If you’ve ever made money dabbling in a hobby, you’ve likely daydreamed about making it a full-time career. This is especially true if your current job is boring, stressful, or unfulfilling. Side gigs tend to be more exciting because they afford you more freedom, they enable you to engage your creativity or passions, and they give you a practically unlimited income ceiling. But they’re also side gigs for a reason; it’s hard to turn a hobby like knitting or woodworking into a full-time business.
So is it even possible to make your side gig a full-time business? And if so, how can you start?
Understanding Your Potential:
First, you should take a serious look at the potential of your chosen side gig. Not all side gigs offer the same opportunities or the same potential for full-time work, so you should evaluate yours before trying to make the transition.
Ask yourself these questions:
Are there other people making a full-time career with this?
Take a look at your peers. Are there people doing what you’re doing, but on a full-time level? It may be hard to find this information, since online store owners may very well have full-time day jobs, but if you’re truly interested in the answer to this question, consider sending an email to those webmasters. If you can’t find many people who can afford to do this full-time, you may need to consider seeking an alternative line of work.
How much opportunity is there?
You should also consider how much opportunity there is in this side gig. For example, if you’ve dabbled in real estate investing, you can feel confident there are plenty of investment opportunities for someone investing full-time. On the other hand, if you write custom fanfiction for a very niche audience, you might not have the same level of confidence.
How profitable is the work?
Next, consider how much profit there is in the work itself. If you charge $25 for a piece of artwork that cost $5 in materials and an hour of work, you’re effectively working for $20 an hour. Assuming you’re doing this 40 hours a week, is $800 a week enough to fulfill your long-term goals? You can adjust the profitability of your work by working more efficiently or cutting costs, but it pays to get a ballpark early on.
Is this gig scalable?
Don’t forget about scalability. Your operation might work perfectly well when it’s just you, handling a handful of orders a week. But what happens if demand starts to exceed your pace of development? What happens if you aren’t getting enough requests, and you need to go out and hunt for new clients? Consider factors like hiring employees, deploying sales and marketing strategies, and working on a national level; can your business still work?
How to Transition to a Full-Time Business
Assuming you’ve answered these questions positively, and you still feel good about turning your side gig into a full-time business, follow these steps to complete the transition:
1. Write up a business plan.
Before you get too excited, take the time to write a full business plan. This document will outline how your business plans to make money, and how it’s going to scale in the future. It’s your chance to identify the key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your business, and decide whether it’s worth pursuing.
2. Optimize for efficiency.
Look at your current operation, and find new ways to optimize it for efficiency (and therefore, profitability). Is there a way to automate some of your business functions? Are there things you can do faster or cheaper? Can you charge more for your work without losing business? Every bit helps.
3. Create a backup plan.
Half of all businesses fail within the first five years, which means you need to be prepared for that eventuality. Assume that you invest everything in this side hustle, but it goes under after a few years. What will you do then? It pays to have a plan in place from the beginning.
4. Focus on building a consistent stream of revenue.
When trying to make a living from your side gig, consistency will be your best friend. Therefore, your first order of business is finding a way to make your side gig consistent. Depending on your niche, that may mean selling monthly subscriptions instead of individual products or finding recurring customers who pay you every month.
5. Cut ties with your employer amicably.
When you feel confident you can support the side gig full-time, consider cutting ties with your employer. When you do this, do it on good terms, and don’t burn any bridges; that way, you may have a path to a replacement job if things with your side gig don’t work out.
Not everyone can turn their hobby or side business into a full-time career, but with the right insights, questions, and planning, it’s certainly possible. Take your time, do your research, and eventually, you could make a living doing something you’re truly passionate about.