Have you always dreamed of working for yourself? Do you have a side hustle that you’ve been thinking about taking full time, but haven’t really gone after it?
There are plenty of people in the same position as you. More than 44 million Americans have a side hustle, and the number skews higher among young people.
It’s hard to get from side hustle to full-time, thriving business, but you can do it. Here are six ways you can go from doing something on the side to making it your livelihood.
John Rampton, a top social influencer and founder of Due.com, had this to say about growing his side business at the start in an interview with Ryan Robinson. “Stop planning, stop thinking about it, just start,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.”
Too often, people don’t try to make the leap because they think they need to be better, or they need a more finished product, or any myriad of other reasons. The very hardest part is committing.
Take inventory of your time and figure out what you need to get done to start growing your business. Commit to sacrificing some or all of your leisure activities. Set aside the best hours of your day and use them to work on growing your side hustle.
2) Know what you’re good at.
There’s a famous Greek aphorism that’s been a staple of philosophy since the time of Socrates, repeated everywhere:
It’s incredibly useful when it comes to business. If you’ve been building your side hustle for a little while, you’re probably well aware of where your strengths and weaknesses lie (if you’re willing to be honest with yourself). Try asking people who are close to you whose opinions you trust, too.
Know what you’re good at. Know what you’re bad at. Know where you’re in between. Use that as a template for what you’ll do yourself, what you’ll learn how to do, and what you’ll outsource once you have the resources.
3) Find your competitive advantage.
What makes you different?
When you walked into a general store 200 years ago, you probably weren’t shopping by brand. If you wanted flour, you bought flour. If you wanted a pickax, you bought a pickax.
You didn’t research to find out which one was best, or pull out your iPhone and go to Yelp to see if there was a better general store, or decide that you could get that pickax cheaper from Amazon.
Today’s world is different. Consumers have an incredible amount of choice. If you’re not staking a claim on something that you do best, why will customers choose you?
Find the thing that makes you different and make it the center of your brand, your business strategy, and your marketing.
4) Seek out feedback, positive and negative.
When Joel Gascoigne was building the social media management tool Buffer, he started with an incredibly small initial offering. It was barebones and only worked on Twitter—but Gascoigne realized that the small size allowed him to solicit binary feedback.
Either it worked, or it didn’t. Either it was good, or it wasn’t.
Joel stayed very tapped in to his community as it grew, constantly soliciting feedback. Today Buffer is doing $1.3 million in revenue every month—and it started with nothing.
Get feedback from the people you serve, and people who’ve been there before. Stay plugged in on social. Go get a coffee or drinks or a bite to eat with people whose opinion you respect and network with them.
It’ll make your business better.
5) Get stable.
It’s very hard to build a business while you’re constantly wondering where your next meal is going to come from.
Unless you have independent means outside of your side hustle and your day job, don’t quit till you think you have consistent income lined up—at the very least, enough to live your day-to-day life while you’re building the business.
There’s a reason you don’t go shopping while you’re hungry—an empty belly makes you think short-term, and those cookies (symbolically) start to look really good. It’s hard to think long-term when the rent is late.
6) Build authority.
Hopefully you’ve been doing this already, but building an audience that values what you have to say is a key component of building a business like this. The more people you have on board, the more you can amplify your message. Put out content—a blog, a podcast, a vlog. Stay active on social media channels. Chat with influencers in your field and engage with their content.
If you’re already known as a voice in your sector, it’s a lot easier to get people into the conversion funnel when you’re trying to ramp up your business.
If you’re applying these six tools, you can start to see dividends very quickly.
You can see your business begin to grow until you can’t keep up with your day job any more. That’s when you’ll know—it’s time to quit the day job, and you’re ready to make your part-time hustle your full-time job.