How to start a side hustle
Want to start a business but scared of failure? You don’t have to risk it all. Now’s the time to push your hobby or skills to make extra money on the side
What is a side hustle?
The term ‘side hustle’ has become a buzzword in the business landscape – replacing ‘part-time business’ – and refers to starting a business while holding down your day job.
A side hustle is how many people in the UK go about starting a business as it reduces the typical risks associated with entrepreneurship; you can keep the safety of a salary while giving yourself time to build confidence and grow your business.
Whether you’re short of cash, have a mortgage to pay, family to support, or are just racked by the prospect of failure, then a side hustle is worth considering.
A side hustle is not about giving up your job straight away to pursue becoming an entrepreneur, but rather about making additional income while enjoying every minute of running a part-time business. Then, if your side hustle takes off, you can look to drop the ‘side’ and turn it into a full-time hustle.
Most employers are receptive of employees starting a side hustle, provided it doesn’t compete with the employer’s business and is operated outside of working hours.
In fact, many companies have been known to actively encourage employees to pursue a side hustle as it encourages them to pick up new and enterprising skills, without the company having to pay out for it.
Google is renowned for enabling its employees to spend 20% of their work time on their own projects (Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple all have similar ‘20% policies’), while Innocent Drinks encourages ‘intrapreneurship’; allowing employees to spend their work time developing new ideas.
It may be worth considering seeing if you can get a Start Up Loan (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) to help you with financing, and mentoring to start this business idea. You'll also need to think about registering your business, either as a sole trader or as a company - if a company, then Smarta Formations (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) are an organisation that can help you set up.
What are the benefits of starting a side hustle?
- Chance to do something you love – You can pursue a passion that you don’t get to focus on at work and turn it into a side hustle.
- Profits – One of the biggest attractions of starting a side hustle; you can earn additional income on the side.
- Financial security – You don’t have to worry about running out of money as you’ll still be receiving your regular salary. On the flip side, should you lose your full-time job, you have the added security of having your side hustle to fall back on.
- Time to test your idea – You have the opportunity to try new things to scale your business and can test the market first, leaving the door open if you decide to pivot your side hustle into a full-time business.
- Get started straight away – You can launch a side hustle on your own; you don’t need employees or investors. A side hustle can be your baby.
How to come up with a side hustle business idea
- Look out for gaps in the market and do your research
In his book Side Hustle: From idea to income in 27 days, author and host of the Side Hustle School podcast, Chris Guillebeau explains that to come up with a side hustle you should “get in the mindset of finding the profitable ideas that exist all around you”.
This includes paying close attention to your surroundings as you never know when a good idea will turn up. On page 30, Guillebeaut advises that as you look closer, you’ll begin to spot even better and more profitable business ideas:
“Here’s an example of a hustle that went beyond the “starter idea” approach. One day, a California web developer named Steven Peterson was commuting to work in the San Francisco Bay area, alongside tens of thousands of other people.
“California traffic during rush hour is no joke, and many of those commuters were constantly on the lookout for shortcuts, tips, or anything that would make their commute a little bit quicker and easier. At the time, there was no single, go-to resource where all these people could see traffic patterns and get real-time updates on buses, roadwork, or any other pertinent information. Steven built that resource and is now making more than $7,500 a month from it.
“See how it works? In this case, Steven combined an existing skill (web development) with a clear need (real-time traffic information) that served a large and active market (San Francisco commuters). Steven now works full-time on the hustle, and it all started with an idea that popped into his head on his morning commute.”
- Utilise your skillset or background
Just as Steven Peterson capitalised on his web development skills, you can capitalise on your skills and career background to launch a side hustle.
For example, if you’re currently working in content or copywriting then why not consider working on a freelance basis and offering to contribute articles to publications?
Or, if you’re currently working in tech development or coding, you could always look to offer assistance out of working hours to companies in need of a quick tech fix.
UK entrepreneur James Gupta serves as inspiration for using your skillset to identify a problem which can then be turned into a successful side hustle. While simultaneously studying for his degree, medicine student Gupta has started and scaled Synap; an intelligent study tool now ranked among the country’s top 100 new businesses.
As a medical student, Gupta needed to absorb a lot of information quickly and recognised a solution; interactive quizzes that use tried-and-testing memory techniques to help aid learning.
- Make your hobby pay
Whatever your hobby; be it a penchant for fitness, baking, making arts and crafts etc. there are countless side hustle business opportunities you can pursue.
If you’re into working out then you could gain a personal trainer qualification and offer personal training courses. Or, if arts and crafts is your thing then you could look to sell your creations and designs on marketplaces such as Etsy, Notonthehighstreet.com, and eBay.
If fashion is more up your street then you could always raid charity shops and vintage stores for clothes to resell to consumers on sites like Depop and eBay; GirlBoss started this way.
Recent research has highlighted that there are now more than 600 Britons who have made more than £1m by selling items on eBay so there’s certainly money to be made. If you want more inspiration for what works on eBay then check out this report which shows the most popular products purchased on the site include car accessories, wall decals, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.
A number of successful entrepreneurs started out by turning their hobby into a side hustle.
Take Young Gun Sara Davies MBE. Davies started Crafter’s Companion – an online retailer of arts and crafts goods – as a modest part-time business while studying at university. After graduating, Davies decided to focus on the business full-time and her company now generates annual turnover in excess of £15m and has expanded internationally.
Closer to home, Startups.co.uk’s very own Babs Ofori-Acquah has recently ventured into the side hustle economy and is making her yoga hobby pay.
Having already established her wellbeing workshop venture Crazy Ambition, she recently qualified as a yoga teacher after using her paid holiday leave to complete a one-month course. Ofori-Acquah, who works as a full-time events sales manager for Startups’, is now planning to use her new-found yoga skills to run yoga classes on the side.
Examples of side hustle business ideas:
- Childminding – Offer paid childminding services in your spare time.
- Cake making – Create unique cakes for special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries.
- Coding – Work with businesses to code their sites out of hours.
- Vlogging and blogging – Make money from digital advertising via a vlog or blog.
- Taxi-services – Become a driver for a taxi firm or private taxi company such as Gett or Uber and work when it suits you.
- Social media – Offer freelance social media marketing assistance to new brands.
- Dropshipping – Purchase goods from a third party and retail these to consumers. Learn more about dropshipping here.
- Tutoring – Offer online or offline tutoring to students in your local area.
- Courier services – Deliver goods; this applies to everything from delivering food for brands such as Deliveroo to carrying out delivery tasks via sites such as Taskrabbit.
- Public speaking – If you’re a confident speaker working in a specific industry then you could offer out your public speaking services to events and conference.
- Webinars – Create an online or offline course on something you’re passionate about.
- Write and publish a book – Ideal for those with careers in content and creative writing.
How to run a successful side hustle
Once you’ve decided on your side hustle business idea, you’ll then need to get it off the ground.
So, how do you do this?
In our case study interview here with Robert Aldous, founder of three-year-old sports kit business KitBrix, he believes that juggling your career with a side hustle requires the following:
- You should establish clear working hours for your side hustle business – and stick to these
- You should create an overarching timeline – decide key milestones and objectives of what you want your side hustle to achieve and when
- You should always be honest and transparent with your employer – inform your company from the outset. Ardous says that your boss “will understand ambition, self-improvement and get the fact that being ‘entrepreneurial’ and driven can be a benefit to all.”
- You should try to keep at least one day of the week for you – work/life balance is key
- You should keep time for training and personal development
Inspired to start a side hustle? Make the pledge to Be Your Own Boss in 2018 here and we promise to help you.