6 Steps to Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Business

Today’s workforce is altogether different than it was even a decade ago. The gig economy is alive and well, and side hustles of all stripes are the norm. In fact, more than half of Americans have at least one side gig in the works.[1]

If you feel energized about a passion project, you may be wondering how to turn your side hustle into a full-time business. You wouldn’t be alone—it turns out 55% of working folks say they’d like to monetize a hobby by growing it into a side business.[2]

If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. Having an entrepreneurial spirit is one of today’s greatest business assets. Be that as it may, taking a part-time hobby or side hustle and converting it into a successful, profitable business doesn’t happen overnight. Consider taking the following steps before making the leap.

A Step-by-Step Guide for Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Full-Time Business

While every side gig is different, there are some universal truths that apply across the board when launching a business. Whether you’re a marketing consultant, web developer, or landscaper, the following six action items should help steer you in the right direction. Overlooking them may mean rushing your goals and making premature movement while your business idea still needs fine-tuning.

Step 1: Build a Financial Buffer

Not having enough capital is one of the top reasons why small businesses fail. Before quitting your nine-to-five and going all in with your side hustle, take the time to develop a detailed financial plan. This should drill down on two important points—your business’s financial reality today, along with projections for the future. 

New businesses don’t have any past data of their own to draw on, but researching and analyzing your industry and competitors can help you glean powerful insights. If you anticipate needing additional capital to get rolling, now is also the time to strategize funding. All of these details can be included in your business plan.

Beyond financial forecasting for your business, it’s also wise to look to your own personal finances. Review your average earnings from your side hustle and weigh them against your monthly bills and expenses. Is it enough to cover the gap? If not, you may have to rely on your savings to avoid debt while growing your business. Shoring up your personal emergency fund prior to going full time with your side business is considered sage advice. You’ll also want to open a separate bank account for business expenses.   

Step 2: Get Clients in the Pipeline

You may have a solid business plan and enough passion to last a lifetime, but your business won’t get far without customers. Securing a loyal client base is an ongoing process—and you certainly don’t need to lock down a certain number of contracts or confirmed jobs before you turn your side hustle into a full-time business. What you do want, however, is some momentum.

Let’s say your side hustle is creating websites and you’ve completed two paid gigs since you started. You like the work, have found you’re pretty good at it, and are excited to take it to the next level. This is all great news, but before putting in your two weeks’ notice and quitting your day job, sit down and develop a comprehensive marketing plan. The goal is to put systems in place to attract customers and boost profits. Doing this sooner rather than later could provide a steady stream of clients as you devote yourself to your new business.

Step 3: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Entrepreneur burnout is a real thing. Making the decision to turn your side hustle into a full-time business, while exciting, can majorly blur the lines when it comes to establishing a healthy work-life balance—especially if you’re working overtime to bring your new business to life. This is especially true for small business owners who feel passionate about the work they’re doing. Despite your desire to give your business your all, research shows that burning the candle at both ends can lead to a loss of confidence that could impact your mental health and your earnings. 

Working smarter (instead of harder) is all about developing habits that prevent burnout. One area to focus on could be the rate you charge your clients. While undercutting your competitors will probably attract clients, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Being swamped with low-paying work you can barely keep up with isn’t exactly living the dream. On the flip side, raising your rates and taking fewer clients can help you churn out higher-quality work and unlock more time in your day to focus on growing your business.

Step 4: Consider Growing Your Team

Speaking of working smarter, investing in your business may also mean growing your team. Take the long view and weigh the potential benefits of spending money now to surround yourself with the right people. It could be something that pays off in a big way. For example, outsourcing administrative tasks to a virtual assistant could free up a significant amount of time in your schedule and decrease unnecessary stress. Those two things together can help put you in the right mindset to effectively turn your side hustle into a full-fledged business.

That’s not to say your side gig is necessarily ready to take on employees, but it’s certainly worth considering if doing so will ultimately generate more income for your business. For instance, maybe managing your social media platforms is something you really don’t enjoy. Hiring a social media manager can take that weight off your shoulders while helping potential new customers connect with your brand.

Step 5: Establish a Community

Launching a successful new business doesn’t have to be a solo journey. Looking beyond your internal team and embracing different kinds of support can make a huge difference. Think about forging an authentic relationship with a mentor. Research suggests that doing so could increase your revenue by a whopping 83%.[3] What’s more, the right mentor can provide guidance and perspective you can only get from someone who’s been in the trenches and understands the business landscape you’re in.

Getting active in trade organizations and local networking groups is another move that could pay off in the long term. It’s a great way to build referral partners and learn different aspects of your industry. It can also help establish you as a go-to businessperson in your local community.

Step 6: Align Your Work With Your Values

The inability to learn and grow is the number one reason people quit their jobs.[4] It’s that nagging, unsettling feeling that your current job just isn’t what you’re meant to do with your life. Entrepreneurs are unique in that many are making the conscious choice to step away from traditional careers to start something they’re passionate about. This desire to do work that matters is a direct reflection of their values.

You could have the most lucrative side hustle in the world, but if you don’t care about the work, you may find it difficult to sustain motivation in the long run. One critical step to turn your side hustle into a full-time business is to ask yourself if it’s something that’s aligned with your core values. If so, it could be a sign that you’re on the right path.

The Bottom Line

Transforming a side gig into a thriving full-time business is certainly doable, assuming you’ve done all the necessary work on the front end and are ready to make the leap. It all comes down to having a clear vision, surrounding yourself with the right support system, and embracing big-picture thinking.

Article Sources:

  1. DollarSprout.com. “Side Hustle Survey 2019: Who Has One and How Much Do They Make?
  2. Vistaprint.com. “STUDY: Millions of Americans have a ‘side hustle’ to boost their incomes and pursue their passions
  3. Entrepreneur.com. “Five Reasons Why Structured Mentoring Can Accelerate Startup Growth
  4. Deloitte.com. “2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends

Marianne Hayes

Marianne Hayes is a small business owner and longtime freelance writer who’s been covering personal finance for nearly a decade. She specializes in small business news, budgeting, saving, and wealth management. Marianne has written for Forbes, CNBC, LendingTree, Experian, Mint, LearnVest, The Daily Beast, HuffPost, and more. When she isn’t writing about small business and finance, she’s teaching creative writing workshops and curling up with a good book. She lives in Florida with her husband, three daughters, and miniature dachshund. Marianne has a degree in journalism and creative writing from the University of Central Florida.

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