How to start a side hustle – and turn it into a success
Last updated on 13th December, 2018 at 03:34 pm
According to the 2017/18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s report, South Africa’s entrepreneurship activity is at its highest since 2013. As the economy gets tighter, one in three South Africans is using a side business to supplement their income. Here’s your step-by-step guide to starting your own:
1. Figure out your USP (unique selling point)
“Ask yourself: what unique skills or abilities do I have?” advises Jannie Rossouw, head of Sanlam Business Market. “You need to know what you have to offer and if there’s a market for it.” Love home baking? Consider what about your service will be unique or supply a need: perhaps it’s free home delivery or being the best priced.
There’s a good chance friends and family can tell you what your USP is – and that it’s something you’re already doing for fun. Take Natalie Roos, who created www.tailsofamermaid.com. “I started blogging on WordPress in 2010 because I loved writing and wanted a place where I could share,” she explains. “Before that I had a mailing list of friends and family who I’d update on my travels.”
2. Define your customer
Once you understand what your product offers, you’ll be able to identify your customer base. If you already have a captive audience of family and friends to build on to and create your customer profile, maximise on this. Starting from scratch? Be specific: for example, targeting moms is broad. But targeting working, health-conscious moms in your area who don’t have time to cook nutritious, homemade meals during the week, is better.
3. Check out the competition
Advises Rossouw: “Ask yourself, who is my competition? In this way you can determine how saturated the market is, and see what they charge for their service/product.” (Not to mention suss out what they do well, and where you can do things better!)
4. Don’t jeapordise your 9-to-5
Not all employers are okay with you having a side hustle – and if you’re marketing your side hustle well, it’s likely they’ll find out. “Will your side business pose any conflict of interest with your current employer?” asks Rossouw. Check your company policy and with HR.
5. Brand yourself
Amanda Alves, a digital strategist, advises: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak. It’s tempting to talk about the features of your product, but people buy the benefits. For example, if you’re selling handmade soaps it might be better to lead with ‘gives you softer skin’ than a list of ingredients.”
6. Google is your friend
The internet is a world of free resources waiting to be tapped. “When I don’t know how to do something, I turn to Google,” says Roos. “For instance, ‘How to pitch an article to a magazine editor’ and ‘How to edit in Lightroom’ are things I’ve searched for. Use the internet as a research tool about your product or service and more.
7. Harness the power of social media
“Pick your social media platforms based on your product, target market and what you’re comfortable managing,” advises Alves. “If you already have a social media presence, leverage your personal brand by talking about your product and sharing it.”
Top tip: “A good ‘free’ space on Facebook is community and neighbourhood groups (eg Bryanston Community or Cape Town Parents), most of whom allow advertising for small and local businesses on certain days of the week,” adds Alves.
8. Keep track of your money so you can grow
“Request an opinion from an accountant who specialises in tax to make sure you comply with tax, accounting and local authority regulations,” says Rossouw.
Thabisile Mdaki, a teacher who renovates property on the side, suggests that you don’t combine your side hustle income with your salary. “Your side hustle is an extra source of income, not the main source – open a business account so you can keep track of business costs and profits,” Mdaki suggests.
Top tip:“Put everything you earn from your side hustle into savings for the first few months. That will give you some breathing room when you’re ready to upscale,” adds Roos.
9. Set clear goals
“It’s important to draft a short- and long-term vision for your side hustle,” says Mdaki. Do you want to use the finances to pay off debt, take your children through university or help you save? This will fuel the decisions you make and drive the success of your business.
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10. Stop procrastinating; just do it!
“Stop thinking about it and start planning it,” encourages Roos. “Take out a pen and paper and write down what exactly it is you want to start and what you’ll need to do it. Even if you don’t have the top-of-the-range camera or the most professional-looking business cards, your best asset is what you already have – YOU.”
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