You’re sitting at your desk at work, plugging away at the task in front of you. It’s your day job, and it pays the bills. It’s not that you hate it, but you can’t stop your thoughts from wandering to your side hustle. Maybe it’s a growing photography business, a DJ gig or some freelance graphic design work. Whatever it is, you love doing it and can’t stop dreaming of the day when you can quit your full-time job and invest the full force of your time and energy into your side hustle.
But dreaming is one thing, and doing is another. How do you take those first steps toward making your hustle your full-time job? How do you know if you’re ready to take your side business to the next level?
If these are the questions you’re asking, then you’re in good company. We’ve got the tips you need to help you learn how you can turn your side hustle into your full-time job.
Signs Your Business Is Ready for the Next Level
What are the real differences between side hustles vs. businesses? The major differences are in how well-developed they are. Side hustles start small and need time to grow and develop. Only by investing time in these early stages can you be sure you’ll have a business worth anything at all.
Because of this, side hustles are always a little rocky when you start out. But let’s say you’ve been doing this for a few months or even a few years. The road is starting to even out, and you’re beginning to feel like you’re in control. Does this mean it’s time? Here are three ways to know if your business is ready to go full-time.
1. You’re Financially Stable
You can measure financial stability in several different ways when you’re running a business. Ideally, the best way to measure this is to look at whether or not you’re currently earning money from your side hustle. Unless you had a very generous benefactor, most startups begin with loans or debts of some kind. Your first months or even years will likely be spent trying to pay off these loans. If you’re finally to the point where you’re starting to earn money — meaning your earnings are higher than your expenses — this is a very positive sign.
Additionally, you’ll want to have a fair amount of savings piled up for a rainy day. The idea here is that if you run into any large expenses down the road, you’ll have the cash to cover it without having to take on more debt. A solid credit score is also a major bonus at this stage.
2. You Have a Scalable Business Model
A scalable business model is one that’s going to allow you to grow and continue making exponentially more money. For example, a business where your expenses are higher than your earnings will result in a net loss and is not a scalable model. This will lead to loss after loss and will eventually burn out. A scalable model, on the other hand, is one that keeps leading upward by minimizing expenses and maximizing profits.
A scalable business model is important for two reasons:
- It helps you by paying you a salary and also giving you the money you need to keep making the company bigger and better instead of shrinking or even maintaining a status quo.
- It encourages investors, convincing them you’re worth their money because your business is going to last.
If you’ve got a model in place, have tested it and are already putting it in place, then it might just be time for you to go all in.
3. You’re Having to Turn Down Projects
Turning down projects may initially sound like a negative, but it’s actually a good sign. As you turn out more and more success stories, word of your product or service is going to spread. People will tell their friends, and increasing numbers of curious customers will begin lining up at your door, eager to try your business for themselves.
As a creative professional, however, you only have so much time on your hands. You can’t be in two places at once, and as you become more and more popular, this will inevitably lead to turning down certain projects. At this point, this is a positive for your business because it means the demand is greater than the supply. This allows you to increase prices slightly and should give you confidence that you’re on the fast-track to having a full-time business on your hands.
Steps to Take to Turn Your Side Hustle Into Your Job
Side hustles don’t turn into businesses by accident — they’re the result of careful planning, hard work and a specific set of steps such as these. With this in mind, here are four steps on how to turn your side hustle into your full-time business.
1. Carve Out Time to Create Your Business Plan
A well-thought-out business plan is imperative to the success of your business. Think of it as a road map for your company or startup. Not only does it show your final destination, but it also has a clearly highlighted route that you intend to take to reach your goal. It helps you clarify your vision for your company and communicate this clearly to employees if you have them. Even if you don’t have any employees yet, it’s helpful to write this down for yourself, so you can keep track of your goals.
Business plans are also great for attracting financing and investment. After all, if someone is going to invest in your company, they’ll want to be sure it’s in capable hands, and that they aren’t merely throwing money away. They want to be sure they’ll see returns. A solid business plan can convince them of this.
As you’re getting ready to take the next step with your business, take the time to draw up a comprehensive business plan for your soon-to-be new job. It doesn’t have to be set in stone and can change when you see change is necessary. But, it’s important to have this road map as you start this new journey. Without it, you might get lost along the way. With it, you’ll always be able to keep track of where you’re headed.
2. Craft Your Marketing Skills
It doesn’t matter how amazing your product or service is — if no one knows about it, you won’t make any money. That’s where marketing comes in. Marketing is the art of advertising yourself to the world. To be an effective marketer, you need to figure out exactly what you want your public image to be. You need to figure out what connects with people, then determine how to build this into your brand. Then, you need to figure out the most effective plan for sharing this with the world.
It isn’t enough to send out a promotional email whenever it occurs to you or post on Twitter every couple of weeks. Instead, you need a detailed plan that covers marketing tools like email blasts, website management, social media tracking and in-person events. This is no small challenge, which is why you must build these skills up over time.
Before you can take your business and make it into a full-time job, you’ll need to be confident that your marketing skills are up to the task. If not, then you may need to spend a bit more time developing these. After all, they’re going to be the major driving force that brings traffic to your door. If your marketing skills aren’t up to par, your business likely won’t be making enough to support you.
Hone your marketing skills by reading books, attending seminars, following relevant blogs and even taking classes. You can also conduct case studies by choosing a popular brand you love and paying close attention to the way they market themselves. How often do they post on social media, and what are they posting? How often do they send emails? These brands have become popular because they know how to market themselves, and this makes them fantastic examples to study.
3. Get Ready to Work — A Lot
Anyone can mess around with a hobby in their spare time. Anyone can slowly turn this into something that makes them the occasional dollar. But turning that side gig into a full-time job? It’s a daunting task, and it’s not for the faint of heart. We believe in optimism, and we think you have the power to get it done. However, we also believe in realism, and the reality is that if you want it, it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
You’ve heard the phrase “time is money.” While that’s true in many settings, it likely won’t hold true for you yet. You’ll need to be prepared to put in long hours with little to no visible return. These hours aren’t meaningless, as they’re laying the groundwork for future success, but you’re unlikely to see any monetary gain from them — at least not yet. You’re your own boss, so there won’t be anyone standing over you giving you incentives to keep going. If you want it, it’s up to you and you alone. This is certainly no small task.
To help cope with the strain of this work, try a few of these tips out:
- Change Hats Often: There’s a good chance that your business isn’t big or stable enough yet to hire employees. That means all the work is going to fall on you as you switch hats at lightning speed, moving from one role to another as the situation calls for it. You’ll need to play the salesperson, the customer service professional, the head of human resources, the bookkeeper, the CEO and more. This can be frustrating, but it also keeps you from getting too bogged down in one role and teaches you the many sides of running a business.
- Break It Down: Taking your side hustle to a full-time job is a big step, and it’s important to go into it without any illusions that it will be easy. However, you can make this seemingly insurmountable task a little lighter on yourself. One of the best things you can do is to break big tasks down into smaller tasks. Rather than looking at your work as a mountain of projects you’re constantly struggling to make a dent in, create a checklist. Check off one item at a time and allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment with every small thing you get done.
- Think Long Term: Finally, try to maintain a big-picture attitude. When it feels like you’ve worked for hours and hours with little to no results, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re planting the seeds for future success. You might not see it now, but someday you’ll look back and be glad you didn’t give up.
4. Build Your Network
Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and none of us would ever learn anything if we didn’t have people to learn from. That’s where your network comes into play. This is a fancy term for the smart, savvy and supportive people you chose to surround yourself with as you go on this journey. Maybe some of them you’ll end up working with, but it’s also possible that some of them will never have anything to do with your business. This doesn’t matter — they’re still a vital part of your network.
Here are just a few of the important roles the people in your network can fulfill for you:
- Inspiration: We all know that feeling of being a kid, looking at someone and thinking “I want to be like them when I grow up.” This is the grown-up version of this. Inspiration encourages us to grow, change and be better. By surrounding yourself with individuals who inspire you, you’ll constantly challenge yourself to up your game.
- Advice: Few things are more valuable than the advice of someone who has walked in your shoes before. Are you acquainted with the owners of any successful businesses that started just like yours? Ask them what advice they’d give to their younger selves. You never know what tips you might learn.
- Support: Support might not be a quantifiable resource, but doesn’t make it any less valuable. When times are hard and you’re struggling to see the big picture, sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is the encouragement and help you get from your network, both personal and professional.
Make Your Transition as Smooth as Possible With Táve
As the owner of a brand new business, it’s easy to feel like there’s far too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in. That’s why so many creative professionals such as wedding photographers, videographers and DJs have tried and fallen in love with Táve.
Táve is a one-stop software app that handles many of the business management tasks associated with running a startup while simultaneously freeing you up to focus more on the creative tasks you love. It’s built to handle lead tracking, online booking, calendar management, email scheduling and so much more.
Are you ready to take the plunge and go full-time with your side hustle? Táve is here to help. Sign up today for your one-month free trial and experience for yourself what makes so many creative business owners fall in love with Táve.