How Do You Build A Successful Side Hustle?
Your imagination contains hidden treasures. If you allow it to percolate for only a moment or two, you can smell that delicious meal you’re about to cook. If you let it simmer longer, a creative story leaps from your mind. If you permit yourself to dive deeper, a beautiful work of art emerges.
And that’s only from the right side of your brain. From your left side comes innovative expressions in scientific theory, inventive designs in the fields of engineering, and groundbreaking ideas for new and improved businesses.
It’s within this last category you will discover methods to make money consistently. These ventures can expand to top-tier multi-national firms or remain small-town family-owned enterprises. Most, however, start on their paths to glory with the same first step: a kernel of an idea. An idea that might start out as a side hustle.
Not all side hustles come with grand ambitions. Some merely exist to produce extra spending money, pay off a debt, or just give you something to do. The most successful side hustles all possess some common elements. Foremost is finding a void to fill.
“Filling a need in the market is the key for any money-making endeavor, so find that thing of value and go sell it to people who want it,” says Nick Wood, founder and CEO of Digital Landlords in St. George, Utah. “Building consistent passive income through a side hustle takes time, but it works if you do! Be disciplined, set yourself up for success, and then stay consistent. Whether you’re doing junk removal or SEO, your side hustle will grow as your network and experience grow.”
It’s one thing to discover where the money is, but that’s only the first step. That alone doesn’t guarantee success. Your side hustle must strike a passion within you.
“To build a successful side hustle, you start with deciding what it is you want to do,” says Dielle Charon, a sales and money mindset coach in Raleigh, North Carolina. “From there, be really simple and sell that one item. For example, if you are a business coach, be a business coach and do that really well on the side. Then, for marketing purposes, choose one platform that you will market on. Do not feel like you need to do all platforms. Share your client stories, your transformations, your education and give really well there so people begin to see you as the expert in this area. A key thing is not resenting your 9-5 while side hustling. Appreciate that your 9-5 allows you to build this side hustle up and is funding this side hustle.”
After finding the opportunity and an inner drive to overcome the usual adversity, you’ll next need to bring your idea to the marketplace. It’s not as simple as loading it onto a truck, driving it to the store, and placing it on the shelves. You’ve got to trumpet your side hustle. We want to motivate people to buy your product or service.
What’s the best way to accomplish this?
“Solve a problem—make someone’s pain go away,” says Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation in Sammamish, Washington. “That usually takes one of three forms: a service that solves the problem, a product that solves the problem, or content that solves the problem. It doesn’t necessarily mean creating some super innovative-never-seen-before business idea, but it could be about putting your own unique spin on a business that already exists and serving a slightly different customer base.”
Are these three steps by themselves all you need to build a successful side hustle? No. You need the proper mindset. As fun as your side hustle seems (and they all seem fun if your passion drives you), you still must treat it as a real for-profit operation.
“Building a successful side hustle comes from identifying the skill and the market for the items or services being sold,” says Sacha Walton, business strategist and CEO of SWI Management in Hampton, Virginia. “Additionally, it takes one to see their side hustle as an actual small business. Properly planning for the business to be an effective resource for their household. Establishing a business plan and implementing strategies that will increase their income. Time management is essential for the success of a side hustle because of a person’s family life, other employment, and, most importantly, being efficient with their services. Setting up processes and systems as well as management wellness while aiding the success of the business. Being realistic about the goals and the time it takes to effectively manage a side business adds to its overall success.”
Although you want to maintain the discipline of business, there’s also no reason to rush things with your side hustle. Taking it nice and easy gives you a better chance to monitor and pivot to profits as new data comes in.
“I think you build it one day at a time, and you try things to see what works, and those things that work you double down on, and things that don’t work you leave by the wayside,” says Wendy Conklin, owner of Chair Whimsy in Round Rock, Texas. “I see it as a trial period like you’re trying out for a real business. It doesn’t have to progress to a ‘real business,’ and people are perfectly happy just having side hustles for fun. They enjoy their careers or want to stay in their regular job and don’t wish to jump into making their side hustle their full-time business, so I think building it is just one day at a time but still treating it though seriously like it’s a job and you’re trying to make money at it.”
And just like the tortoise, you’ll find slow-and-steady wins the side hustle race.
“Start slow when building a side hustle,” says Christopher Mitra, executive leadership coach at An Inspired Life in Kamloops, British Columbia. “It’s essential to get an authentic feel for the impact that it will have on your life outside of work. For it to be successful, you will need to put in consistent work, and if that’s not feasible because of other life commitments, you may not want to start. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as you build your business. No one starts a side hustle with instant success. It’s the setbacks that help us grow and make us better at what we do. Finally, ensure that you communicate with people in what you are doing, especially if your work impacts them (i.e., spouse and kids). The more support you have, the better your chances for success.”
Finally, just because it’s easy to go it alone doesn’t mean you have to. For some, finding a side hustle sherpa is the best way to reach the summit. How do you do this?
“There are a few proven ways. The first is to find a mentor who has built a successful business from scratch in a similar category,” says Noah Koff, founder & CEO at Redwood Partners LLC. in Portland, Oregon. “Mentors have wisdom and practical guidance to help you build revenue step by step. A second way is to join a group coaching program with others who are building their venture from scratch. This way, you are not alone, have accountability to do the work, and have others cheering you on to succeed. Research shows that when you do the work with buddies, you are 500% more successful in achieving outcomes.”
What is the most successful side hustle?
It’s tempting to think that if there’s a template to build a successful side hustle, there must, therefore, be a “most successful” side hustle. Searching for this, however, is like searching for the Holy Grail. You’ll never find it because it’s not a thing; it’s a state of mind.
“Start a side hustle in something you enjoy,” says Mitra. “Remember, you are already sacrificing your free time to build this business, so it should put a smile on your face and provide some intrinsic satisfaction. If you hate what you are doing, you are setting yourself up for failure.”
How do you evaluate a side hustle?
If you’re convinced you will enjoy the side hustle you’re considering, but you still have doubts, it’s natural to want to try to understand if it’s the right side hustle for you. You can certainly evaluate your side hustle idea in many different ways before you launch it. Given what a side hustle is, however, the best way to evaluate it might be to simply test it.
“A side hustle to me is an educated risk and opportunity you take to see where things go,” says Jamie Mitri, founder and CEO of Moss Pure in Smithfield, Rhode Island. “In most cases, you have a nice cushion of another source of income. So, if the risk doesn’t work out, you are still covered in the financial area (or at least you are covered to some degree).”
How do you keep track of side hustle income?
To provide you with the most useful information in terms of evaluating your side hustle, you’ll need to keep track of your side hustle income and expenses.
To do this, Devon Chulick, COO of StartPlaying in San Francisco, says to start by setting up “a separate bank account and S-Corp or LLC. It’s low-effort and more accessible now than ever with online tools like LegalZoom that have made it so easy to start an LLC/S-corp. You can get everything up and running within a week or two.”
Establishing a formal entity induces a framework that makes it easier to separate your personal life from your side hustle life.
How do you measure success in a side hustle?
In many ways, a side hustle does not differ from a full-time startup. You measure success in terms of sales and profits. Still, there’s a little more to a full-time startup that puts more pressure on you (and the business).
“In a full-time startup business, the measure of success is no different,” says Koff. “It’s just that you have more ‘skin in the game’ and more invested in growing this vision into a highly successful and sustainable business.”
Are financial statistics the only measure of success in a side hustle? They definitely represent one metric. You don’t want to lose money with your side hustle (unless your side hustle is a charity). On the other hand, the best side hustles aren’t just about making money. You need to derive some personal satisfaction from it.
“Most people take jobs for the pay and benefits and do something they don’t really love,” says Stephen Davis, CEO and founder of Total Wealth Academy in Houston. “Your side hustle should be something that you love and enjoy doing. Success would be when the income from your side hustle exceeds your wants and needs AND when you are enjoying the process.”
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