A side hustle is anything that brings in some extra income. For some people it’s a financial necessity and an end in itself. For others, a side hustle is not just about earning additional income. Instead it’s the first step on their way to running a successful start-up.
If you’re planning to make the journey from side hustle to start-up, here are some questions you’ll need to answer along the way:
Do you have the time?
Identify the periods in your week that you will be able to dedicate to your side hustle. Will these be enough to establish and grow it? What might you have to give up to make it happen?
Do you have the skills?
Do you have what it takes to make your side hustle a real success? Be honest. Identifying where the gaps in your knowledge or skills are at the outset will save you a lot of time and stress later. You can then start learning those skills or finding people to partner with whose abilities complement yours.
Is anyone willing to pay?
Does your side hustle need to generate a profit from the outset? If so, do your research and test your assumptions before going any further. Many tech start-ups take years to generate an income but their founders could use their IT skills to earn some cash freelancing.
Why would customers choose you?
What makes your business different? Does it have a Unique Selling Point (USP) that sets it apart from the competition? Be clear about your value proposition and make sure you communicate it to your target audience.
How will you recognise success?
Developing your own business as a side hustle can take years as you are limited in the time you can dedicate it to it. Set yourself goals but make them realistic to keep a sense of momentum.
Are you improving?
Feedback is crucial, however modest your side hustle. Talk to your target audience or customers about your product or service and pay close attention to what you are being told. Avoid the dangers of confirmation bias that will lead you to focus on the positive and ignore the evidence that doesn’t support your beliefs.
Should you pivot?
If you’re missing your goals and receiving negative feedback then it may be time to consider a different approach. Pivoting involves taking a long hard look at where you are and considering if fundamental changes to your offer or business are required.
Can you keep everyone happy?
Another tough question. Running a side hustle is hugely demanding of your time, energy and focus. Be careful not to let performance drop at your day job as you’re probably reliant on that income. Be sensitive to the impact your side hustle is having on friends and family too. Entrepreneurship can be addictive but try to keep the work-life balance right.
Are you ready to launch?
This is the big one. Hopefully you’ll have tested the market with multiple Minimal Viable Products (MVPs) and possibly started to generate an income already. If not, you’ll need to be clear about your income streams and have enough capital to give yourself time to become established.
Making the leap
It can be daunting to make the transition from side hustle to start-up. The good news is that there is plenty of advice and information to help you along the way.
The Setting Up section of the gov.uk website is full of factual information on starting a business from the paperwork you need to complete to how to get funding and hire staff.
Check out the Resource Hub on the Federation of Small Businesses for free advice on everything from payroll and pensions to getting paid on time. The government’s Great Business initiative is focused on helping businesses set up and grow. There’s information specifically for start-ups and a free business support helpline (0300 456 3565) that’s available weekdays from 9am to 6pm. The site includes a Women in Enterprise section with details about funding, mentoring and networking.
Eagle Labs runs free events for would-be entrepreneurs as well as existing start-ups. Find your local Lab here.