So, you’ve decided that your corporate job won’t be your career – you need more, something you can call your own. You’ve decided to launch a side hustle.
If that’s you, then you are in the best of all possible worlds. You know you want to do something else, and you’ve given yourself the time, cash and space to get it done right. Sure, launching a side hustle while you’re still working can be more exhausting than not having to work a full time job at the same time. But it’s also a lot, and I mean a LOT more mentally draining – because in addition to trying to get your business off the ground, you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay the rent.
As for me, if I had the choice, I would much rather have my finances together and get less sleep, than to fly without a net.
So, you have this advantage, use it. You have tons of things at your disposal, money, time, and opportunity. Take some vacation days and set up your business bank account, meet with an accountant that specializes in small businesses, same with an attorney – and remember, these referrals may have even come from your current business contacts. The accountant and attorney will give you help in figuring out what kind of legal structure makes the most sense for your business, LLC, S Corp, sole proprietorship etc. Once you know that, it’s time to register with the state and the feds. Again, your attorney or accountant can help you – they might even do it for you. But either way, it’s a simple process – in fact you could do it yourself online.
Then your next stop should be an insurance broker – because I can’t say enough how important business insurance is. You absolutely need to protect both your personal assets (you know, your home and car) and any assets the business builds up. Just take my word for it, if something goes wrong with a client and they get it in their head they want to come after you – your sleep will happen much easier if you have business insurance.
And a pro tip – for some businesses, especially some professional services businesses, insurance might actually be required to do business. So be sure you’ve checked out all the requirements – again, hit up your accountant or attorney.
Next be sure you have your money squared away, get a bookkeeper, or at the very least some bookkeeping software. If you decide to do it yourself using software, take some online tutorials or classes so you’re really familiar with how to set things up. Believe me, you really do want all this to be right from the very beginning – it will make your life a lot easier, and your accountant’s tax preparation bill a lot lower.
“…You have tons of things at your disposal, money, time, and opportunity.“
Now it’s time to get your client agreement in order. Again, your attorney can help with that – just be sure you have one, you’ll need it.
OK, onward to actually selling the thing. Take some time to learn about marketing and selling. If that’s not already in your zone of genius, you will need to get it there. I can’t tell you how many times I hear entrepreneurs get completely stumped because their business isn’t growing like they thought it would – and it’s all because they don’t have a clue to marketing or sales.
Most of us start businesses doing what we love, but again, most times that isn’t sales (and for those of you opening marketing agencies, the rest of us are jealous – because clearly you already know the ins and outs of marketing, so you have a leg up on the rest of us).
And for the rest of us – we are going to need to learn it. Because as a business owner, it will be up to you to effectively market the business so you have leads and prospects. And once you get those prospects, it’s up to you to effectively sell to them. Believe me – you will be flexing a whole new muscle, so get some education around sales techniques; figure out what fits your business and more importantly, your style. Maybe it’s inbound, maybe it’s outbound – whatever, learn about it all so you can make an educated decision on what will work for you in this season of your business.
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Next, get your tech in order. You’ll need a website – get the squared away, either by building it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you, you’ll probably need some sort of applications to help you run the business (for instance, in addition to accounting software, how about project management, and customer relationship management etc.). And in fact you may even need applications that are client facing as well.
And if you’re going to work with other people – even if they are contractors – they’ll need access to at least some of your systems or accounts, so think about online security before you have to. How will you give access to applications, will you share login credentials (I don’t recommend it) or use a password manager like lastpass or something similar. No matter – figure it all out before you enlist help. That way they can hit the ground running.
OK, that gives you a great start on launching your side hustle. And once you decide you are ready to quit your corporate job and turn your side hustle into your main hustle – be sure to avoid these mistakes.