How to Start a Side Business While Still Working Full-Time

Felix Yim
Medienstürmer / Unsplash

Have you always dreamed of owning your own business, but never quite been in a position to make that happen? Always wanted to do your own thing, but life always seemed to get in the way? You’ve just gone from one unfulfilling full-time job to the next, dreaming of one day branching out on your own?

Well, there’s nothing stopping you except yourself! Of course, there are practicalities to consider, but generally speaking, you can do anything that you set your mind to. And if you’ve always wanted to start a side-hustle while working full-time, then there’s no time like the present. There are a few key things to do and consider before you just jump ship, though. Keep that full-time job that pays the bills while you work on making your side-hustle your main hustle.

Identify Your Skills and Interests

Maybe you’re not quite sure what your side-hustle will look like, you just know that this job that you’re working 9-5 right now isn’t cutting it for you. It’s okay to not know what your skills and interests are, and it’s okay to explore new things before you find something that you can turn into a profitable venture. It’s important that you identify what your skills and interests are before you start out on this side-hustle. Think about what you’re good at, and think about what you’re interested in. Ask friends if you’re unsure of your skillset. Marrying what you’re good at with what you’re interested in and what you can make money at, is definitely one of the recipes of success.

Prepare for the Long Run

In business of any sort, there’s no such thing as a get-rich-quick scheme. Even the richest people in the world started out with nothing but an idea. They knew that they had a very profitable, marketable product, but also knew that they had to stick it out, through the highs and lows. You should prepare yourself mentally to fail. Understand that life and business and money acquisition is a marathon and not a sprint.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla has this to say on preparing for the long run - "you should certainly expect that it’s going to be very hard. It’s going to be harder than getting a job somewhere by a pretty good margin and the odds of you losing the money that you invested or your friends invested is pretty high. I mean, those are just the basic facts. So if you don’t mind things being really hard and high risk, then starting a company is a good idea. Otherwise, it’s probably unwise. It will certainly stress you out. So I think you have to be pretty driven to make it happen. Otherwise, you will just make yourself miserable.”

You’ll get more things wrong initially than you’ll get right. You’ll learn about what works and what doesn’t, and you and your business will grow and eventually blossom into a roaring success that you’d always dreamed of.

Validate Your Idea Early

Everyone needs validation of some sort at certain points in their lives. This is true of businesses, too. It’s important that you cut yourself some slack and have your ideas validated - honestly, but validated, nonetheless. Surround yourself with people who will validate you and your ideas for your business, but also provide you honest feedback to help keep you grounded.

Barry Green, Founder and Director of Pawssum Vets, Australia’s leading in-home vet service, has this to say on the importance of validating an idea early on “in the early stages of starting a business, one of the most essential steps is to test whether your idea has merit or not. There are many ways to test the waters, from surveys to presales, but what I believe in is to continue a small group of early adopters to pay you for your product or service. Everyone can say they love the idea at first, but them backing it up with paying for the service is another thing.”

Leverage Help Using Tools

Every entrepreneur needs a little help along the way. There’s no shame in accepting and in fact, you should seize on every opportunity you’re presented with as a young, aspiring entrepreneur. Leverage the help you’ve been given. Let’s say you need a specific item to start your business - you could approach other local businesses who have those items and see if they’d be willing to work with you, or even the local government and apply for bursaries to obtain the funds to purchase the items yourself. As a young, budding entrepreneur, you’ll need all the help you can get. Don’t shy away from accepting it, seize it and run!

Define Clear Goals and Milestones

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in your side-hustle is to ensure that you have clearly defined goals and milestones. Having a clear goal or a set of goals will help keep you focused and help you utilise your assets better. Let’s say your goal is to have fifteen customers in your newest little coffee shop. If you’re hitting ten or so, then use falling short of that goal to envision new ways to entice new customers to your shop. Maybe have a poetry night or host an art exhibition. Another reason to set definite milestones and goals for yourself is that it gives you a sense of purpose and will help you to see what’s working and what’s not in your business venture.

Stay Consistent

Perhaps the most important thing in your side-hustle business is consistency. If you’re a photographer, take photos often, share them consistently. If you’re a painter - paint consistently. No matter your side-hustle, the goal is to produce a consistent product that sells timelessly.

Steve Jobs, late co-founder and ex-CEO of Apple has this to say on staying consistent "You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Repeat business will only come after lots of hard work producing quality products consistently. Turning your side-hustle into your main hustle is perhaps most dependent on your ability to be consistent.

Final Thoughts

Owning your own business comes with more than its fair share of challenges. It’s important, in the beginning, that you supplement your side-hustle income with something that’s a bit more consistent - until you are consistent enough to engage full-time in your side-hustle and make it your main hustle. The main thing with side-hustle businesses is simply to start! Take your passion and try to find a way to market it. Take your love of painting on the weekends, or photography outing sessions and find a way to turn that passion into a product that is marketable to the rest of the world.

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Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects.


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