If you ever wondered how to start a side hustle, then this post is for you. I promise that both the very practical folk and those working more intuitively will find this article useful. My aim is to encourage more people to pursue their passion and at the same time practice skills that can expand their horizon and set them up for success. For those not familiar with the term ‘side hustle’, it’s a way to earn money without quitting your full time or part time job. I describe it as a business on the side with the benefit of a steady paycheck. It’s also interesting to observe that most employers ask about side hustles in interviews and those with one are more likely to get the job offer than those without one. So regardless of your motivation, you’ve got nothing to lose by experimenting a little… why not, right?
WHERE TO START?
Having a clear vision on what you’d like to achieve is a good place to start. I try to reverse engineer most of my goals, which is exactly how I work with my clients. It’s not unusual however that on occasion I come across someone who is really keen but they feel stuck for a number of reasons.
Their mindset is somewhat not in the right place and the following excuses might come up (do you recognise yourself in these?):
+ I don’t even know where to start
+ I don’t have the money
+ it seems too hard
+ I don’t have time
+ I am not clear on my idea
+ I’ve got a great idea but don’t know how to turn it into reality
There is this saying that goes: ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ so the absolute number one requirement for a good side hustle start is the will to give it a go. Without that, no help and support will get you where you want to go. I will endeavour to guide you through some of the ‘Lean Start up’ principles today and share some of my trusty resources to help you along the way. And if you feel like you’d like to ask more questions, please get in touch with me – I’d love to hear more about your idea.
Like with anything in life, check in with yourself and feel into where your idea is going. This is where my belief in the intuitive guidance comes in. You can foster this through self-awareness, mindfulness and meditation. So listen to that gut feel in this side hustle building process as it will always serve you well.
1. Define your side hustle idea
I recommend the use of post it notes, markers and colourful stickers to kick this process off. I personally like to brainstorm on my own first in order to gain clarity about my idea. I pick some distinct words that describe my idea, the problem I am trying to solve, the customer I am catering for and the circumstances surrounding the problem. It becomes easier that way to relay the idea to someone else. The ideation process can be quite frustrating but hang in there; the good news is that you don’t have to have all the answers around the ‘how’ just yet.
2. Share the idea with someone
There is something interesting that happens when you share your idea with someone for the first time. You will hear yourself articulating it and therefore it instantly ‘takes shape’ – almost like you finally ‘put it out there’… Your friend could also be the person you are accountable to for making progress on this idea. I would recommend choosing someone who could provide feedback and help you with further brainstorming.
3. Determine the exact problem you are solving
And this is where the fun begins. As someone who loves testing ideas and going through the lean start up process, I know firsthand how important it is to ask the right questions and interview as many people as possible to learn about the facets of the problem you are embarking to solve. Some of the tools that you can use for conducting interviews are:
At the end of these interviews, you should have a pretty good idea what problem you are solving for your customer. Make sure you have a record keeping process for capturing all the juicy insights into your questions. I would also recommend paying attention to the words your interview subjects are using as these could come in handy when formulate your sales page/pitch.
4. Synthesise your findings
After you interviewed people and gathered valuable feedback, it’s time to synthesise your findings and narrow down the shape of the problem worth solving. I guarantee you that after this stage you will have a lot better idea about the approach (or the ‘how’) as further clues and tools will surface as a result of your interviews and market research. This step is a key milestone in the process as it will guide your solution discovery process.
Tools that you could use here are:
+ clustering of similar responses/trends
+ map the actual customer journey
+ rank the paint points
5. Pursue the solution discovery
This phase is the first step into the ‘how’ zone. Your idea will be still shaping as you try figuring out the best way to bring it to life. I recommend reaching for highly visual tools again to help you outline the ins and outs of the solution itself, whether that is the workings of a product or an insight into how you would like to work with people if you are providing a service.
Knowing who your ideal customer is and creating a very specific avatar for them is essential in understanding your target audience. Narrowing down the characteristics of your ideal customer will assist you in the process of finding them for testing and ultimately also in order to sell to them.
There are a number of great business books that you can read that could help you with this process or even better, inspire you to keep going and keep at it. Check out this post on business book recommendations from business women who have successfully built their businesses. Some of my recent reads I recommend are:
The Lean Start Up – by Eric Ries
Side Hustle – by Chris Guillebeau
6. Test your idea
No doubt you would have some family members or close friends who would be more than happy to test your solution, even if it’s just a simple prototype. The key here is to spend as little money as possible or even better, no money at all to produce a working prototype and have it tested by people to validate whether what you have created actually solves the problem you defined earlier. If it does, then move onto producing your minimum viable product, i.e. your simplified, low cost and high impact product or service.
7. Minimum viable product (MVP)
There are 3 distinct steps in this phase: build, measure and learn. Whether what you are creating is a product or a service, using it in market and selling it at the same time will give you a whole lot of insights into the workings of your MVP. Just make sure that you keep a clear track of all the learnings, quality issues and feedback from initial customers so you can incorporate these into optimising the product.
Remember that sometimes MVPs don’t succeed and that’s OK. Your idea might have been great but maybe the execution wasn’t. Don’t give up if this happens to you. Keep going and try again or slightly tweak the initial idea.
If your MVP is a success, it’s time to take the plunge and invest some money into optimising the product based on all the feedback you gathered and incorporate the learnings from selling your MVP. Just keep in mind that the investment into optimisation doesn’t have to be great; this isn’t the stage where you launch with all the bells and whistles. This is the phase where your MVP becomes an actual product and is market fit.
9. Keep doing a great job
Being able to sell your product or service in a consistent way and getting your brand out there for more people to know about is a great way of raising awareness and attracting more clients. Most side hustles and businesses start out with the support of friends and family and they will most likely be happily purchasing from you – so allow that. Keep your eyes and ears open for valuable feedback, hire a mentor or a coach to help you keep on track and start thinking about your next steps.
10. Scale your side hustle
Usually when you start a side hustle, you would be the only resource in the business. When your business takes off, it will come the time where you might have to decide to either spend more time in your business by maybe going part time in your job or leaving your job all together and taking the plunge into your business full time. Now this isn’t necessary and many side hustlers never want to scale their businesses because they intentionally want to remain ‘small’.
But if you are keen to scale your business and open it up to more customers, then bringing support on board might be your next step. Your brand might need to also expand (think: more products in the product range or opening up more spots to provide your service or launch an online course for example) all of which might require a considerable financial investment.
This is where the right tools come in handy as tracking incoming revenue and outgoing costs will become crucial for monitoring the success of your business.
Investing into an accounting software would be something I’d recommend at this stage together with a professional advice of an accountant. Some of my favourite tools are:
These tools are simple, user friendly and very affordable and often times have special offers so be on a look out to secure yourself a good deal. I would recommend signing up to their newsletters so you can be kept up to date.
Do you still think starting a side hustle is daunting? I hope not… I have seen so many amazing individuals overcome their fear, anxiety and overwhelm and now running successful businesses and side hustles. Many of them decided to keep their little ventures small and skipped the scaling step, which is more than doable for most people who are curious enough to pursue their brilliant ideas.
If you are one of those individuals who are keen to start something for themselves in the New Year, I’d like to encourage you to take the plunge. If you feel like you’d like to navigate this journey with the support of a coach or mentor, please get in touch with me.
Have a fabulous day. Until next time.