You did it. You created a successful side business and now you are wondering when and how to make it your full-time job. First of all, you need to give yourself a great big pat on the back for doing something that many people only dream of, but never actually take the steps to accomplish. Go ahead, I will wait…
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. Read on for knowing when to make your side hustle your full-time job and how you should change the way you operate your business now that you have an abundance of time to focus on it.
Knowing When It’s Time To Make The Jump
If you have been operating your side hustle for some time now, you may be wondering just how much longer you have to wait before making it your full-time job. Before you go jumping off the deep end, there are several topics you need to think about first. You certainly don’t want to rush into something that is good now, but may put you in a situation that you dislike later on down the road. After all, what would be the point of leaving your full-time job for that? See below for the several different topics you need to seriously consider before taking a leap into full-time entrepreneurship.
Assess Your Finances
One of the biggest misconceptions about starting a new business is that it will start generating income for you right away. For many new business owners, that is simply not true. Most of the time, new businesses actually take a significant amount of money from you in order to get started. You can be thrifty about how you operate your business, but sooner or later you are going to have to put money into it. Since you have already been operating your side hustle for some time now, you know this to be true. The main thing you need to ask yourself is where your money is going to come from. I assume you still have bills to pay (because, who doesn’t?), so you need to know how you are going to survive with limited income. Do you have money already stored in a bank account ready to be withdrawn every month? Did you take out a bank loan for your business? Did you suddenly move back in with Mom and Dad to nix many of your monthly bills? Do a real in-depth assessment of your personal and business finances to see if the business can support you full-time. This is important because nothing will kill a business faster than too much debt.
Be Prepared To Sacrifice
I know things seem really solid right now. But as a full-time entrepreneur, your business will inevitably go through highs and lows that will affect you in some way…usually in your pocketbook. Are you prepared to forego those dinners out that you have become accustomed to? Will you be ok with settling for a Netflix movie rather than seeing the newest flick in theaters? Are you prepared to tell your friends that you won’t be joining them for the concert/camping trip/BBQ this year because you just don’t want to spend your money in that way?
Real entrepreneurs know that you have to sacrifice a lot to keep the dream alive and you must believe in your business even when things aren’t going well. Ask yourself if you have the gumption to hunker down and make this business work no matter what, even if it means completely changing your lifestyle for the next several years (yes, I said years). And on that note…
I can throw all kinds of clichés at you for this topic. Rome wasn’t built in a day, slow and steady wins the race, patience is a virtue…. In business though, you kind of have no other choice but to be patient. You know all those stories about the people that hit it big and are an overnight success? The reason everyone knows about them is because that is not the norm for a business owner. It takes many businesses years before they turn a profit. And then once a business becomes successful, it’s imperative that they put money away for the rainy days that will inevitably show up again.
All successful business owners have to have patience with their business. Building a strong foundation for your business takes time and, in the long run, is much more important than rapid growth. Really ask yourself if you would be in a better position to make your side hustle your full-time job if you waited just 6 more months. Or maybe a year would get you and your business into an even greater position to support you full-time.
You definitely don’t want to overburden your business too soon with having to support you so that it fizzles out. Being patient can mean the difference between you having to find another full-time job after 3 months or never having to find another full-time job again!
Project Future Business
Yes, I know you are not a fortune-teller. When being asked to project future business, you really just need to make an informed and educated guess, not be exactly correct on what the future will bring. To do this, you will need your sales and expenses from the past few months (or even better, years). And since you’ve been doing your side hustle for a while now, you should have those figures.
One of the easiest ways to start this process is determining how much your expenses will be over the next few months. We’ve all paid bills and know what it’s like to budget for upcoming expenses, so starting here won’t seem like such a monumental task. Once you’ve got that down, calculate the rate of growth (not sales) from month to month in the past year. That can be a bit complicated for the math-challenged, so look up some handy tools online that can help you.
Once you have those numbers, apply the rate of growth to your most recent month of sales and let the projections go from there. This sounds quite complicated, but with a little research and careful math, it’s not. And this will actually be one of the most useful tools for you to see whether your side hustle will be able to support you in 3, 6, or 9 months. Just don’t forget to account for what you plan on paying yourself in the expenses category!
Time Management for Your Side Hustle
Now that you are finally able to devote the amount of time necessary to grow your business, it’s time to change your business task plan. Gone are the days of only devoting a few hours every day to your side hustle. You are now going to be living and breathing your business every moment of the day. Let’s see what tasks you need to regularly complete now that your side hustle has become your full-time job.
Everyday tasks will vary based on what business you are in. But no matter what industry you deal with, you will most definitely be adding more items to your every day task list now that you can devote large chunks of time to your business. In addition to all of the everyday tasks you were completing while your business was still just your side hustle, you will need to complete the following:
- Make a list of what you hope to accomplish for the day: I realize this is old-fashioned and you may not be a “list person,” but if you don’t set goals for the day, you will likely get easily distracted from important tasks that need to be done. This will also help to keep you productive and motivated when you see how much you are accomplishing.
- Add more social media channels and post on them every day: Maybe while you were doing your side hustle you loved Instagram or Twitter, but now that you have the time to devote to a social media strategy, you need to add more social media networks. Your presence on those networks needs to be an every day one as well. This is going to take some planning since you should not be posting the same content on all social media channels (why even have different accounts then?).
Posting relevant content about major holidays, an upcoming television show premier, or current events are great ways to draw more people into your social network. And above all, make sure your posts are interesting. If all your posts are about your business and you never take the time to engage potential customers with a funny meme or even just a beautiful picture, you will lose followers quickly.
Finally, one of the best ways to attract more followers is to like other people’s posts and comment on them. If you are a lone account that doesn’t engage anyone else, you won’t get many people to follow you. And whatever you do, do not buy followers for your accounts. It’s much more important for you to have real, relevant followers than random accounts following you that have no interest in your business. For more social media strategies, consider taking a class or hiring a local social media manager that can help you grow your business through those avenues.
- Read: This is going from a weekly task to a daily one. Keep up with your industry innovations and news. Be your industry expert. Learn new things about the way you could be doing business. Don’t get bogged down in reading for long periods of time throughout the day; just 15-30 minutes should do it. The goal here is to expand your mind and gain new perspectives on business strategies you could be implementing.
- Give your clients the best customer service: Now that you have the time to respond to your clients during the day, make sure you are taking their phone calls and answering their emails in a timely manner. I once had a boss that said no client should wait more than an hour for a response to their question. Even if it means you need to research the answer and get back to them, respond quickly to let them know you are working on their issue. Nothing is worse as a customer than a business that is unreachable when you have questions. By upping your customer service, you will create dedicated customers to your business.
- Prospect for new business: I will go into more detail about this below, but this is something that you need to start doing every single day to ensure that your business is a success.
Even though you are now working your side hustle as your full-time job, it’s still good practice to take one day out of the week to think about the big picture. What direction do you want your business to go? How can you gain access to those oh-so-important business contacts? Again, these weekly tasks are in addition to the ones you’ve already been doing every week.
- Network, network, network It’s difficult to attend networking events when you are working a full-time job. It’s even more difficult to meet great potential business contacts when your only free time is at night and on the weekends. Now that you are able to focus solely on your business, up the ante of contacting 5 business people you want to work with to actually meeting them in person.
One thing every manipulative salesperson knows is that it is much more difficult to say “no” in person than it is over the phone. Get yourself a face-to-face meeting with influential people in your industry, even if it has to be over Skype. While you may not find this to be important now, if you do it every week, your future self will understand its importance and be astonished at the results it can bring.
- Strategize about how you can work smarter, not harder Are there things you are doing that could be done easier? Is there something you could do to save time and money in the long run for your business? Analyze your processes to see how you can make what you do easier on yourself. No business is perfectly efficient. Find the cracks in yours and fix them.
- Plan an even greater in-depth marketing strategy Yes, you are posting on social media every day, but you should be planning those posts to go up at peak times with relevant hashtags. Are you contemplating a radio ad for your business? Use your weekly planning session to get the script down and hire the necessary people to get it accomplished. Are you going to do a mailer to certain neighborhoods in your community? Plan out what your mailer will look like, what neighborhoods it needs to go to, and obtain the necessary materials to get it out. Plan many different campaigns to reach a broader audience and then make sure you are analyzing your return on investment (ROI) for each campaign. Whichever avenue is bringing you the most business should become your main focus.
- Research your competitors How can you fight a battle when you don’t know what you are up against? You can’t, which is why you must take time each week to see what others in your industry are doing. What are they doing that you do better? Market this to your potential customers. What are they doing better than you? Work on this area of your business. Staying in touch with what your competitors are doing will ensure that you are always at the top of the list in your industry.
- Be well-rounded No one wants you to become an over-worked, burned-out entrepreneur. Take time for yourself every week to do something completely unrelated to work that you enjoy. Whether that means hanging out with your family all day or going to get a massage, you need to be well-rounded in order make the best business decisions.
If you sleep, eat, and breathe your business every single day, pretty soon you won’t be thinking clearly or be able to see the big picture. You made your side hustle your full-time job so you could enjoy life more, not less.
Prospecting For New Business
Now that your side hustle has become your full-time job, you need to up your prospecting strategies. You will need to make prospecting for new customers a daily habit and do even more than you were when you only had a few hours every day to devote to your business. Listed below are several ways to prospect that you can add to your repertoire of how to get new business.
Turn your leads into customers with frequent email campaigns. Oftentimes though, someone that has visited your website or somehow came across your products and services can be converted with a timely email campaign. Are you preserving your previous customers’ email addresses? Make sure you do so in order for them to be the first people notified of new sales or products. Are the holidays right around the corner? Email your prospects with exciting news, products, or services relevant to the upcoming holiday. A well-timed email campaign can turn a maybe client into a bona fide customer.
Another way to get new business is through customer referrals. Since you have upped your customer service now that this side gig has become your full-time job, I am assuming all of your customers love you and want to rave about you to their friends. But what incentive do they have to do so? Many companies offer double discounts for referrals from current customers. Some kind of reward system will incentivize your clients to tell everyone they know about you. Just make sure whatever incentive you offer is worthwhile. A reward equivalent of $2 is just not motivating enough to get people excited about turning into your salesmen/saleswomen.
Now that you know what it is like to transition your side hustle into your full-time job, go make a plan to make it happen! One of the best things about working for yourself is that many times, what you do doesn’t feel like work. You are doing what you love and (hopefully) making a decent living from it. It won’t always be easy and it will certainly take time, but if you have these basics down, you should have success in no time.