2020 has been a turbulent year for business. For some it’s forced tricky career re-evaluation, but for others it’s been the spark they needed, motivating spirited entrepreneurs to start a new business, or take their side hustles full time.
With the right mindset and tools, side hustles can truly grow to be million-pound businesses of great esteem. Take Gymshark for example, it is stories like Ben’s that prove the value of investment, determination and ambition to grow a side hustle. 2020 has in fact been a record year for people taking side hustles full time or starting new businesses from scratch. The Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) reported that company formations in the first nine months of the year are 9.5% higher than January to September 2019. To date, 572,882 companies have launched in 2020.
Starting a business from scratch can be daunting, as can quitting a safe job to take your side hustle full-time. But it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and attitude anyone can start. With this in mind, I look at four steps to follow to take your side hustle to the next level.
Create a business plan
Understand the direction you want your business to go in. Have a clear and concise business plan in place, which will essentially be your route to success. Through this, you can define your USP, learn more about the marketplace you want to move into, analyse competitors and plan your business roadmap.
When it comes to it you’ll need to factor in enough time to flesh out a plan and find the online resources that are right for you. Miranda Cain, Managing Director, Elev-8 started a business in 2020. For her, the initial challenge was building a business, whilst still employed. It required working around the clock, evenings and weekends. Access to information was also a challenge. Whilst the internet is an amazing tool, you can find so much conflicting data, so just understanding what she needed to do, was a challenge on its own.
A builder can’t build a house without a blueprint, so why should anyone launch a business without their own plan of action? No matter how small your side hustle is, make sure you step into your marketplace set and ready, with you’re a well-defined plan in hand.
Stay on top of your finances
Within your business plan you’ll need to consider your finances. Business owners who don’t take care of long-term cashflow will soon run out of steam.
To really be in control, you’ll need to know what is happening with your money at all times. Toggling spreadsheets in Excel can drain your productivity. Knowing data points, such as how much cash you have and what you need to pay for, can be at your fingertips if you have the right tools, and accounting software. You can even impress your accountant with real time reports and dashboards that let you spot trends and highlight issues before they become problems.
Having this level of understanding, through 24/7 accessible data, will allow you to stay on top of your finances while focusing on the activities that will make your business grow.
Make technology a key enabler
Technology has been a lifeline for businesses in 2020. Sage research found that 73% of small businesses have turned to technology during the pandemic to enable their business. Technology can allow you to increase your efficiency and productivity when investing time into your side hustle, just by automating certain processes.
Whether automating transactions, communicating with customers or, managing staff and suppliers, it’s important when taking your own business full time to sharpen your technological skills and equip yourself with the right tools.
Taking your side hustle full time with a strong digital backdrop, will allow you to hit the ground running. Carrying out tasks more seamlessly and automating where possible will position your business to grow and succeed.
Connect with your customer
Are you truly connecting with the right customer? It is likely that as a side hustle, your customer pool is quite small ‘ family, friends and recommendations. As you grow, ‘connecting’ with your customers is vital and you’ll need to put in some work to get it right.
Speaking to potential or existing customers, through surveys, focus groups or one-to-one interviews can give you valuable customer opinions on important drivers like what they like to buy, what price points they find acceptable and how they measure value.
You can also build up a rapport with your customers through social media. Engaging on social media is a great way to market your side hustle, with just a few clicks. Side hustler, CEO and co-founder of car cleaning product business, Autobead, James Ford, attests to the value of digital marketing. He knew that they could go and advertise through channels like Facebook, take advantage of Instagram, and ultimately build mini-communities.
Connecting with customers whether face to face, through surveys or on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram goes a long way both for the brand and the customer. This will make customers feel listened to, part of your business journey and ultimately will establish the grounds for repeat business, loyalty and advocacy.
Becoming a full-time hustler
Making a side hustle work is challenging but rewarding. You become part of an exciting and ever-growing community of side hustlers in the UK who are choosing to develop a business in their spare time, with many harbouring dreams of going it alone.
When engineering your own success, it’s important to get some basics right by taking the time to form a solid business plan, understanding how to manage your finances, taking advantage of technology and regularly communicating with your customers. With these key actions you will be on the path to confidently grasping the reins of your side hustle and leading it to future success.