Where my millennials at? Yeah you. You probably have a side hustle. Millennials are side hustle gurus. This generation, spent its formative years in a recession and stepped into the workforce into an all time shitty job market. Meaning, we know how to hustle some extra cash to afford the life we want. Beyond making extra money, we also crave meaning and diversified work experience. With most companies flailing to keep up with the evolving needs of the workforce, most millennials are stuck in unfulfilling careers. So we add passion projects to help us find fulfillment. But what if these passion projects could be where we made all of our income? What if we could stop wasting time in an unfulfilling career and start investing our time in what gives us joy. Sound too good to be true? Well in seven very hard but very possible steps, you can make your side hustle your main hustle.
I hope you didn’t expect this list to be seven items that are going to encourage you to leap blindly into your passions. I am a realist. You need money to survive. Passions are important, but you can’t eat or live inside of your passions. You need to know what you are working with financially. If you are new to budgeting and not sure where to start, then here are some apps that can help you:
- Every Dollar
Download one of these apps and plan your monthly budget. If you are neurotic about budgeting, like me, then you can start with an excel spreadsheet, then transfer your planned expenses into Every Dollar and then watch how your money shapes out at the end of the month on Mint. It is ok to get obsessive about budgeting. It will help you stay focused on your goals. Three tracking tools might be excessive for you. Find out what works and stick to it.
Once you have your budget, you need to figure out the maximum amount you can afford to save each month and save it. You are going to need to live within your very tight means until you make enough money that you feel comfortable taking a leap of faith. It depends on your comfort with financial risk as far as how much that is. For me it is three months of living expenses plus a cushion for emergencies. Once you determine the amount for you, then you know what you need to save towards before you can take the leap to your side hustle. This doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing your side business for the inevitable leap now. You just need to…
Spend your free time building a solid business plan. If your side hustle is making jewelry and you only sell one necklace a month, then you need to come up with a way to make this business lucrative. I recommend reading more in depth about how to make a successful business plan or using templates to help guide you along. But here is the simplified version:
- Define your business and what makes it special in the marketplace
- Set clear goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely)
- Define your target market and know your audience
- Scope out the competition
- Determine how you are going to operate and manage your business
- Become your business’s financial expert. Whether you are good with money or not, you need to know how much money is going into your business and how much is being brought in
Once you have a business plan that you are comfortable with, start doing. Break your plan down to actionable steps and do it.
- Stay Engaged
Saying “do it” is one thing. But actually doing it is another. It is easy to lose steam, get overwhelmed, and want to give up. I have been there. If you are serious about your passions, don’t give up. Get better. Find ways to stay motivated and keep moving forward through your action plan. Trust the process and be patient.
Part of trusting the process is knowing when the process needs to change. In step two I told you to become your business’s financial expert. Meaning, you need to know when an investment is not making the returns and how to evolve from there. If you are not meeting your goals, you need to evolve.
Let’s say you are now 2 months into your business and you have yet to make any money. What can you do to make that money? For example, let’s say your online jewelry store is just not selling. Your product is great but nobody is buying? What can you do? Market. Run promotions on social media, build your web content to drive traffic to your site. Find out what your business needs to start meeting your goals and adjust your process accordingly.
- Go For It
You have now saved up the amount of money you need to feel confident in taking a leap. Your business is now making money. You are ready. Don’t be scared. Just rip that bandage off. The worst thing that can happen is your business fails and you need to go back to the job market. Except, you will be returning to the job market with three letters on your resume that will increase your prospects: CEO. The best thing that can happen is you are now a successful business owner following your passions. You can’t lose. Just quit your job and devote your time and energy to what you love.
- Carefully Finance
Have you gathered that I have an obsession with finance yet? But seriously, if you and your family are going to be financially dependent on yourself, you need to be smart about this. Your business is still new. You need to save save save. At the very least you should save enough for the following:
- A cushion that you are confident could help you weather the natural ebb and flow of commerce
- 30% of all profits for taxes. You are self employed now. Don’t let that 1099 surprise you come tax season.
- Evaluate and Grow
Last but certainly not least, constantly evaluate and grow your business. Now that your side hustle is your main hustle, you have the flexibility to turn your business into something truly profitable. Don’t turn on autopilot and let your business stagnate. Sure you have earned the right to kick back and relax every now and then. But be sure to regularly check in on your progress, measure your profit against expenses and evolve accordingly.
Congratulations! If you are reading this article, you are at least thinking about turning your side hustle into your main hustle. If you are ready to work your tail off to make that happen, then follow these seven steps:
- Stay Engaged
- Go for it
- Carefully finance
- Evaluate and grow
Have you already turned your passions into your primary source of income? What helped you make the leap? Let us know in the comments!