You’ve been thinking about starting a side hustle on top of your day time job—but you haven’t quite figured out logistics. Thinking long and hard, you’ve explored options such as your passions, strengths, weaknesses, and came to the conclusion that you don’t really know how or where to begin. If you currently rely on your day time income—whether it’s for rent, car payments, insurance or any other fixed expense—then you starting your own side hustle and build a self-employment income while you still have the safety net and security of your 9-5 job could help you relieve some of that financial pressure or could give you more financial freedom to accomplish other things.
For those who are living paycheque to paycheque, ask yourself: Do I want to be an entrepreneur? Am I doing it to make extra cash or to make financial ends meet? Is this a long-time hobby that I’d like to grow into a business that I love? These questions are critical in forming the basis of your imperative decision, as 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years. Start small, then scale and grow with your customers.
If you’re convinced, here are five steps to help you start while keeping your 9-5 job (and only source of dependable income):
1. Brace yourself for the long haul: If you are simply toying with a potential business idea or entertaining the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, then perhaps starting a side business isn’t for you. According to businessman and philanthropist Tony Robbins, “business success is 80 percent psychology and 10 percent mechanics”. Even a great product or service won’t get very far if you lack grit, determination, and a genuine interest in helping future customers solve a problem. Your side hustle will also take many hours each week away from precious time that you’d otherwise spend with friends and family. Given that majority of your time and effort goes to your 9-5 job, adding a side hustle can burn you out quicker than you think. So before you start a side hustle during your 5-9 PM, ask yourself the reasons you’re starting this hustle and how badly you want to succeed.
2. Identify your unique skills and areas of interest: Business success occurs when the right skills meet the right interest areas. Before you start your side hustle, you need to identify, refine, and utilize relevant skills, experience, or industry knowledge. For example, if you are a musician who loves making music, you could monetize your skills by offering online guitar lessons or in-person piano lessons after your 9-5 job. On the other hand, if you lack key skills that relate to your interest or your side hustle, then what better time than now to start learning them?
3. Validate your side hustle by acquiring your first client: There’s nothing more validating than the feeling you get when you acquire your first paying customer. As exciting as it may be, make sure that this customer is actually a good client, rather than one who will give you troubles down the road. According to extensive CB Insights studies, the “lack of market need” is a leading cause of many small business failures. To combat this, validate your hustle with your first client before getting too far into the business to ensure that you’re not creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Take a survey, ask them questions, and see if this is a service or product that they would continue using.
4. Set milestones and launch dates for accountability: Building a side hustle up to profitability with a limited amount of time outside of your 9-5 job is never easy. That’s why when you come up with a viable side hustle idea, it should be launched, monetized, and iterated. Don’t obsess over building the perfect solution, particularly when you don’t know what exactly your clients will resonate with. Draw up an action plan with key milestones and deadlines that will guide you from concept all the way to launch date. For accountability, let friends and family know about your deadlines. This will help you hold yourself accountable and avoid making excuses.
5. Focus on long-term customer sustainability before quitting your 9-5 job: Finally, you are starting a side business while keeping your 9-5 job for a reason. Most business owners won’t leave their day job until their side hustle produces a sustainable, profitable, and growing cash flow that exceeds at least 75 percent of what they earn in their 9-5. Unless your day job expects much more (i.e. late nights and weekends), you shouldn’t have to make the plunge into quitting your day job right away. It’s important to consider your day time employment against the risks that you are taking as you test the viability of your side hustle. If you’ve been thinking about a side hustle idea for weeks or months—perhaps even during your 9-5—then it’s time to take action. Use the steps above to think about the long haul, identify your interests and strengths, validate your idea with a client, set milestones for accountability, and build a sustainable flow of customers and income before you take the leap and quit. Once you have your side-hustle up and running, consider using Kashoo to keep track of your income and expenses! A great benefit of starting your own business is being able to expense parts of your rent, vehicle bills, and other business-related things.