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How to take your business from side hustle to full throttle

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Do you have a ‘bit on the side’? Before you feign shock, no, I am not referring to an extra-marital affair or the person you text when your girlfriend’s out of town.

In fact, there’s a growing number of people who aren’t sitting on someone’s sofa ‘Netflixing and chilling,’ but are thinking about starting their own businesses instead. The “hip” word you could use for this is a “side hustle”.

What’s more, according to Google Search data2, “starting a new business” was one of the most searched for career terms of 2019, making it unlikely that this trend will cease anytime soon.

But when does your side hustle become your full-time gig? When is the right time to park the day job and move into running your business full time?

Real Business has reached out to Britain’s best ‘side hustlers’ to show you how it’s done.

Jojo Graham is a Business Coach and Mentor for experts who want to grow their online business.

Real Business, (RB): Tell us about your business?

Jojo Graham, (JG): I am a simple business mentor supporting and providing strategies for women who are looking to grow and scale their online businesses.

RB: How long did you run your business before you made it your full-time job?

JG: I started my first business five years ago whilst I was still working full time in a bank 9-5. I knew that being a business mentor was the thing that I really wanted to do and so I took the risk and went ‘all in’ after only 3months. However, this is not something that I recommend people do as it’s a risky approach. But I knew that my personality type meant that I needed to have my back against the wall and jump in with both feet. However, this approach doesn’t work for everyone. I quit my job way before being financially ready so I had two options I had to either make it work or find another job. I adjusted my vocabulary to “I am all in and will create success from this.” This approach worked and I replaced my bank income 3months after quitting this salaried position.

RB: What is your advice for people hoping to do the same? 

JG: My advice for people who are hoping to do the same is to utilise your time as much as possible – work on your side business at every opportunity – during your lunch break, before and after your set hours. Also, adjust your vocabulary to success statements. I often say to my clients “I give you permission to be successful” and that is such an empowering statement.

Erika Wolf Murray is founder of Lola Media

RB: Tell us about your business?

Erika Wolf Murray, (EM): I was working as a financial director for an independent production company which I jointly owned with my then-husband. I was self-taught doing finance as my background had really been in various creative roles within the advertising and design industry – but someone had to do it.
When I was recovering from a leg op, I knew I wanted out, but was racking my brains trying to think what I could do. That was when I realised that no-one else I knew had experience across so many types of creative companies, nor had anyone I’d ever met have creative head + FD experience.

RB: How long did you run your business as a side-hustle before you made it your full-time job?

EM: So I started a side hustle looking at how companies could map the assets and IP they owned, in order to create new products and services, find new audiences and generate revenues in ways they’d never expected.
No-one else was doing this from a creative and business model perspective. The potential was so obvious to me. After about 18 months of having it as my side hustle, I had projects from companies like Harvey Nichols, the Guardian, National Geographic TV and was being asked to look at something for Disney. This interest made me feel I was now able to make it my main game. And so Lola Media Ltd born.

But then whilst I was (and still am) running Lola, I realised that my well-developed methodology that helps all Lola’s clients grow their business through the inventive use of IP could also help the millions of freelancers and micro-business owners.

RB: What is your advice for people hoping to do the same? 

EM: Don’t under-estimate how long it takes a small business to build. You need at least six months of personal living expenses in the bank, and then you need to consider how much money your business will use up each week. Save hard before you go it alone.

Also, Don’t expect your friends and family’s support to provide your income. They will give you lots of emotional support but your market needs to be beyond them to other audiences. Talk to as many people as you can about their experience of turning their side-hustle to a full-time business. People just six months ahead of you are particularly good. You will recognise the signs when you are right to go full time – they include a solid, growing order book, money in the bank, a continual stream of inquiries, and that the time you spend at your employment feels like a break from the hard work you are doing for your side hustle!

Jennifer Short is Founder of QCards

RB: Tell us about your business?

Jenifer Short, (JS): I launched Q Cards creating luxurious cards designed to help people to cut through small talk and enjoy some meaningful conversation. I launched the first product, our “Couples Edition” in October 2019 via Kickstarter and it quickly attracted global interest fully funded in less than a week and shipped packs to over 20 countries across 5 continents in less than a month.

RB: How long did you run your business before you made it your full-time job? 

JS: I began shaping the idea whilst on maternity leave and enjoyed having a “project” to occupy the moments when I wanted to feel like I was doing something for myself that engaged my brain. The passion project continued to grow on the side of my full-time job as a Sales Director. I was writing questions, testing, re-working and re-testing questions until after three years I finally held the prototype when I took voluntary redundancy.

I was in the unique situation where my eldest was in school full time and my two youngest were with a childminder 3 days a week, so I had this space to finally finish all the time-consuming work of getting the project launched on Kickstarter. It is my intention to take up full-time employment again and retain Q Cards as a side hustle. If the fulfilment of orders becomes too labour intensive then I can look to ship via a fulfilment partner and I can then use my time to develop the next few editions which I hope to launch in the coming year.

RB: What is your advice for people hoping to do the same?

JS: You have to count the cost of whichever move you commit to because you need to be ok with the outcome. I am married with 3 small children so feel responsible to be more cautious with when I take the leap than I perhaps would be otherwise.

For me, the numbers would need to overwhelmingly speak for themselves that the hustle could replace my contribution to the household income without causing undue stress and tension to my relationship. The alternative would be to go all-in and take investment and a salary in exchange for some equity but I want to see how far I can push the beast myself before I look to do that.

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