Starting a side hustle from home

Many industries were decimated by COVID-19 and thousands lost jobs, incomes and businesses. As a result, the previously uncommon term ‘second revenue stream’ joined our vernacular together with ‘cluster, remote working and isolation’.

According to online visibility platform Semrush, searches for “side hustle to make money” jumped 585.7 per cent and the number of Australians looking for answers on “side hustles from home” increased by a whopping 3800 per cent. In the 2020-21 financial year, the number of small-business registrations in Australia jumped 15.2 per cent as people across the country look to have more control of their income. Suddenly, having a side hustle became a very valid way to earn an income.

But how easy it is to turn a hobby into a viable small business? From personal experience, it is not exactly easy. After a successful 17-year corporate career I launched my own small business in January 2018 creating premium travel packs and gifts for the corporate market. It was an exciting time, but when COVID hit, we lost our entire pipeline of sales and many of the contacts we’d spent two years building.

The next 18 months were spent trying to reposition the business. In 2021, I wanted to gain some financial stability and decided to focus on my side hustle by expanding my consulting business. The gamble paid off, so much so that my consulting work is now my primary focus. 

As a business strategist, I work with many clients who are largely small-business owners facing numerous challenges as they turn their side hustles into profitable businesses.

The three most common challenges I see business owners facing are:

  1. Having a great idea but not knowing how to run a business or the importance of cashflow.
  2. Verifying the product or service is viable, has a market, and can be profitable.
  3. Having no experience in sales and marketing and not knowing how to sell or grow their customer base.

If you’re thinking about starting a side hustle or business, there are a few key things I recommend you consider.

Firstly, do your research. I spent one year researching, testing, and trialling my travel product business before we launched our first product on market. I knew our concept was solid but you need proof of concept and the best way to do that is getting real feedback from people.

Secondly, ensure you set the business up correctly from day one. Be clear about the processes needed in your state with regards to registering a business or ABN. Check you have selected the correct business structure and you have the right people on board to help you. I highly recommend engaging a bookkeeper (just pay them hourly to start) to keep your accounting processes on track. It might seem like an unnecessary expense but it will save you money in the long run.

Starting a business can be a lonely road and one only other small-business owners can relate to. I’ve found it hugely helpful creating my own little community with people who are not just a great source of support and advice but can help with recommendations, introductions and shared learnings.

Finally, invest some time into training and embrace the many (often free) resources available online. Depending on which business and marketing platforms you use (such as Xero, Shopify or Semrush), there are dozens of free tutorials to help new business owners develop their businesses. It’s also important you understand your legal and financial responsibilities. Sites such as H&R Block offer lots of free accounting advice.

Taking a leap to turn your business idea into a reality is scary and risky, but with focus, hard work and determination the risks can reap incredibly satisfying and sustainable rewards.