How to get your business idea off the ground without quitting your job

How to get your business idea off the ground without quitting your job

12 tips to set your side-hustle up for success.

BY Elissa James, 8 min READ

Do you work full-time? Do you have a brilliantly innovative business idea but have no idea how to make it a reality? Maybe you have a fantastic passion project but no time to get it off the ground? Do you have a small business that could change the world but lack the funds to take it to the next level? It sounds like your side hustle needs a makeover.

Having a full-time job and running a business in tandem isn’t easy. But don’t waste one more second fretting because there are a multitude of things you can do to turn that frown upside down.

These 12 tips will set you and your side-hustle up for success.

1. Identify your Unique Selling Point (USP)

First, figure out what problem you are solving. Who is your market and what value do you add to their lives/business?

Then find out who the market leaders are in your industry and identify your key competitors. Analyse their offering against your own to determine what sets you apart. What you come up with is your USP. If your offering is similar to another business, figure out how you’re going to do it better and take a slice of that market share.

2. Be flexible

Your original idea probably won’t end up being your success story, so be prepared to test, learn and pivot. That is, be adaptable and ready to change your strategy, your product, or your offering if the data says so. For example, I realised pretty quickly with irislillian.com that I couldn’t compete with broad lifestyle blogs. So I spent time honing my niche.

3. Start small

Being ‘first to market’ is overrated. Don’t let the hype (particularly in Facebook groups) throw you off – stay your course and be methodical. It’s OK to go slow. Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint.

4. Be a sponge

Learn as much as you can about your business, your customers, and related markets. Read widely, find someone in your area or business and pick their brain. Absorb as much as you can: live, eat and breathe your industry.

5. Treat your side hustle as a business (even if you’re not making money yet)

Think like you own a business, act like you own business and before too long, it’ll be a business.

First, draft your foundation documents, including a mission statement, a business plan, a media pack, and prepare a pitch deck if you need to fund raise. Then set your short, medium and long-term goals and put a date in your calendar to review them regularly.

Learn from my mistake: don’t tell your friends it’s a hobby, let them know that you’ve got big plans and you’d love their support. Having your own ‘tribe’ to share the ups and downs of start-up life makes all the difference.

6. Get your ducks in a row so you’re ready to go

Next, devise a capital raising strategy.

Save, save, save and earmark angel investor networks and funds like Scale and Signal Ventures to approach when you’re ready to pitch. Creative3 Pitch is an event which unites leading creative tech entrepreneurs with early stage investors.

The Federal Government also offers grants for women-led start-ups.

With total superannuation assets in Australia of AUD$2,099.45 billion, you’re livin’ in the land of capital – go get ‘em.

7. Data is king

Don’t spend any more money on stock photos, new equipment or a new set of samples. Focus your spending on data collection.

If it isn’t already, data really will be everything before long. Sign up to Search Console and Google Analytics so you can start collecting your own website data.

Other ways to collect data include building your subscriber list through Convertkit or MailChimp, and changing your Instagram and Pinterest to business accounts.

Once you have collected a few months of data, take time to analyse it. General Assembly offers some great data analytics courses.

8. Get out there and network

Surround yourself with people in your industry and find ways to participate: volunteer as an intern or offer to be a contributor. Develop new relationships by attending formal and informal networking events, and membership sites like Business Chicks where you can virtually exchange business cards. Or join The Squad and meet fellow side-hustlers in your industry.

9. Keep a consistent routine

Carve out a minimum amount of time per week to work on your side-hustle. Prioritise this time no matter how busy life gets.

Track how you spend your hours: it’s amazing how much more productive you will be. Then determine those things which you should eliminate, automate and delegate.

Invest in an old school timer and set aside specific amounts of time to get tasks done. For example, I give myself one hour to complete an article. It keeps me focused and it stops me from heading to the fridge when the words won’t flow…

10. Be pro-active

When you sit down to work, instead of immediately launching into your Inbox (reactive), be proactive and tackle a task which is on your priority list. For example, my top priority is creating content, so I aim to write/edit at least one article before delving into my sea of emails.

11. Unsubscribe from Netflix

This may be your biggest challenge yet.

12. Automate

Use Iconosquare to schedule your Instagram, Tailwind for Pinterest and Hootsuite to schedule your Facebook posts and tweets. Use Asana, Trello, or Slack to project manage.

Delegate and outsource non-essential tasks to virtual assistants. And, if you’re finding coding or graphic design a little challenging, there is always someone on Fiverr who can help you out.

Now, get hustlin’.

Elissa James is a senior corporate lawyer and the founder of IrisLillian.com. Having worked in the law for over a decade across jurisdictions including Australia, South Africa, Gabon and Papua New Guinea, she brings a refreshing, intelligent and light-hearted perspective to the digital media arena. In particular, her thought-provoking Interview Series with high profile businesswomen, professionals and entrepreneurs will have you pondering the merits of gender parity one minute, and in stitches the next.



©2020 Business Chicks

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