Want to start a side hustle doing something you love while making a decent income? Possible to launch it in a month — or even less?
You’re going to love this book review and summary!
As a side hustler myself, I’ve always encouraged individuals to do something beyond their 9-to-5 job.
This can be anything from helping other people to build their websites, teaching others to bake keto-friendly cakes, to sewing and selling handcrafted handbags.
Thanks to the book Side Hustle — From Idea to Income in 27 Days by author Chris Guillebeau, we now have a step-by-step guide to starting and sustaining our own side business. (Do also check out his other book The $100 Startup, which I’ve written a review of.)
In this article, you will learn how to start your own side hustle, based on the key ideas from the book (peppered with my own asides).
Ready to be an entrepreneur by the side? Let’s go!
Week 1: Generate Side Hustle Ideas
In the first week, you’ll ponder over why you wish to start a side hustle, consider what you intend to do, and predict how much you can possibly make.
#1 Know your why
Think about your goal for starting the side hustle. A side hustle is like a hobby with one exception — it makes you money!
Is it to supplement your current income? Replace your current job? Allow you to retire earlier?
#2 Evaluate your hustle’s potential
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your side hustle idea feasible? Can it be done in a short period of time?
- Is your idea profitable? Can you actually make money from it?
- Is your idea persuasive? Will people spend money for this?
#3 Brainstorm ideas
There are lots of business ideas around, so you’ll probably have no lack of ideas here!
What’s important is to consider their suitability in your current context.
#4 Evaluate pros and cons
Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option. This includes the startup funds and resources needed, competition, as well as potential customers.
#5 Forecast side hustle income
Do a simple income projection based on your projected profit and costs. Use different scenarios — realistic, worst, and best case scenarios.
Week 2: Select the Best Side Hustle Idea
On your second week, you’ll need to rank and compare ideas to see which you should throw your full weight behind.
#6 Use a side hustle selector
Evaluate your ideas and rank them on 3 point (or 5 point) scale along these dimensions:
- Feasibility: How quickly can you turn this idea into a real business
- Persuasion: Can you get customers with this idea?
- Profit Potential: What is the profitability of this idea?
- Efficiency: How easily and quickly can you execute this?
- Motivation: How inspired and excited are you to do this? You have to be passionate about your idea to carry it through!
Image courtesy of Marketing In Asia
#7 Investigate side hustles
Study your competitors. See what’s on their websites, social media accounts, as well as reviews on forums. Check out their Facebook ads, TikTok ads, Google ads.
Validate your idea by creating a Facebook Page or TikTok account or Instagram account, and putting up some information on your offer. Boost it for a small amount (eg $20) to your target audience, and see if they respond. (More about Facebook advertising here.)
#8 Chat with your customers
Now you should ask your prospective customers if they’d consider buying your product or service from you. Where possible narrow them down as much as possible.
(Read my article on building a customer avatar here.)
#9 Turn your ideas into offers
Consider how you can turn your idea into an offer.
Use the Three Ps:
- Promise: How will your hustle transform somebody’s life?
- Pitch: What’s in it for them to purchase or sign up now? What are your hustle’s benefits and USPs?
- Price: What does it cost to buy or sign up? How should they do it?
(Pick up more tips on copywriting your offer here.)
#10 Build your personal backstory
Yes, storytelling is vital in any side hustle. As a solopreneur, you’ll need to use your origin story to convince people to hop on board.
Week 3: Final Stages of Preparation
OK, you’re almost there. Here’s where some of the important details comes in.
#11 Put together the logistics
What do you need to get everything started? There is an entire range of things to consider, but here are the basics:
- Legal structure
- Contracts and agreements
- Operations and equipment
- Financial systems, eg merchant bank account, invoicing, receipts, payment systems etc
- Working spaces
- Storage spaces (if needed)
#12 Price your offer
There are many ways to price your offer, but consider using these yardsticks:
- Product: Calculate your total costs, and add on a margin
- Service: Consider how much time you need, and how much your per hour rates are worth
Wherever possible, ensure that your side hustle is worth your while in terms of time and effort spent! Also, try to bake in some form of recurring income in your sideline.
#13 Put together your recipe and shopping list
Consider now what the steps are in your side hustle, as well as all the items you’ll need to deliver it to your customers.
For instance, if your side hustle is to sell fresh seafood in the evening via Facebook or TikTok Live, you’ll need:
- Fresh seafood supplies
- Order taking on Facebook
- Marketing to your potential customers on Facebook
- Packaging of your seafood and storage
- Delivery and fulfillment
- Payment system and policies
Once you’ve got these elements in place, you’ll then need to make sure you get the right ingredients in place.
#14 All about payments
Yes, you can’t make side hustle profitable if you can’t get paid. From invoicing and receipts to payment systems, you need to put in place the right infrastructure for your customers to transfer their funds to your account!
Do also consider if you’ll need online payment solutions like PayPal or Stripe, as well as how you can integrate them into your website (or other platforms). For B2B sidelines, consider if you’ll need to craft a simple contract or agreement to protect your business from errant customers.
#15 Get your workflow sorted out
Develop step-by-step flow charts describing every single step in your business. These workflows may include your customer purchase process, order fulfillment process, down to production and delivery of your product or service.
Here’s an example of a order fulfillment process workflow.
Courtesy of veeqo.com
#16 Focus on the vital 10 percent
Don’t try to do everything at once. Focus on the most important two things:
- How to change your customer’s life by under-promising and overdelivering
- How to make more money by increasing prices regularly, and pursuing add-ons and upsells
Week 4: Launch Your Side Hustle
You’re ready to rock and roll!
#17 Publish and present your offer
Get your offer out there by using these techniques:
- Build a simple website to talk about your side hustle
- Create a Facebook Page, Instagram Account, or LinkedIn Page
- Get the word out there to your current contacts and associates
#18 Sell your offer and promote it like crazy
There are many ways to market and promote your side hustle. Consider sending emails or using Instant Messages to get the word out there.
Focus on your benefits first, and then support them with your features!
#19 Get help from others
Rope in your side hustle villagers — they can be your friends, colleagues, or family members.
Do so sensitively. Ask for a specific area of help, and not an entire shopping list.
Make sure that there is some kind of benefit for the person whom you ask the help from. Also, be gracious if they reject or do not respond.
#20 Test and iterate
Do A/B tests of your product or service, your offer, and your price to see what works.
You can consider having different landing pages on your website (if you have one). Or do A/B tests for your social media ads to see which version attracts more interest.
Consider also the effect of long vs short copy, the types of headlines and calls to action, free trial vs low-priced trial vs no trial, hard sell vs soft sell, and other combinations.
#21 Deploy deals, discounts and special offers
Introduce scarcity and urgency to drive your prospects to take action. When considering your sale, follow these steps:
- Announce your sale in advance
- Make it easy for them to act on your deal
- Provide substantial perceived savings for customers
- Appeal to their emotions
- Test that your systems work (including order form, shopping cart, payment gateway, delivery)
- When the sale ends, make sure it really ends!
#22 Celebrate your first dollar
Celebrate your first earnings and give yourself a treat. You deserve it!
Week 5: Review, Track and Improve
Now that your hustle is out in the world, you should work towards refine and improving it.
#23 Monitor progress and pivot
Track the progress of your side hustle along the following parameters:
- Profit: Are you really making money out of it, or subsidising it with the funds from your day job?
- Growth: Are you able to slowly grow your side business? Or have you quickly reached stagnation and saturation?
- Time: Is it worth the time spent on the side hustle?
Do also have a look at your online analytics — web visitors, session duration, goals, and customers — to determine if your side hustle is generating a positive ROI online.
(Read more about measuring your social media ROI here.)
#24 See what worked — and what sucked
Have a frank assessment of your side hustle. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is my side hustle really working out well? What can I do to make it work better?
- What can I automate or outsource?
- How do I improve productivity — while making more money?
- Can I increase the price of the offer associated with the hustle?
#25 Introduce upgrades and upsells and options
Are there ways for you to milk your side hustle so that you can get better mileage (and money) out of it?
Consider if you can offer different ways to consume the offer. For example, it could be by giving different “stages” of your offer.
Or introduce upgrades that have high perceived value amongst your current customers.
#26 Build systems, processes and SOPs
Introduce a project management methodology, as well as build workflows for different aspects of your side hustle.
Make use of tools to handle tasks like contact management (CRM), project management, bookkeeping, and passwords.
#27 Reflect on your hustle and what’s next
Finally, ponder over what you’ve done with your side hustle, and what you should next.
Should you springboard to becoming a full-time entrepreneur, continue to grow your side-hustle while keeping your day job, or just let it die.
Sometimes, letting it go (cue Frozen) may be better than keeping a side hustle alive when its bleeding you dry.
Easy to read and digest, Side Hustle is a useful guide for anybody keen to start on their own side hustle.
Personally, I found that its pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to entrepreneurship is a boon to prospect side hustlers unsure of the way ahead.
Do pick up a copy if you’d like to learn more. There are lots of other lessons in there which I can’t cover here.