How to Start a Side Hustle And Keep Your Day Job
The best way to become your own boss is to start a side hustle while you still have the safety and security of your day job.
Starting a side hustle not only pads your income, but it also creates career-changing opportunities you wouldn’t have normally stumbled upon at your full-time job. Many side hustles have led to new jobs and lifelong friends.
However, building a side hustle to profitability with a limited amount of time outside of your day job is never easy.
It takes prioritization, a psychological shift in how you view what’s most important in your life, and the willingness to get very creative on a daily basis.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, there are many reasons you should start small with building your side hustle customer-by-customer from the ground up. For one, the prospect of making more money on top of your regular pay is a powerful incentive, especially in a volatile economy.
A long-time hobby can also motivate you to grow a business around things you love.
Aspiring entrepreneurs with a strong drive can look to a side hustle as a stepping stone toward financial freedom. Your side hustle can also allow you to focus on what you’re most passionate about if you don’t get that satisfaction from your full-time work.
If you’re planning to start a side hustle, here are 7 steps that’ll help you get more traction.
1. Prepare for the Long Haul
Before you start a side hustle ask yourself how badly you want to succeed. If you’re just toying with a business idea and entertaining the notion of striking it rich, don’t expect success to happen overnight or that you’ll make it past the finish line.
Remember, your side hustle will begin taking many hours each week away from precious moments you’d otherwise be spending with friends, family and elsewhere. A side hustle also requires a massive amount of effort to succeed, given that the majority of your time each day goes to your full-time job.
2. Identify Your Skills
To experience quick results, you need to back your side hustle with relevant skills, experience or industry knowledge.
Business success happens only when the right skills meet the right interest areas.
3. Validate With One Paying Customer
Your side hustle idea may seem incredibly awesome and disruptive to you, but that’s not necessarily how your potential customers will see it.
The reason you need to validate your side hustle idea with a paying customer before getting too far into the business is to make sure you’re not creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist.
The “lack of market need” is the top cause of startup failures.
So be warned, there’s a good chance you’re nurturing an idea that not enough people will find value in. And if nobody wants your product or service, the resources (time, energy, effort) you invest in building it will just go down the drain.
To prevent this from happening, be sure to validate whether your product or service will gain traction in the real world. You can do that with objective feedback from potential customers and asking them to join a waiting list, pre-purchase your solution or hire you as a service provider. Quickly abandon ideas that aren’t getting a positive response and consider more feasible opportunities.
4. Differentiate Yourself From Competitors
Competition is an inevitable part of doing business. In just about any niche, competitors will try to outperform your product or service, take as many of your customers as they can and look for opportunities to innovate past you.
To prevent this from happening, all you need to do is secure your value propositions with a serious competitive advantage.
Your competitive edge can be anything that differentiates your business from that of your competitors.
This can range from
- smart (or low) pricing,
- aggressive sales tactics,
- higher profit margins,
- unmatched customer service,
- best-in-class features,
- strategic relationships,
and other specific factors that clearly differentiate your brand from the competition.
Your competitive advantage is what makes customers choose you, and continue coming back for more.
5. Define Clear Goals
In order to make your larger goals happen, you need to start with very small, incremental goals. After bringing on one satisfied customer, it’s time to get your second. Then your third, fourth, fifth and so on.
If you begin by aiming for 1,000 customers instead of just one, you’ll get too overwhelmed with everything that needs to be in place before handling that many customers. In my experience, having practical goals that are attainable on a daily, weekly and monthly basis helps you develop positive habits and train yourself for success.
6. Set Milestones That’ll Force You to Launch
A good, viable side hustle idea should be launched, monetized and iterated. Don’t obsess over trying to build the perfect solution when you don’t yet know what exactly your customers will resonate with most.
Otherwise, you’ll just waste precious time, trapped in a dream state. To help you draw up a simple action plan that lays out key milestones and deadlines that’ll guide you from start all the way to launch date stick to your deadlines, tell friends and family about them, hold yourself accountable and don’t allow yourself to make excuses.
Then perform the actions needed to move from one milestone to the next. Never aim for perfection because it will bog you down and prevent you from ever launching anything.
7. Delegate Work Outside of Your Expertise
You can’t be good at everything all the time. The reality of starting a side hustle is that you’re going to have weaknesses. That means some (or even many) of the skills necessary to efficiently running your side hustle must be found elsewhere in order to free up your time to continue doing only what you’re best at within your business.
Outsourcing your weaknesses is a more effective alternative. It’s also more affordable in the long run as the value of your time increases significantly.
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