Almost half of the workers in the UK are thought to have a side hustle. If you’ve got one, how do you turn it into a business? And is it worth it?
If we believe the press, most workers these days have a side hustle—essentially a hobby, activity, or interest that an individual hopes they can turn into a money-making business.
This trend is being driven by a few factors, job insecurity being one.
“In the six years since the global economic crisis, standard jobs were destroyed while part-time employment continued to increase,” so says the Organisation or Economic Co-operation and Development.
Another growing challenge is the weakening income levels for jobs. The divide between the haves and have nots is growing. And, while pay growth remains strong, for people without the right blend of skills and credentials, finding well-paid full-time employment is proving a pipe dream.
Perhaps though, these economic drivers are only fanning the flame of a bigger emotional and cultural driver, that of doing something you want to do, in an era when the end of the world looks like it’s coming into view. Why raise yourself out of bed to do a job you don’t like when life is precious?
At the very beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, the place side hustlers find themselves in is not so far different from the position every business founder finds themselves in. So, what does it take to go from your big idea into something that makes serious money?
Newton Day has made an art form of helping tech start-ups to achieve the results they need in the delicate early days of their journey. In this article, our team has put together some thoughts on the most important things to think about.
Know your customer problem intimately
In our experience, the main reason why companies fail is not that they have a bad idea or a bad product, it’s because they aren’t able to identify and serve a customer problem well enough. To succeed, you will need to understand how to help your customer get a job done better than any other provider they know of.
Watch this short video of Clay Christensen, creator of ‘Jobs-to-be-Done theory’ to learn more about how to get this right.
Find a robust way to identify potential customers
Entrepreneurs often worry more about their product or proposition than their customers. That can be a fatal mistake.
There are lots of people like you, with similar bright ideas, and enthusiasm for your subject. What separates startup success stories from the rest, is the ability to hone in on a customer audience you can repeatedly identify and attract. The more targeted your buyer persona (and the higher the frequency of desire for your product or service within that group), the more success you are likely to have. You can download a buyer persona guide from this vendor site to get you started.
Be realistic with your timeline, resourcing, and budget
Entrepreneurs are by their nature, positive people, which is why they so often get their budgets wrong! It’s so easy to run out of cash before your dream turns into a reality. I can’t tell you just how quickly time flies when you know you have to pay all the company bills at the end of the month!
You have to be realistic as to the progress you will make in the time you have available. Whatever your instincts tell you, add another third to the timeline and you will probably find it a more accurate prediction. And don’t sell yourself short on resources, as it’s a false economy. If you don’t budget for enough resources (for fear you can’t afford it), all the energy you put into your venture will probably come to naught, because it will take too long to get your idea to market, or your quality, or service, won’t perform to the level your customers expect. This is the time you need to dig deep and find a way to fund the ‘stuff’ you need to be successful.
Don’t dilute your focus
Entrepreneurs are by their nature, creative—ideas people. That’s wonderful for coming up with a new way to bring value to customers, not so good when having to turn that idea into a business. Successful companies are about repetitive and predictable income. That predisposes your activities towards a single area of activity, to which you are going to place all of your efforts. The millionaire businesspeople I know all have a common character trait: not only are they creative thinkers, but they are also equally resolute in sticking to their task and not letting ‘another idea’ stand in their way. If you have another big idea, don’t worry, it will still be there once you’ve made the current one a success!
Is it worth the effort to turn your hustle into a business?
That depends on how committed you want to be, and the scale of your ambition. Starting and running a business certainly isn’t a free lunch, but it can be both financially and emotionally rewarding.
While you can take pleasure from a hobby or doing something for charity, creating wealth comes with it the opportunity to give back to your community, hopefully, contribute towards saving the planet in a small way, and brings dignity and empowerment to the people you employ. That said, these rewards come supplied with mountains of personal effort, not least lots of early morning and late evenings—so before you jump in with both feet, go hunt out fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders through local networks to learn from their experiences and see if it’s for you. For useful references, you can try your local chamber of commerce, or professional organizations like the Institute of Directors (IoD), that offer impressive support networks for early-stage business leaders … and good luck on your side hustle adventure!
Ian Tomlin is a marketer, entrepreneur, business leader and management consultant. His passion is to help make great ideas happen. Relentlessly optimistic about the potential of technology for good, Ian’s 30+ year career has focused around the intersect of strategy, technology and marketing. He writes on subjects including enterprise computing and organizational design. He also works as a consultant and advisor to the executive teams of PrinSIX Technologies, Answer Pay and INTNT.AI, helping to rethink their marketing in order to tell their brand story.
Ian has founded a series of successful businesses including NDMC Ltd (2003), Encanvas (2006), and Newton Day Ltd (2019). He has written books, articles and guides on brand, digital transformation, enterprise applications, data science, workforce management, and organizational design. He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter.