If you’re one of the increasing number of Aussies who want to start a side hustle, how do you get it off the ground and, just as importantly keep it going?
How is this for a sign of the times? A record 6.5 per cent of Aussie workers have a second job. That’s 850,000 people.
Now, a lot of those people would be underemployed and take a second job to boost their income. But the ABS is noticing that the “gig economy” is producing a huge increase in side hustles by people setting up digital businesses and platforms.
You need to sacrifice to start a side hustle
Growing a side hustle is the ultimate act of investing in yourself, but starting anything new requires a huge time commitment. You need to weigh up the sacrifices before making your decision to start a side hustle.
Family life can suffer as you take time away to grow your idea. You need to make sure you’ve spoken through the impact with your partner before taking a side hustle on. You’ll be spending every spare moment you have building your new business, and that can take over life – for both of you.
It’s also important to consider the impact that turning a hobby or passion into a job can have on your mental health. What was once a joy can quickly become a chore. If you rely on your hobby to destress or take time out, that may be something you miss dearly when it’s your second job.
No doubt about it, it isn’t easy to start a side hustle. But it can be done if you follow some simple rules. The secret is to become a time-management expert.
Simple rules to start a side hustle
Talk to your family. Discuss the idea with them and explain the pressures your side hustle will create on family life and free time. Get them involved – you’ll need their support, their input and their time if you’re going to make this work.
Be a time manager. Take advantage of every minute of the day. Use lunch hours and free time to work on the business, but do it in a disciplined way. Make plan, block out your calendar, and push through your schedule.
Confine business to one room. Try and limit your office equipment and storage to just one room, otherwise you’ll be constantly in turmoil and unable to escape the pressures of work. If you haven’t got a dedicated room, mark off some space in another area of your home using a screen or furniture.
Don’t let the day job slip. The performance at your full-time job is critical. You mustn’t let it deteriorate. After all, your day job is providing you with the financial security to try a new business. Don’t under-estimate how important that security is when you’re starting something new.
Don’t make business calls during your day job. The risk is you will get fired. Save them for your lunch hour or before or after work. If your usual phone is paid for by your work, ensure you have a separate phone for your side hustle.
Never compete with the boss. Apart from being unethical, you can be accused of fraud by pinching ideas and systems. Start a totally different business or tackle a completely separate niche.
Don’t use company equipment. Unless you have permission from your employer and offer to pay for anything used, do not use the boss’s photocopier or PCs for your business.
Once you’ve set the rules it’s then about turning that idea into a reality. Again, take it one step at a time.
Taking your hustle from dream to reality
Stop talking about it. People who talk about their ideas before acting are usually the same ones who don’t do anything about them. So, just give it a go. Stop talking, start doing.
Think through all the angles. Look at the idea through an investor’s eyes. Why do you want to start a side hustle? Who’s the target market? What problem are you solving? What resources do you need to get off the ground? What’s the business roughly going to look like? Use one of the many business plan templates available online.
Test it. Ask a sample of your target market whether they would pay for the privilege of your product or service. Whether people will pay for it is the real test.
Assess feedback. After testing, respond to the feedback by making any necessary changes to your business plan, product and plan of attack.
Find some support. Business partners are a hugely beneficial source of support, from acting as sounding boards to proving your product to others. Forge a support network of entrepreneurs that will help you along the way. Pick their brains and learn from their successes and failures.
Figure out finances. Look at all the options: self-funding, family loans, bank borrowing, government grants, credit cards or even angel investors. Weigh up the best alternative. It’s worth consulting a financial adviser to help you look at all your options.
Make the minimum product. Get the minimum viable product together and get it to market. If there’s appetite for the basic version of whatever it is, you can improve on it in the next batch. Just start things rolling and, with a bit of luck, the momentum will carry your side hustle into your full time job.