Running a side business is a great idea in this economy, and it can provide you with some much-needed security and stability. At the same time, it also has the potential to grow into something bigger, even to the point where you can comfortably support yourself entirely on that business alone. Getting there takes a lot of time and effort though, and often a little bit of luck too. You must also know what areas to focus on during this transition, because upgrading your business from a side gig to your primary source of income will require a lot of planning on your end.
Keep It a Side Business for as Long as You Can
First, you should do your best to keep your side business that way for as long as you can. Don’t rush to quit your day job, even if you’re already seeing strong signs of future stability and growth. You must test this out for some time to ensure that it’s really a long-term prospect, rather than a temporary fluctuation in your success. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when it’s safe to move your side business to a full-time job – it’s up to you to have enough experience with running things to notice the important signs.
Plan Multiple Approaches
You should ideally have several plans of approach and try to test each one out as much as you can before committing to any specific decision. There are lots of ways to go about turning a side business into a full-time job, and each of them will work better or worse in specific situations and for specific business types. You have to understand your own market and figure out what the safest way to play your cards is. Sometimes, you will need to go all in, and invest as much as you can in a short period of time to give your business the boost it needs. In other cases, a more patient approach will prove more rewarding.
Do You Need to Hire New People?
One of the most common issues to address when expanding your side business is whether you need to bring any extra help on board. Generally, you will sooner or later reach a point where it’s impossible to grow further without additional employees. However, you must tread very carefully here, and avoid spreading yourself too thin. This is one of the most common mistakes that sink businesses in their early stages.
Be very conservative about hiring new employees, and make sure that your company can endure the extra financial burden. Don’t underestimate the cost of hiring extra help – it goes far beyond salary and benefits. You will also have a lot of overhead in hiring and training new people, and this can sometimes prevent you from focusing on your actual work.
Physical Office – Pros and Cons
Another question that often comes up in these situations is whether you should invest in a physical location or keep things remote for a start. The latter is generally preferred nowadays, unless you have a good reason to set up a physical office. Many types of businesses don’t require physical market presence and can be handled just fine over the internet, including when you have employees working under you.
If you do decide to open up your first office, make sure to calculate its running costs for the next few years carefully. Commercial leasing contracts are often stricter in their duration and other conditions, and you can’t back out of one as easily if you realise that it doesn’t suit your needs well enough. Just like hiring too many employees too fast, this can be a costly mistake.
Developing Your Skills in the Right Direction
Think about your own profile as a professional. You have to keep your skills fresh and relevant as best as you can. Higher education can help a lot with that. A masters in business analytics from an institution like Aston University can provide you with a lot of insight about how a company should be operated, both in the short and the long term. It will also help you identify various issues with your business that might not be immediately obvious to someone without advanced education on the subject.
Have a Fallback Option
You should have something to fall back on if things don’t work out. Ideally, it will never come to that of course – but you can’t predict how the market is going to move in the next few years, and it’s entirely possible that your business might go under even though you did everything right.
With that in mind, do your best to make the transition as graceful as possible. Don’t burn any bridges when quitting your day job, and try to keep some options open there. Stay in touch with your old colleagues and continue to network in your field in general. You never know when some of those contacts are going to come in handy in the future, and it’s better to have them and not need them than the other way around.
On a related note, use the opportunity to learn. No matter where this goes and whether it fails or succeeds, you’ll still have the experience the whole ordeal provides in the end. And this is more valuable than you might assume right now. Even if you fail, you’re going to have a much more solid foundation the next time you decide to give a similar idea a try. And you’ll be much more confident in making some of those crucial decisions.
After considering all those things, the biggest barrier remaining will be to overcome any doubts you have about this and take the plunge. It’s going to be a scary and exciting experience at the same time, and things are likely going to happen very fast in the beginning. That’s why it’s so important to take as much time as you can to prepare initially, and to explore all your options as best as you can before committing.