Five Steps to Launching a Side Hustle

Yesterday, Tiffany and I had the opportunity to participate in an AMA (Ask Me Anything, or a Q&A style conversation) with some folks in the DSN+DEV+OKC slack channel. DSN+DEV+OKC is a creative community for designers and developers in the OKC metro area. 

It was so fun to talk to other creatives, and we will definitely share the transcript once the conversation has been posted online. In the meantime, we were asked one final question that stuck with us for a minute. 

"For someone wanting to start their own side-hustle, what are five actionable steps to make that happen? From doing nothing after 5 pm to full time hustle?"

We had to think on that one for a minute, but we came up with our answer and want to share it here for everyone.  So here's our five-step plan:

  1. Start small and work with clients you actually want! 
    The beauty of the side-hustle is that you're not relying on it to support your living expenses. Seek out clients or projects that align with your beliefs and passions. Be aware that you might charge way less for your first project when you're getting your feet wet, but it will set the tone for your future pricing and process
  2. Never EVER work without a contract or written agreement. 
    Just don't. There's literally no compelling reason to do this. At minimum an email agreement will suffice. There's plenty of resources online for putting together a basic contract to cover your bases. Check out AIGA for a good starting point. And to that extent...
  3. Get your legal and financial ducks in a row. 
    We're not saying you have to invest all of your money in a lawyer or CPA, but ask around for someone who can help you and set aside your first few project profits to get this settled before you are in too deep. At minimum do a Google search and file for your LLC online so that your personal assets are protected. It's super easy. We did it in about 30 minutes sitting on my living room couch. Think ahead and prepare for your taxes, because those will creep up on you fast and take what feels like all of your profit if you aren't ready.
  4. Underpromise and overdeliver.
    This step really isn't just for starting a side-hustle, but a good practice in general. We've never had to campaign for clients, and that's solely because we've done our best to ensure that our clients feel like they got more than what they paid for at the end of the project. So then they recommend us to someone else, and it all snowballs from there. I can trace every single client we have ever had back to that first client that we did way too much work for at way too low a price. Worth it.
  5. Find someone to lean on. 
    You absolutely need a strong support system. It can be your family and friends, but it can also be a business partner. Just someone that can be your cheerleader and hold you accountable. We all have lazy days, but it's a lot harder to check out of something you need to do when you know someone else is counting on you.
  6. BONUS: Find time to play, too.
    Working a full-time job and also starting a side business is not easy and it is going to take a lot of time and energy. But you don't have to be a workaholic. You can (and should!) still have fun. Carve out time to Netflix or party or paint or whatever it is you want to do. You'll enjoy that time so much more when you know it's a precious commodity. And then get back to work. 

Did we miss anything major? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you all the best on your entrepreneurship journey.