Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. Whether it is on the side or full-time, a business starts when entrepreneurs recognize that a problem needs a solution and they are confident enough that their value proposition is going to solve this problem. Soon after taking the entrepreneurial plunge, what was once a challenge becomes the norm.
What does it take to move beyond the side hustle stage? Most entrepreneurs will say more time on the business, money to fund growth or more savings to alleviate business risk and those are all important. In this article, I share five key growth ingredients that I found most side hustlers overlook.
- Adjust Your Mindset
Thinking big is one small part of the equation, acting big is what counts. For many entrepreneurs, this means investing more resources. In most cases, acting big simply means adjusting your mindset, believing and owning your belonging to a much higher level of performers and remembering that it is this attitude that took you from aspiring entrepreneur to side hustler.
Why is it that some design agencies charge up to fifty times more for the same quality of work that a talented freelancer requires to deliver the same service? Branding and positioning play an important role, however, it wasn’t until the founders of those companies decided to play big that they took the necessary steps to appear and act big. So, start with your brand assets whether it is your website, copy or images. Adjust your pricing and study those who are at a level you want to be at. You will find that, most of the time, immediate higher levels can be reached with small changes.
- Pick A Specialty
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Specialization is differentiation. Take the example of social media management. Chances are, virtually every business in the worlds needs social media support but do they all fall under your ideal customer persona? Pick a specialty that a certain group of people can identify you by.
Start by looking at your existing customers. Ask:
- Which group is benefiting the most from my service and why?
- Which group has the lowest churn?
- Which group has the lowest customer acquisition cost?
- Which group do I enjoy serving the most?
Identifying an ideal target is going to help you define your specialty. This focus will allow you to systemize your product or service to a specific group with similar needs and expectations. It is also how you will be able to design marketing campaigns that convert.
- Double Down On What Works
One of the main responsibilities of entrepreneurs is to test a series of educated hypotheses. With the help of mentors and based on experience, those hypotheses can quickly become facts and wise business decisions. Although entrepreneurs should always be testing and innovating, the end goal is to find the things that work in pushing the company to the next bigger milestone.
As a side hustler, pick the customer acquisition channel with the highest conversion whether it is content, social media, outreach, ads or others. Focus on the type of projects you excel at and then double down on the winners and eliminate the losers or low performers. Eventually, your goal is to only focus on what will drive results.
- Implement Systems And Automation
It has never been easier to run an online business thanks to open source technology and cloud-based tools. Chances are, at least 20% of your repetitive tasks can be systemized and automated. Small changes and implementations can help you save a few extra hours every week. If you have a well-defined specialty and tested acquisition channel, this means that you could be spending more time acquiring new clients and growing the business.
Systems can be as simple as implementing a two-step funnel to qualify and schedule a call with a prospect. As a business mentor, I know that I cannot be of value to every entrepreneur so asking leads a few questions can help me decide whether it would be worth spending thirty minutes on the phone. Time adds up. Furthermore, systems don’t necessarily have to rely exclusively on technology. With the help of administrative assistants, you can preserve a point of contact with your leads and customers while buying more time for yourself to grow the business.
- Hire In Response To Demand
Most side hustlers make the mistake of hiring in anticipation of demand when the wiser decision is to hire in response to demand. Especially for service-based businesses, there is always an onboarding and roadmapping period that, based on project size, can range between a few days to a couple of weeks. This gives you the time to find the right fit for the project as long as you are always connecting and building relationships with potential candidates so that you can employ the right person for the right job quickly.
Hiring talent with complementary skills is another strategy for expanding your services and market. Although an extra overhead cost will reduce your margins, a price increase can help you compensate and boost sales without necessarily affecting your margins.
More importantly than all of the above, look at your numbers. What is your growth criterion? What does it take for you to dive in full-time? Some business models require thousands of active users before a business can start generating revenue while others can thrive with just a few clients.
One of the best ways to alleviate risk in your transition from side hustler to full-time business owner is to not only achieve a target revenue amount but generate at least the same amount for a predefined number of months. Everything starts with a mindset change and remember, “many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up,” Thomas Edison.