For many people, making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got, including picking up a side hustle. That might mean driving for Uber or Lyft, or working retail hours on the weekend. But sometimes we wind up drawn to side jobs that are in line with our passions—providing services or crafting products we have a special affinity for.
It’s not always easy to make a full-time career out of something we love to do, but it can be a little easier to find part-time work in our areas of interest, especially when we’re just looking for some extra money and not the career that’s going to pay all of our bills. But if we find a side hustle that we really love to do, why not try to make a career out of it?
If you’re running a side hustle that’s making money for you, you might have already taken the first and hardest steps toward starting a small business. Maybe the only thing holding you back from taking it to the next level and turning it into your primary job is a lack of familiarity with the legal and administrative aspects of running your own business. You don’t need to let that stop you. Here are a few of the things you’ll need to do to upgrade that side gig into a full-on career.
Make A Business Plan
Tempting as it can be to simply go for it, having a business plan written out can give you a road map to follow when you’re not sure what you should be focusing on. It’s also an important piece of information to show to anyone who might invest in your business or give you a loan.
Here’s what a solid business plan should contain:
- An executive summary of your business that includes a mission statement
- A company description that provides information like your business location, your name, the company’s legal structure, and an overview of what it is you’re selling
- Detailed information about the products and/or services you’re offering
- A marketing plan that describes how you’re going to reach your potential customers
- A description of the management structure and operational plan that tells people who’s running this business, and how they’re going to run it
- A financial plan, and projections that show how much capital you’re going to need to run your business, and when and how you expect to be able to pay back investors and lenders
Register Your Business As An LLC
Giving entrepreneurship a shot doesn’t mean you have to stick out your neck and risk everything. Forming a Limited Liability Company can help protect your assets if your business encounters legal or financial troubles. It ensures that the company is responsible for the liabilities it incurs—not you.
The rules for registering an LLC may vary from state to state. You’ll have to choose a name, fill out some paperwork, and pay a fee. You might also be required to publish a public notice or apply for licenses and permits that are relevant to your type of business.
Trademark Your Business Name
Having a trademark on your business name gives you alone the exclusive right to use it, nationwide. Not every business needs one—and it’s up to you to enforce it—but it can be a good way to protect your reputation, especially if you’re doing business outside of your immediate area.
You’ll need to make sure you’re able to trademark your name. First—it needs to be distinctive, not generic, and it can’t be something that might get confused with an existing trademarked name.
You can do a trademark search at the United States Patent & Trademark Office website, and if your name is eligible, file for your trademark there.
Keep Appropriate Tax Records
In order to take advantage of the tax breaks that small business owners can claim, you’ll need to keep careful records of your purchases, expenses, and income.
Business taxes can be more complicated than personal taxes, so it’s a good idea to check in with tax professionals when you’re starting up a business. They’ll tell you what records you need to keep, and help you file your taxes in a way that saves you as much of your earnings as possible.
Should You Take The Leap?
Sometimes, a side hustle is just that—a thing to do in your spare time that helps you earn extra income, and may provide you with a creative outlet, or a change of pace from your everyday working life. And that’s okay.
But if you’re one of those people who wishes you could spend your entire work week on the projects and challenges your side gig entails, it’s worth giving some real consideration to taking a shot at doing what you love for a living. Just remember, when it comes to the finances and legalities, you don’t have to go it alone—small businesses always have a better shot of success when they’re backed up with solid advice from experienced professionals who can help out with the business end of things.