May 27, 2020
They say that if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. So, it comes as no surprise that many people dream of turning passion projects into their primary source of income. And that’s no different for people in business.

But how do you make the leap? Three people who’ve made the switch share some tips for others dreaming of turning their side hustle into the real deal.


WHERE TO START?

Many Australians boost their monthly income with freelance or piece-work – including business owners – netting them some extra cash and a great deal of satisfaction. Transforming that side hustle into a fully-fledged business can be a tempting proposition and, if successful, it might turn out to be the best move you’ll ever make.

This is more likely if you develop a solid network of contacts before striking out for yourself, according to Benjamin Williams, the founder of graphic design agency 55 Knots. He spent six years freelancing after hours before packing in his full-time position as a creative services leader at eBay in May 2019.

He’s had a steady pipeline of work ever since, and now has a small team of designers and content creators working for him. “If you build relationships while you’re in the position to do so, it helps you a lot when you launch,” Williams says.

In his case, it allowed him to gauge the potential demand for his services and secure a client willing to offer the surety of a retainer – a boon for new businesses, which often find building a steady cash flow a challenge in the early days.


KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Being across the numbers can help you work out whether your side hustle has the potential to become more than just a profitable hobby. This includes knowing how much you need to make to cover your costs and receive an income you’re satisfied with.

Here, setting yourself an earnings goal at the outset and having some cash in reserve can encourage you to stay focused and solvent. “I was hell-bent on making the same amount that I made at eBay,” Williams says.

“Once you make up your mind you’re going to do it, you go into a sort of survival mode. You’d be surprised what you can do when you haven’t given yourself another option.”


DON’T GO IT ALONE

Guidance from a coach or mentor can smooth your path from side hustle to serious enterprise, according to Betty Andrews, founder and CEO of Hstl&Hrt.

A former social media consultant, she saw a gap in the market for an online platform and community to support and empower women, professionally and personally, and, in late 2019, began working on the venture full time.

“Some people say you need to go all in as soon as you can… but you need to have a clear strategy on what it’s going to take financially for you to be able to do that,” Andrews says. “If you have a coach, they can help you make an ‘exit plan’ from your career.”


PROPELLED BY PASSION

The real trick is to find something you truly love doing. Do so and the rest is more likely to fall into place, according to Elev8 Podcast Studio director Nate Kellock. He sold his Sydney accounting practice in April 2020 to focus on a venture that was initially set up to market the firm’s services to small businesses.

“We started dabbling in podcasting two years ago and I soon found myself becoming a little bit of an equipment junkie, buying lights and cameras and switching decks,” Kellock says.

“Now the accounting firm is full of studio equipment, we’re pretty much recording content non-stop. We have a show for new businesses called The Starter Pod and people are asking about hiring the space.

“I hadn’t contemplated that as an option before but, all of a sudden, the lightbulb went on – that potentially there was a chance to make some money using our experience with podcasting to help businesses achieve their content goals.”

Feeling disenchanted with the accounting profession and relishing the creative aspects of podcasting made his decision to go all-in an easy one.

“Everything aligned,” Kellock says. “If you have a passion, you have to go with it. Jump in and just do it!”

Giving up a steady pay cheque for the vagaries of self-employment is a big step, but if you have a side hustle you’re truly passionate about, turning it into a full-time business can be financially and emotionally rewarding.

This article was originally published on Business Australia and can be viewed here.