Start up your side hustle: How to turn a hobby into a business
Written by Lucian Morris, CEO of LQID Marketplace
No doubt you’ve heard of the side hustle – a passion project that earns you a bit of extra cash alongside your full-time gig. Its popularity has grown with the rise of the gig economy and micro-influencers, but it’s not limited to just would-be Instagrammers, career bloggers, and delivery workers. With the tools available today and the ability to connect with like-minded communities, it’s becoming more of a reality for anyone – from cake bakers to jewellery makers – to start earning income from ideas or hobbies.
While there are countless case studies promising the secret ingredient to convert your side hustle into a full-time gig, few businesses are an overnight success. The move to start your own business isn’t one big decision, it’s often a series of smaller steps that give you the confidence to get started.
From the customers we talk to on a regular basis, we’ve seen five common themes emerge when our members turn their ambitions into a business:
Plan to succeed, don’t be afraid to fail
Starting a business is a process and it can be overwhelming at times. While you should tackle each stage as it comes, establishing a big picture plan at the outset can help navigate the complexity. This doesn’t mean an extensive investor-ready business plan. A one-page plan is a good place to start, with plenty of online templates and networks to lean on for advice on what should go into this plan.
Planning to succeed also includes preparing for failures. It’s not always a smooth road so you need to think practically and be equipped to take a few hits. Planning for hiccups – and sometimes, worst-case scenarios – helps you anticipate and address challenges, develop a better product, and think more objectively about the venture by taking a step back. A plan to guide you and the right tools will also ensure you have the resilience to pick yourself up again.
Determine what’s realistic
Once you’ve established a plan, break the process down into steps with realistic goals at each stage. This makes the initial prospect of turning your passion project into a functioning business complete with balance sheets and supplier expenses far less daunting. Start with an idea, research and understand what it takes to turn it into a product, and progress from there.
A great way to keep momentum as you progress along the journey is to celebrate the small successes. The first product you list, your first sale, the first customer issue you successfully handle – it all adds up and before you know it, you’re running a successful venture.
Make sure you’re clear on costs
Starting out means you won’t have reserves of cash to access so the focus will be on keeping costs down and the first step is being able to anticipate and plan around what your costs look like. As part of your one-page business plan, create a budget with a financial outlook and projected expenses. When it comes to a brand new side hustle, your initial expenses should be straightforward – materials and stock, platform fees, potentially some social media promotion. List these costs out and remember that while there likely won’t be return on investment immediately, it will pay off in the long run.
Lean on platforms
While we don’t all aspire to be career bloggers or Instagrammers, we can learn a thing or two from them about the power of platforms. Marketplaces give new side hustlers and businesses the reach they wouldn’t otherwise have such immediate access to. These platforms drive traffic, provide security and moderation, and open up access to advanced technologies that connect you with consumers wherever they are.
There’s a great variety of platforms available, with different selling structures and pricing models, and a broad range of fee structures that support most pockets . When you’re starting out, try a few different ones and get a sense of what works best for your side hustle from both a cost and community perspective.
Become part of a community
Good commerce is based on relationships between a business and its customers. With people all over the world becoming more connected, it’s never been easier to create and maintain communities around your business. The power of platforms can help deliver a more engaging customer experience and, in turn, foster stronger relationships.
Building a community goes beyond just establishing a customer base. When starting a side hustle, community means building relationships with and leaning on other sellers. Think about traditional marketplaces where traders rely on each other, borrowing change, sharing tips, and minding each other’s stalls. The right platform will open you up to this community mentality with other sellers, allowing you to meet people with similar ambitions, exchange ideas, and trade tips.
The term side hustle has become ubiquitous, but in essence this is because the opportunities to start a business from scratch have never been greater. Thanks to today’s technology and tools, anyone and everyone can create additional income streams from a simple idea. By focusing on growing sustainably rather than quickly, planning for success and failure, and leaning on platforms to build your community, you’ll be hustling your way from hobby to business in no time.