If you’re interested in ditching the 9 to 5 in favor of taking your side-hustle full time – then you’re not alone. In a recent survey carried out by Gallup across 6000+ respondents, less than 50% of respondents considered themselves “satisfied” in their jobs. Unsurprisingly, those in higher-paid jobs, in addition to White workers, and workers with college degrees, reported higher happiness rates than those in low-paying, service-based jobs. Across the board though, one finding stands out: the average US worker wants more than just a job.
Taking your side hustle full-time is a monumental step and setting up a legal entity like an LLC can protect your personal assets. While LegalZoom is a popular choice to manage this process, exploring legalzoom alternatives can offer you different approaches that might better suit your needs as you take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship.
And businesses are catching on: especially at wealthier public companies with cash to burn, there’s an emphasis on work-life balance (unlimited PTO is available at a select number of companies); increased time for paid maternity leave, flexible hours, and team-bonding activities. But here’s the thing: working for someone else isn’t for everyone. And arguably there’s nothing more fulfilling or uplifting than: 1) creating your own service or product that adds value to others’ lives, and 2) reaping all the profits of your labor.
So that brings us to entrepreneurship. Did you know that entrepreneurs are – statistically speaking – happier and healthier than 9 to 5 workers? It seems that having power over your own schedule, answering to yourself, and following your higher calling all really do pay off dividends.
Now, you may not think of yourself as an entrepreneur, but here are the facts: if you’re making money from a side hustle, you’ll be taxed as a business (specifically, a sole proprietor if you make over $400), just as you would if you’re making that money full-time as a business owner. So if the taxman is treating you as a business owner, why don’t you consider yourself a business owner? And as a part-time business owner, you owe it to yourself to make this side hustle your main hustle if you want to.
Let’s talk about the three steps you can take to do that.
- Know The Power Of Your Personal Brand
Almost everyone is on social media. And if you have an Instagram, a Facebook, or a LinkedIn and you’re not leveraging this resource to build your own personal brand – then you’re wasting an opportunity.
Besides investing your time, this is a free way to spread the word about your business, attract new customers, and increase customer loyalty levels among your existing buyers!
Here’s how to start building your brand. If you run a business that offers a service or product, set up a dedicated page for it, ask your friends, family members, and previous customers to follow it, and leave reviews (as long as they’ve tried the product). Next, invest time in creating catchy, engaging posts. Keep in mind that these will look different across platforms, and one network may be more beneficial than the other depending on your industry niche.
For instance, if you’re selling beauty products or homemade goods, then Instagram will be an amazing resource to build your brand. For this platform, focus on brief, light-hearted captions and invest in aesthetically pleasing proprietary photos (either that you have taken or a photographer has taken) that will gain traction among your target demographic.
Alternatively, if you’re offering consulting services, for instance, then you’ll find LinkedIn has a lot more to offer. Note here that on this platform personal anecdotes, interesting articles, and professional stories do exceptionally well.
Finally, and this can’t be emphasized enough – whatever you post on these platforms to promote your brand, make sure that you offer your audience VALUE. This usually means you are educating them or entertaining them, so make sure that you’re offering them something in exchange for their precious attention span.
- Start Small, Think Big
It’s SO easy to get discouraged when you first debate how to move your side hustle to a full-time business. But it’s of paramount importance that you focus on tangible, small steps you can take today, this week, and this month that will take you closer to your annual goal of x amount of revenue per year.
The saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is popular for a reason: good things take time. Remember that most startups take 3 years to turn a profit – and we don’t say that to discourage you at all – because the fact is, running a business is hard, but it’s also terribly rewarding.
The important things to focus on during your first year are as follows:
- Nailing your product-market fit
This means making sure that there’s demand for what you’re offering. Whether you’re breaking the mould or you’re reimagining a well-used, well-known product: make sure that you’ve identified your target market, you understand what your unique selling points are, and that you can communicate this value in a way that resonates with them.
- Expanding when you gain traction
Whether you’re selling on Etsy or you’re pounding the pavement trying to sell a SaaS product to local businesses: take the small wins as they come. Then try to capitalize on them. This means asking for word-of-mouth referrals, encouraging customers to leave reviews (social proof is SUPER important), and targeting similar end-users with success stories you’ve achieved so far.
- Bet On Yourself
The fact you’re even thinking about taking your side hustle full-time means you’re thinking you can pull off running your own business. Simply put, this is half the battle when it comes to becoming a successful entrepreneur – so many people never try because they think: “I’m not smart enough” or “I don’t look like the quintessential business owner” or “I’m too old now for this” – and it’s simply not true.
There’s only one question you need to ask yourself as you debate taking your side hustle full-time: can I offer value to others?
Specifically, if your business solves a problem; if you’re going to make something simpler or quicker for people; if you’re going to impact someone’s life in a positive way with your service or product: you have the opportunity to grow and scale your side hustle to a high-earning business. Simple as that.
Don’t give up before you begin by not betting on yourself. And along the way, if you ever have moments of doubt, here are some top tips to fight imposter syndrome:
- Create an affirmation board
Write down all you’ve accomplished for your previous customers, either in your 9 to 5 job or your side hustle. Jot down your strengths and the accomplishments you’re proud of. Refer back to this when you’re feeling low.
- Think back
When truly in doubt – just remember about all the awful, incompetent people you’ve worked for in the past. If they can work their way up the corporate ladder to positions of power, trust us that you can certainly demonstrate your product’s value to a customer base with legitimate in-built demand for your solution!
- Surround yourself with a good community
Everyone needs support sometimes – instead of isolating yourself when things get tough, make sure to lean on a family member, your partner, or a friend: someone who knows what you have to offer and can remind you that these moments of doubt are just symptoms of imposter syndrome.
To wrap up: it’s fully possible to take your side hustle to your main hustle in 2021.
And though it’s easier said than done, it ultimately comes down to a mix of working smart (not just hard), nailing your product-market fit, communicating your USPs to your target market, and leading with what value you can offer. You got this.
Interested in more actionable insights on how to take your side-hustle full-time in a matter of months? Tune in to the All Things Career podcast, here!
About The Author:
Kirsten Davenport is an experienced HR professional with a focus on recruiting, training and inclusion. Kirsten specializes in helping people “walk in their true identity at work.”
She is the host of All Things Career podcast where the mission of the show is to provide the unwritten rules of success to professionals of color.
To inquire about Kirsten speaking at your next event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.