t’s a well-known fact that side hustles have become increasingly more popular over the past few years. This increase is likely due to economic necessity and proactive desire - and many of these startups and small businesses have thrived since the beginning of the pandemic. According to a recent Zapier survey, nearly one in three Americans are considered side hustlers. If you've launched a successful side gig, you may wonder what it takes to give it a go full-time.
Turning your side hustle into a full-time job often depends on your situation and whether you've generated enough income to replace what you earn at your day job, or at least enough to cover your expenses. Side hustles can also bring variety to your life, pay off student loans, or generate passive income to make extra money.
If you want to take your skillset from providing a side income to a full-time job, these fifteen steps will help you take your lucrative side-hustle to the next level.
Here are 15 steps to help you turn your side job into a full-time business:
1. Generate a plan
Creating a business plan is the first step in preparing to go full-time with your side gig. A business plan outlines your business goals and how you plan to achieve them. It also walks through other aspects of your business like marketing, sales projections, and your current finances. A business plan lays out a clear picture of where you're at currently and where you want to go. Like any good plan, it can also help keep you on track, accountable, and organized.
2. Know your numbers
Key numbers to consider when going full-time with a business are revenue and business metrics. First, you want to verify that your business generates enough revenue to cover your expenses and beyond. Hopefully, you'll increase your business income quickly once you transition to full-time, but it's no guarantee. Build up a solid emergency fund to cover yourself if anything goes wrong.
Business owners also need a good handle on their business metrics like sales, expenses, profits, cash flow, and more. Knowing and understanding your business numbers will help you prepare for future decisions.
3. Develop your "why"
Your side hustle may start as a way to generate extra cash on the side, and that's fine. To turn it into a full-time business, though, may require a little more thought. Why do you want to build your business into something more? Is it because you love the work? Is it to provide a better life for yourself or your family? The "why" behind your business is just as important as the "what" and the "how."
Like many entrepreneurs, you may hit a wall or work yourself too hard, resulting in burnout. Knowing why you do what you do can help you manage burnout and keep you on task when times get tough.
4. Understand your market and customer base
There's a difference between earning money on the side and bringing in your sole income from a full-fledged business. To create a company that connects with customers, you need to understand the market. You can learn about your market by doing market research and by studying your competitors: What are they doing right? What would you do differently?
Customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. Find ways to connect with your current and potential customers through affiliate marketing, social media, and ads—even community-building, if your customer base is large enough. Find out what problems they experience and figure out how to solve them.
5. Start small
It's extremely rare to find a business owner who has achieved overnight success. In most cases, developing an idea into a successful business can take a while. There's nothing wrong with starting small, especially if you're learning new skills.
For example, if you're a freelancer, you can start small on sites like Upwork and Fiverr. You may not earn much money through these sites, but they can help you build a portfolio of work. Get in, put in your time to develop your business, then get out and on to higher-paying clients.
The same goes for marketing your business. With so many social media platforms available, it may seem like a good idea to try and promote your business everywhere. It's challenging to market yourself effectively on every platform, even after going full-time. Do yourself a favor and pick one or two social media channels to grow and worry about the rest later.
6. Set goals for your business
Take time to set goals for your business. Consider objectives related to revenue or sales or other milestones you want to reach. Write clear and actionable goals to track your progress.
Keep your goals simple, too. Start with 3-5 goals, including short-term and long-term goals. Write down your goals keep them visible as a constant reminder. Review your goals regularly and adjust them as needed.
7. Keep your business finances organized
The more your business grows, the more details you'll need to worry about day-to-day. That's why you need to develop a system now to stay on top of everything. Try out different tools, software, apps, and organization methods to find what works best for you. If something gets missed, ultimately, it's on you. Implement organizational systems that will keep you on track when you go full-time.
You also must separate your business finances from your personal finances. Novo is your best option out there for a business checking account. You get fee-free financial management for your business by centralizing everything you need into one app. You can also set aside money into Novo Reserves for quarterly taxes or any other business expenses.
8. Surround yourself with the right people
The relationships you form can often make or break your small business. Align yourself with the right people who help your business and be honest with you. Iron sharpens iron, and that holds true in business, too. Find people, whether employees, mentors, peers, or friends, who motivate, encourage, and help you grow as a person and business owner. Also, pave a two-way street. Offer the same help and support to people around you, too.
9. Utilize your skills and strengths
You only have so much time and energy in a day. Concentrate on spending your time on the most critical tasks of running a business. Recognize your strengths and skills and use them to your advantage. Remember, there's not enough time to do everything. You'll get the most bang for your buck by focusing on what you do best.
10. Outsource your weaknesses
When you start your own business, often every task falls on you whether you're good at it or not. As you grow your small business and acquire extra funds, work to outsource jobs. These can be areas of weakness for you or just time-consuming tasks that take you away from more meaningful work. Focus your time on the tasks that move the needle the most, and hire others to help with the rest.
11. Find ways to scale your business
Growing a business is challenging, but finding ways to scale it early on can give you a vital head start. Effective ways to scale a business include automating tasks, forming partnerships, hiring employees or freelancers, investing funds back into your business, applying for business grants, and creating additional income streams. Don't try to scale too fast, but don't get stuck in the same place. Find the right balance for your business.
12. Take care of yourself
The transition from a side hustle to a full-time gig isn't easy. Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to turn off their "business" brain and focus on themselves or their families in their spare time. It's like working a 24/7 job at times which can quickly lead to burnout if you're not careful.
Find healthy ways to deal with burnout and stress as a business owner. Figure out what works for you, and build it into your regular routine, whether it's exercise, travel, self-care, or something else,
13. Network with peers and mentors
Networking is imperative for any business owner, especially as you gear up to launch a full-time gig. Search for peers and mentors who used to be where you are now or are at the same spot on the entrepreneur journey. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice. Attend networking events and conferences to meet new people and uncover new ideas that can help your business grow.
14. Set a deadline for quitting
Don't let your dream of going full-time become a pipe dream. Spend time working through the tasks above to set a reasonable deadline to accomplish everything. Then, when the deadline approaches, quit.
Setting a concrete deadline helps you avoid procrastination and the doubts that can creep in the longer you extend this goal. Mark the date on your calendar, and create an exit strategy for your current job.
15. Keep learning.
As with anything in life, the more time you invest into learning and growing as a business owner, the more equipped you'll be to scale your business. Ways to grow your knowledge include reading books, listening to podcasts, attending industry conferences, and following other successful entrepreneurs. Understand how you learn best and use that knowledge to become a better entrepreneur.
Best side hustle ideas that can become a full-time business
You can turn almost anything into a business with the right plan, hard work, and a customer base willing to pay for your products or services. Here are some of the most popular side hustles and freelance work that can become a full-time income.
- Freelance writing, transcribing, or proofreading (for example, becoming a blogger)
- Virtual assistant
- Bookkeeper, Accountant, or other personal finance assistants
- Computer programmer
- Social media manager
- Retail eCommerce (on Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist)
- Create and sell digital products on Etsy
- Graphic designer
- Website designer
- Event planner
- Personal trainer
- Real estate agent
- Influencer or content creator (for example, starting a Youtube channel)
The barrier to entry varies by profession and may require additional training, certifications, or online courses. Keep that in mind when considering a side hustle or full-time business.
Should you turn your side hustle into a full-time business?
It's a big jump going from a passion project on the side for extra money to launching a full-time business venture. Consider the pros and cons of going full-time with your side hustle before you take the leap.
Prepare financially before you transition to safeguard against ending up in a dire situation. Owning your own business is a risk, but keeping your finances in order can help to mitigate some of that risk. In the end, if your side hustle is something that you are passionate about and it brings in money, moving from part-time to full-time could be the best decision for you.