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Many aspiring entrepreneurs start their businesses as “side hustles” so they can keep a steady income from their day jobs while still working on what inspires them. Still, they may dream of the day when that side hustle can become their main hustle.
To ensure the growth you need to take your business full time, there are a few things you can start doing now, even while only working on it part time. Below, Young Entrepreneur Council experts each share one thing you can do right now to turn your business dream into a reality in the not-too-distant future.
Young Entrepreneur Council members share their insights on growing your side hustle.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Listen To Your Customers
Learn fast to increase the value of your offering. Get a product or service in front of your customers as soon as possible and listen to them. Make changes for the majority, not for your personal preferences. If someone takes the time to tell you what they’d like you to change, it means they haven’t found a solution elsewhere and that your product is unique and valuable. Double down on those suggestions. Take polls to see who agrees. The product I sell brings in $3 million each year and it’s nothing like what I wrote in my business plan at the start. My original idea would not have been as successful, but I needed to test it to get to where I am today. Learning and changing means increasing value, which means increasing uniqueness, which means securing market share. Always be learning and always be evolving. – Meghan Sharkus, ExpressionMed
2. Develop Written Systems And Processes
Make sure you document and develop systems for your side hustle. It’s all fun and games to play with a hobby and shoot from the hip. I see time and time again that people take up a side hustle and think, “Great, I’ll just do exactly that eight hours a day,” but that’s not scalable. The energy you have for a side hustle cannot be scaled to a full business. Having written systems in place allows you to replicate it not only for yourself, but also for the true meaning of a business, which is to have others do it while you lead. Without processes, you will end up working for your business instead of running it. – Jason Azevedo, MRCA
3. Start Networking Right Away
One thing you can do now is to start networking. This will help you make all the right connections that you’ll need later on when you want to turn this into a full-fledged business. You can network with potential investors, partners, customers and even employees. For instance, you can find partners who would be a good fit and who are interested in joining your business. You could also connect with investors and find out what they would need from you so that you can start preparing for it when the time is right. If you want to turn it into a major business, you’ll need the help of others and it’s better to start creating a pool of potential people now. They may even be able to help you get your side hustle up and running faster. – Benjamin Rojas, All in One SEO
4. Learn From Someone Who Has Done It Already
Reach out to someone who has done what you hope to do and learn the steps they took. Say you want to launch a new food brand. Find someone who has launched a major food brand and ask them to talk you through the steps they took from day one. Or, maybe you want to launch a new social media app. Find someone who has done it successfully and follow the steps they took. Turning a side hustle into a major business is frankly very challenging, and the playbook for making it work differs depending on the type of product or service that you are offering. So, find an example you can emulate (the closer the match between your example and your own dream, the better), learn the steps that person took and then do your best to follow that same playbook (or even better ideas if they come about!). – Andrew Powell, Learn to Win
5. Imagine It’s Already A Major Business
One thing you can do now is start thinking and planning for your side hustle as if it were already a major business. This includes things like creating a business plan, setting goals and identifying your target market. Creating a mindset like this from the start ensures that you lay a solid foundation for your business’s success. You’ll choose better tools from the outset and hire the right people who’ll stay with you for the long run. So, start by changing your mindset about your side hustle. Look at it as a major business already and you’ll find yourself planning correctly and setting the wheels in motion for growth. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. Track Your Competitors’ Mistakes
Keep tabs on your competitors. Note what they are doing, how they are struggling and then how you can avoid those mistakes and tighten your business plan so you do not experience the same pitfalls. When I was starting out, I noticed that some of my contemporaries wanted to offer as many services as their clients wanted to pay them for. I noticed that their core offerings or services suffered as a result. Keeping an eye on what is happening in your industry in terms of growth is really a great exercise for restraint. It might be really tempting when turning a side hustle into a major business to look to a few competitors for inspiration, but try to also keep track of mistakes they make so you don’t make them too. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
7. Set A Start Date
Set a date for when you will turn this side hustle into your full-time income. It can be weeks, months or even years into the future. Setting a date will keep you on track and will make you accountable for making that dream come true. With a daily reminder and a ticking time clock, you will be more aware of the challenges you have to work through, the business you have to grow and the income needed to make that side hustle your full-time income. You could say “one day” for years and never get to your goal. By committing to a date on the calendar, you will align with that goal and pick up knowledge and skills along the way that will be helpful. Don’t leave it to chance; plan for it. This will force you to take yourself seriously as you see those days getting closer and closer. – Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo
8. Prioritize Self-Care
To turn your side hustle into a major business one day, remember to prioritize self-care to avoid burnout. Many new business owners underestimate the time, energy and effort running a business takes. If you aren’t prepared to intentionally rest and relax, you’re less likely to find peace and calm throughout your days. Feeling less stressed will help you run operations smoothly with a clear mind so you can have consistent problem-solving and leadership. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms