Everyone has ideas, aspirations. You wouldn’t be reading Inc. if you didn’t. The best advice I ever received is that my idea didn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get done. Because the idea that gets executed will always be better than the one that doesn’t.
Still, everyone has different circumstances. It’s far easier to be a risk-taking entrepreneur with money in the bank and zero responsibilities. That’s just a fact. But having a job and responsibilities shouldn’t stop you from chasing an idea–they should only fine tune how you go about doing a side hustle.
Eight years ago, almost to the day, I started working on PR projects outside of work. I built my contacts, made mistakes I really needed to learn from and when I started my own firm seven months later-I was ready to go. That first project won national awards and put me on the map. But I wouldn’t have been ready without a side hustle.
Don’t wait for your idea to be perfect. Don’t talk yourself out of it before you even get started. Here are five important ways to get a side hustle up and running and working for you.
1. Find a side hustle that is flexible around your own schedule.
This is an obvious but often overlooked starting point. A side hustle is a test of your concept. You have to give it effort but it can’t overwhelm your current schedule.
Start by prioritizing the events you need to attend and the ones you can skip for now, the leads you should chase and the leads that can wait. Having this focus will allow you to keep things manageable.
The other benefit of side hustle is that you can and should invest what you make back in yourself since you have other income.
“Make a list of industry conferences, courses, or other business development needs that you want to invest in to help you better your entrepreneurship journey and as you bring in a new client or complete another side hustle project, take 20 percent of the revenue and invest it back in yourself,” said financial expert Winnie Sun.
Finally, consider having a business plan that is built around your limited output. If you know you can’t provide a large volume of something or your time, then create a luxury strategy that delivers high value for a few select clients. Don’t get in the position of low volume and low prices.
2. Start by creating your own leverage.
You need to be valuable at first, indispensable second in an industry. That takes time. Building up an audience helps. The sole reason I grew a large social following wasn’t to sell stuff on social media. It was to create reciprocal value in my industry. Instead of asking for things, I was able to also provide something in return.
“The relationship isn’t done when the check clears. Take a percentage of your side hustle earnings and invest it in gifts to your centers of influence and your clients. Too many businesses are one directional, you can be the change and stand out this way. Send your clients a meaningful gift that connects you both again,” said Sun.
The little things, being present, building relationships never goes out of style. The delivery method may have changed but people still want to work with people they like and know will deliver.
3. Look for a side hustle that can generate revenue quickly.
“You may think the only way to make good money with a side hustle is through unique opportunities that no one else is doing. But often times the best side hustles are ones in established industries,” said Mark Wills, CEO of Loan Signing System. “Established side hustles are great to pursue because you can see real testimonials from people making great money doing the side gig you are considering.”
New entrepreneurs often get scared by competition, opting instead to try and find and develop an entirely new market. But that’s way more difficult. Either work with an established market or bring a proven idea from one industry to a new industry. Then there is a proven parallel you can use.
4. You shouldn’t need a lot of capital to start.
This depends a lot on what you are looking to do but keep in mind what the upfront costs are or may be when choosing a side hustle.
“Some side hustles such as personal fitness training require a specialized skill or experience before you are able to make money. Find a side hustle that you can get started and make money with little to no experience,” said Wills.
5. Have a product mindset
Even if you’re creating a service, be intentional and specific about how you monetize it. A lot of entrepreneurs get derailed by the process of having set prices. It’s easy if you are selling shirts-far more difficult if you’re selling your expertise. I struggled with this early.
Set a price and don’t budge from it. This is a side hustle so you have other income and can afford to be patient while you establish a market.
Make the menu small. Just like at a restaurant, don’t overwhelm people with options. This will confuse your client and overwhelm you. Play to your strengths and remember that your only weakness in a side hustle is your time-so use it wisely and efficiently.