How to grow side a hustle while holding down a day job

Having several streams of income is quickly becoming a necessity, not an option.

The cost of living is skyrocketing, and formal employment is no longer a sure bet, not with the frequency that retrenchments are hitting headlines.

Starting a side business is difficult to avoid, even for those facing retirement and are looking to cushion their transition from formal employment.

Therefore, having more than one income stream is not only a smart financial decision, but also a safety net that can shield you from an uncertain future.

So how can you build a business and meet the expectations of your job without dropping any balls?

Here are some ideas:

1. Make the decision

Many people in formal employment are afraid of starting a business. There’s a sense of security that one gets from a steady paycheque that can make you lazy. We all know people who’d rather work for low pay that’s assured than start a business they’re uncertain of.

But you can’t allow fear to keep you stagnant. Companies shut down, retrenchment happens all the time and the hardest workers can get fired.

A secondary source of income is a necessity for someone thinking long-term. Don’t wait to be fired or retrenched to start a business or make wise investments.

Start now when you’re not desperate. Make the decision to do something. Set a deadline and work towards it. Make the commitment.

2. Do your research and learn from those ahead of you

Consider your schedule and figure out a business that won’t strain you too much. You don’t want to burn out.

Start out by listing your strengths, skills and passions. Come up with a business idea around what you have an interest in so that you’re not just chasing after money, which gets old quickly.

In most cases, the business you start will fit in with whatever you’re already doing.

You may find you’re able to go into graphic design, accounting, creative writing or website design.

However, if your job isn’t fulfilling, then you might want to think about your passions. It’s said the thing you fantasise most about after work and during weekends is an indicator of your passions.

If you’ve always wanted to take up farming and have an unwavering interest in it, then start researching ideas around farming that wouldn’t disrupt your schedule too much.

But keep in mind that passion alone won’t make you rich. You need to know the problem you’re solving, the market available, your target customer and other data. Do your due diligence before settling on an idea.

And once you settle on something, seek out entrepreneurs in that industry and pick their brains so you know the challenges you’re likely to encounter and how best to prepare yourself for them.

3. Draw up a plan and identify your competitive advantage

Once you’ve decided on the kind of business to start, make a plan for it. Always keep in mind that starting a side hustle will be more challenging for you than for an entrepreneur who’s in business full time.

You need a concrete plan that ensures you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

Detail how you’re going to raise capital and identify partners to help run the business.

Map out the business journey in detail before you even start. Just keep in mind that no matter what you visualise your venture will look like in the future, it will start small.

Make specific plans that are measurable and have adequate milestone so you can track your growth. Prior planning is critical to success.

And as you do this, identify the unique offering your business will have to make it stand out from the competition. This is your competitive advantage and is what makes your business yours.

The advantage could be in the kind of support you can offer customers, your distribution channels, strategic partnerships or even just your personal brand.

4. Jump right into it

Many people have idea books full of business plans that have never seen the light of day.

After researching and brainstorming on the most viable idea, the next thing to do is to start. Start with the fear, the doubt and the uncertainties. If you fail, you’ll learn and probably never repeat the mistake; if you succeed, you’ll have achieved the goal of starting.

As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg put it: “Ideas do not come fully formed; they become clearer as you work on them.”

You don’t have to figure out everything about your business before you start. Take that first step, and it will lead you to the next, and before you know it, you’ll be running.

Successful entrepreneurship is a journey that’s full of triumphs and disappointments. The trick is to begin quickly so you can master the ropes early.

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