So you want to start a side business or side hustle and keep your day job? Good for you!
Several years ago I started a side business while working my 9-5 job and it changed my life. It led to me being debt-free and getting an opportunity to help others grow their businesses.
There’s no better way to become financially free other than starting a side business while keeping your day job (at least in my opinion).
I think the main reason people start a side hustle is that apart from growing yearly income, a side hustle can also provide a range of career-transforming opportunities (my side hustle led to me being debt-free). In comparison, if one plans to stick with the day job alone, he/she remains somewhat bound for life. In other words, a day job alone will not offer you the flexibility of growing in multiple areas. At the same time, a side business may also open doors to new and beneficial relationships, and professional linkages.
Ultimately, having multiple income streams offers a great level of financial security. However, do note that setting up a side hustle is not as easy as it sounds. A number of constraints such as limited time outside of the day job and a lack of investment prevent a side business from growing to the point of profitability.
Hence, a building a side business takes a ruthless amount of prioritization, sleepless nights, and extra hours later in the day. In other words, a complete psychological shift is required in the way one prioritizes the things in life.
Why should you start a side hustle?
A side business can be seen as a stepping stone to complete financial freedom. A side business may provide you the opportunity to excel in the areas that you are most passionate about. After all, it’s unlikely that your day job will bring you the level of satisfaction that you have always desired.
For most people, a day job is nothing other than a secure source of income that provides little to no personal satisfaction.
According to a survey, more than about 331,941 professional workers in the United States pursue freelancing outside of their day job.
And, more and more are launching their side businesses revolving around consulting, freelancing, and other internet services. Hence, it’s high time for you to get on board!
Starting a side hustle while working your day job.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs will tell you that they aim to set-up a business that could ultimately generate six-figures in profit. The truth, however, is that most businesses (8 out of 10) fail and I’m sure the numbers are the same or worse for side businesses.
There is a range of different reasons that contribute to the failure of a business. It is very common for first-time entrepreneurs to start without having zero knowledge of how businesses work.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs simply do not know how and where to start.
In case you are an aspiring entrepreneur who is planning to set-up a side business outside of your day job, these 10 tips will help you get started:
1. Prepare for the long-term
According to Tony Robbins, business is 80% psychology and only 20% mechanics. His words suggest that even if you have an amazing service or product, your business will not go very far if you lack the determination and genuine interest in solving the problems of your customers.
So before you begin a side hustle along with a day job, you need to figure out how bad you want to become successful. If all you do is to toy around with your business idea, you are not likely to succeed. This is primarily because success is not something that comes overnight. Prepare yourself for some struggle, and know the growth of a side hustle is a slow and gradual process.
Also, remember that in order to grow yourself, you will have to dedicate a number of hours to your side business on a daily basis. This simply means that you will be cutting off a significant amount of time from the precious moments that you would otherwise spend with your friends and family. At the same time, you will be required to show some herculean effort outside of your day job (which takes most of your time already).
So before starting out, assess yourself and figure out if you are willing to make great sacrifices of time and energy in order to achieve something big. In case you are willing to do so, consider developing a system of routines and positive triggers that could support your growth and bring you the motivation that you require to keep moving. This is the foundation of developing the right psychological mindset for success.
2. Identify your areas of interest and key skills
It is not wise to enter into a battle without being fully equipped with all the weapons that you need to fight. In the case of a side hustle, your battle would be against your competitors, and your end goal would be to become top of the line.
Unless you are already equipped with the skills necessary to succeed, you will not experience any significant results. Hence, your side business must be backed with great industry knowledge, some experience, and a relevant skillset.
After all, success in businesses happens only when the preferred skills meet the right interest areas. According to Mark Cuban, a billionaire investor, a business will become successful only if it is something that you are good at, and something that you enjoy doing.
For instance, in case you are a talented musician, you can offer online piano, guitar, or violin lessons. This way, you may be able to monetize your skills. However, in case you lack musical skills yourself and yet you aim to offer music lessons online, you are not likely to make it very far.
Similarly, many creatives manage to set up promising businesses via the internet, such as graphic design or web development services.
In case you currently lack the key skills related to your interests, now is the time to learn/improve them.
3. Test your business out with a single paying customer
While your idea may seem extremely amazing and impactful to you, it is not necessary that your potential clients will look at it the same way.
In fact, the majority of the potential customers are likely to ignore your presence among the wide sea of ‘brilliant ideas’ that float around on the internet all day. This is primarily because people these days are exposed to a big number of regular distractions and advertisements. Hence, unless your idea is capable of catching their attention within the blink of an eye, you can expect a hard time.
The prime reason why it is important to test your business out through a single paying customer in the start is to ensure that you are not offering a solution to problems that are not even relevant.
According to CB Insights, the lack of market need is the biggest cause of failure for most of the side businesses. So be wary, as you could be feeding an idea that which most people will find no value in.
Ultimately, in case no one wants your service/product, all of the resources (effort, time, and energy) that you have put in will simply go to waste.
In order to prevent such a scenario from occurring, validate whether your service/product is good/unique enough to gain the traction in the actual world. This is something that could be done via feedback from potential clients. In case your idea does not get a positive response from the majority, know that it is time to let it go.
A good entrepreneur carries the ability to look at his/her product from the eyes of the consumer, without having any personal biases involved.
So, do not hesitate to abandon the ideas that are not likely to survive for long and consider alternate opportunities.
4. Be different from your competitors
Unless you are building a new product that the market has never seen the face of before, chances are that you will be competing with other already established giants. These giants will most likely cater to the very same target audience that you plan to serve.
Competition in business is something that is totally inevitable. Regardless of the niche and area of interest, you will always have a number of competitors who will try to outperform you. These competitors will constantly be on the lookout for nabbing your customers away and to innovate their product beyond yours.
In order to prevent your product from fading away, it is important to secure your business through some competitive advantages. Competitive advantage or an edge could be anything that differentiates your service/product from your competitors in a good way.
This may include low pricing, higher margins for profits, aggressive tactics for sales, efficient marketing, top-notch customer service, developing strategic relationships, and top of the line features. Factors like this will allow you to differentiate your product and side-business, from your competitors.
Remember, your potential customers are likely to choose you due to your competitive advantage. Moreover, this is the only thing that will keep bringing them back to you.
5. Define your goals very clearly
Indeed, it is a good thing to dream big and to have high goals. However, when you want to make your side hustle a success, you cannot aim for the end zone straight away.
In order to achieve success in the bigger picture, you will have to start out small and to reach shorter milestones. These shorter milestones will then add up, resulting in bigger achievements and growth over time.
Once you have served one satisfied customer, move on to the next one. Then, the second, third, fourth, and so on.
In case you aim to serve a thousand customers right in the beginning, you may end up being overwhelmed with all of the things that need to be put into place initially.
Most of the business mentors suggest aspiring entrepreneurs focus on incremental goals, and to develop milestones that can be achieved on a daily, weekly, and a monthly basis.
6. Set milestones that will get you launched
It is important to launch, monetize, and iterate a good and viable side business idea as soon as possible. Before you enter into a market, it is impossible for you to know what your customers are likely to resonate with the most. So, wasting too much time on developing the perfect solution is not a good way to go.
Otherwise, you may end up wasting too much of your precious time, trapped inside your own unrealistic dreams of having a perfect product.
In order to beat the inertia, create a simple plan of action that puts together all the key milestones that you have to achieve from the very first day up until the launch date. Then, stick to all of your deadlines and let your friends/family know about them. This will make you feel somewhat accountable, allowing you to move forward. Moreover, do not allow yourself to bring forward any excuses within this time frame.
Again, do not aim for perfection right in the start. Such a mentality will prevent you from growing and from launching anything ever.
7. Get help for work that is beyond your experience
Sooner or later, you will realize that it is impossible to be great at everything. Technically speaking, it is not important to be good at everything in order to launch a successful side business.
The reality is that when you are starting out, you may have plenty of weaknesses. For instance, in case you have no prior business experience, you may need the help of a business adviser.
Similarly, you may be an exceptionally good web developer as you topped your courses in college, but your graphic design skills might be poor enough to repel potential customers away. In this case, you will most certainly need the help of a skilled graphics designer to design brochures, banners, and content for your social media posts.
While it is very tempting to take control of everything, because after all, it is your business, you are much better off hiring skilled help for tasks that you are not capable of doing. This will not only bring you the best results but will also free up plenty of time that you could dedicate to what you do best.
8. Take customer feedback seriously
Without having any feedback from your customers, you may end up driving your side business towards failure. Customer feedback holds a great amount of importance for a side hustle that you are just starting out.
Without having an objective, and unbiased external feedback, you may end up investing a big amount of resources in a product that is not viable in the long run.
Ultimately, you will end up losing all of your valuable resources. So as an aspiring entrepreneur, make it your habit to listen to all the harsh feedback and to look at it rationally rather than taking it to your heart. This is the only way to constantly improve your product/service/solution as you grow.
9. Avoid losing your day job
Without a doubt, you should not be working on your side business during your day job hours, and nor should you ever make use of your employer’s resources for your own pursuits.
Such actions may violate your employment agreements, resulting in you losing your job. Hence, make it your habit to honor all of the terms that exist in your employment agreement even after your side business picks up some pace.
Poor performance at your workplace will close a number of future opportunities for you, especially after you go full-time as a self-employed business owner who is looking for potential partnerships.
Moreover, ultimately, a day job offers you a great amount of financial security. It is an income stream that remains constant, even in case your side hustle fails.
Not compromising your quality of work at the day job is a lesson that many people learn the hard way.
10. Build a constant customer flow before quitting your day job
We recommend you to not to quit your day job unless and until your side business is providing you a sustainable/constant flow of customers.
Theoretically, quitting the day job is not suitable until and unless the side hustle results in more than 75% of what you make from your day job.
Moreover, before quitting your day job, make sure that you have at least a year worth of savings to pay for your rents and bills in case your side business fails. This will allow you to stay on the safe side and will provide you adequate time to look for a new job in case things do not go your way.