When we asked 2,000 Canadians in full-time work about side hustles, almost a quarter (22%) revealed that they had already turned a creative hobby into a side business. A further 60% aspire to do this in the future.
While many side hustles start off as a creative interest, they don’t have to stay small. In fact, over one-third (38%) of those with side businesses in Canada hope to grow their business. But how easy is it to turn a side hustle into a full-time job? When it comes to growing your business, it’s wise to learn from those who have already made the leap. Successful side hustlers advise newbies to:
Pursue your passion
When asked for advice on growing a side business, successful side hustlers’ most important piece of advice is making sure you’re doing something you enjoy. Starting your own business is a great opportunity to turn your passion into extra income, so don’t lose sight of why you started.
Your customers will respond to the passion that you bring to your business – whether it’s spending a little bit longer creating the products they buy or going that extra mile to provide outstanding customer service. Your passion and enthusiasm will encourage them to come back to your business time and time again, as well as recommend your products or services to their peers.
With over one-third (38%) of Canadians revealing that they can’t find a job related to their interests, being passionate about your side hustle is the best motivation to grow and expand your business. Running a side hustle is no small task. It often involves late night emailing, after hours brainstorming and being disciplined with your spare time. If you enjoy what you’re doing, spending those extra hours working on your side hustle won’t feel like a chore.
Identify growth opportunities
The successful side business owners we surveyed suggest focusing on tasks that generate the most revenue and setting long-term goals to take your side hustle to the next level. When resources are limited, it’s easy to focus on the short-term, but being clear about where you want to go in the future is an important step in the entrepreneurship journey.
Focus on the tasks that require the least effort but provide the most impact. This might mean scheduling daily social media posts which drive customers to your website, rather than redesigning a page of your website which doesn’t get many visitors or calling back a sales lead rather than dealing with low-priority emails. This way of working ensures that you’re always focused on the tasks and projects that drive the most revenue for your business.
If you’re dreaming of making your side hustle your full-time job, consider how much revenue you would need to be making per month and brainstorm ideas for how to reach that goal. This might involve providing additional services or creating a marketing plan, but the key is testing out different initiatives and identifying those that work best for your business. Ask your existing customers for feedback to identify ways you could offer more value to them, which will ultimately drive more revenue for your business.
Even if you don’t have the time and resources to take on more work, creating long-term goals will help you take your side business to its next stage of growth. This could include hiring your first employee so you can delegate administrative tasks, reducing your hours at work to focus on your side hustle, or redesigning your website to create a cohesive brand for your business. By setting challenging, yet attainable objectives, you’ll feel motivated as you track your business growth and reach the goals you set.
Build a strong social media presence
We hear it all the time – you can’t grow your business without getting social media-savvy, and our side hustlers agree. Social media is a great way to target new customers and grow your client base. With the average side hustler in Canada spending 14 hours per week on their business, make sure your time is dedicated to the channels where your target customers are hanging out.
Social media is more than simply promoting your services online. You need to encourage two-way conversations with your audience and share content that really interests them. Monitor your engagement rate and identify the type of posts that work best, then adapt your strategy accordingly.
Consider launching a blog where you can provide answers to your customers’ questions, and then sharing this content on your social media channels. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to content marketing – so focus on creating relevant, helpful posts, rather than writing new articles several times a week. If you don’t feel strongly about your writing skills, you could share short vlogs and videos of day-to-day life at your business to help customers feel more connected to your brand.
If you have the resources, social media advertising is a proven method of acquiring new customers and increasing sales. You can target your ideal customer with engaging ads that generate revenue and help you reach your business goals. If you find that one of your ads works especially well, think about how you can scale it to get even better results next time.
Encourage your customers to write reviews about your business on social media. This will provide you with the necessary social proof to encourage other users to go from potential to paying customers.
Expand your network
To take your side hustle to the next level, you’ll need to network with successful business owners who have already turned their side business into their full-time job. Meeting like-minded individuals and sharing tips and advice is a fantastic way to grow your business based on the advice of someone who has already done it.
Check out events in your local area or attend conferences and professional events to get started. Vistaprint partners with Enterprise Toronto, Small Business BC, and Canadian Small Business Women which host frequent events for small business owners. Ensure you’ve practiced your business pitch and are ready to seize any opportunities that come your way. After the event, connect with people you met on LinkedIn and continue the relationship online by engaging with content they share.
If you don’t have the bandwidth to attend events, Facebook groups are a great way to network online. Search for small business groups in your area or industry and start conversations with likeminded entrepreneurs. These kinds of groups are extremely helpful when you have a question that needs answering, or some content that you think other group members would find interesting.
Keep in mind that networking is a two-way street. The best networkers are those that are as willing to help others as they are to help themselves.
By scaling up your side hustle and taking small steps to build your online and offline presence, you can test its long-term viability and ease the transition between employee and full-time entrepreneur.
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