Side hustles are “the new black,” so to speak, and you’ve probably heard of them before. A side hustle is an opportunity for you to follow your passions or hone your professional skills while making a little extra cash. While they take time to start, and there’s no guarantee your blog, startup, or Etsy shop will blow up overnight, having a side hustle could be a good pathway to becoming your own boss.
According to a recent Bankrate study, 37 percent of adults in the U.S. have a side hustle that brings in an average of $700 a month. No wonder another study from the Harvard Business Review shows that two-thirds of Americans would consider diving into the side hustle business in addition to their current jobs, including mothers who are looking to re-enter the workforce or start a passion project from home (just Google “moms” and “side hustles” for thousands of ideas). If you want your next passion project to earn you a paycheck, use these tips to start creating your side hustle:
- Review the fine print. Before you start putting together a plan for your side hustle, take a look at the contract you signed for your existing job. It may contain stipulations (like a noncompete clause, exclusivity clause, or nondisclosure agreement) that would prevent you from doing related work on the side. If you’re not sure about what these stipulations might mean for your side business or what activities may or may not constitute a breach of contract, it is wise to talk to an attorney first. Keep in mind that contracts are negotiable, and many employers are happy to remove or adjust noncompete and exclusivity clauses from employment contracts.
- Start with your passions. You have a day job, but what about your daydream? If you’re going to put extra time and effort into another professional endeavor, it may as well be based on something you’re passionate about. If you’re a travel enthusiast or in-the-know about local hotspots, why not start a blog? If you have a knack for graphic design or copywriting, how about you sell your services on the side? You have the talent, so why not put it to work? How? Spend an hour with a SCORE mentor; you’ll be surprised by how much knowledge you will gain.
- Organize and prioritize. You can get a side hustle up and running quickly, but only if you make it a priority. Schedule at least one hour a week, or more if you’re in a hurry to get started. It’s been proven time and time again that organizing and prioritizing is key to starting a successful project of any type. Create a master list of tasks you need to tackle, like “register web domain” or “research software options,” then schedule specific times on your calendar to complete each task. This will help you make the most of your time (and give you the satisfaction that comes with crossing an item off your to-do list).
- Find your funding. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, but where that initial funding comes from is up to you. Self-funding your business from savings is usually where women start. Funding your business yourself could be beneficial because you won’t be starting your business with debt. But if paying out of pocket isn’t an option, you can take out a bank loan, find an angel investor (or borrow from a family member), or set up a profile on a crowdfunding site. It’s easy to say don’t let a lack of funding stop you from starting, but there are plenty of ways to come up with the money you need.
- Treat it like a business. Your side hustle might not be your main gig, but you should still treat it like the business it is, especially if you hope to take your passion project full-time someday. You should have a plan, but it doesn’t need to be 100 pages long. Instead, it should focus on key things you need to know, have, or do to get your side hustle off the ground. When you put your budget, brand guidelines, audience analysis, service descriptions, and goals in writing, you’ll have a clear roadmap in mind and be able to better plan for your business’s future. Speaking of brand guidelines, it’s never too early to decide how you want your side hustle to be perceived. A strong brand will help you gain traction with your target audience, so it’s worth choosing a logo, picking a color palette, and building a website right away.
Starting a successful side hustle takes time, effort, and commitment, but it could be one of the best ways to create options for yourself. If you have a talent or passion that could be making you extra money, it’s time to stop waiting and put it to work.
Hannah Massen is a content creator for SmartMarketing Communications, LLC.