Bored with the 9 to 5? Perhaps you fancy being your own boss and following your dream; then maybe you are one of the more than 44 million Americans who have a side hustle, a way to make money on the side while still remaining in full time employment. A side hustle is great, it can earn you some extra cash, but what if you want to develop it into your real job? Is it possible to hustle your full time employment aside and create a role doing something you truly love? Here are ten tips to help you give up the day job and start being your own boss.
1. It starts with an idea, and then a plan…
You may have a great idea, perhaps you are crafting, blogging or teaching and it may well be making you a bit of money, however, before you give up a regular paycheck you need to start working out some numbers.
You need to know how much you need to earn to survive, create a spreadsheet and list all of your household expenses. Ensure that you cover everything. This is a task that is no doubt best done by going through your bank statement.
Start with the major expenses, mortgage or rent, utilities and food but don’t forget to put extra aside for home and car maintenance and the like. If you are giving up full time employment ensure you include the extras your employer is currently paying for including your pension scheme and healthcare.
You will come up with a number, it may well be a big and scary number, however this is what you need to know that you can survive. You need to look at creating a business plan for your side hustle in order that can decide if you will ever earn enough and if so how.
2. Step 2 is more planning…
You need to create a business plan for your new concept. This needs to look at every aspect of your business from how you will fund raw materials and premises through to how much you hope to earn each month during your first year and beyond.
It pays to be realistic, ensure that you look at how much you are likely to sell, bearing in mind that you will need to build your customer base. It is unlikely that you can suddenly start with a massive audience, however if you have been working with your business as a side hustle, you should be able to have a good idea as to what is possible.
Set yourself milestones in terms of sales and income in order that you can ensure that your business is succeeding.
3. Can you afford to do this?
A good question early on is, ‘can I afford to do this?’ You need to realize that it is unlikely your new business will generate an instant income to rival your previous employment. You will also need money to build a website, advertise, and get any stock or raw materials.
In a perfect world, you should look to have at least three months of your living expenses put aside to allow you the time to start your business and cover your living costs while you get up to speed. This is where a side hustle is perfect as it can allow you to build up the contingency funds you need.
Going forward, you should look to put aside some additional funds regularly so that you can cover any issues which may crop up.
4. Me, Myself and I
If your business is totally dependent on you, what can you do if there is a problem? What if you were to become ill or unable to work for some time? You can purchase insurance to cover periods of illness, however it is a risk of working for yourself that if you are not able to work you have no means to earn.
Speak with a financial planning expert who can help you ensure you have the right support in place. It is better to think of this worst case scenario up front and hope it never happens.
5. Create a Company
You can trade as a sole proprietor, this requires minimal paperwork and there are minimal legal restrictions, however there are downsides. Filing to become an organization, like an LLC, reduces the personal risk if your company fails or is sued for some reason. If you are a sole proprietor, you can put your own assets like your home, at risk.
Also, you may find that some organizations will not trade with sole proprietors. You may struggle to get trade credit or a business loan as lenders would rather trade with a corporation.
6. Get Online…
You need to have an online presence. This may seem the most obvious statement in the world, yet a recent report showed almost half the small businesses in the US do not have a website.
The first place your customers will look to find out about you and your services or to find you as a business is online. If you are not represented, you are switching yourself off to a massive potential audience.
Ensure you create even a simple website, ensure you have a social media presence.
7. Use your online presence!
Okay, so you are now online, you are doing better than 56% of small businesses, but are you really working that shiny new website and social media account to their best advantage?
Long gone are the days when you could put up a static website and expect it to deliver, you need to utilize your online space. Create blogs about what you do, post regular, informative posts on Twitter or Facebook.
The more you do, the more you will be considered a subject expert in the search engines and this will help you to improve your rankings and therefore allow more people to find you and use your services.
You don’t have to spend your whole life online, but set aside time each week to create blog and social media posts. If you are techno savvy, create them and schedule them to publish in the future so that the couple of hours a week you spend writing creates a regular feed of content throughout the week.
8. Be Strong
Be strong… There will be times when it will look bad and as if this was the worst thing you ever did. Be assured, we all have days like this. Days when you get no calls or emails, days when you lose a key client…
Days like these are the times when you need to remember why you did this, knuckle down and look for new opportunities. Can you send an email to your existing clients looking for new work, can you advertise for some new clients, perhaps using Facebook as a cost effective way.
You need to pause, breath and get over it. Know that you will have good and bad days (this is the life of the freelancer) and get ready for the next great day!
9. Find a Mentor
Is there someone who could help you? Look for someone who you trust and works in a similar industry. If you don’t know of anyone suitable, look for trade bodies, local groups or on LinkedIn to see if there are people who could help you.
There are people out there who can give you some advice and support, particularly when you are starting out. Just remember one thing, when you are successful, make sure you ‘pay it forward’ and look to help someone else who has been in your position!
10. Have fun!
It is all too easy to forget why you gave up your job to follow your passion. There will be times when the paperwork or just the hard work will seem too much, however always remember — this is all for you!
You are the boss, your name is over the door and you will get to reap the rewards of your efforts; in the end it is truly worth all the efforts!
About the Uuthor
Wilf Voss spent over twenty years working as a marketing and event manager for a variety of major brands. After time working at the London 2012 Olympics and a stint in retail management, he decided to ‘give up the day job’ and now owns his own seaside ice cream parlor.