Owning and running a business is a dream for many people. You get to be your own boss, set your own schedule, and work on your own terms. Sounds great, right? But starting a business can be a risky endeavour, too. In many cases, you’ll lose the security and benefits that come with a full-time job at an established company. The risk can pay off in the end, though, if you’re set on pursuing your passion. So let’s get down to the details: How do you turn your side hustle into a full-time job?
1. Set realistic goals.
One thing that will help you gradually transform your side hustle into a full-time career is realistic goal setting. Sit down and come up with well-defined, clear, and measurable goals that you think will benefit your side hustle. Start small— setting goals that are impossible to achieve will set you up for failure and disappointment. After you come up with a few goals that you feel are attainable, set a specific deadline for each one. Working on a deadline will be a motivating factor that forces you to hold yourself accountable. Celebrate when you meet certain goals and, when you fail to meet others, don’t get down on yourself. Just take some time to reflect on your own behavior, your time management skills, and the nature of the goal itself.
2. Make a plan.
While there may never be an absolutely perfect time to quit your day job, try not to do it prematurely. Starting your own business can be really exciting, but it’s also accompanied by a great deal of risk. You have to realize that it’ll probably be a while before your side hustle generates enough income for you to live off of. In the meantime, examine your living expenses and determine how much money you’d need to be making from your side hustle in order to quit your current job. Save money and create an emergency fund that can supplement your lifestyle when you do finally make that jump to doing your side hustle full-time. And lay a clear foundation for your business by figuring out how you will organize your work, find clients, and remain sustainable.
Build a network of people with similar goals and interests. Finding people who are currently active in the industry you want to be in will help you develop new ideas and important business connections. Let’s say your side hustle is event photography but you want to make it a full-time gig. You might start out by joining photography-oriented social media groups and networking sites that discuss both the craft and business side of event photography. Reach out to local photographers whose work you admire and try to get some tips or collaborate with them on a project. Surrounding yourself with smart professionals will provide you with valuable knowledge and resources, and empower you to take your side hustle to the next level.
4. Find a specialty.
Pretty much every new business should bring something new or unique to the table— otherwise why would someone choose your business over an already established one? Figure out what makes you different from the rest of the competition. Find a niche or a specialty that not many other people have capitalized on. Narrowing your business down to a specialty will reduce the amount of competition you face and allow you to build up a specific set of skills.
If you cater to a small and particular client base, you will develop strong connections and have more repeat customers as a result of thoroughly understanding their needs. For example, maybe you want to become a freelance writer. While marketing yourself as a freelance writer open to any subject may get you some work, it’ll be tough because you’ll be competing with a vast amount of other, more seasoned freelance writers out there, who probably have tons of published articles, years in the industry, and overall a more well-padded employment history.
However, if you advertise yourself as a writer specializing in personal finance— or even more specifically, personal finance for people under 30— and spend time researching and analyzing this field, you’ll actually have some valuable insight to offer and you’ll be competing with far fewer writers.
The bottom line
Scaling your side hustle into a full-time job is no easy task. It’ll be a grind that will take a sizable amount of time and effort, with no guaranteed payoff. At the same time, it will be an exciting journey filled with valuable lessons. In the end, you just might surprise yourself.