How to start a side hustle

Tips to turn your hobby or passion project into something more

If you’ve ever wanted to start a side hustle, but haven’t been sure how to do it, you’re not alone. Many of us have hobbies that we wish we could monetize or big ideas we’d secretly love to turn into real, live businesses. With some of us laid off and needing to think about new career opportunities and others with more time on our hands this is an opportunity to start thinking about turning your hobby into a job.

If you’re thinking about starting a side hustle, but don’t know where to begin, these tips may help you take the first leap.

 

First, reflect

 

Before you go ahead and create a website for your handcrafted jewelry or recipe blog, it’s important to take some time to reflect on what you want to do and why.

“We get into hobbies because we enjoy them, and more often than not, it’s the one time we can relax and have for ourselves. When we think of stepping up and making it into a small business venture, it’s entirely a different arena,” says Nicole Garcia, CMO of Most Craft. “Passion, over time, can be overwhelmed with frustrations that’ll leave some abandoning their dreams. So as much as you like what you are doing, it’s important to reflect on useful ways to see through it.”

She recommends imagining the long-term outlook for your side hustle. Think about whether turning a hobby into a business is something to which you can commit.

“Try seeing yourself in a month or a year if it’s something you want to pursue. Taking advantage of that burning passion is a good stepping point to get things started.”

 

Know your why

 

With any goal you’re pursuing, knowing your why – your reason – for pursuing it can help ensure you actually achieve it. The same goes for a business venture. 

“Understand your ‘why’ for going into business,” says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “This reason should not be solely based on making money. You may want to start a side hustle in order to make a difference in your community and help change lives for the better. Or, you may wish to pursue a hobby or interest that you are naturally passionate about and/or want to explore as a creative outlet. Once you understand the why for wanting to start a business, you may begin to establish short- and long-term goals for the side hustle. These goals should be achievable and challenging.”

 

Know your network
 

“Before you seize your target audience, start with your family and friends to get the ball rolling,” says Garcia. “Oftentimes, you’d be surprised how the word can get out in a week or so. Also, it’s worth noting that working in a familiar landscape initially is a good avenue for you to get feedback and improve as you slowly build your confidence.”

 

Make a plan and learn from other entrepreneurs

 

“While having the motivation to do things is something we should have as entrepreneurs, without knowing the logistics, all of this can spiral down if you don’t prepare,” Garcia says. “What I did personally, is search online on what people are doing. I try to emulate what they’re doing that works and apply it to my startup.”

You can then expand this planning and research stage into a business model and a more formal business plan.

 

Establish a business model

 

“Your business model will vary depending on your offerings/services, but it should prove that your business has the ability to earn revenue,” Sweeney explains. “A business model is defined by four factors: 1) differentiation and pricing; 2) marketing and sales; 3) production and delivery methods; and 4) customer satisfaction, which is a goal your business will continue to always work towards and reach.”

 

Draft a business plan

 

“This document will act as the blueprint for your business,” Sweeney says. “It will allow you to define the goals and milestones of the business and determine how you reach them.”

 

Incorporate

 

“Incorporate as a business structure, like a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC),” Sweeney suggests. “This is critical as your side hustle begins to take off because a business structure allows the business to act as a separate, legal entity from its owner. You may also begin to establish credibility with consumers and even save money on taxes, depending on your entity formation.”

 

Get a tax ID

 

Sweeney also advises getting a tax identification number for your business.

With all that advice in hand, if you feel ready to start your side hustle, give yourself permission to try.

“My number one tip is to just get started!” says Corrie Alexander, blogger and owner of thefitcareerist.com. “I know so many people who give up before they even begin because it’s new territory and they’re afraid of failing. (I used to be one of them!) Just start and see what happens, because you won’t know what you can achieve unless you try.”

Alexander reminds new entrepreneurs to be patient with themselves. 

“Remember that entrepreneurship at any level is an ongoing learning experience. Nothing you do will ever be ‘perfect.’ But each step you take will help you grow and turn your side hustle into something you’re really proud of!”