4 Smart Strategies to Help You Get More Serious About Your Side Business

When you really stop and think about it, just about every major entrepreneurial success story started out as a sort of “side gig.”

Mark Zuckerberg sowing the seeds of Facebook as a college student on his own. The stories of the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates tinkering in his garage in pursuit of the products which would eventually represent Apple and Microsoft, respectively. The list goes on and on.

In short, everyone starts somewhere, and that somewhere is often in the form of a side business while we keep ourselves afloat via a traditional job.

That said, if you want to take yourself beyond the realm of a traditional office and turn that side gig into something more, perhaps it’s time to get serious. So, what exactly what you start doing ASAP to signal that you’re looking to turn your side projects into actual cash versus a hobby?

Form Your Company on Paper

From a paperwork perspective, forming your own company doesn’t have to be rocket science. You can quickly set your business up as a C-corp or any other entity that makes sense based on your tax preferences and specifics of your company. The mere idea of having “Corp,” “Inc” or “LLC” follow your business’ name might seem like little more than a dream right now, but doing so oftentimes represents the first step of a more legitimate business.

In addition to the ego boost, such an entity will also protect you from potential legal or tax problems when your business does start to bloom.

Compose a Business Plan

Although some professionals might think of a business plan unnecessary, the process of putting your business on paper can be both cathartic and enlightening as you try to imagine what your company will look like for the long-term.

Crafting a business plan oftentimes represents a great visualization of what you’ll need to do in terms of budgeting, competitive analysis and planning for the future in general. Generally speaking, taking these proactive steps is almost always a plus.

Rethink Your Nine-to-Five

Nobody’s saying you should up and quit your current job; however, you need to really start thinking about the bigger picture and how you can begin making your exit. Depending on your situation, you may not realistically be able to leave your role for quite some time (think: months to a year), which is totally fine. Patience is key and it’s better to play it safe with your budget and savings account that suddenly leave your job.

Some signs that you can more safely leave your current gig include a combination of the following:

  • A sizeable sum in your savings account, taking care of at least six months of potential expenses
  • Your side gig is actually netting you significant income, at least enough to cover your base expenses
  • Support from your spouse or family both emotionally and financially for starting your own business
  • An understanding of how you’ll deal with essential expenses as healthcare as well as other financial obligations (think: mortgage, monthly bills and so on)
  • The potential to return to your industry if things don’t go as planned (think: it always pays to have a Plan B and not burn any bridges)

Stick to a Schedule

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle for getting serious about your side business is to treat it like you would a traditional job. That is, you stick to a daily schedule that holds you accountable and likewise forces to focus on growing your business day after day. Working on a whim is fine when you have a side gig, but building a full-time business means putting in the hours, plain and simple.

Turning your side business into something bigger means buckling down. By sticking to these tips, you can take your current gig to the next level and hopefully replace your nine-to-five sooner rather than later.

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