Side hustles are all about balance. By its very definition, a “side hustle” is a profit-making endeavor that you do on the side of an additional, typically full-time, job. Anyone who has a side hustle is usually juggling a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, so organization, time management and personal discipline are key. While not every entrepreneur hopes their side hustle will eventually outgrow their primary income, many do.
Balancing a side hustle with a full-time gig is a process of constant management, and it’s important to be able to recognize when it might be time for your business to grow. This next step can be any number of changes, depending on the nature and size of your side hustle. Maybe you’re ready to hire a freelancer, or expand your inventory, or invest in a large marketing initiative, or even quit your full-time job?
There are some key indicators you can look for to determine whether or not your side hustle is ready for progress. Whatever the next chapter might be, here are some signs that your side hustle is ready to grow.
You’ve started to turn down projects or orders
When your earning potential starts to outgrow your ability, it’s probably time to expand your side hustle. If orders or jobs are rolling in faster than you can attend to them, or if you simply don’t have the bandwidth to take on all the earning opportunities that are available, then it’s time to make a move toward expanding your side hustle.
If you’re turning down income because you simply don’t have the time you need to provide your customer with a satisfactory experience, it might be time to hire a freelancer to help you with the workload. You can also outsource some help with menial tasks like invoicing, order management or bookkeeping. By removing even the smallest tasks, you may be surprised how much time this opens up in your schedule, allowing you to take on additional work. Automation of some sort might also be a natural next step for your business. Any systems you can implement to save time at this stage will allow you to continue growing your customer base.
You have savings
Growth often requires some investment. Even if your next step isn’t a costly one, it’s important that your financial situation be stable before you take any risks with your side hustle. Before you make any substantial changes or invest additional funds, it’s wise to build in a financial buffer.
It’s also important to remember that growth (such as overhauling your website or training a new employee) might temporarily reduce the amount of income you’re getting from your side hustle. If you are going to have to take time away from your side hustle in order to transition to a larger operation, it’s all the more important that you have savings to rely on, both personally and professionally.
You have a clear picture of next steps
If you don’t know exactly what it means for your business to grow, it’s not ready to do so. As I mentioned, expanding your side hustle can mean a lot of different things. Expansion through hiring is different than expansion through a marketing initiative, and it’s important to know exactly what your side hustle needs before you decide to grow.
Business growth should be a measurable, careful process in order to be sustainable.
Before deciding to expand your side hustle, you need to identify clear steps and action items for creating and maintaining your new, larger business. This means understanding your target market and where you can find your next customer base, as well as planning your time management carefully to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed.
Your metrics say yes
Data can be a powerful tool for assessing when your side hustle (or any business, for that matter) is ready to grow. Metrics like your monthly profit and loss, revenue and customer retention will provide you with a clear picture of the stability of your business, as well as its future potential. When you have these numbers clearly identified, it makes it much easier to understand the status of your side hustle and decide when to expand.
Another important metric to pay attention to when considering growth is the cost of acquiring new customers. This number might also provide some direction as to how your side hustle needs to grow. If acquiring new customers is expensive and customer retention is low, you might want to invest in an incentive-based word-of-mouth marketing scheme, which will encourage existing customers to return while also creating new ones.
Don’t let your side hustle outgrow you
It’s important to recognize the signs that your side hustle is ready to grow, because you want to be able to manage growth rather than be surprised by it. If you’re getting more orders than you can process, you have substantial savings to rely on, you know the next step you want to take, and the metrics support growth, then your side hustle needs some attention and expansion. Awareness of these signs will allow you to make sustainable, thoughtful business decisions that will ensure a profitable business for years to come.