Pre­pare and per­fect a busi­ness side hus­tle

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Steve Strauss

Ques­tion: I am not quite ready to start my own busi­ness, but I am ready to start a side hus­tle. How do I do that, ex­actly? – Si­mone

An­swer: Would you be sur­prised if I told you that nearly 40 per­cent of all Amer­i­cans now have a side hus­tle? (Bank Rate sur­vey, June 2018.)

While that num­ber may not be sur­pris­ing, es­pe­cially given the growth of the gig economy, what might light your fire is the fact that the av­er­age side-hus­tler earns about $8,000 a year.

From an en­tre­pre­neur­ial per­spec­tive, side hus­tles are great for three rea­sons:

They al­low you to keep your day job. Start­ing small is start­ing smart.

Side hus­tles al­low you to gain much-needed ex­pe­ri­ence.

Side hus­tles re­duce the risk. Mis­takes need not be dev­as­tat­ing.

Here’s how to claim your own side hus­tle, in six steps:

1. Brain­storm.

Your ideal side hus­tle should con­tain two key el­e­ments.

First, you need to sell some­thing peo­ple need and/or want. Es­pe­cially for a side hus­tle, don’t try to be too unique or in­no­va­tive. Be­ing a pi­ano tu­tor is a fine side hus­tle, but be­ing a tuba tu­tor prob­a­bly is not.

Sec­ond, you want your side gig to be some­thing you en­joy do­ing. If you like be­ing on­line, then it would be­hoove you to learn how to sell on eBay or Etsy. Make sure you choose wisely.

(Need an idea for a side hus­tle? At my site, TheSelfEm­ployed, we have a great list of 50 side hus­tles you can start for less than $100.)

2. Re­search.

Once you have nar­rowed your ideas down to the best one or two, you need to see how other peo­ple are mak­ing a go of it. Your re­search might in­clude:

Speak­ing with peo­ple who are suc­cess­fully side-hus­tling Read­ing, and watch­ing videos Knock­ing around the web­sites of peo­ple who al­ready are do­ing it

En­gag­ing in so­cial me­dia con­ver­sa­tions and re­search

The idea is to know what you are get­ting into be­fore get­ting into it so you don’t waste your time, money and rep­u­ta­tion.

3. Get so­cial.

Peo­ple will need and want to find you on­line. Cre­ate a sim­ple web­site and nab so­cial han­dles and email ad­dresses.

4. Test.

Once a ba­sic foun­da­tion is in place, you need to see if you can make money do­ing it.

You do that by start­ing small, test­ing, mak­ing a few sales/get­ting a cus­tomer or two, see­ing what works, and then head­ing down that path. It never quite looks how you think it will look.

5. Share.

Tell ev­ery­one you know what you are do­ing and ask them to sup­port you. Ad­ver­tise and mar­ket the heck out of your new gig. Let peo­ple know you are out there.

6. Test and refine.

Give your new gig a chance. It will take time to find cus­tomers, get work, do the work and get paid.

You are es­sen­tially start­ing a pipe­line, and in or­der to get money to come out the back end, you will need to pump time, re­sources and effort into the front end and then wait for that to trans­form into cash.

Steve Strauss, @Steve Strauss on Twitter, is a lawyer spe­cial­iz­ing in small busi­ness and en­trepreneur­ship who has been writ­ing for USATODAY.com for 20 years. Email: [email protected]­biz.com. You can learn more about Steve at MrAll­Biz.com.

The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in this column are the au­thor’s and do not nec­es­sar­ily reflect those of USA TO­DAY.

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