Turning your side hustle into a full-time job

Side hustle

We recently surveyed 2,000 UK adults in full-time employment and found that almost one quarter (23 percent) have turned a hobby into a side hustle, while a further 56 percent of Brits aspire to.

Although many side hustles are born out of hobbies or creative interests and a desire to make money on the side, they don’t have to stay small. If you have a side business and want to turn it into your full-time job, here is some advice from others who have already made the leap:

Identify growth opportunities

When asked their advice on growing a side business, successful side hustlers’ top tips are focusing on tasks that generate the most revenue and setting long-term goals. You can do this by identifying your strongest growth opportunities and mapping out what you’ll need to run your business full-time.

You’ll already be running a scaled back version of your business and should have a small customer base. Seek feedback to find out how well your current offer solves their problem, and how you could build upon it. Use this feedback to test new products, services and business models that take your side hustle to the next level. A freelance personal trainer could offer online coaching as well as in-person training and classes. A caterer could consider opening a food truck or selling at local markets to see how well their product sells instore. The key is to test different opportunities, learn from the impact on your business and determine your long-term focus areas.

The testing stage also allows for experimentation with price points. Use a trial run of new products and services to discover how much customers will pay, and the expenses you’ll need to account for to return a profit. This allows you to work out the right model to build a healthy business.

Even if you don’t have time to take on additional work, by understanding where your best growth opportunities lie and how much work you’ll need to meet your financial needs, you can set long-term goals to take your side business to its next stage of growth. These could include reducing the hours of your full-time job once you reach a certain level of revenue, hiring a virtual assistant so you can delegate administrative tasks or those outside your skillset and developing a clear and differentiated brand for your business.

Expand your network

The successful side business owners we surveyed recommend networking with like-minded people who have already taken the leap and are running their own successful businesses full-time. Their knowledge and experiences could help you realise that your dreams are well within your reach.

Networking can help you to form alliances with other owners and gain access to partners, suppliers and even customers that you may not have found on your own. As a time-pressed side business owner, you may find it more effective to meet with successful business owners in your field rather than casting the net too wide. Websites like Meetup.com can help you narrow down the right kinds of entrepreneurship events for your industry.

Business organisations such as the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business can also be a useful resource for more general events. Here, you can meet a wide range of entrepreneurs at various stages of starting or scaling their businesses.

Before going into any networking event, make sure you have you’ve practiced your business pitch, that way you’ll feel prepared to clearly and succinctly present your offerings and seize any opportunities that come your way.

Build a credible image

If you’re looking to turn your side hustle into a full-time business, you’ll need to create a professional look across all your marketing to position your company as a credible brand.

Designing a logo is an important first step to convey professionalism, your brand promise and values. These should feed into any other marketing materials and tactics you use. Similarly, having a professional looking website shows customers that your business is a serious player. It doesn’t need to be overly sophisticated, but relevant and helpful content is necessary to help customers make an educated decision to work with your company.

Don’t neglect print marketing either. For example, if you create and sell handmade jewellery or clothing on Etsy you may want to take your business to the next level by selling your products at events such as fairs or markets. At these events, eye-catching marketing materials can be great conversation starters that lead to business opportunities.

A large banner gets your stall noticed, a poster attracts passers-by, flyers create awareness about your products and services while business cards help customers keep you in mind. The key is for your materials to create a consistent, cohesive and professional look for your business whenever opportunities come knocking.

Create quality content

According to successful side business owners, building a strong social media presence is one of their top recommendations for growing a side hustle. Our research shows that the average side business owner spends 13 hours a week on their business. So, optimise your resources by focusing on platforms where your target customers are most engaged.

Communication rather than promotion is at the heart of social media and content marketing. Your content needs to drive two-way conversations. A few simple rules of engagement you should always follow are to adapt content to the audience and platform, use images and media where possible, and create a clear call to action.

Consider starting a blog where you can share useful and practical content that answers customers’ key questions and shows off your brand’s personality. Quality is more important than quantity, so don’t feel pressured to post every day, but enough to keep your readers engaged. This will also provide you with more material for sharing on your social networks.

In addition to creating and posting content, actively listen to and engage with your community on social media. As well as building customer loyalty and third-party endorsement, this will also allow you to gather feedback on your business and discover where additional growth opportunities lie.

By scaling up your side hustle and taking small steps to build your online and offline presence, you can test its long-term viability and ease the transition between employee and full-time entrepreneur.

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