Starting a side gig while you’re still working full time is not for the fragile or those who really, really like money (immediate money, that is). It takes passion, guts and a certain level of comfort with risks to start your own business. The payoff, however, is totally worth it: working and earning for yourself, setting your own hours, making awesome connections with even more awesome people and doing what you love as your job.
If any of that sounds more appealing that your clinically grey cubicle, read on for some tips and tricks to get your side hustle hustlin’.
Know Your Contract
We’re not talking about your first contract with a new client. Before you put some bustle in your side hustle, make sure you won’t be sued all the way back to your parent’s basement by your current employer for doing it. Go through your employment contract with a fine-tooth comb and make sure you fully understand the parameters of continuing your current job while starting your business. Many businesses these days are very open and accepting of their staff starting a side gig because that person will gain valuable skills on their own time that are still applicable to their day job. However, it bodes well for your business to be sure you aren’t stepping on any toes – or breaking any legally binding contract items.
There are thousands of small business ideas out there that do not require deep-pocketed investors or government grants to get started. But before you dive into the world of entrepreneurialism, make sure your current financial situation is in order. If you’re constantly running in the red with your current lifestyle, now might not be the best time to start a business. Pay down your debt, put any extra money in the bank and start eating dinner at home. This will make sure that you have capital to invest in your business once the time is right to get it going.
A side gig starts with a great idea, one that is somewhere between what you love and what you know about. It is imperative that your side gig is something you enjoy doing because you’re going to be doing it a lot. And you’re going to be doing it after you’ve already worked a full day, plus on weekends and any other time that you’re not already busy or trying to live your life. In other words, make sure your side gig feels like a hobby (but don’t treat it like one).
Stepping into the world of small business ownership can feel like you’ve just come through the back of your gramma’s old wardrobe and Tilda Swinton is there. In other words, you have no idea where you are or what you’re doing. But it gets a bit easier if you surround yourself with people who are doing the same thing you are. Seek out others who are doing what you want to be doing and make friends, comment on and buy their stuff, and share it around. Doing this will not only help you learn about your business before you get it off the ground but will also build your community – that is, people who will be a big part of the success of your business because they will comment, share and drive others to your service or product.
Once you’ve decided what product or service you’re going to offer, make sure you have a solid idea of who you’re going to sell that product or service to. Find out where your ideal client hangs out online (don’t be creepy and sit outside their house) and learn about their likes, dislikes and lifestyle. A bit of market research can go a long way when it comes to launching a product or service and, with the juggernaut that is social media, it’s simple to do. When you find your ideal client and have learned a bit about them as a group, marketing to them will be that much more straightforward so that – ta da! – making a sale will be a snap. Or a few snaps. You are new, after all.
First Client Fever
You’ve finally landed your first client – yippee! Take a few minutes to celebrate – and then get back to work. Your first client is an opportunity to do a great job for them but also hone in your skillset and make your next client’s experience that much better. Get testimonials from every client you work with to showcase on your website (you do have a website, right?!) and social channels. Take the excitement of your first paying client and drive it back into your business so you can continue to get better and better, which will hopefully translate into more and more business.
That’s not just a slogan for your niece’s summer camp group. The first time you have to chase a client for payment (and never get it) or the first time you receive a less-than-glowing review will halt your momentum and throw up a huge roadblock if you’re not prepared. While negativity isn’t pretty, understand that these things happen and that it is imperative to the long-term success of your business that you keep moving forward. Change your approach if need be and learn from your mistakes – but don’t ever let the haters get you down.
Written by Jess Campbell