How to Start a Side Hustle: The Step-by-Step guide

8 min read
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It’s never been easier or more potentially rewarding to start a side hustle. In the fast-changing and diverse marketplace of modern business, one simple idea can lead to wildly successful ventures that represent whole new journeys.

With this in mind, it pays to know exactly how to manifest your ideas into a tangible side hustle that you can project to the world. 

To help you in your quest, we at Quickbooks have put together a comprehensive guide on how to start and maintain a successful side hustle. Whether you're looking simply to diversify your income or make real benefits from your passions and interests, you'll find helpful tips and advice here. 

Firstly, let's walk through the side hustle process step by step, from identifying your skills and interests to successfully launching and managing your side business.

1. Hone in on your hobbies and interests

To start your side hustle, you first need to pick a topic or hobby that you are interested in. It’s not always your favourite hobby, or the most widely popular one, that will be the best candidate for a side hustle. 

When considering which subject area to explore, first reflect on your interests in life, whether it be gardening, writing, or playing an instrument. It could even be an aspect of your job which you particularly enjoy.

Whatever it is, it needs to be an interest that allows you to exhibit your knowledge or key strengths. Consider both the hard and soft skills you have developed throughout your life so far, and how you can use them in any potential side project - for instance, good communication skills may be equally important as technical proficiency. 

If you need to, you can explore other development opportunities to enhance your skill set, in courses, workshops or with local resources. 

Put simply, the perfect side hustle is one that will keep you both interested for a sustained period of time and one that has the potential for profitability. And the latter brings us nicely onto our next step: exploring market research.

2. Market research

As nice as it is to work on a side hustle based around something you enjoy, the likelihood is if you want to benefit financially from it, you need to be aware of what market you’re stepping into. After all, if competition is too high, then you may find it hard to get visibility for your project; if the demand is too low, you might not have the potential user base to sustain your side hustle.

To get around this, research the different facets of your chosen area and determine whether there is sufficient demand for your product or service. You may like to target particular competitors, working out what their main offerings are and analysing how you might be able to offer something different. 

This information will help you refine your offering and position it effectively within the marketplace.

3. Plan your strategy

So, at this stage, you’ll have a solid side hustle idea which hopefully will be able to take advantage of good market opportunities. Now it’s time to work out how you’ll be successful - or, more to the point, what success for you will look like. 

With this in mind, it’s important to set clear goals for your side hustle. Do you want to earn a specific amount of money, gain experience in a particular field, or turn it into a full-time venture eventually?

Once you’ve got this information figured out, you can then outline a strategy that proposes how you will achieve your objectives. Likely, this will include marketing, pricing, and customer acquisition.

4. Create a business plan

Now, it’s time to think business. This is a more laser-focused and actionable look at how you will turn your strategy into profit. 

Here, you’ll analyse the pricing structure of your side hustle, what your likely expenditures will be, and what you are projected to earn. A lot of moving parts typically go into even the smallest side hustles, so taking this into account at this point will be hugely beneficial in the long run.

It's also worth pointing out that you'll likely need to keep track of your invoices for Self Assessment tax returns. You can use third party software in order to help you do this.

A solid business plan will serve as a roadmap for your side hustle and help you stay focused and organised.

5. Manage your time and resources

Before you can release your side hustle to the world, it’s important to consider how you’ll manage your time, especially in relation to your other tasks and commitments. Work out how much actual time you’ll have to work on your side project, and what sacrifices you may need to make in order to make this happen.

Indeed, this also extends to the time, space and expense you’ll need to source materials or resources as applicable to your side hustle. If you need to choose suppliers, think about how you can get the best deals.

At the end of this, you’ll be able to forecast a budget that will accurately reflect your future expenses and make sure you always stay in the clear. 

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6. Launch your side hustle

With all the foundations in place, it's time for the fun part: launching your side hustle for the world to enjoy. Start by promoting your business in all the areas that you have previously identified in your marketing strategy. 

Then, carry out your business plan, all the while building a user base through a website, social media platforms, or online marketplaces. You may choose to employ marketing strategies like content creation, networking, and word-of-mouth referrals to generate interest and attract customers.

If all doesn’t go to plan in the first couple of months, don’t worry. Some of the best traits of any side hustler are perseverance, resilience and adaptability. After all, no one project is the same. 

All you can do is learn from your experiences as you go, and make the right adjustments and alterations to keep your hustle on the right track. Many side hustlers find that their side project is as much a personal journey as it is a professional one, so enjoy the ride!

What is a side hustle?

Put simply, a side hustle may refer to a type of work or business that is aside from the primary job or income. Typically, a side hustle represents a hobby or interest of the organiser(s), or an opportunity to generate additional income. Often, it is a combination of both.

Side hustles are usually done in a part-time capacity, which means the organiser can continue to work on their primary capacity. However, if they are successful, side hustles may become the primary source of income for some that attempt it. 

Common examples of side hustles include freelance work, such as writing, photography, or graphic design. They may also include things like handmade crafts, baking or furniture, which people of all backgrounds can partake in. 

What are the benefits of having a side hustle?

There are numerous benefits to having a side hustle. Usually the most attractive benefit is the potential of additional income away from the primary job, but there are other pluses, such as skills development and increased knowledge.

Indeed, side hustles are a particularly great avenue by which individuals can learn more about their chosen field or passion. And, by pursuing this passion, many people have gained valuable experience and nurtured their creativity.

A side hustle also offers a taste of entrepreneurship. It allows you to experience first-hand the challenges and rewards of running a business, including setting goals, managing finances, marketing, and problem-solving. This entrepreneurial experience can be valuable in building your confidence and expanding your network.

And, lastly, the sheer freedom that side hustles offer is liberating for many of those who try it. After all, side hustlers have the freedom to choose the type of work you want to pursue, set their own schedule, and make decisions based on their own instincts.

This independence can lead to greater job satisfaction and fulfilment, as you have the opportunity to create something that is truly your own.

When should you start a side hustle?

There’s no right answer to when you should start a side hustle. However, you may think it’s the right time when you have a financial need for extra income, you have a lot of time on your hands, or a passion that you really want to explore and exploit.

Indeed, you may want to consider starting a side venture if you simply want to boost your skills development, or want to boost your confidence in certain areas. Or, if you’ve simply been feeling entrepreneurial of late and want an outlet for this drive, side hustles are perfect.  

Ultimately, the decision to start a side hustle should align with your goals, interests, and available resources. Assess your situation, consider the potential benefits, and determine if now is the right time to embark on your side hustle journey.

That’s it for our guide to how you can start a side hustle of your own. As we've discovered, there is no doubt it's one of the best ways to ensure financial stability and diversify your income.

When starting your side hustle, you'll have the peace of mind that you are staying financially compliant. 

For this, utilise Quickbooks’ intuitive accounting software, full of useful features that will help you meet key deadlines and monitor cash flow with ease.  We also have a range of informative guides containing more on how to start a new business and maintain it throughout its first year

If you’re ready to start your own side hustle but aren’t sure where to start, check out the QuickBooks blog for more helpful tips for small businesses. We cover everything from sending invoices to getting to grips with Making Tax Digital as part of our mission to help small businesses grow.

The information on this website is provided free of charge and is intended to be helpful to a wide range of businesses. Because of its general nature the information cannot be taken as comprehensive and they do not constitute and should never be used as a substitute for legal, accounting, tax or professional advice. We cannot guarantee that the information applies to the individual circumstances of your business. Despite our best efforts it is possible that some information may be out of date. Any reliance you place on information found on this site or linked to on other websites will be at your own risk.


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