Now that you have chosen your side hustle and feel confident (enough) in your choice, it is time to get started on making your side hustle dreams a reality.
Before you jump in feet first, it is a good idea to spend some time in preparation. This phase is incredibly important to the success of your side hustle because it will lay down a strong foundation for everything that is to come.
Step one: Become familiar with your market
You’ve already spent some time in chapter three doing some market research. Now that you have your actual side hustle picked out, go ahead and take a deep dive into the market you have chosen. Here are some things to take a look at:
- How much competition is out there? Are you entering a saturated niche, or one that hasn’t been tapped into much?
- Do your competitors have websites? If they do, what do they look like? If they don’t, what do they use instead?
- Do your competitors use social media? Which platforms are they on? How do they use their profiles? What do they post, and how do they interact with others?
- How do your competitors market themselves?
There are, of course, other questions you can ask while doing your market deep dive — many of which will be specific to the side hustle you have chosen.
Step two: Create an “ideal customer” profile
The next thing you will want to have in your arsenal before you launch is an “ideal customer” profile.
An ideal customer profile is basically a quick write-up that describes who your ideal customer is — sort of like the character sketches fiction writers create as part of their writing process, except that instead of getting into a character’s head with the intention of writing about them, you are trying to get into a person’s head for the purpose of better understanding their shopping habits and motivations.
The first step to creating one, is to describe your ideal customer. Here are some questions to guide you in your description:
- What is their age?
- What is their gender?
- What are their hobbies and interests? What do they like to do in their free time?
- What is their annual income? What does their budget look like?
- How many people are in their household?
The next step is to describe their shopping habits. Here are some things to consider:
- How much research do they do before making purchases?
- How do they discover new products (recommendations from friends/family, online advertising, influencers, etc.)?
- Why do they ultimately decide to make a purchase?
- Do they prefer to shop for products/services online or in a physical location?
Depending on your niche, there may be other things you need to know. Just keep in mind the goal of the exercise — to get to know your potential customers, both as people and as shoppers — and you will be headed in the right direction.
Have a side hustle that serves a broad audience? You can create as many profiles as you want! This is especially useful if you think your ideal customers will have different backgrounds.
Step three: Take a walk in your ideal customer’s shoes
After you have completed your ideal customer profile, you are in a great spot to take a few steps in your customers’ shoes. This exercise is similar to the one you just completed, but it takes things a step further. Instead of simply describing your ideal customer, you will be using the description to imagine your customer’s actions. Here are a few scenarios to get you started:
- Imagine your ideal customer comes across a Facebook ad for your side hustle. Does he/she look at it, or scroll right past? What might motivate him/her to look at it longer?
- A friend mentions your side hustle to your ideal customer. What does he/she do?
- Your ideal customer is interested in your side hustle. What does the process look like from start (discover) to finish (purchase)?
You can also use your customer profile to answer specific questions about your ideal customer. For example:
- Why would they be interested in what you are offering?
- How can your side hustle make their life easier? What value do you provide? Why do they need you?
Step four: Fully understand the investment required
Though it looks different for every side hustle, the fact remains that some sort of investment will be required upfront. For some side hustles, this investment will be monetary. For most (if not all), you will need to invest time. Many side hustle will require a combination of both.
Before launch — in fact, before you even seriously get started — you need to fully understand what kind of investment your side hustle will require. Will it require money? How much money? Will it require time? How much time? Is there anything besides time and money that you will need to put in? The more specific you are, the better prepared you will be to account for those investments.
Step five: Develop a plan as to how you’ll be accounting for above
Once you have determined what sort of investment your side hustle requires, you should make a detailed plan for how you will account for those investments.
How will you find the time needed for your side hustle? You should already have already thought about how much free time you have in your day (we went over this in chapter one). Now that you know your side hustle and how much time it will take, you can go a step further and schedule time for your side hustle into your life. Will you work on it at night before bed? In the morning perhaps? On the weekends? Writing out a schedule will help you manage your time after launch, and will also help you know now how you will account for the investment of time that your side hustle will require.
As with time, you should have already thought about how much you can afford to invest in your side hustle upfront. Now that you have a side hustle, you can get a better idea of how much it will require. Compare that number with your planned investment. Can you afford it? If not, that’s okay, but you will need to decide now where you will be making cuts. Now is also the time to write out a detailed plan for you budget, beyond just how much you can spend. What will you use your investment for? Materials? Marketing? Something else? How much will you budget for each category? How will you use the income that your side hustle brings in? Be specific.
Step six: Develop a plan for pricing, workflow, etc.
The next step you should take to prepare yourself for launch is to develop a detailed business plan. During this step, you will need to decide exactly how you will run your business once it is operational.
One of the first things you will need to determine is how will you price your product or service.
If you are going to be selling a product, how much will you sell it for? To determine this, you will need to know how much your product costs to create, how much profit you want to make, and how similar products are priced. Knowing these three things will help you determine how much to sell your own product for.
If you are going to be selling a service, your pricing strategy will be a little different. The first thing to determine is how you want to set your rates. You could charge by hour, or a flat-rate per gig. Some side hustles have other ways to charge for your services. Freelance writers, for example, often charge per word. It’s a good idea to do a bit of research online to determine what’s standard for your side hustle. Once you know how you are going to charge, you can consider factors such as your experience and the time it will take you to complete a gig, to price your services. Again, a quick Google search should tell you what the standard rate is in your industry.
Workflow and General Operations
It is also important to consider what your workflow will look like once you get started. Part of this includes your schedule, but it is more than that. What will the bulk of your work be? How will you deliver your product or service to your clients? If you have a product you are selling, how will you create it? Will you use a manufacturer, or make it yourself? Will you store and ship it yourself, or will a separate party handle fulfillment?
There are so many things that go into running a small business — and doing it successfully. Since most of the small details will be unique to your side hustle, we couldn’t possibly walk you through every single step. What we can do, however, is leave you with a bit of advice on how to discover this information on your own.
Grab a sheet of paper (or your laptop), and start imagining your side hustle. Picture every detail that will go into it, every little thing that needs to be done. Once you feel like you have a clear picture of what your side hustle needs, plan out each of those details and decide how you are going to accomplish them.
Step seven: Write out a detailed marketing plan
Marketing your side hustle could be a course all its own, but here are a few things to consider when you are writing out your marketing plan:
- The week (or maybe two) after launch is perhaps the most important time on your marketing timeline, so make sure you plan it out ahead. This is a great time to build hype.
- If you miss launch week, or if it isn’t as successful as you’d hoped, don’t worry! While launch week is important, there will still be plenty of time to build your side hustle. In fact, some side hustles work best if you just get started — no fancy launch week required.
- Create a marketing timeline, not just a general idea of what you will do to market your side hustle. And make sure it is realistic, both in time and with money.
- Marketing doesn’t just have to be to strangers! One of the best places to start are colleagues, friends, and family. Who do you know who might benefit from your side hustle?
- If you are a one-man team, remember that you can’t do it all alone. You will have to pick and choose the things that will have the most impact. Someday, if your side hustle takes off and you can afford to hire employees, you can create a marketing plan with all the bells and whistles. For now, focus on the basics.
Hopefully you now have a better idea of what you need to get started on your side hustle journey. Take your time, but don’t be afraid to forge forward to the next step.