‘Don’t quit your day job.’ It’s a phrase that may be going out of style, especially in the era of the serious side hustle.
True, most people keep their part-time gigs firmly in second place to their main occupations. But some budding entrepreneurs decide to go full throttle with their side jobs. According to a 2022 Insuranks survey, 93% of working Americans have side hustles. Nearly half say they’d be happy if they could turn them into full-time careers that paid the bills.
While not every hobby lends itself to becoming a business, plenty of hustles have the legs to go the distance. So you don’t need to apologize if you’re thinking about turning yours from a pastime to a profession. You just need to keep some tips in mind to make sure you’re on a path to potential success.
1. Launch a business that solves an unmet problem.
Let’s say your side hustle blossomed out of you solving others’ problems. That’s a solid starting point. Meeting unmet needs allows your company to fill gaps that haven’t been identified by competitors.
This is how CitizenShipper came into being. Founder Richard Obousy realized he had extra space in his vehicle. Rather than ride around with an empty trunk, he began to offer to transport items for people. As he began to earn money, he considered ways to turn his side gig into something bigger. Within a decade, CitizenShipper had emerged, connecting drivers and customers who needed transportation for puppies, motorcycles, and everything in between.
Take time to prove that your solution meets an actual problem. Look for early adopters willing to be your first customers. Then listen to them. Their feedback will be invaluable in showing potential investors, partners, and other customers your startup’s worth.
2. Ensure that your part-time passion will translate to full-time.
Before you send off your resignation letter, ask yourself some serious questions. One of the first should be: “Will I love doing this side gig when it’s no longer a part-time experience?” Be honest with yourself. For example, it might be calming to make Etsy crocheted beanies for a few hours a weekend. However, you could quickly become overwhelmed and overworked if you were stuck fulfilling orders 50+ hours weekly.
This isn’t meant to scare you, of course. Treat it as a reality check. Side hustles might not be fun on a full-time basis. On the other hand, your hustle could be the most exciting thing you ever do for your career. When interviewed by NPR, Juby George, the owner of a catering business, is ecstatic about his “jump” from him. As he explains, he had thought about being a caterer like his father for a long time. Consequently, he was n’t totally out of his element of it or concerned he might not be comfortable losing a steady paycheck.
Though not every day will be rosy, you should feel certain that you won’t regret your choice. Therefore, do the soul-searching you need before taking the plunge. You deserve to feel great about moving your side gig to the next level.
3. Differentiate your startup from the competition.
Knowing your competition is critical when starting any business. In fact, it’s something that brings down around one-fifth of startups. Don’t just assume that you know who your competitors are or what makes them unique. Do a lot of digging until you could write the book on your competition. Then figure out what makes your company different.
Remember that being different doesn’t have to mean you’re a complete 180 degrees from your competition. Maybe your pricing is higher but your product quality is better. Perhaps you’ve found a way to personalize your customer service and support. Whatever your differentiating element is, make plans to hype it to your advantage.
The last thing you want is for your hustle-turned-startup to be seen as a copycat company. Create content that drives home what makes your organization special. Be sure to use all the communication vehicles at your disposal to talk up your corporation’s individuality. This includes social media, of course, as well as your owned media like a website or YouTube channel.
4. Map out a business plan.
You don’t need tons of business expertise to create a game plan for your startup dreams. However, you do need to spend time constructing a roadmap. A business plan offers so many benefits and lowers your likelihood of making preventable errors.
One advantage to having a well-thought business plan is that it can help you snag inventors or loans. It also can be useful to share with any partners, employees, or board members you bring onto your team. You may find yourself referring to it frequently as well to remind you of your startup’s mission and purpose.
Be sure that you revisit your business plan at least once a year. Business plans shouldn’t be set in stone. If your company continues to grow, you can expect to need the guidance of a new plan. That’s healthy and shows you’re doing the entrepreneur thing right!
Moving from the ‘gig time’ to the ‘big time’ isn’t right for every person with a side job. With that being said, you shouldn’t ignore the nagging feeling that your next career might be as close as your hobby. If you feel the time might be right, look into becoming a founder. Who knows? Your hustle might take you to places you never imagined. And that means you can quit your day job after all.