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10 Tips On Turning Your Side Hustle Into A Full-Time Job

Here’s how to make your passion project into a fully-fledged, profitable business.
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We’re a nation of side hustlers. According to figures from a 2018 study, one in four Brits has a side gig alongside their day jobs. Women are especially keen to turn these into meaningful businesses, with research from January 2020 finding that 8million women in the UK would love for their side hustles to become their full-time jobs.

Given the circumstances of the past few months, these figures are most certainly on the rise. Lockdown has unleashed people’s creative energy and sense of ambition, whether as a result of uncertainty in the job market, finding they’re keen to become their own bosses, or, better yet, discovering they’re loving their side hustles way too much to do anything else with their precious time.

Now, how to make your side hustle dream a reality? We ask the experts for their tips, from embracing blue sky thinking to saving some cash in advance so you can really make a go of it.

1. Get your financial situation in check

Savings jar
Peter Dazeley via Getty Images
Savings jar

As well thought out and potentially profitable as your side hustle idea may be, you risk jeopardising it as a future career if you don’t get your finances in order first.

“You don’t want to have any major debts. Have as little debt as possible - if your personal finances are not under control, you’ll keep running into reasons to run back to your job instead of focusing on your hustle,” says Bola Sol, a financial wellness coach.

Sol stresses that you’re still going to have to pay your day-to-day bills while trying to get your side hustle business to take off, and recommends saving at least six-12 months of expenses. Another key point? Differentiate any money you have for the side hustle business from your personal finances - don’t mix the two.

“It becomes addictive to see the business grow. Before you know it, you’re neglecting your personal finances for the sake of potential business growth. It’s really key that it’s separated,” she notes.

2. Don’t wait for the “right time”

Man working from home, childcare issues, multi tasking
10'000 Hours via Getty Images
Man working from home, childcare issues, multi tasking

There’s never a perfect time to make a major life decision, no matter how prepared you may want to feel. Eventually, you’re just going to have to take the plunge to see if this is the career you really want.

The main thing to acknowledge is that it will always feel scary. Even if you’ve been building momentum and your side-hustle income matches/outruns your 9-5 salary, it will still feel like a leap. This is totally normal but can hold a lot of people back from biting the bullet,” says Sophie Clyde-Smith, a life and career coach who side hustled her way into her dream career.

“Sometimes life presents you with a crossroad too (like an unwanted promotion or a redundancy) which can help give you the push you need. Stop waiting for it to feel right or perfect - feel the fear and do it anyway and send yourself a message that you’re ready to step up! Don’t be a forever side-hustler.”

3. Prioritise all of those business admin tasks

Man working in living room with laptop
10'000 Hours via Getty Images
Man working in living room with laptop

When you think about turning your side hustle into a dream job, you’re probably imagining yourself smiling from the pages of a magazine profile piece detailing how you ditched the grind to become your own boss (what, just us?).

Remember all of the non-glamorous sides of the business too, Sol reminds us: “Getting a business account, registering a company, getting an accountant,” she says, ticking off the list of must-dos that people often forget about.

“People struggle with parting with their money and sharing out with other people. It’s helpful to have someone who checks contracts, who makes sure you’re paying to HMRC, who tells you that when you’ve made £1,000, it’s not really £1,000, because 20% goes to HMRC, there are admin fees, you need to reinvest back into the business and then pay yourself 25%.”

4. Embrace blue-sky thinking

Lightbulb moment
Constantine Johnny via Getty Images
Lightbulb moment

We’ve all heard the stories: the side hustle businesses that take off don’t just fill a gap in the market, but always seem to be about a deep emotional connection with the work. Don’t be afraid of a little creative thinking to explore how your side hustle can become your livelihood.

“Blue-sky thinking is idea creation with no limits, no boundaries, where you’re able to break free from the constraints of your current reality and imagine your ideal future self/business,” explains Clyde-Smith.

She recommends getting out of your day-to-day environment, surrounding yourself with those playing in the arena already and incorporating guided ideal, future-self visualisations to make that blue-sky thinking your side-hustle reality.

5. Make your side hustle look professional - even if it isn’t, yet

Close-up of two women working on photos on laptop
Westend61 via Getty Images
Close-up of two women working on photos on laptop

When you’re tight on budget in the early days of your business launch, you want to spend your money on the right things.

For Clyde-Smith, the right branding can give you an instant professionalism - and make your company memorable.

“Make sure your business has a recognisable feel, well-made logo, branding colours and keep it consistent across your channels. This doesn’t need to cost loads - I set up my initial branding for a couple of hundred pounds. Canva is your new best friend!” she says.

She also recommends setting up a website - even if it’s just a landing page where people can find you after a quick internet search. You’ll also want to collect testimonials from happy customers and start to build your credibility as a brand by becoming an expert in your space: be a guest speaker on podcasts, create value-adding content and get into the press where possible.

6. It takes money to make money

Barista pouring coffee in coffee truck
Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
Barista pouring coffee in coffee truck

Here’s a little secret: entrepreneurs aren’t savers. They’re too busy, in the words of Sol, “always pumping money back into the business.”

So if your goal this year is to finally buy that house or even that nice car, remember that you will be making sacrifices for the sake of your business - and you need to feel OK about that.

“It’s the constant sacrifice of seeing your business flourish. You have to sacrifice starting anything that is seen as a big deal,” Sol tells us.

7. Give your side hustle space to thrive

Japanese woman making masks at home
kumikomini via Getty Images
Japanese woman making masks at home

If you’re juggling full-time work with trying to make the side hustle work, it can be tricky but essential for financial reasons. Sol has a few helpful points:

“Carve out a working space. Home needs to be a space to sleep vs. a space to live vs. a space to work, something people don’t always factor in. Be OK with having a tiny social life. And prioritise what’s important by having a business goal every day.”

8. Motivate yourself with failure - and stories of those who did it

Workers at a distillery
Kelvin Murray via Getty Images
Workers at a distillery

Clyde-Smith’s favourite side hustle story comes from a recent coaching session with a client she’d worked with for nine months, during which time the client went from a full-time corporate recruitment job into a side-hustle. Two months ago, she was able to quit her job and pursue the side hustle full-time.

“In our session, my client was reflecting and she was having a bit of an out-of-body experience. She couldn’t quite believe she had created this new life, that she was her own boss, that she felt so calm and in alignment with what she was doing. She literally used the words, ‘I need to pinch myself’.

“I experienced the same thing - every so often realising that I actually work for myself. I can work from anywhere in the world, I am in control of my life - I get to choose. That is a special feeling and I wish it on every side-hustler,” says Clyde-Smith.

Similarly, not every business is going to work out, but each “failure” can lead to a future success. Playing it safe isn’t the way to make it work, though.

“Get comfortable with the idea of iterations, failures, growth and pivoting and you’re much more likely to succeed,” she says.

9. Outsource when necessary

Businessman analyzing investment charts with calculator.
krisanapong detraphiphat via Getty Images
Businessman analyzing investment charts with calculator.

Both Sol and Clyde-Smith reiterate that starting a business isn’t all about you - in fact, knowing how to outsource is a key skill that’s as much about finding the right support from mentors and friends as it is about recognising your strengths and weaknesses to make the business the best it can be.

“Let go of some money to outsource where possible. Not everything should be about me, and how I did it all by myself,” says Sol.

10. Celebrate your successes

Woman sitting painting a pottery bowl in her workshop
PeopleImages via Getty Images
Woman sitting painting a pottery bowl in her workshop

Clyde-Smith is keen to point out that the secret ingredient in any side hustle success story is you: you need to enjoy the experience, celebrate any victories along the way and value yourself, as well as believing in your ideas and batting those imposter syndrome demons away.

“Every day you need to be doing exercises that strengthen your mind like success/gratitude journaling, being coached, affirmations, mantras, meditations - whatever works for you, do it often and build the foundations of your success mindset,” Clyde-Smith tells us.