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Many people dream of turning a side hustle, hobby or passion project into a legitimate, full time job. In fact, according to a study done by Invoice2go, nearly half (47 percent) of those in the gig economy say they are building up their side hustle until it’s stable enough to become their main source of income.
While it may be easier than ever to get an idea off the ground, not everyone can be Mark Zuckerberg. Jumping ship to start a small business is not for the faint of heart. Before you turn in your two-weeks notice, here are five important questions to ask yourself.
- What is your vision, and will it carry you through?
If you haven’t already, it’s important to define the purpose and vision for your business. The passion and motivation that gets you started will be essential in guiding you through business decisions in the future. If your vision centers around fantasies of luxury cars and cruises, you may find yourself sorely disappointed. Great businesses are founded on a passion for the work and a desire to help others fill their needs. The more you love it, the better your chances, just as these 11 entrepreneurs discovered.
- Have you done your research?
Even if you feel like you already know your side hustle inside and out, it’s important to do the research to make sure it can become a sustainable business for you. Create a business plan to help you crunch the costs, margins and revenue needed, and answer all the tough questions to make sure you (and the market) are ready.
Start with a free business plan template like this one from SCORE to organize your strategy. Beyond helping you self-check, a good business plan can come in handy when trying to secure loans or find investors. Once you have a clear plan set, study your competition to see what they offer and how they advertise. Find out who you can network with to cross-promote. Look up any professional associations that could further benefit your burgeoning career.
- How will you handle the back office?
As your side hustle becomes a full-blown business, it’s important that you simplify and streamline your workflow wherever you can. As a business owner, you have to handle tasks you’re likely not passionate about: invoicing, paying bills, taxes and so on. Look for tools that will cut your back office time and paperwork in half, not overcomplicate it. For invoicing, try a mobile invoicing app so you can send digital invoices straight to clients as soon as the job is done. The right tool will also help you capture expenses the moment you spend and get paid online, so everything’s recorded and kept organized for you as you go.
- How will you manage your time?
Nothing kills productivity like poor time management. Create a daily, weekly and monthly schedule to get a handle on tasks like customer service, billing, taking inventory and tax prep so you’re sure to have time for the most important part: growing your business. While planners and calendars have been the go-to for decades, now you can take advantage of easy online tools like Google Calendar to keep your schedule flowing while you’re on the go. Create to-do lists with apps like Todoist and Trello to have total control over your schedule from wherever you happen to be.
- Have you considered the legal side of things?
Ignoring the legalities of any business could set you up for major trouble down the line. There are many legal aspects to running a business, especially as it grows. For instance, should you set up your business as an LLC, incorporation, DBA or sole proprietorship? If you’re not familiar with these terms, now’s the time to study up. A website like MyCorporation is a great source for information on incorporating a small business. The site can help with online document filing services and provides information about intellectual property, as well as starting and running a business. When in doubt, ask mentors or colleagues for advice or consult with a small business attorney.
If you’re ready to turn your side hustle into a full-time career, take the time to plan. Make sure the work is something you’re passionate about. A thriving small business takes a lot of sacrifice. Before you jump in, be sure you’re willing and ready to do what it takes to succeed.