Last updated in November 2020
It’s fairly common these days for people to start selling things as a side hustle. Whether on Etsy, through social media, or even in person around town, the idea of pedalling goods for a bit of extra income can certainly be appealing.
Keep in mind also that a “side hustle” isn’t always just a small project. While most of them start out that way, there are occasional stories about people turning these personal projects into successful businesses of their own.
Business Insider highlighted some lucrative side hustles, and while they used some fairly extreme examples — such as Michael Jordan establishing a shoe line alongside his basketball career — the general idea can apply to anyone. Done correctly, a side hustle can become a source of real, sustainable income.
Of course, that “done correctly” part isn’t so easy! Particularly if you’re still working a day job, it’s difficult to turn a personal retail project into a thriving business. But to help you give it a shot, we do have a few tips you might want to consider.
1. Start Tracking Your Data
In any business, it’s a given that information should be tracked: costs, inventory, sales, and so on. But if you’re approaching a side hustle as just that — a sort of gig you do in your spare time — you may be more inclined to take a very casual approach.
This is understandable, and may be fine when you’re just starting out. But if you hope to grow your hustle into a business, you’ll ultimately need to track data. This provides invaluable insight into where you might cut costs and where your profits are coming from, all of which can help you scale strategically.
2. Invest in Your Online Presence
Your online presence can be one of the most important tools you have for expanding your side hustle. And it starts with a website. While some today skip this step in favour of social media, Small Biz Daily’s argument for business websites made a strong point that we wholeheartedly agree with: Your site is “all about your brand.”
It’s a platform wholly your own that you can use as a digital home for your business, where people can seek information, buy products, and generally engage with your work. Once you have a functioning website, you can work on establishing social media profiles for marketing purposes — to drive people to your website. In the end, you need it all. A strong, strategic online presence will grow your business more quickly than anything else.
3. Step Up Your Payment Game
Particularly once you’ve built up a strong online presence, it’s in your best interest to diversify the ways in which you accept payments. As was stated in a piece on retail payment processing by FIS Global, “payments shouldn’t complicate (the) customer experience.”
Rather, payments should make it as easy as possible for customers to complete transactions. What this means for you specifically may depend on some of your broader business strategies. But generally, accepting digital payments through multiple channels and from a variety of devices will best position you to maximise your potential. The easier it is for people to buy goods from you, the more sales you’ll make!
4. Scale Affordably
It goes without saying that if you want to grow your side hustle, you’ll need to scale up operations. But you should do this responsibly and affordably, rather than with a pure sense of ambition. For instance, if you’re selling products successfully you might be tempted to expand your inventory — but you should only do so if your data shows that you can afford the cost of doing so.
You might also consider an outside hire — such as for someone who can run your social media. But first you need to analyse finances to estimate if the benefits will outweigh the costs. Scaling is necessary, ultimately, but the point is to do it at the pace your side hustle can handle.
5. Be Modest With Your Needs
This ties in with the previous point, but in this case we’re talking about more than just scaling. If your side hustle is going well, you may be tempted to make purchases you don’t actually need. Maybe you’ll want to open a shop, or pay for a bigger website than you require; perhaps you’ll subscribe to an advanced bookkeeping program when a simpler one would do just fine.
Decisions like these are always tempting, but we’d refer you to one of the key tips from our list of ‘10 Surprisingly Effective Habits of Self Made Millionaires’ — “live frugally.” Taking a frugal, modest approach to assessing needs will help you to save money, and ultimately maximise what you get out of your hustle.