This post is sponsored by Lexington Law. A little over two years ago, I made the big leap and took my side hustle full time. I honestly never thought of myself as a risk taker or someone who would own their own business. But knew that I wanted something more than my 9-5. Leaving a stable job, with benefits, paid time off, and a flexible schedule was not an easy decision or something to take lightly. Having a side hustle with some extra cash is one thing but taking it full time was a whole other level. Before I gave my notice, I put some serious thought into what I needed to do to ensure that I set myself and my business up for success as much as possible. As someone who has been through it, I wanted to share four tips if you’re looking to take your side hustle full time.
Take advantage of free and cheap resources
There are so many resources available that can up level your skill set to help you to better run your business. When you’re just starting out, you don’t have a lot of money so finding these are crucial. Here are a few that I’ve used and found helpful:
- Small Business Development Centers: they offer affordable services for new business owners including classes and consulting
- LinkedIn Learning: with premium you can take as many courses as you want for free and LinkedIn offers a one-month free trial. Classes range from how to manage a budget to how to use the latest technology to design better graphics
- Coursera/ EdX: you’ll find hundreds of online courses from prestigious universities on a variety of topics. You can pay to proof of completion or take the course for free
- Podcasts: subscribe and listen to podcasts within your industry to hear from experts in the field. Ask around to suggestions or check out the top 100 to see if one is of interest
- Google Alerts: set up alerts on topics in your industry. You’ll get an email each night culling together information for you so you don’t have to endlessly search online
Remember, it’s never too early to use these resources. Don’t wait until you’ve left your job to enhance your skill set or work with someone from a small business development center. You can do these things on nights/weekends or even on days off. The more work you put it now, the more you’ll be prepared when you take the leap.
Establish your support system
This journey may take you on roads you never thought you would be on. You may have to pivot, try something new, or reach out for help. We can’t do everything alone-it’s just a fact. Finding the people, you can trust and rely on is really important. They can help you set priorities, hold you accountable and help you remember why you started your business in the first place. These may be people who are already in your network, or new people who just “get it.” While my friends were extremely supportive, many of them didn’t own their own business and didn’t really understand what I was going through. I wanted to find additional support for specific questions. To expand your network, try out these events or groups:
- Facebook/LinkedIn groups: look for groups on these platforms that have people in your interest area. I’ve taken virtual relationships offline to meet many people who’ve helped me with my business
- Meetups: check out a local meet up to find like-minded people in your area
- Industry-specific organizations: whether you’re going to a human resource breakfast event in young professionals happy hour, you’re bound to meet someone you can connect with
- Conferences: there are always so many conferences and they’re a great opportunity to meet new people. Check out industry-specific ones as well as specific interest areas like the national women’s conferences
Get familiar with the legal and tax logistics
One of the hardest things with taking a business full time, is figuring out if you want to become an LLC (limited liability company). Becoming an LLC can protect you from personal liability and might be something you want to consider. When I first started out, this was something I thought long and hard about as I wanted to make sure my business stayed separated from my personal. With that said, you need to identify what is best for you and your business. With an LLC, you receive an EIN number that is used in all forms related to your business. If you don’t go in that direction, and choose to keep everything through you personally, your social security number will be used. This is something I highly consider getting support with as it depends on your situation. You can seek advice from a small business development center or reach out directly to a law firm for assistance in establishing your LLC. You also want to keep in mind that you have to pay taxes. It sounds obvious, but when you’re working for someone else, this is usually taken out of your pay. But, when you’re on your own, you’re responsible. Don’t spend all the money that’s coming into your business, as you don’t want to get yourself in a situation where you can’t pay your taxes or have to put everything on a credit card. I’ve switched to paying my taxes quarterly in an effort to not pay a large lump sum come April. Just be aware that this is something you’re now solely responsible for.
GET YOUR FINANCES IN ORDER
It’s important to take the step back and evaluate where you are financially. When you leave your stable income for uncharted territory, you want to make sure you know where your next income is coming from and have an emergency fund set up. When I left my full-time role, I had clients and projects scheduled and had a backup plan for consulting work to ensure I was still bringing in income. I also had a few months of bills saved to ensure I could still make payments if things fell through. Take a look at your accounts and evaluate if you’ll be able to pay your bills if you don’t sign a new client or sell your product immediately. As much as you might want to leave your job to pursue this full time, it might not be the right time financially. You don’t want to get stuck putting everything on credit cards and getting yourself into debt without a way out. When this happens, your credit score can tank which can impact way more than your business. As you’re thinking about taking your business full time or just starting out, you’re going to want some help with making sure your credit report is fair and accurate. The professionals at Lexington Law can provide you with personalized assistance to repair your credit. Their blog is also a great resource for tips to help you out along the way.
She provides training, consulting, and speaking services to organizations all over the world. She has an MEd in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education from the University of Pittsburgh and is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. Her work helps to bridge communication gaps across generations, job functions, and geographies, and she has worked with organizations ranging from non-profits to multi-billion-dollar enterprises. She has delivered a TEDx talk on authentic workplace communication, and has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, ABC, FOX, and CBS. Her book, Humanize Your Workplace (Career Press), is set to release next year.
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