You’ve been playing around with your side hustle for some time now. It’s still fun, but you’re wondering if it could be more fun. And by “more fun,” you’re thinking, “generate more business.”
It doesn’t have to be more business that pushes your side hustle into the full-time tier. Maybe it’s just a few extra bucks a month.
How can you tell your side hustle needs a mid-course correction? The first thing you must do is acclimatize yourself with collecting data and comparing it with your goals.
“Growing a business is not without its challenges, and one of the most difficult parts of being an entrepreneur is getting started,” says Emily Wheeler, senior manager of corporate sustainability at GoDaddy
Drafting the business plan only provides a baseline of expectations. Once you collect real-life data, you can determine if your expectations were too high or your performance was too low.
“If a side hustle provides enjoyment and generates a positive revenue stream, you can look at your side hustle as a win,” says Christopher Mitra, executive leadership coach at An Inspired Life in Kamloops, British Columbia. “If either of those two factors starts to change, it’s time to look at how you can adapt to make it a win.”
The data need not be complex. It’s a side hustle, after all. You collect what you think will best reveal what’s most important to you.
“I evaluate a side hustle by the amount of time and effort spent on it,” says Kendra Gerein, empowerment coach & spiritual mentor in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
How do you measure success in a side hustle?
What you’re really monitoring is your measure of success. You’re answering the question, “Is my side hustle successful?” While there are useful parameters for this, keep in mind each side hustler has a different definition of success. It’s best to look at the usual measures and identify your target goals for each of these benchmarks.
“Measuring success in a side hustle can vary depending on the individual’s goals and motivations for starting the business,” says Pini Shemesh, co-founder & CEO of MyTower in Tel-Aviv, Israel. “Some common metrics for measuring success in a side hustle include:
- Revenue and profit: This is a straightforward measure of how much money the side hustle is generating and how much is being kept as profit.
- Time invested vs. return on investment (ROI): This measures how much time and effort is being put into the side hustle compared to the financial return.
- Personal satisfaction and fulfillment: For some people, success in a side hustle may be more about personal satisfaction and the enjoyment they get from working on the business, rather than financial returns.”
What does course correction mean in business?
Part of your definition of success is at what point “close enough is good enough.” When you fall outside that range on either side of the target, it’s time to reflect on whether you have to change what you’re doing with your side hustle.
Look at the milestones you selected in your business plan. Are you hitting them as expected? If not, tweak something and see if that gets you closer. It’s easy to do this in a side hustle.
“As an entrepreneur, your greatest strength is your ability to see something no one else can see, so I think success, when you’re in startup mode, looks like growth and scalability,” says Nick Wood, founder and CEO of Digital Landlords in St. George, Utah. “If you have built a business from the ground up, you get comfortable having to be lean and mean with the resources available to you; it’s the excitement of the growth (increasing in sales, increasing number of customers/users, new partnerships, new products, etc.) that reaffirms your hustle and gives you the gas to keep going.”
How do you correct a course?
Since you’re tracking data on your business, you must know what moves the needle for that data. Again, keep it simple. Your bank statement might be all you need.
“I don’t usually put a lot of effort into tracking profitability in a side hustle; for me, a simple bank balance works,” says Ali Smith, founder & multi-award winning dog trainer at Rebarkable.com in Westminster, Maryland. “If it pays for itself, then it’s doing well, and it’s showing potential to increase and grow.”
If you notice certain months generate more revenues, recall what you did in those months. For example, if you’re a content creator that sells affiliated products and services, you might notice that the month following a spike in content produced a higher income. If that’s the case, you can boost your content output in normally slow months and see if that improves sales.
Maybe it’s not what you did; maybe it was environmental. For example, if your side hustle product is the perfect Christmas gift, your January statement will show more income. So, stop working so hard in March and move some of that energy to September when you need to focus on the upcoming gift-buying season.
How do you build a successful side hustle?
Are mid-course corrections the secret to building a successful side hustle? The answer is a definite “yes!”
“You can’t force a side hustle to happen,” says Rafe Gomez, founder of VC Inc. Marketing (day job) and Danceteria REWIND (side hustle) in Montclair, New Jersey. “Instead, you need to open and free your mind to explore possibilities, ponder options, and discover an idea that would consistently bring a smile to your face,”
What is the most successful side hustle?
Because the goals of side hustles are different for different people and the reasons for starting a side hustle are different, there is no single “most successful” side hustle. By continually correcting your course, you become one with your side hustle. That’s the best road to success.
“The most successful side hustles are those that people decide to embody the identity of that side hustle,” says Dielle Charon, sales and money mindset coach in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Instead of the language of, ‘Oh, it is just my side hustle,’ people need to take on that role. They would say, ‘I am a business owner, and I do this.’ If they also have a 9-5, they can be two things at once. I see my clients have more success when they take on that ‘this is what they do’ vs. ‘staying in that small side hustle’ mindset.”
If you’re worried about how good your side hustle is, there’s only one way to find out.
“The only way to know if the side hustle will work for you or not, is to give it a try,” says Meredith Noble, co-founder & CEO at Learn Grant Writing in Anchorage, Alaska. “Evaluate if the side hustle is in alignment with your strengths, the time and energy you can put towards it and if it helps propel you to your big-picture lifestyle goals.”
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