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How to Treat Your Side Hustle as a Small Business

How to Treat Your Side Hustle as a Small Business

If your side hustle brings in a little extra money to pay the bills, consider the possibility of treating it like a small business. You have the potential to develop a strong customer base that provides reliable income and stabilizes your finances, allowing you to gain more control over your life.

Your side hustle changes into a lucrative and sustainable freelance business that takes care of you for years to come. The good news is that it doesn’t take much extra work. It just requires consistency and focus in certain areas.

So how can you be more businesslike with your side hustle and take it to the next level? 

Know your numbers

Learn how business taxes work and your tax and legal obligations as a freelance business owner. You need to understand the numbers, including profit and loss, turnover, and expenses, to know whether the business is financially stable.

The Small Business Administration offers a lot of free resources on setting up a business, including registering as self-employed, the records you’re obliged to keep, planning and marketing, and selling your products or services.

Develop your marketing

Focus on your ideal clients or customers and where they can be found.

  • If face-to-face contact is essential, check out local networking groups and attend with a view to helping others rather than selling your own services. Networking is a ‘slow burn’ form of marketing but one that provides valuable contacts for the long term. 
  • Develop a process and systemize. For example, manage your social media marketing with an app or software that schedules your posts and provides insight into their impact.
  • Don’t discount ‘old school’ marketing ideas, such as handwritten notes or promotional items included with an order. Consider direct mail or advertising on local radio, or get involved with your local community/charity events.

Write a one-page business plan

Where will your business be in a year’s time or five years? Write a simple business plan to guide your journey from side hustle to small business. If you don’t need funding, a one-page business plan is all you need. It’s a road map that keeps you on track.

  • Carry out some research on your competitors to identify anything you might do differently. It’ll help you stand out in a crowded market.
  • Find out exactly how much your services or products cost you to deliver and adjust your pricing if necessary
  • Develop sales and profit projections for the next few months

Get into a routine

One of the major attractions of freelancing is its flexibility, but it’s also important to develop a routine when you work for yourself. Consistency is key, especially if you tend to procrastinate.

Control business spending

A frugal mindset serves you well when you develop your side hustle. It’s easy to be distracted by the ‘bells and whistles’ of business, such as the latest software you don’t need yet or new furniture for your workspace.

Unnecessary spending puts pressure on your finances and jeopardizes everything you’re trying to achieve. You can always reconsider when the business is sustainable and can financially support those items.

Automate as much as possible

Use technology to help you get more work done during the limited hours you have available for your side hustle. 

For example, productivity apps like Asana and ToDoist can help you keep track of repeating tasks more easily. Quickbooks can be set up to import your transactions and automate a lot of your bookkeeping. 

If you have a business like a maid service or lawn care where you visit client locations, ServiceWorks is an app that gives you end-to-end support. It’s almost like having another person to run the back office. ServiceWorks gives you an online portal so customers can schedule their own services while you’re at your day job. Then it optimizes your schedule and routes, helps you stay in touch with the customer, and even offers credit card processing at very reasonable rates. You can try ServiceWorks for free

What are the benefits of treating your side hustle like a business?

When you’re intentional with your side hustle, you gain momentum and motivation. It’s like a snowball gathering pace as you catch the eye of your target customers, build your income, and gain more control over your life.

The beneficial impact of running a successful freelance business is difficult to quantify, but the freedom, flexibility, and ability to determine your own destiny that’s afforded by freelancing are priceless.


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