Having a side hustle is one of the best ways to put some extra money in your pocket to get ahead with bills or debt. Your side hustle can also give you the cash you need to start an emergency fund. But how do you start a side hustle?
 
Additionally, not all side hustles are created equally. Jumping into your car and starting to drive for Uber is one thing. But if you want to build a sustainable business that you can build over time, you need a plan.
 
Your side hustle doesn’t have to be complicated. But planning your business before you get to work will set you up for success. 

Creative Side Hustle Ideas

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash may all pop into your mind when you think side hustle. But your options for developing a side business are much more varied!
 
Think about what skills you use for work and how they could help you generate money on the side.
 
You could also take a look around your house at tools you have and how they could be of use to your community. Some creative side hustle ideas include:
  1. Accounting for local businesses
  2. Writing articles for online publications
  3. Giving virtual cooking classes
  4. Tutoring K-12 subjects
  5. Dog walking
  6. Virtual assisting
  7. Pet and house sitting
  8. Mobile car washing

Creating a Business Plan

Before you think that a business plan means you’ll be wearing suits and attending meetings, wait! Your business plan doesn’t have to be formal. It just needs to cover the basics of what you’d like to accomplish.

Writing a business plan starts with an executive summary. This will outline what your side hustle will be. If you’re thinking of mowing lawns or pressure washing driveways, make notes about what products and services you can provide. Be specific about the types of tasks you’d like to do to earn some side income.

Often, your executive summary is no more than a sentence or two.

Who is Your Business For?

Next, you’ll need to identify who you think your business is for. Using the previous example of mowing lawns, your target audience could be homeowners. You could also get creative by approaching landlords and offering to mow the lawns at their properties.

Having an idea of who specifically you’d like to start targeting will help you get up and running faster.

Remember, the information in your business plan will change over time. Make your best guess assumptions and don’t be afraid to adapt as you learn more about your clients and their needs.

You can do competitive research about who similar businesses are targeting in your area.

How Will You Reach Customers?

If you’re still working a full time job, you probably don’t have tons of time to dedicate to your side hustle. You may only have some spare time on the weekends or after you finish dinner in the evening.

That means that your strategy to reach potential clients is going to look different. You’ll have to be efficient with your time to reach your target market.

Online advertising, door-to-door knocking, flyers outside popular stores or public places could be good places to start.

Most likely, your side hustle will rely on word of mouth to get rolling. Tell your friends and family you’re trying to make some extra cash by providing a service.

Share your side business on social media and post success stories when you’ve got them!

Don’t be afraid to offer your first or second client your services for free in exchange for some positive reviews online. Giving away your business’ services for free to the right people can snowball into paid clients!

What About Your Competition?

Driving for Uber or DoorDash is easy. But the rewards compared to the cost of car ownership may not be worth it.

To start a real side hustle, you’ll have to think about competition. Who else is doing a similar business to yours in the area?

By thinking about competition you’re not just thinking about who you’re going to be up against for business. You’ll also be able to get ideas about ways to succeed!

Depending on your niche, studying your competition may be more beneficial than trying to outpace them. See where they’re advertising, what types of promotions they offer, and studying their branding and language.

You can position your own business to fill in gaps in their own strengths and weaknesses.

You could even reach out to your competitors to see if they would be interested in getting lunch together. If there’s little chance you’ll overlap in customer base, you’ll likely get a meeting!

Know Your Costs

Some businesses can get started with just a good idea and an inspiring afternoon. Others may need supplies!
 
If you’re mowing lawns, you’ll need equipment to get to each job and gas to keep things running.
 
Pay attention to what expenses your side hustle has. In some cases, you may even need insurance before stepping foot into someone else’s home or business.
 
You may not know all of the costs of setting up your business right away. But keeping a spreadsheet of your business’ expenses can paint a picture over time. Your balance sheet will help you learn about the profit you’re generating and how your costs affect keeping your doors open.

Take it Slow

The idea of starting a business is appealing to most Americans. But unfortunately, many businesses fail within the first year because they’re not properly planned or thought out.
 
Take your time getting off the ground. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Figure out how you can create an MVP (minimum viable product) to get started. Over time, you can build on these core offerings and grow your customer base.
 
For starters, focus on ways you could get an extra $100 or $200 per month. It won’t replace your day job, but it’ll put you way ahead in your financial goals.