending stacks of cash on your business in the beginning. While it’s tempting to think that buying a new computer or renting office space will make you feel more like an “official” entrepreneur, these types of things aren’t necessary at the beginning, and can just lead to problems.
Another good way to go at a careful pace is to conduct testing on your business idea to ensure it’s feasible and that there is the level of demand you think. For example, try selling your wares on sites like Etsy, Elance, Fiverr, Gumtree, Craigslist or at local markets, to see what reactions you get. This will help you to test out different price points and potential variations of your products or services too. Once you have feedback, use the data to tweak your offerings, and then do some more testing. It’s also helpful to try out a few affordable marketing avenues too, like social media posts and ads, to start to build your following and a potential base of customers.
Lastly, if you really want your new business idea to be a success, understand, from the beginning, that being an entrepreneur takes a huge amount of commitment. Since you’ll probably still be working in your day-to-day job for a while and then pursuing your side gig at nights, in the early mornings, on days off and vacations etc., you must be prepared to give up some of your down time, and likely some sleeping hours too! However, while you’ll need to make sacrifices now, remember that this is all leading somewhere, and that eventually you’ll be able to see the fruits of your labor, and know that it was all worth it.