Some of the biggest businesses today started as side hustles and passion projects. To make your side gig a success, you need to work smarter and utilize the tools available in the market to scale your business.
Some of the most recognizable and successful businesses in the world today started as side hustles with humble beginnings.
Steve Jobs was working the night shift at Atari while spending his free time during the day on a project that would ultimately become Apple. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were side projects that quickly blossomed beyond the wildest imaginations of their creators. Meanwhile, other businesses such as Spanx, Yankee Candle and Under Armour started as passion projects that grew into major global brands.
Of course, those success stories have more often than not been the exception instead of the rule. So much of succeeding with any type of business is about identifying a product or service that is greatly needed, figuring out how to fund the project and then determining ways to scale the business.
Sometimes, all this must be done, of course, while you are still working your primary job. It can sometimes be maddening and exhausting trying to work a day job that pays the bills while also devoting time and energy to a side hustle you are hopeful will one day become your main source of income. If you can survive the double duty long enough and find success with that side hustle, ultimately it can become your path to entrepreneurship, being your own boss and, if you are lucky, achieving all of your goals.
I can speak to this from experience. I personally have had more than one side hustle — six of them, actually. I tried it all — from vending machines at my parents’ restaurants, to a failed apparel company, to my now current, full-time focus of helping businesses find the capital that they need to grow.
Not long after college, I worked for Bonobos and helped the company transition from an online-only business model to becoming one of the first digitally native brands to roll out a meaningful brick-and-mortar-retail presence. While working there, a coworker turned me onto online affiliate marketing. We marketed whatever would pay us a good commission, and that ultimately led me to online lending and, more specifically, purchase-order finance.
What started out as my side hustle ultimately allowed me to transition into a career in finance that I was always after. Even now, seven years later, I apply the same side-hustle mentality and practices to my full-time job with Star Funding, Inc. With Star Funding, we help small companies grow their business through purchase-order financing and factoring.
My experience with a side hustle taught me some valuable lessons. You must make sure that you are working efficiently on your side hustle because of the limited time you have available. The biggest key is working smarter and utilizing the best tools in the market to scale your business. Then, let other people manage the aspects of it that you can’t handle, and you will be successful.
Here are my five tips to help you manage your side hustle.
1. Use social-media-management tools
Social media is probably the best way to communicate with your customers and prospective customers today. Without the right social-media-management tools, you will need to spend hours each day posting, updating and engaging. Loomly is a tool that I use to manage multiple social-media platforms. It allows you to sit down on a Sunday night, set up all of your social-media content for the week and then just push play. It automatically updates Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so that you don’t have to worry about waking up in the morning before going to work to update the social-media channels for your side business. Remember, so much of having success with a side hustle is about working smarter and not harder.
2. Hire a PR agency
This is all about finding somebody who can help you create content and working to find the right outlets to get word out there so that you’re not spending all week pitching publications and trying to find ways to get your voice heard. You sit down with a company, and it can help you come up with a strategy and then execute it. There are affordable and accessible options for young businesses that aren’t looking to spend tens of thousands of dollars on bigger public-relations firms.
3. Outsource, outsource, outsource
I can’t stress this one enough! Find reliable, project-based help with functions that you are not great at doing. Upwork, for example, allows you to outsource pretty much any function of work that you want done — from bookkeeping, to accounting, to marketing, to social-media management, to content creation and web design. You can hire people to do that work on an hourly basis or by project. Or, as your business grows and you need someone to help with customer service and answer emails during the day when you aren’t there, you can find someone at a very reasonable cost on that platform without committing to long-term employees until you need them.
4. Find the right financing partner
To be successful, you are going to have to find the right financing partner. Doing that will allow you to scale your company without interfering with your personal cashflow. Bootstrapping is important and finding the right lenders for your business is vital because they are the ones who can provide you the capital to grow. This way, you can still live the lifestyle that you want to live with your main, 9-to-5 job. If you can, find a lender who will help you with purchase-order financing and your accounts’ receivables to make sure that every transaction you get — no matter how big or small — is going to be taken care of. Purchase-order financing is a great program for side-hustle CEOs because you’re not making a big commitment to long-term loans or something that you have to worry about paying back weekly or monthly.
5. Utilize sourcing agents
If you are selling a physical product, turn to a sourcing agent for access to their network. Their network, expertise and, most importantly, their experience with product manufacturing, designing and importing will be vital for the growth of your company. There are companies that can help you design products and find the right manufacturers. In some cases, they can help you find the right products for your company, source the right manufacturers and help you manage the entire process.
Good luck finding success with your side hustle!
by Avi Levine