The best way to eventually become your own boss is to start a side hustle and build your self-employed income, while you still have the safety and security of your day job.
Starting a side hustle not only helps with your cashflow, but it also creates career-changing opportunities you wouldn’t have normally stumbled upon while at your full-time job. Many side hustles have led to new jobs, surprisingly useful relationships, 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 ruthless prioritization, a psychological shift in how you view what’s most important in your life and the willingness to get very creative and scrappy on a daily basis.
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. It can give you the flexibility (and extra savings) to travel the world, care for the environment, or pursue causes in a more meaningful way.
If you’re planning to start a side hustle, here are 5 steps that’ll help you get more traction, while you keep your day job and only source of dependable income.
#1. Prepare for the future
Before you start a side hustle (or any business for that matter), you need to 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 great effort to succeed, given that the majority of your time each day goes to your full-time job.
Make a serious self-assessment about whether or not this is something you’re willing to make sacrifices for in order to achieve. If you are willing to sacrifice, develop a system of positive triggers and routines to help support your self-discipline and exert all your extra effort to grow your side hustle, then you have a good foundation to build a successful business.
#2. Determine your skills
In order to experience quick results, you must back your side hustle with relevant skills, experience, or industry knowledge. After all, business success happens only when the right skills meet the right interest areas.
For example, many musicians monetize their skills by offering online guitar, violin, or piano lessons. On the other hand, some creatives also have profitable freelance side hustles as graphic artists or digital storytellers. If you lack key skills that relate to your interests or the side hustle you want to create, there’s no better time than the present to learn them.
#3. Validate your side hustle with one paying customer
The real 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. 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. Outsourcing work outside of your expertise
You want to start a side hustle based on your strengths, but 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.
For example, you might be good at accounting and management, but your graphic design skills will easily turn off your audience instead of getting them glued to your message. To fix this, do the things you are good at and work to outsource everything else.
Outsourcing your weaknesses is a more effective and easily implemented alternative. It’s also more affordable in the long run as the value of your time increases significantly.
#5. Ask for real customer feedback
Without feedback from your earliest customers, you’ll expose your side hustle to the serious risk of failure. You may be planning to build a product that doesn’t do the best possible job of solving your customer’s problems. Without objective, external feedback, you’ll likely execute the plan, invest considerable time, money, and effort in the process, only to lose all those valuable resources in the end. Make a habit of internalizing sometimes harsh feedback and you’ll force yourself to continually improve your solution as you progress.
Never leave your day job until your side hustle is providing you with a sustainable, growing cash flow that exceeds or reaches to at least 75% of what your day job pays you. Most entrepreneurs have a healthy appetite for risk, but you shouldn’t plunge into anything without having a decent chance of success.
Moreover, have at least six months worth of savings for both personal and business purposes to support yourself in the likely event that your business doesn’t grow as quickly as expected. Remember that having excited customers and translating them into revenue in the early stages of your side hustle is your clearest indicator of future success.
How do you prep yourself before starting a side hustle job? Share with us in the comments section below.