I wanted to follow up on the previous post about what I think makes a good side hustle. Hopefully this post nudged a few folks into feeling itchy to start ideating on their own small businesses that they could kick-start. I accept that ideas and early motivation are not enough without effective tactics. Where do you start? Here are just a few ideas to get you going immediately rather than waiting for your eureka moment and deluge of customers.
The title of this post, Minimum Viable Side Hustle(MVSH) plays on the term Minimum Viable Product(MVP), a term used often in tech startups popularized in the book “The Lean Startup” where you launch an idea as fast as possible and see if it works and what you can learn from it rather than worrying about getting it 100% feature complete before putting it for sale.
1. A Basic Business Plan
I don’t particularly like writing business plans. For me, they seem like an exercise in convincing myself something won’t work. It always felt awkward and clunky to start thinking ten steps forward, and for what? So you can plan what your competitor will do 5 years down the road? No thanks. Just get something quick and dirty wrote out for your business so you can have a point of reference to make sure you are checking to-do’s off as you progress. For example, my knife sharpening business required me to write just a few things that I modeled as:
- Who - will buy this service? Anybody in my city or surrounding towns.
- What - will I do? Sharpen knives. Mostly kitchen knives. Maybe other things if there’s enough demand.
- When - will I sharpen knives? Nights and weekends for sure. Free time when I am not working my day job or spending time with my family.
- Where - will I do the work? From my house to start. I started a small workshop in my basement, which will move into the garage eventually.
- Why - am I doing this? I know I am not going to make a ton of money, but the money should be steady and I enjoy sharpening knives. Plus, I know most people whose kitchens I’ve visited have really dull knives.
Another fun part about keeping business plans simple is that it’s easy to realize that there’s little downside to some ideas, which gives you all the more reason to try them. If you realize you need to get a capital loan or take on legal liabilities to start something, that’s a good indicator that idea doesn’t fit the model of a MVSH.
2. A Simple Website
Do not let building a website be intimidating. Nowadays you don’t need to know how to write a line of code to build a website. Having a website is essential to getting an idea to market as it ties together all the ways you can get customers in the lower friction world of the internet. You don’t need a storefront, you don’t need a cart with a sign - just a website. As far as simplicity, there’s an entire movement around the concept of “no-code” websites which are easy to build with drag and drop interfaces. These services have come a very long way. A few popular examples are:
3. The Big Social Medias
When you create a website, you are taking a great first step towards getting found and noticed for your specific business idea. However, mastering search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t easy you can take a few easy layups from the likes of Google, Facebook and other relevant platforms. They can help you can see a lot of traction in a short amount of time. My suggestion is to throw up something quickly on Google My Business and create a page for yourself.
At the very least, you’ll be more likely to get suggested by Google’s search engine if people are searching for a product or service in a specific geographic region and you just happen to match that criteria. It also allows you to create a quick and dirty webpage as well if you don’t want to make a custom one from scratch or using no-code options. Add on top of this a Facebook page and you’ve got yourself a full brand and marketing presence at a basic level that shows you’re open for business.
4. Sprinkle On Some Extras
Advertising is something my mentor Matt encourages me to try and I don’t do any yet. Mostly because I am busy enough from inbound traffic for now, but I do want to try it to see what I can get out of it.
Also, consider sprucing up your brand from a visual perspective with a logo from Fiverr which can cost you very little money for pretty good quality. For example, I got the Bear and Cat logo done for just $35! Not bad considering I know that graphic designers can charge hundreds if not thousands for simple logo work when you deal with agencies or even one person shops. Obviously you get what you pay for, but this is the quick way to test our ideas, so nothing needs to be perfect to get going!
Lastly - Ask for help!
I am very serious about passing along the good will I have received from others in mentoring and coaching me. If you are having a tough time getting un-stuck, drop a comment or reach out via the contact form and say hello and I'd be happy to help brainstorm with you!