Side Hustle (Part III) - Turn your side hustle pro!

from hobby to business

So something we see and never get bored of seeing is the people who evolve their side hustle into a professional business. We’ve all dreamt of packing in our jobs, thinking of a company name and what we’d do right? But most of us probably think this is a step too far or I wouldn’t know how to start. We will take you through the steps you need to know, tips that will help you on your way and even throw in a few case studies to show you, whatever your start point - it is possible.

We’ll assume that for this your side hustle has gone well, your selling some stuff, making some money and at the point of thinking what if I went for it…

So you are ready to go, feeling confident and optimistic of what could be. We have all heard of the wonder businesses who have a great idea and no competition and reach a ridiculous turnover in record time, (think Croc’s or people selling fidget spinners) but most businesses start smaller and are fuelled by passion, blood, sweat and maybe a few tears.

Below we outline 10 steps you need to turn your side hustle pro!

10 Steps to turn your hustle pro!

1. Choosing your business name

Coming up with a name for your business is crucial. It is one of the most important steps, as it is what people will remember, word of mouth will be based on the easiness of people being able to remember and recall your name. It should be unique, relevant to the business/product and also reflect your personality. Choosing can also be fun, why not try a business name generator like or do it the old-fashioned way and get your notepad out and start scribbling!

It's also worth understanding: Is your intended name used by anyone else? Is the domain for an associated website available also? This can all save time and headaches later on.

Check your proposed company name availability.


2. Choosing a business structure

Next, you have 2 options to choose from to form your business. You can choose to be either:

  • sole trader – the simplest business structure, but with no legal distinction between you and your business
  • partnership – if you’re starting a business with a business partner or partners
  • limited company – a complex structure with plenty of admin, but your business is legally distinct from you as an individual

Want to know more about which structure is best for you?


3. Creating your business plan

A business plan is an important document for a business of any size. It helps you to get an idea of your strategic goals, financials, market research, and potential obstacles. Business plans also help you create a guide to your business others can view, this is useful when seeking investment down the line if required. This can be painful, but is an essential part of your business. Writing it will help you understand your business more and in turn create a more robust business.

The Princes Trust have a series of great templates you can download to get you started.

Simply a business plan (BP) consists of a few things. It can be as organised as you want, from handwritten to typed, printed and bound. The important part is you have thought about and can answer all sections.

  • Executive Summary
  • Products and Services
  • Market Analysis
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Organisation and Management
  • Financial Forecasts and Budgets
  • Appendix


4. Financing the business

How much money do you need to start a business? It’ll vary depending on your product or service and also whether you are starting from scratch or investing in an already established side hustle.

You might not need much initial investment if you’re starting small, but it is worth thinking about what you need to gear yourself up for success.

If you’ve identified a number of costs in your business plan though such as rent, machinery or advertising costs, you should know how you’re going to fund them. Will you use savings? Or will you need help, for example, loan from friends, family, or a bank?

Keep in mind you might be able to find grants for new businesses to help lighten the financial burden. The benefit of a small business grant rather than a loan is that you don’t usually have to pay the money back. 

It’s worth checking for government funding for new businesses. Another government-backed scheme is the Start Up Loan, available from the British Business Bank. You can borrow up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of six per cent per year. You also get 12 months of free mentoring.

Read more about the small business loans available from different lenders.

Crowdfunding is another great way to fund your new product or business. With the advent of platforms such as Crowdfunder and Go Fund Me accessing crowdfunding has never been easier. You will be surprised at how much interest there will be in your project. The benefit of this approach is it is very flexible and ideal for new products where start up costs will be heavily skewed toward initial order and production costs.

If you’re a young person (ahem, under 30!) looking to start a business, it’s worth checking out the Prince’s Trust, which offers mentoring – and sometimes, funding along with access to training and development also.

Competitions and prizes are also a way to unlock investment. Business Boost is a competition which pays ÂŁ3000 to the winner along with a support package of creative agency time, business coaching and more.


5. Plan your advertising strategy

Now you’ve sorted your name, business plan and you’ve got your start up capital or seed money sorted, it is time to actually start selling!

  • Competitor research – what are your competitors doing, seeing what others are doing can help you find your place. Check your pricing against theirs. Are there products they do that you don’t do? Do they advertise all the places you will or are there gaps in theirs which you can capitalise on?
  • Social media presence – social media is a great way to showcase your brand’s personality and engage directly with your audience. Each platform has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, so find which one works best for you or more accurately, which combination of a few works best for you.

Meta (Facebook and Instagram), is great for reaching a large audience and allows you to do a mix of organic content and paid advertising via boosting posts or creating a paid campaign to target a specific audience.

Pinterest, is great for design led products. Users are generally more in the research phase, so it is a great way to inspire potential customers, but they may take a while to purchase.

TikTok, the newest of social media platform, but one which can really work for you and your brand. Even if your content isn’t the next viral hit, you can still gain decent views on it if you hit the right content style. Unboxing videos are normally a hit as well as humorous videos more than product-focused videos. Try to hit the 10-20 second mark for content though.

Twitter, A good one for company updates and getting involved in conversations, but in our view, not the best advertising platform for prospecting for customers.

LinkedIn, is great for networking which like-minded people, but if your business is selling to a consumer this is probably not the best platform. If you are selling a product or service through to a business, this then becomes one of the best platforms. You can specifically target key people, decision-makers etc. It is expensive to advertise on but highly targeted.

Please note, many other platforms exist and these are just our thoughts based on our experience.

  • Company website – who doesn’t check out a company's website right? Exactly why you should have one, and not just anyone, but a great one!         It has never been easier to create a website from scratch, we love Wix or Shopify as the one-stop shop for building your site.
  • Send emails and newsletters – a simple and cost-effective way to keep in touch with your customers and boost sales for FREE!
  • Use flyers, stickers and print marketing – make sure people see you everywhere! This is a great way to get your name in front of people. Who doesn’t love a sticker to put on their laptop or notebook right? Easily create your custom design and you're good to go! Imagine the eyeballs on your brand through something as simple as this! We may be biased, but we love stickers as a way to PowerUp your brand! 
  • Network at industry events – get to know your industry and make connections at virtual or in-person events.                                                              We love Theo Paphitas' (yes that Dragon from the BBC’s Dragons Den) Small Business Sunday event which gives small business owners a place to meet and discuss getting to the next level.


6. Get business insurance

The type of business insurance you’ll need depends entirely on your business. Just like insurance is everyday life; home, car, and health you only need cover where relevant, so not all of the below may apply to you – so don’t worry. It is worth doing your homework though before signing up.

You can select from a range of covers:

  • public liability insurance – this is important if customers visit your premises or you carry out work on client sites
  • professional indemnity insurance – covers you if a client loses money because you provide negligent advice, services or designs
  • employers' liability insurance – this is a legal requirement if you have employees
  • legal expenses insurance – covers business legal expenses or prosecution fees
  • small business health insurance – affordable healthcare cover for you and your employees


7. Work out what you need to do for tax

Running a business comes with legal and accounting responsibilities, so it’s important you’re clear on what’s involved. There’s a £1,000 tax free allowance, but after that, you’re legally required to register with HMRC or Companies House.

Sole traders need to:

  • register with HMRC
  • submit an annual Self Assessment tax return

Limited companies need to:

  • register with Companies House
  • pay corporation tax on the profits you make from your business
  • file a company tax return
  • pay VAT
  • as a self-employed person, you'll also need to send a Self Assessment

One of the benefits of registering as self-employed is you can claim back some of your expenses and reduce your tax bill. A good guide to self-employed tax deductible expenses goes into more detail on the expenses you can subtract from your business turnover when working out how much tax you need to pay.

And a good way to test your business venture without as much financial risk is to start a business alongside full-time employment – but make sure you understand everything about paying tax on your side hustle first.


8. Create a system for keeping business records

After you’ve worked out what you need to do for tax, it’s important to stay organised so you can meet your tax obligations at various points throughout the tax year.

If you don’t have a record-keeping system, you’ll spend a lot of time sorting paperwork when you have to do your Self Assessment – valuable time that could be spent running your business, or relaxing and recharging. Read more bookkeeping tips here.

Firstly, it’s a good idea to keep your business and personal finances separate. That’s because allowances like tax-deductible expenses can only be for business purposes – it’s much harder to separate money coming in and out when you’re using one account.

Many of the major providers offer a business bank account. Comparison sites allow you to search for the best and most up-to-date deals to identify the best match.

What’s more, there’s lots of software available that can make record-keeping much easier. Software can do tasks like create and send invoices automatically, and monitor your income and outgoings:


9. Keep your growth mind-set, and focus on evolving

Events like Small Business live are great for business owners to go and hear from likeminded people, network and take some time to reflect on where to go next. Tickets are free:

There are lots of other ways to keep yourself in the know and keep yourself curious, here are some of our faves:

  • LinkedIn – arguably the best platform for networking, get yourself on here and create a company page for free to boost visibility of you new company.
  • Podcasts – With so many emerging channels dedicated to business mindset, this is a great way to learn more in the background. Diary of a SEO, High-Performance Podcast or just listening to good old fashioned Ted Talks on will really help keep your mind active.
  • Books and audiobooks – with an abundance of autobiographies and easy to read business-focused books now available, here are our top 5 picks of books to read to get you started:


1. Losing My Virginity – Richard Branson

2. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

3. Building A Story Brand - Donald Miller

4. Blue Ocean Strategy - Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim

5. Happy Sexy Millionaire – Stephen Bartlett


10. PowerUp your business!

So you've done the hard work already. You've got the 'thing', you've got the business plan and sorted your marketing strategy, got your shiny new website and you are ready to take on the world.

Powering Up means simply doing everything you can to make your product stand out and make sure the customer has an experiential purchase.

How do you achieve this?

Well, there is no definitive answer, but some common ideas will span lots of businesses.

Customer Service, make sure every interaction your customers have with your business reflects your company values. If you are a fun-loving brand, then be fun. Be the company you'd want to buy from. The old adage, 'people buy from people' may not be relevant to all businesses. But maybe a new adage of 'people remember buying from companies with good people' is more accurate.

Appreciative, show your customers you really appreciate their business and that their support means a lot to you. This is easy to achieve but leaves a lasting impact. Try getting some business cards printed with a thank you note on them to leave inside the box.

Stand-out, show your brand personality throughout. On your website people will see your brand, in shop people will see your brand, but if selling online the first touch point will be a ona  boring cardbaord box or envelope, they may not know what it is - how do you get a sense of excitement back.

Stickers, get some personalised stickers with your brand logo or message to add a personal touch to the packaging and show customers who it is from.

Packaging, try and use something which will stand out. If sending an envelope think of sending a coloured one rather than a white one - which will stand out more and be picked up first.

Labels, use good quality labels which will stay stuck! Sounds obvious, but labels are what get your product through the post to the customer, you don't want it lost.

Top tip! Use a label as a way to seal your package for added security and increase brand visibility too.


You've made it to the end, so one last thing before you go 

So we know that is a lot of information to take on board and it can feel like to much admin and a bit daunting. To keep you on the right track though, here are some companies that we love. They like you, have done it from scratch and turned their side hustle pro!

You've made it to the end, but one last thing before you go 

So we know that is a lot of information to take on board and it can feel like to much admin and a bit daunting. To keep you on the right track though, here are some companies that we love. They like you, have done it from scratch and turned their side hustle pro!

In fact, we liked them so much that we made them all finalists in our 2022 Business Boost competition.

Want to see more?