Starting a business is hard work. It’s best to launch while working and develop a side-hustle first. That way you can test the waters and learn some of those expensive lessons in business while you are still collecting a paycheck. This is part I (read part 2, here) of my series on how to become a successful side-hustler. This post focuses on the top 10 Do’s of side-hustling.
- Do develop a business plan for your new business. In order to figure out exactly what business you are in and how that business will turn a profit, you need to think through how your business will operate. The best way to do this is to go through the exercise of developing a business plan. Check out bplans.com for some great sample business plans. Don’t spend more time planning your vacation than you do planning for how you will support yourself and your family financially.
- Do check on your employer’s policy on side businesses. Your employee handbook should address any disclosure requirements, and policies on starting a side business. You need to keep your day job, so make sure you are in compliance with company rules.
- Do set goals you want to achieve. Set some financial goals for your business. It could be the number of clients you want to have, or milestones that you want to achieve in your business, but there has to be a point to all this hard work. Remember, profit is how we keep score in business.
- Do price your products/services to make a profit. Many small businesses are not profitable because they do not price their services or products correctly. Remember, you need to consider all of your direct costs, plus a percentage of your overhead and administrative expenses in your pricing.
- Do be flexible and open to change. The one thing that you really need to understand is that in business, nothing is predictable. You must be willing to change directly to meet your client needs and stay relevant in business.
- Do learn business basics and accounting fundamentals. Don’t be afraid to sign up for a business plan or accounting software course. You will have professional accountants and others assist you in your business, but make sure that you know how to go into your accounting software yourself and print a report. That way you always know how the money is flowing in your business.
- Do utilize your network to spread the word about your business. Your network is your net worth when you start out in business. 90 percent of all small businesses get business from referrals, so having a strong personal network is critical to getting and staying in business.
- Do be prepared to ask for the business — and referrals. Selling is a critical skill for a business owner. You must be willing to put yourself out there and ask for the business. You also need to make sure that you ask your happy customers for referrals. A third party endorsement of your business, is more powerful than anything you could ever say yourself about your business.
- Do develop a time-management system that works for you. You are now about to take on another job. You might already be a spouse, parent and full-time employee, so adding “business owner” to that mix means time is really going to get tight. You need to figure out where to get at least two hours a day to work on your business. I used to get up to work on my business from 5-7am when my son was preschool age.
- Do keep your start-up costs to a minimum. I believe in being a spare room tycoon. Working out of your basement, kitchen or backroom is perfectly fine. If you need to be around people, look into a co-working space or you can even go to the library or a local coffee shop. Just do not take on professional office space unless you are opening a retail business.