5 Steps to Turn a Side Hustle into a Full-Time Business

Do you have a side hustle that you dream of turning into a full-time business? Here are some steps that will help you take the plunge successfully.

As I shared in a previous blog, the 9-5 workday is essentially obsolete.  While the 9-5 workday was originally conceived around the needs of the American manufacturing worker, times have changed. Today more than one-in-three people in the American labor force (35%) are Millennials and according to a recent Bankrate report, more than 50% of Millennials have a side hustle. Millennials are more likely than members of other generations to have a side hustle because they realize that there really is no thing as job security.  Many Millennials use their side hustles to reduce debt, retire early, make some extra money or just feed their passion.  Others just like to make sure they have a “plan B”.  Take Emmy-award winning filmmaker Slavik Boyechko.  When he was at the top of his PBS filmmaking career, he decided to create Video Dads and Gear Dads as a side hustle “insurance policy”.  Then when his employer started laying people off, his side hustle gradually turned into his main gig.

Do you have a side hustle that you dream of turning into a full-time business? Understandably, this can be a frightening proposition—to leave behind the security of a steady paycheck for the unknown.  Maybe you’ve been running your side business for a while now and you’re thinking, ok its time, but how do I take that leap? Here are some steps that will help you take the plunge successfully.

Test and learn

Before you take the leap, use your side hustle to test and learn as much as you can.  Make sure you understand your target audience, value proposition and key differentiators.  Research the competition and put together your marketing strategy.  While you are still receiving a salary, you can experiment with new things and take some additional risks. Try everything so you can see what works and what doesn’t. Skot Carruth used his day job as a way to fund his side hustle, creating Philosophie, a design innovation company. Eight years after starting his side hustle, the company has 40 employees and generates close to 8-figures in revenue. Carruth says,” I’ve always been an advocate of testing the waters, validating the business model, and building traction while you still have the safety net of employment. It forces you to spend your time wisely and removes the financial stress that may cause you to make bad decisions.”

Put processes in place

In order to run a successful business and scale, you need to put processes in place, so your business can run efficiently.  This could mean finding specific software, tools, or even a virtual assistant.  You want to always think ahead and plan at some point to have a team of people supporting you.  If and when that is the case, you’re going to want to have the right tools and processes in place so that you can slowly start delegating to your team.

Plan ahead financially

Creating a viable full-time business takes a while and you will need some time until you can support yourself financially.  Chances are your income stream will be volatile for a while as you make the transition.  For most people, an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of living expenses is adequate but you may want to target a year’s worth of savings before leaving behind your 9-5 gig. In addition to living expenses, don’t forget to set aside a separate budget for other things you’re going to need for your business like specialized tools, paid advertising, and other services you may need to outsource like accounting or website maintenance. Find smart people that are strong in areas that you might be weak.  Remember, you can’t build a business in a vacuum, you’re going to need outside help. One rule of thumb is do what you love and outsource what you don’t.

Give yourself a deadline

If you’ve been stuck in limbo for a while, wanting to take that leap but unable to, you probably haven’t given yourself a deadline.  Deadlines are critical because they help to hold you accountable.  Unfortunately, human beings tend to be more accountable to others than themselves.  If this is the case and you have trouble sticking to deadlines, consider getting a mentor or coach to see you through this phase.  As someone who has worked with several coaches myself, it can be a big help. Remember a goal without a deadline is just a dream.

Don’t wait for the perfect moment

Deciding to start a business is like deciding to have a baby.  THERE JUST IS NO PERFECT TIME. Many people use “waiting for the right time” as a procrastination tactic.  The most important thing is to plan well and then take action.  You can have the best laid plans in the world, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t execute them.

Taking the leap to entrepreneurship can be scary.  Don’t be afraid to fail.  Take careful consistent steps and know that success won’t happen overnight.

Just embrace your passion, trust your instincts and great things will happen! 

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