Think your side hustle may be ready for the big time? Check these four boxes to increase your chances of success.
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Most people who start a side hustle do so to bolster the income from their full-time job. Maybe you're paying off student loans or saving for retirement, or you just want some extra spending money for the occasional vacation.
When your side hustle picks up momentum, it can transform into a full-fledged business. That said, it's important to look before you leap. If you're going to abandon the safety of a full-time job to start working for yourself, it makes sense to double-check that you're ready. Here are four things you need to do before you jump ship.
Related: 50 Ideas for a Lucrative Side Hustle
1. Get your financial ducks in a row.
Chances are, you won't exactly be raking in cash right off the bat. Fortunately, you're still employed full-time now, right? Calculate your runway and determine how much money you'll need per month to get your side hustle off the ground. There's no such thing as an overnight success, so save this money up, and you'll be ready for the good times and the bad that come with being your own boss. While you can take on debt to start your business, it's better to avoid it if you can.
2. Perfect the art of paperwork.
A side hustle doesn't usually require the services of a lawyer or accountant. But, transforming it to a legitimate business will, so make sure you get the required legalities sorted out before you take the leap. Deciding on a business structure is a good start, so consider the pros and cons of an LLC, corporation or partnership, among others, and talk to a professional if you need help. From there, pick a name and register your business to get federal and state tax identification numbers. There are plenty of online resources, such as the Edward Lowe Foundation's Business Builder, to help you learn more before calling in a professional.
Related: Choose Your Business Structure
3. Make a move.
You've probably been working from a home office, but when your side hustle becomes your full-time job, it might be time to find a new space. Look around for one that meets the needs of your business, and create a checklist to stay on track. It's typical to allocate 150-250 square feet per employee, depending on how much equipment you use, and you should consider subleasing until your business is bringing in more serious revenue.
Moved, a free moving concierge service, suggests you create a moving checklist that includes things to do before, during and after your move. The service recommends gathering up legal and financial records and starting to pack and plan the logistics of your move one month before your move-in date.
4. Jump at every chance to build your brand.
Now that you're your own boss, no one is going to build your brand for you or tell you how to go about doing it. If you thought your side gig was a hustle, get ready for the real grind. Working on your brand requires you to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, and you'll need to talk to your audience to refine your product into one it truly can't live without.
Related: 2 Key Lessons in Brand Building
You also need to focus on building your personal brand, which means starting an online blog about your experiences, going to seminars and other development opportunities and positioning yourself in the publications that your prospective customers are reading.
The side hustle is becoming ubiquitous, especially among millennials, and it's a great way to broaden your skill set and make extra money. But, when your side hustle starts to take more of your time and energy — and shows signs of becoming a lucrative venture — it might be time to make it official. Start with the steps above, and remember that there's no such thing as an overnight success. Building a business requires a substantial investment, but if you persevere, the payoff can be even more extraordinary.