Starting an online service business seems like an easy accomplishment, and in some ways it is easier than opening a brick-and-mortar business. But throwing up a website and saying you’re “open for business” will not bring you clients.
Before you leave your boss an epic “I Quit” letter, test out your skills and the viability of your business idea by making it a side hustle. Many people start this way, working on client projects after the kids are in bed or on weekends, then going about their regular routines at the 9-5 jobs during the week. It adds some complexity to your time management skills but it will also yield some important insight to this new venture.
Are you disciplined enough to work from home? Do you have the desire, time, and determination to market yourself to find clients? Do you have confidence in your skills, more than your mom or friends saying, “You’re so great”?
If you’re unsure about any of those questions, then leave it as a side hustle and test the waters. Once you actually work with some clients successfully, answer these next three questions before quitting your day job.
1. Do I have skills people want? It’s not enough to just WANT to start a business; you actually have to have skills that other people want and are willing to pay for. Whether these skills are related to a degree you earned or you’re self-taught, having confidence in these skills will set you apart from the competition.
Under this same umbrella, ask yourself if there are enough people who want to pay for your skillset. For example, wedding photographers will always be in need but are there enough brides who can afford a high-end price tag? The same is true for website developers, graphic designers, and ghostwriters; the need will always be there but can you find enough clients who can afford you?
2. Have I done enough research? Don’t get stuck in the research phase but ask yourself some important questions. Are your skills marketable? Are there competitors offering the same skills? Have you researched how much your market is willing and able to pay for those skills? Have you calculated how much money you need to earn to live and pay bills each month? Don’t make any life changes without doing this important research and including your significant other in the conversation.
3. Am I comfortable being solo in my marketing efforts? You need to banish the thoughts that you’re not good at sales or that you’ll just wait for people to come to you. Quite frankly, that’s just wishful thinking, not running a business. Put yourself and your family first; you have bills to pay so you have to be comfortable getting into the spotlight and telling the world about your new venture.
With research and some fine tuning, almost any side hustle can be turned into a full-time business. But you have to do the research and the work to make it work.
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