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Academy Xi Blog

Passion & Profit: How to Start a Successful Side Hustle

By Academy Xi

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A side hustle offers a flexible second source of income and the chance to monetise your passions. Win-win! This blog will help you figure out how to build your own side hustle from the ground up. With an original business idea and a bit of planning, the sky’s the limit.

Money. Honestly, who couldn’t use a bit more?

Running a profitable side hustle can be a financial game-changer, alleviating the stress of paying the bills, clearing those pesky debts, funding big one-off purchases, or simply bankrolling a more enjoyable lifestyle (fluffy Gucci slippers? Treat yourself!).

Side hustles are also about following your passions. Maybe you’re a data analyst who loves songwriting and recording? Giving music and recording lessons after work hours would enable you to cash in on a hobby that makes your heart sing.

If your side hustle proves a serious success, there’s always the chance it can replace your dayjob completely, giving you the flexibility of self-employment and the satisfaction of running a business that’s your personal vision.

What types of side hustle are there?

The joy of a side hustle is that it can be any kind of business you like. It’s best to find a market niche that’s uncatered for, or, if it’s already a common product or service, provide it in an original way that targets a particular demographic. In the short-term at least, you’re not trying to turn your side hustle into the next Coke.

To get your business brain fired-up, here are some popular side hustle ideas:

  • Creating and selling digital products
  • Online retail business
  • Part-time personal trainer
  • App or web developer
  • Affiliate marketer
  • Graphic designer
  • Freelance blogger or writer

The list is endless – anything you can do for a dayjob, you can do as a side hustle. That said, be realistic in your ambitions:

  • Avoid business models that involve risky amounts of startup capital
  • Keep in mind some side hustles will require high responsiveness with customer needs and order fulfilment 
  • Crucially, make sure the workload leaves you with the time and energy needed for the rest of your life’s commitments

How do you start a side hustle?

If you’re thinking of getting your own hustle going, it’s inspiring to know that starting a small business is easier than you might think. Plus, the beauty of side hustle is that you can control the risks involved. Your side hustle can be developed parallel to fulfilling your current job (it’s called a side hustle for a reason!). This means you can invest time and money gradually, test for demand and grow your business sustainably.

Whatever your long-term goals are, it’s best to start your side hustle with a carefully thought out plan. We’ve put together these 5 Simple Steps for a Successful Side Hustle, designed to give you and your business the best chance for success, so you can turn just ‘making a living’ into ‘living the dream’. 

1) Research your side hustle idea

Researching your idea will help you decide if you can turn it into a profitable business. You can use your research to understand a potential market, size up the competition, or test the usefulness and positioning of the product or service your side hustle will offer.

As always, Google is your friend, and online searches are a great way to build a picture of your market. You can also perform more nuanced research cheaply by gathering industry-specific data with IbisWorld or feedback from your target market with SurveyMonkey.

When carrying out your market research, look out for trends and themes. What do successful competitors do? Why does it work? Can you do it more effectively, or in a way that targets a different customer base?    

Your research might reveal information that convinces you to adjust your business idea, or abandon it completely (e.g. the list of competitors might be too long, or the target market too small). 

Whatever business idea you proceed with, make sure there’s demand for what you’ll be selling and scope to distinguish it from what the competition is offering.

2) Determine your side hustle’s ‘why’

Now that you’re committed to a particular product or service, you need to clearly determine your business’s ‘why’. From the smallest side hustles to multinational juggernauts, the most successful enterprises always have a clearly defined ‘why’ (and it’s not those fluffy Gucci slippers). 

It’s about having a purpose, belief or cause that will be the lifeforce driving your business. To simplify this, you can define the deeper problem that your side hustle will solve. This might be expressed as “I want to give people in my local area access to affordable, high-quality music tuition and recording facilities”.

Having a clear ‘why’ will help you: 

  • Build a detailed business plan
  • Develop a marketing strategy
  • Create brand differentiation 
  • Establish a competitive advantage

Staying connected with your ‘why’ long-term will ensure you retain brand identity as your business grows, inspiring trust and loyalty in customers and ultimately helping your side hustle stand the test of time.

3) Create a detailed side hustle business plan

A detailed business plan will give you a full roadmap, helping you structure, run and grow your side hustle.

You’ll need to calculate your startup and operational costs, balancing these against your investment funds and projected revenue. It’s important that you budget for overheads end-to-end, which might include:

  • Equipment or tools
  • Any raw materials you’ll need
  • Rent (not every side hustle is a spare room operation!) 
  • Utility bills
  • Branding and marketing costs
  • Legal costs (business registration, copyrighting, insurance) 
  • Travel expenses

In bringing this information together, you’re already building the operational plan for your business. If you’re dependent on supplies or external services, shop around and get the best value available. Every little helps when it comes to carving out that all important profit margin.

4) Create your brand identity

Creating a distinct brand identity for your side hustle is a vital step that has the potential to make or break your business. The collateral that will make up your brand includes:

  • Your brand name (don’t underestimate how important this is)
  • Your brand logo (you might need a graphic designer’s help)
  • A website or app 
  • Social media accounts 
  • Paid advertising, if you choose to invest 

All your brand collateral needs to be eye-catching and consistent in its messaging, helping customers recognise your business, what it does and why it does it, ultimately giving them reasons to choose your side hustle over the competition.

5) Decide if you need to upskill

With your business strategy and operational plan laid out, it’s time to decide if developing any additional skills will enhance your ability to effectively run your side hustle. Any time you start a business, there’s a high chance you’ll boost the venture by learning new practices and ideologies. There are plenty of online courses that can help.  

Academy Xi offers a range of courses in business & marketing, tech & data and design. All our courses are designed and taught by elite industry experts, giving you specialist skills and insider tips and tricks. 

Live client projects will give you the hands-on, real-world business experiences needed to take your side hustle to the next level. 

All courses are delivered online in flexible timeframes, meaning you’ll be able to upskill around your existing work hours (not to mention building that side hustle empire!).  

  • Our Digital Marketing courses will enable you to effectively promote and sell your side hustle’s product or service through digital channels by applying the tactics and techniques of digital marketing.
  • Alternatively, our Product Management courses will help you develop the managerial, analytical and creative skills needed to take a new product or service for your side hustle from idea to market.
  • If your side hustle needs a website, our Front-End Web Development courses will enable you to write and maintain user-facing code for user-friendly, highly functional and easy-on-the-eye websites.

If you’re not sure which course suits your side hustle ambitions, chat to a course advisor and we’ll help you pick a skill set that will get your side hustle up, running and turning a handsome profit. 

So there you have it – your definitive guide to starting a money-spinner of a side hustle

Anyone can get their hustle on and run a profitable side business. All you need is an original idea, backed-up by market research and a viable business plan. Beyond that, there’s nothing to it but to do it. Who’s to say how successful your side hustle can become? 

If you’ve seen The Social Network (2010), you’ll know Facebook started as a side hustle in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room. Remember, even the biggest businesses start small.