Six Tips for a Low-Cost Self-Employed Business or Side Hustle

The following is a guest post.

How many times have you thought, “I should be making money from this?” Well, even if that idea has only crossed your mind once, there may still be something in it.

All you need is some sort of marketable skill or to be able to provide products that others want to buy, and you could be making some handy additional income through a well organised ‘side hustle’. In fact, for many people, their side hustle turned out to be so successful, they quit their 9-to-5 job and started earning serious money from something they loved doing.

Success comes from planning though, and running a successful side business takes more than simply getting a friend to design a website and hoping people will find you. So, what does it take to set yourself up for a successful hustle? Here are our top six tips.

  1. Know your market

It’s one thing to have a skill or product, but trade is two-way: it involves supply and demand. So, do some research and find out:

– who your market is likely to be

– how they find the things they’re looking for (e.g. online, via friends, through social media, at community markets etc)

– what motivates them to buy, and

– who the competition is (and where).

Once you know your potential market, it’s easier to plan how and where you’ll set up your business

  1. Know why you’re doing it

Are you simply starting up your business to make money, or is it to share something you love with others? Will the money-making side of things detract from your initial enjoyment, if it starts to become a chore? (For example, a lot of keen travellers dabbled in travel-writing before soon discovering that the demands of interviews and writing and deadlines actually detracted from the pleasure they used to get from travelling).

Some people start a small business to fund a bigger project, others use it to help pay for college fees, travel or just to help make ends meet.

Many people around the world use it to help fund their retirement. This is a great way to plan for a more comfortable future. In the US, you can contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan if they offer one, or invest it in a dedicated retirement fund. In Australia, even self-employed people can open an account with a fund such as TWUSUPER, and make contributions. The UK and Canada also have similar systems. And while you might not enjoy all of the profits of your side venture straight away, it’s reassuring to know there’s a bit more there when it comes time to finally retire.

  1. Get expert advice

All jurisdictions have their own specific rules and regulations about starting up and running a business – from the type of structure, and procedures for registering your business name, to the particular permits or licences you may need, details that need to be provided, and any once-off or ongoing fees that need to be paid, not to mention any tax liabilities.

Fortunately, governments at all levels are keen to see small businesses succeed, which is why, in the US, there is a range of support services available. At a national level, the Federal US Small Business Administration offers lots of general advice on setting up and managing a small business. It also funds the nation-wide network of Small Business Development Centres. These are an excellent resource that offer free, one-on-one advice combined with local knowledge about state and city or country small business rules and requirements.

States and many cities and counties also provide no-cost business advice services as well as networking opportunities and guidance on navigating local regulations. Again, local, state/county and national governments in the UK, Australia and Canada all have small enterprise support offices that can provide support from experts at no or minimal cost.

  1. Write a business plan

Even if your venture is small, a business plan will help ensure you’re on track to make more money than you spend. The experts you meet in small business support centres can help, and there are also online guides and templates you can use to make sure everything is covered off.

Your business plan should include:

  • pricing of your product or service
  • how and where you’ll sell
  • milestones you want to achieve and when
  • strategies for marketing and promotion
  • initial funding and ongoing investment
  • benchmarks you’ll use to determine whether your business is viable
  • an exit and expansion strategy that recognises when it’s time to close the business or change up to a different business structure as the venture grows.
  1. Get out there and enjoy it

It might be Tip #5, but it is just as important as all the formal demands of a business. In fact, it’s often even more important in a side hustle, because it’s your passion and you should always keep loving what you do. Sure, there will be days when things don’t quite go to plan, and you question whether to throw it in and just concentrate on your old 9-to-5, but as long as, on the whole, you’re enjoying it and making money, then you’re on the right path. And who knows? One day it might just become your main hustle, and that would be awesome. Afterall, as the old saying goes… “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

  1. Good side-hustles that can easily become your main job
  • Photographer or videographer
  • Event planner
  • Caterer
  • Dog walking and pet-sitting
  • Tutoring
  • Flea market and online retailer
  • Homemade soaps and candles
  • Virtual PA
  • Social media manager and/or content creator
  • Translator
  • Animator or designer

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