Well-known entrepreneurs often give the message that going ‘all in’ on your dream is the key to success. This approach sounds great—especially when you’re being interviewed for a podcast—but in reality, it’s hard to make this work, and it’s often not the best way to approach starting a business.
Another option is to try a side job a business that you start on the side while continuing to work full time. Starting up this way is a low-risk way of testing your concept, while keeping your wage. If your idea takes off, you can make a better informed decision about whether it’s even worth quitting your job for. If it turns out to be something smaller, congratulations on starting a successful side job.
So, why start a side job?
Well, things are a little different these days. Even if you’re not planning to leave your job or your industry any time soon, it doesn’t hurt to build yourself a buffer. Most really successful people have multiple streams of revenue.
Even if your side job is not something you ever plan to pursue full time, through setting up and running your own small business, you’ll gain valuable skills which you’ll be able to bring back into your full time role.
What makes a good side job?
Your side job could be closely related to your day job, for example, you might teach a course on your expert subject, or it could be something completely different. You might have a hobby which could become an extra source of income, perhaps something you make. Alternatively, if you have a special connection or unique insight you might just see an opportunity, for importing or drop shipping a product.
Whatever you choose, it’s important that you feel passionate and connected to your side gig because it's going to be something you invest a lot of time in.
Making a side job work
Creating a successful side job is a matter of putting good systems in place and giving yourself the resources you need- while keeping your overheads low.
Create a routine
The best way to get a project going is to approach it like your second job. One easy way to do this is to create a routine and stick to it. If you use an online calendar, create a calendar for your business and book in the time that you’ll spend working on it. Be practical but also pragmatic about when this is. If you’re not an early riser, you’re probably not going to spend an hour in the mornings making your gig happen.
Open a bank account
Creating a separate bank account for your side job doesn’t just make life easier at tax time, it’s a way to make your work more tangible. Make sure you’re choosing a bank that’s small business friendly, and that you’re not going to be losing a lot of money on fees. Since you’re likely to be working on the go, a good mobile app is important too. This report from Canstar is a good place to do some research. Add your new business account to Moneytree, and you’ll be able to track your progress.
Apply for an ABN
An Australian Business Number (ABN) is necessary when your business brings in income. It’s a good idea to chat to your accountant to find out how you should best structure your new business. If you think they will apply, you can also register for tax obligations such as GST and PAYG withholding when you set up your ABN.
Set up shop online
A polished online presence is key to making your side project a success. Whether you’re setting up a Shopify store, a Wordpress Blog, an Etsy shopfront, a Skillshare course, a Facebook group, or all of the above, it’s important that your business looks cohesive. This means registering a domain name, creating an email address from that domain, and using a professional logo across your properties. If you’re not a designer, don’t despair. Check out Australian start-up 99 Designs, for a simple logo solution.
Building a side business can feel like a lot of work, and if you’re doing it solo, can get a little lonely. It’s a great idea to connect with other entrepreneurs online, to swap ideas and get insights. Podcasts are another way to hear from other people who are pursuing new opportunities, and here’s a great list to get started with.
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