10 Steps for Setting Up a Side Hustle - Step #2 Am I good enough?
Am I good at what I enjoy?
Ah, there's the rub! You may love cooking but have no experience whatsoever. Maybe you love writing or thrill at pouring over travel options and building itineraries. But if you enjoy something and would like to earn some money doing it, you need to be good at it, or at least competitive. "Not knowing how" shouldn't automatically cross an idea off your list. But if your dream side job is something you've been dreaming about and not doing, look for opportunities to build those skills you need to succeed.
Find something you enjoy
As I mentioned in the previous post, a first step for creating a long-term side hustle is to determine what you enjoy. But it's also true, enjoyment doesn't guarantee proficiency. It also doesn't ensure that you'll enjoy doing it for money. Something you do in your free time, with friends, or as a way to destress, may not be something you enjoy having to do. Remember, there are deadlines to meet with a side hustle, and projects may have to take precedence over a quiet evening to relax or a weekend with friends and family. Suddenly, what you loved to do in your "free time" is something you HAVE to do because someone is paying you. Is that still enjoyment?
But once you've determined that what you enjoy is something you'd enjoy no matter what, it's time to decide if you're good enough at that thing to charge for it.
Am I good enough?
Family and friends telling you how great you are isn't a guarantee you're ready to "go pro." Whatever your thing is, test the waters. Do you love photography? Try selling stock photos or making prints and selling them. Are you a great cook? Try selling some of your wares. Are you a social media manager? Offer to manage an account for a small local business. The key is, while you may enjoy something, you may not enjoy HAVING to do it. By starting small and testing both your ability to get things done and those one or two customers' level of satisfaction, you'll be able to tell if you're onto something.
- Start small and offer just one or two services/products
- Set fair market prices rather than steep discounts that might get you an initial interest but won't be sustainable for you. Do your research on fair market pricing.
- Set a timeframe for proving yourself. Don't leave that trial period open-ended. Set a deadline for a decision to launch.
- Ask for feedback and testimonials. Take that feedback to heart.
- Decide how that real launch is going to happen. Website? Online sales? Community boards? Signup with a provider service?
With some of the above, you'll get immediate feedback on whether you're good enough.
- If you're a photographer and a stock site won't take your photos, there's your answer.
- If you make cupcakes for a birthday party and no one ate your cupcakes, you're not hitting the mark.
- Love yoga? Did people enjoy your class and ask about the next one?
- If you're unable to meet a deadline for a client, no matter the task, it's not going to work.
It also takes a talent for business
You can be excellent at something but lack the skills needed to sell that something.
- How are you going to spread the word about your business?
- Is your pricing sustainable and competitive?
- Do you know who your competitors are?
- Do you know who your audience is?
Running a side hustle, even the simplest one, takes a bit of planning, organization, and promotion to have a long term life.
Getting better at what you enjoy
That's the other piece of the puzzle. Maybe you love something but haven't done it much or need some additional skills to do it well. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it but have a plan to develop those skills, maintain those skills, and stay on top as new trends and technologies hit the market. Look for:
- Skill Certifications
- Professional Licenses
- Business and Skill-Related Workshops
- Industry Conferences
It does start to sound like a big business at some point. If you're satisfied with just a few customers and just a little extra spending money, cool. Do what you do and enjoy it.
But if you want a side hustle that can eventually become your primary source of income, you'll need to look at it from a big business perspective. Or pay someone else to handle that side, and then you'll need to make enough money at it to pay that person. But suppose you're doing something you enjoy. In that case, you'll have an entirely different view of that job, especially when you're working for yourself.
Ryan Robinson, a former contributor at Forbes.com, talks about four signs your hobby could grow into a full-time business. One of them is "people are willing to pay for your work." If you've got customers just waiting for you to go pro, it's time to find out how far that side hustle can fly!
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