Whether it’s to generate extra cash or pursue a passion, an increasing number of people are starting their own businesses in addition to their “day jobs”.
According to a recent study of 2,000 adults in full-time employment, more than a quarter have already turned a hobby into a side business alongside their career. More than half of entrepreneurs treat their enterprise as a nine-to-five job but fit it around their current job – and another 48% work on their side job during the weekend.
Having a side hustle is a growing trend, too, with more than half of the UK population expected to take it on by 2030.
So if you want to turn your hustle into a career, what do you need to know?
Be sure it can fly
“There’s a difference between a side hustle that’s a paying hobby and a fully-fledged business,” says Richard Alderson, founder of Careershifters. “Ahead of deciding whether to go all-in, you’ll want to test that there’s a sufficiently large market for your product or service and that the margins on it will allow you to pay yourself as a minimum – and ideally have scope, over time, to pay others too.”
Rejig your day-job
To avoid taking on too many responsibilities, falling behind in your current job or burning out, it might be worth considering re-working your current job. However, you will need to work out your finances carefully first.
“To take as much risk out of the transition from employment to self-employment, do your best to negotiate with your current employer to reduce your hours gradually as your business picks up steam,” Alderson says. “If they won’t do this, consider quitting your job and having the backup of freelance work in your old industry to keep cash flow coming in, if needed.”
Put a team around you
It’s helpful to talk to people who have already launched their own successful businesses and are happy to share advice with you. There are plenty of networking groups for self-employed people on social media too, where you can ask questions and get support when you need it.
“Entrepreneurship is a team sport,” Alderson says. “It’s best to build that team as soon as you can – and ideally, ahead of launching into your business full time. You’ll not only want to attract others who can help you in areas of the business where you’re less strong, but also find mentors and advisers who can help you avoid some of the inevitable pitfalls along the way.”
Make sure you love it
It goes without saying, but making sure you love your new business is essential – as you’ll most likely have to put in long hours to get it off the ground. Liz Wilson, 59 who owns Ma Baker took a course in bread making, and started making and selling bread as a side hustle to her fulltime job as a primary school teacher. She has since quit her job and has just been awarded a 3 Star Great Taste Award.
“I started baking and selling on such a small scale and was just loving the whole process. It was when people who didn't know me, wanted to buy my bread that I started to think there was something in this,” she says.
“I started to receive excellent feedback from new customers, which spread the word and more people started buying my bread. I then began to run courses, teaching people how to make bread. There is nothing better than sharing something you love with others. I loved it, and so did my students.”
Wilson worked the bread business as a side hustle for a year, before resigning from her job and taking it on full-time. “Get good at what you do, and make sure you have a real love and enjoyment for it as it will be that passion that drives you,” she advises. “But jump into it two feet first, and immerse yourself in it. Learn as much as you can, especially from others, and be the best you can be. And become good friends with a good accountant.”