Is it time to turn your side hustle into a business?

Are you one of the many South Africans with a side hustle? When you’re going through a tough time financially, it certainly helps if you can use your spare time to earn additional income from a hobby or activity you enjoy, while keeping your day job. A side gig also helps you acquire new skills – it can lead to significant personal development as you learn the complexities of running a business and dealing with different customer needs.

In fact, your side hustle could become such an integral part of your life, that a time may come when you’re ready to register a company and run it as a business full-time. It’s a bold step to give up your day job and become a self-employed small-business owner. Despite the risks, however, there are many rewards to being your own boss. Isn’t that why you established the side gig in the first place? Why you’ve sacrificed so much and worked so hard over the years? Owning your own business is not only a means of support, but it can also be a way to start building a legacy of generational wealth for your family.

Timing is crucial. The most important question you need to answer is: ‘When is the right time to turn a side hustle into a proper business?’

When to legitimise your side hustle

Covering your essential expenses consistently, like rent or a home loan, is one of the most telling indicators that your side gig has growth potential. Another indicator is building a solid customer list, to the point where you’re finding it difficult to meet demand in your spare time. Consistent positive customer feedback and referrals are also signs that you’re exceeding customer expectations, and that you could do even better by devoting yourself to your business full-time.

Side hustles often begin as passion projects. If your passion hasn’t waned and you have a long-term vision for your business, it may be time to consult with a mentor or other professionals to decide whether you should leave your 9-to-5 job and focus on growing your side venture.

How to legitimise your side hustle

Choosing to transform your side hustle into a legitimate business can be nerve-wracking. You’ll be entering unknown territory, so plan meticulously before you give up your job. It’s time to fine-tune your business operations, so that you can scale up your operation to provide yourself with an adequate income.

The following suggestions could make the process easier:

Create a transition timeline

Have a specific plan that includes when you will leave your full-time job, and when you can expect to be earning enough to replace that income. You will probably need money saved or invested to tide you over until you can rely on income from your new business. Your plan and timeline should ensure that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during the early stages.


For more information, download our free Essential Guide for Small-business Owners


Fine-tune your business idea

It’s one thing to run a business part-time for fun, when nothing depends on it. It’s quite another to operate that enterprise as a source of income. So, before you leave your job, go back to the drawing board and assess your offering. What are the business’s strengths, limitations, competitors and unique selling proposition? What will make your business compelling enough to attract customers? 


Develop a business plan

You’ll need to develop a business plan that outlines where you want to take your business – your target market, goals, competition analysis, growth projections and funding needs. You need to plan how you will grow your business to the point where it will support you and your dependants.


Invest in marketing

Running a wonderful business that nobody knows about is pointless. You must develop a marketing strategy that will build awareness of your brand and separate you from the competition. Establish an online presence so you can incorporate e-commerce to expand your business. 


Deliver a professional service 

Doing business with the public, you will need to shift into a higher gear. Strive to improve your professionalism. If you sell products, make sure to package them professionally and attractively. If you offer a service, make sure that you’re always on time and well prepared, and that you meet client deadlines. Deliver on your promises – in fact, making sure that you under-promise and over-deliver is a sure-fire way to impress customers. Take pains to be professional in all circumstances, so that you can enhance your business’s reputation and retain clients. 


Register your business

You will no longer be conducting your business from a garage or your living room. Register your business with a name and a business address. Open a business banking account to keep your personal and business finances separate. 


Income tax and turnover tax 

Your choice of business entity will determine your tax requirements and obligations. Make sure you consider all factors. Professional advice on tax matters is essential. For more information, download our free Essential Guide for Small-business Owners.


The journey of each small business is different, but you’ll need a financial partner you can rely on.

Nedbank is a trusted supporter of small businesses. We offer various banking services, including a range of convenient payment solutions. Learn more about our customised small-business services.


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