Business Ideas

How To Transform Your Side Hustle Idea Into a Thriving Business

Are you running a business alongside your day job? This guide outlines how to make the leap and turn your side hustle into a full-time job.

Side hustles are increasingly popular in Nigeria. More than a third of Nigerians run a company on the side, with 55% of them set up during the pandemic.

Side hustles are a great way to earn extra income from a hobby or interest. You might be a crafter and sell your handmade products on Etsy, or perhaps you enjoy graphic design and take on freelance work during your spare time.
With the safety net of a job and a regular salary, side hustles are a less risky way to become an entrepreneur than dedicating all of your time to a new venture.
For many people, your side business may always be just that, but at some point, you might decide to turn your side hustle into a full-time job. Signs that you’re ready to go full-time include:

  • You’re turning down work because you don’t have time to do it
  • You’re making more money through your side hustle than your day job
  • Your work/life balance is negatively impacted due to the hours you’re working

There’s no perfect time to go full-time. It all depends on your personal circumstances, and you should make the change when you feel ready.
It’s scary to quit being an employee and become your own boss, so it’s good to be prepared. This guide outlines the steps for turning your side hustle into a successful full-time business.

1. Create a business plan and set goals

You might be making a nice amount of money to top up your income, but if you’re going to dedicate all of your time to a business, you need to know the market is big enough for your product or service.
Creating a business plan is the first step in preparing to go full-time with your side gig. A business plan outlines your business goals and how you plan to achieve them. It also walks through other aspects of your business like marketing, sales projections, and your current finances. A business plan lays out a clear picture of where you’re at currently and where you want to go. Like any good plan, it can also help keep you on track, accountable, and organized.

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Additionally, take time to set goals for your business. Consider objectives related to revenue or sales or other milestones you want to reach. Write clear and actionable goals to track your progress. 

Keep your goals simple, too. Start with 3-5 goals, including short-term and long-term goals. Write down your goals and keep them visible as a constant reminder. Review your goals regularly and adjust them as needed.

2. Understand your market and customer base

There’s a difference between earning money on the side and bringing in your sole income from a full-fledged business. To create a company that connects with customers, you need to understand the market. You can learn about your market by doing market research and by studying your competitors: What are they doing right? What would you do differently? 

Customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. Understand how you’ll connect with your current and potential customers. Maybe you’ll use affiliate marketing, social media, and ads—even community-building, if your customer base is large enough. Find out what problems your target audience experiences and figure out how to solve them.

3. Go part-time first

Consider going part-time first. It’s a strategic approach that allows you to test the waters without diving in completely. By maintaining your current job while gradually increasing your commitment to the side hustle, you can assess its viability and your passion for it. This gradual shift provides a safety net and a smoother transition, reducing the inherent risks. Gauge the demand, refine your strategies, and build confidence before taking the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship.

4. Have a financial plan

Transition from side hustle into full-time career is a daunting task, as such you’ll need all the financial muscle available to you. It’s important to make sure you’ve considered the financial package, from total salary, insurance, taxes, and your benefits package.

You should sit down with an expert such as financial planner, a lawyer, or an accountant to help you check what makes the most sense for your business model, and what will be the spending in taxes and insurance, so that you will know how much you need to put into the business. If you put together a credible financial plan, you’ll be fully ready to move forward with starting your own business.

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5. Assess your personal life

Running a business can be all-consuming, so it’s important that your personal circumstances are appropriate for being an entrepreneur.

Questions to consider include:

  • If you have children, will you be able to balance family life with running a business?
  • If you have a partner, are they supportive of your plans?
  • Do you have health issues that could be exacerbated by the pressures of full-time entrepreneurship? All of the above factors need to be considered and well taken care off.

6. Register your business and obtain required permits

Ensure legal compliance by registering your business and obtaining the necessary permits. This step is crucial as it safeguards your business, ensuring it operates within the bounds of local, state, and federal laws. Beyond legal adherence, registering your business protects against potential lawsuits, fines, and penalties. It also distinguishes your venture as a legitimate entity. Taking the time to navigate the bureaucratic landscape demonstrates commitment and professionalism, setting the stage for a secure and compliant full-time operation.

7. Start small take steps to scale.

It’s extremely rare to find a business owner who has achieved overnight success. In most cases, developing an idea into a successful business can take a while. There’s nothing wrong with starting small, especially if you’re learning new skills.

Begin by starting small and strategically taking steps to scale. Starting small allows you to refine your business model, test your product or service, and gather valuable feedback. As you gain traction, gradually scale your operations, adjusting based on demand and market response. This incremental approach minimizes risks and provides the flexibility to pivot if needed. Scaling with caution ensures a solid foundation for sustainable growth, turning your side hustle into a full-time venture with confidence and stability.

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8. Find an inspiring workspace

Running a side business alongside a day job means you still see other people in a work environment, but operating as a full-time entrepreneur can be lonely.
Finding a workspace to spend some time in can be the solution. A change of scene can boost your productivity, enhance your creativity and give you access to other people in the same situation with whom you can discuss ideas and challenges. A workspace is also useful for holding meetings in a professional environment. You don’t need to sign up for a full-time office, as just a few hours a week in an inspiring workspace can be very beneficial.

9. Join a support group.

Having a supporting network behind you can go a long way in helping your business to succeed. And the more people you know, the more resources you will have available for referrals, recommendations, and mentorship.

You can start from your local business networking events, collect business cards, put on a smart-looking outfit, and head to meet like-minded people within your area. Such local business events are a hot-spot for collaborators and partners, who can help in setting up your business and finding new clients.

10. Separate personal and business expenses

While it may seem basic, Stacey says it is essential for a business owner getting to scale to keep their personal and business expenses separate. Defining these terms is one of the first things she does with new clients.

Personal expenses are the costs incurred for an individual’s personal use, such as housing, groceries, clothing, and entertainment. Business expenses are the costs incurred in running a business, such as office rent, salaries, equipment, and supplies. 

While there are many benefits to separating your personal and business expenses, the clarity will make taxes easier, protect you in case of legal liability, and help you understand the financial health of your business. These data points can be crucial in making informed decisions about investments and future growth.

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