Is your side hustle really on the side?

Depending on your perspective, you might find it feels wrong to confine your secondary source of income to the periphery of your life.

Many people who hold down a side hustle are passionate about what they do, and they hope to turn it into a full-fledged business. Others are emotionally invested in the work, but they have no idea how to take it to the next level.

In fact, according to a recent Banknote survey, 27% or respondents reported being more passionate about their side hustle than their main gig.

Life’s too short to not pursue your passions, right?

If you’ve got a side hustle you’re excited about, and you want to take it to the next level by turning that gig into a business, here are four tips to get you going.

1. First things first: prioritize

If you’ve got a side hustle you want to elevate, the first hurdle you’ll have to overcome is prioritizing your passion project.

Many side gigs begin as simple one-off exchanges that snowball into more. You start by doing some work for a friend of a friend, they refer your work to somebody else who needs the same service, and before you know it, you’ve got a few calls to return.

However, if you don’t prioritize your side hustle, the whole endeavor could end there.

If you want to turn it into a business, you need to change your mindset about what you’re doing. You have to start thinking of yourself not as a worker, but as a business owner.

With this new mindset, you make time during your day to schedule phone calls and meetings that keep your projects on track. You request the kind of pay your efforts actually merit, instead of some simple token exchanges, and you negotiate with confidence. You formally market your products and services, request testimonials from clients and maintain contact with them to see if you can provide additional services beyond the initial work order.

2. Keep it going: make connections

Once you’ve moved your project materials from the kitchen table to your home office, or to the local coffee shop or coworking space, you need to build on your momentum.

Learn about the other players who operate in your space, and plug into the community.

Take your geography into account, as well as the service area in which you specialize.

Connect to your target vertical and learn from other supportive contacts who offer similar services as you, as long as they’re not in direct competition.

This will help you grow from a gig into a bona fide business in a few ways:

  • You’ll pick up on best practices from other service providers.
  • You’ll discover what sets you apart and use it to differentiate your offerings.
  • You’ll make contacts that can turn into leads and, eventually, clients.

At the same time, be on the lookout for products and services that can help you manage the business side of things. When you’re just getting started, it can feel like you have to do it all, but there are a lot of affordable products geared toward new small business owners.

Find out what your colleagues use to host their websites, manage their emails, file their taxes and more. To save time while you grow your business, look for products that help you roll up several features into one easy-to-read dashboard.

3. Put it together: incorporate

Now it’s time to get into the weeds.

If you want to move your side hustle from 1099 to legit business venture, you need a little bit of business acumen on your side. You’ll want to consider incorporating your small business and modifying its structure. Think about changing your setup from that of an independent contractor or sole proprietorship to a corporation or limited liability company (LLC).

Why?

First of all, without incorporating your business as a corporation or LLC, you have fewer protections that distinguish your personal property and safeguard it against business losses. As a sole proprietor, you also have less ability to claim your business name and protect against infringement, and there may be tax advantages to incorporating your operations.

Lastly, forming an LLC or corporation gives you greater credibility, making it easier to expand your client base.

The advantages of incorporating are numerous and pretty straightforward for those ready to turn their side hustle into a business.

Here’s the problem that many people run into, though. As dedicated as you are about the product or service you offer, as enthusiastically as you engage with your peers and prospective clients and partners, plenty of people who want to take their side hustle to the next level don’t feel confident understanding, and implementing, the ins and outs of incorporation.

Fortunately, business formation products exist to help entrepreneurs and other small business owners form a corporation or LLC in a way that’s convenient and easy to understand, even without an MBA.

You can multiply your effectiveness by leveraging several small business applications in one environment. If you can roll up everything from your website traffic to your insurance options and your business formation paperwork, you’ll be primed to focus on the part of your business you’re passionate about, to keep your momentum moving and make this endeavor work for you.

If you’re ready to take your side hustle to the next level, open up a free account at Company.com and find out how we can help you up you expand your options.