How to Elevate Your Side Hustle into a Serious Business

woman wearing mask sitting at desk working on laptop

If you – as with many other likeminded, business-savvy women – have decided to make the most of the hours spent at home during the various lockdowns of the past year turning your hobbies and interests into a neat little money-spinner, you might well be considering what your next step is.

With huge swathes of the world accelerating vaccination programs to curb the effects of the virus, and the inevitable return to the office imminent as a result, you may be wondering what your next step is – do you return to the daily grind, continuing your hobby on the side, or do you take the courageous step of acknowledging the potential of your ‘side hustle’, and find a way of expanding and growing it into a viable, productive business?

Celebrate Your Success

Whether you utilised artistic skill or business acumen to create your small business, one thing is clear: you clearly have initiative, talent and at least some marketing knowledge and understanding! However, as women, we are more likely to play down our skills and successes, attributing them to luck or circumstance instead of our own considerable talents. Yet the first, most important step on this journey is to celebrate (yes, celebrate!) your talents and achievements, and recognise the forward potential of your side-hustle.

So, for persevering during a global pandemic and realizing a promising business idea that has maintained your focus throughout, you deserve a pat on the back…and maybe a G&T or two!

Time to Study

From baking and delivering decadent brownies, to using your old art degree to help you produce edgy prints, to designing and creating quirky embroidery, the pandemic has helped to stimulate the creative juices of many of those stuck at home for endless hours. Most importantly, however, is that each of these ideas has developed its own niche following helping to keep it afloat and keeping you occupied!

But, in order to take the step of elevating and expanding your business into something more than a side hustle, something that has the potential to be your main form of income, there’s a lot more business and managerial knowledge that you need to acquire.

For those choosing to work alongside their studies, enrolling in a part-time online degree to run parallel to your everyday work life would be perfect. Many universities provide online degrees and courses designed to expand your existing knowledge, where lectures, assignments, and projects can be completed in your own time. One such course is an online mba offered by Aston University, a world-renowned UK university in Canada, which offers to impart a wealth of knowledge regarding business and industry, and the efficient leading of teams and organisations, preparing you effectively for the global business world. For this particular route, 7 years’ professional experience or an undergraduate degree are all that’s required to enrol!

Plan and Research

Regardless of what you’re pursuing, research is usually an integral step that’s underestimated by the vast majority. Before choosing to dedicate more time and effort in your project – and invest more emotional energy – it’s important to decide what your overall aims are. Do you want to have bigger customer reach? Do you want to expand your product line? Are you seeking to expand your business team? How do you want to market your business? These are all essential questions that require your consideration and some vague notion of what you want to achieve.

Sitting down and creating a loose business plan, complete with overall aims and strategies, avenues for achieving these aims, market analysis, and product testing, is a good starting point; at no point are you rigidly aligned to this business plan, as changing circumstances in a volatile business environment will require you to be flexible, but it at least provides you with an outline to aim towards.

Build an Online Platform

This may have been your first step in building your side hustle from the ground up and, if so, kudos to you! However, if your business is predominantly one that functions via word-of-mouth, it might well be time to start shifting your sales online. There are many relevant online platforms that you can utilise, from Facebook and Instagram, where you can create a dedicated business page/profile, to Etsy, Patreon, and other online selling sites – whichever you choose depends entirely on what you are hoping to achieve in your business.

For frequent sales of specific lines, Etsy is a valuable tool. It is purposefully created for smaller online businesses to sell their wares. Prices include and specify the addition of VAT, and they have protocols in place to deal with issues relating to behaviour, missing/damaged products, returns, and reviews. While the site has expanded over recent years, making its customer service harder to contact effectively and increasing seller fees, it is still one of the best platforms to open an online shop.

Alternatively, you can utilise website building tools on Wix or WordPress to create your own dedicated website from scratch. Choosing from a variety of plans – ranging from free to monthly/yearly costs – you can decide how your site looks, functions, and communicates with your customers. Both also have SEO tools to help you increase your Google rankings and attract new visitors!

Whichever online platform you choose, remember that the key is to plan and research – what are you hoping to achieve? How personalised do you want your shop/page/content to be? Which is going to help you achieve these aims most efficiently?

So, whether you are considering expanding an existing business, or starting one from scratch based on your lockdown business ventures, there’s a whole roster of questions and considerations that you need to mull over. You’ve gotten this far and should be proud of the successes you’ve achieved; now it’s time to start investing belief in yourself, your skills and talents, and your business potential, and take charge of your own life and career path – there’s no time like the present, particularly as the world is starting to slowly open up again and the hunger for smaller, more sustainable businesses has grown exponentially.

Thanks to Zaklina

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