People who are passionate about starting a side business always have a place in my heart.
My coaching business, which is now flourishing, also began as a part-time job. I was 24 years old at the time and was a paralegal in a Manhattan real estate law firm. I barely made a starting salary in the world’s most expensive city, but I managed my finances well.
I started my side business partly because of the financial benefits and partly to find out what was still missing on my career path. Even though I was a paralegal and had recently been admitted to law school, I realized what I had tried for months to deny: I didn’t want to go to law school.
At first, my coaching business only served to secure myself financially and to orientate myself professionally. In the end, however, it shaped my career path – and today it even employs my five-person team.
Knowing about the opportunities a side business offers, I’ve since helped over 100 people start a successful side business, grow it, and leave their old jobs – mostly through my group coaching program called Scale Your Side Hustle “.
I know what it takes to turn a side business into a full-time job and not just an expensive hobby. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve received more questions and emails about my secret to success than ever before.
Usually, I can tell within the first few minutes whether a side business can be successful or not. Here’s what I’m looking for:
1. Is your side business virtual?
That was also relevant before Covid-19, but is especially true today.
In your side business, your product should at least be marketed and sold online. Even if you sell physical products, online marketing can literally add millions to your reach. With paid online advertising, you can also address relevant target groups much more effectively than with old-school forms of advertising such as television and newspapers.
In the best case scenario, you even have offers that are completely digital and not physical. These can be advisory services provided through Zoom, an e-course, affiliate links in your blog posts, or group services on WhatsApp.
With a virtual side business, you can drastically reduce your operating costs, which you often have to pay for yourself at first – and you can increase your sales many times over.
2. Are you selling enough?
It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t make sales from their side business.
For example, an Instagram account is not a business in itself, no matter how well you mean it, any more than a blog or Facebook page. These platforms can advertise, but a company must sell products and services on a regular basis.
My “Scale Your Side Hustle” program is often joined by people who have started a side business but are frustrated with the cost / revenue ratio. It doesn’t feel good to work hard and get nothing in return.
I help my clients realize the importance of making the option to buy obvious to the audience. Check out your recent emails or social media posts and be honest with yourself: Do you explicitly advertise what you sell and give clear, simple instructions to buy? Do you speak frequently and with pride about your products or services?
Your products and services don’t sell by themselves. It’s up to you.
3. Do you have an email list?
When I started my side business, I was overwhelmed with all of the different marketing opportunities. Email, social media, my website, Youtube – the list seemed endless.
What I didn’t immediately understand: All marketing should lead to an email list, which is the backbone of any online business. Social media are a valuable tool, but they are “rented” platforms that you don’t own. Your email list is what you own.
Email marketing is especially helpful for people starting a side business. With the help of an email funnel, you can set up your side business so that it generates sales on its own while you are in a meeting on your main job. (Or, while you’re sleeping, at happy hour, or whatever!)
4. Does your price-to-audience ratio make sense?
Do you want to turn your side business into your full-time job? Then you have to make sure that you earn a salary with which you can finance your life. So make sure that your offers can get you there too.
One of my clients had just started creating e-books and digital workbooks for her side business when we started working together. We looked at the numbers. About two percent of their email list would buy their product or service.
With just 500 people on their list and an e-book for $ 25, that’s $ 250 in sales. Hardly anyone can make a living from that.
When we realized this, we created a service worth $ 3,500 and she was able to quit her full-time job. Be honest with yourself: can you make enough money with your product to meet your goals? And if not, think about where you can add more value to increase your prices.
5. Do you have a “termination date”?
In the first year of my part-time job, I used the word “hopefully” more often than any other word. Everything that had to do with my side business, my success, my appointments, would “hopefully” happen.
“Hopefully” is not a strategic plan. It is a disempowering word that allows you to place your fate in the hands of something other than yourself.
After the tragic and sudden death of my father, who showed me how short and precious life is, I finally set my official resignation date.
When I set that date, I wasn’t making nearly enough money to entertain myself. My business didn’t grow overnight. But that changed my thinking: Success was the only option.
Within a few months, I was making more money with my part-time job than with my full-time job. I confidently submitted my resignation on the set date and have never looked back since.
For people who do not set a notice date, success is not a “must”, it will just hopefully happen. This inconsistency will give you inconsistent results – and that rarely leads to your side business becoming your full-time job.
Most businesses likely started out as a side business
Most of the founders you admire today are not born with the knowledge it takes to start a business. But they stuck in and so can you. They have learned and so can you. A whole world is waiting for you beyond your work table.
This article was translated from English and edited by Ilona Tomić. You can read the original here.