You’ve long dreamt of turning your passions into a career but the details on making that happen have always been a little fuzzy. Cue your brand new side hustle. The term has been thrown around a lot in today’s world, but what exactly does that mean and how can it help you turn your dream life into your real life? A side hustle is a hobby or interest turned part-time business with goals of getting your feet wet in, while also maintaining another job. For many, starting a side hustle will be just what they need to fill their passions, but for others, it may be looked at as a stepping stone at creating a full-time career. If you’re in the latter group, this post is for you. As someone who has been down this path before, something I get asked a lot is, “how do you turn your side hustle into your main hustle?” So today I'm talking about just that!
Set a Schedule
When you decide to start a side hustle, time management will be key to your success. When a solid 8-10 hours (give or take for your commute) has already been accounted for, planning your tasks for each day will become increasingly important. As you start out, sit down and take a good look at the amount of time you have available and what you can realistically dedicate to your new project. There may be 24 hours in a day, but you need to make sure to allow for adequate rest, your family and friends, and other obligations. While we all like to think we’re superman and woman, the truth is, you want your side hustle to be sustainable so that you don’t burn out after the first few months. You know that phrase this is a marathon, not a sprint? Totally applies to building a side hustle. Building a business is A LOT of work that will take some sacrifice, but you shouldn’t have to give up your whole life. Think about the big picture when you’re creating a schedule.
Something else that I think is important to mention is making sure none of the time you have accounted for your business overlaps with the time at your full-time job. When you are starting your own business while employed somewhere else, make sure you aren’t violating any employment agreements you’ve signed. If you can be open with your superiors about what you’re doing that’s great, but that’s certainly not always an option. Take the time to review your contracts and make sure you are giving 100% of your attention to your commitments to avoid any sticky situations later.
Maximize Your Off-Time
Now that you’ve identified the amount of time you can dedicate to your side hustle, it’s time to maximize your time. While it’s not always necessary to build a full business plan, I do suggest setting goals and actionable steps to reach them (both short and long-term). Then, each week try and break those goals into smaller items so that you have a clear focus on what you would like to accomplish.
Something really great about managing a side hustle while you still have a full-time job is it gives you more wiggle room to sort out some key processes without the full risk. This means nailing down your:
- Branding, website and social media channels
- Taking care of business licenses/accounting needs
- Business goals and education
- Product and service development
- Pricing and business systems
- Building your community
While you may want to run off to the races, now is the perfect time to really nail down your vision and the logistics while there’s a little less pressure. This will help build a strong foundation from the start and help you down the road.
Make Use of Networking Opportunities
One of the most beneficial things you can do while building your side hustle is learning and connecting with others. Do some research to find like-minded individuals and read their blogs, watch webinars, and introduce yourself — whether that’s in-person or through social media. Not only will the community you grow be a support system and sounding board for your journey, but it may also be a place where you’ll connect with future clients and customers. Just like friendships, a lot of relationships take time to develop so now is the perfect time to focus on this aspect. Here are some of my favorite places to meet others:
- Instagram Networking: I can’t tell you how many business owners I’ve connected with just from finding them on Instagram. Consider searching hashtags to find accounts you’d be interested in connecting with and engage with their posts. Maybe you’ll also follow their blog or other social media channels as well.
- Facebook Groups: There are so many great Facebook Groups for almost every interest and a ton for entrepreneurs and small business owners (including ours, the #BoldBossTribe!). Do a little research on some popular ones and join. You can start by watching the dialogue taking place and pop in on conversations when you have something valuable to say or have a question. Because these groups are interest based, they become a well of knowledge and potential for networking.
- Twitter Chats: If Twitter is more your jam, consider looking for Twitter chats related to your industry. These can be a great place to meet others because it’s usually a smaller group than those you may connect on other channels, making it a little easier to connect directly.
Save Up Those Dollar Bills
While it may seem like the world is full of overnight successes, the truth is you can’t always bank on that. You might not double or triple your corporate salary in 3 months or make 10k months right off the bat. Truth bomb, we certainly didn't! Building a successful business takes HARD work and it doesn’t stop once you become full-time. If you have the opportunity to plan for your transition, do! While you have a steady income source, now is the time to build up your savings. If you are able, cut back on some of your extra expenses and stash it in the bank instead.
While it’s not the most glamourous side of building a business, money can be a big stress factor. Great when you have it and stressful as heck when you’re in a bind. Relieve some of that pressure if you can by saving up before going full-time. It may sound like a lot (and many do it with much less) but personally, I recommend having at least 6 months of living expenses saved before taking the jump. Something a lot of people don’t talk about is how inconsistent your income may be at the beginning. You may crush it one month, but the next month may be slow, or maybe a project doubles its original timeline. Not having a paycheck every week or few weeks is certainly an adjustment so having some savings as a cushion will make the process much easier.
Plan for Your Jump
So you’ve worked your butt off and you’re starting to make progress in your side hustle. Now what? When do you know it’s the right time to put in notice at your job and go full-time? The golden ticket question! To be completely honest, that’s a tricky one. My advice comes in two pieces 1.) when you have a solid amount of savings that gives you flexibility to give your business your full attention and 2.) when you hit the point of max capacity where you can no longer take on additional projects/sales without the quality of your work suffering. You will get to a point where you will max out on the time you can work on your business while working a 9-5 (and keep your sanity). By which you’ll need to evaluate if you will be able to make a living if you had more time to invest in your business, or if you need to adjust your model to do so.
Setting milestones, whether those are income or separate goals, will help you know when you might be ready to make the jump. Will that mean you’ll be 100% ready when you hit those goals or milestones? No one is ever completely ready for a big change, but all that you have accomplished will make it a much smoother transition. Sometimes life will have other plans and will push you along your path a little faster than expected too -- like our story! The key is all about planning for what you can and trusting your instincts when you have to.
Everyone’s path will be a little different, but it’s important to remember how every step forward you make now in your side hustle, will save you time and lessons learned later in your business journey. The key to taking your side hustle to a full-time business is truly passion. Give it your all, learn, make mistakes, and most important — don’t give up! Juggling multiple jobs and making sacrifices may feel tough in the short-term, but if you give it your all and learn as you go you too can live your dream life.