Things you Need to Set up a Business or Side Hustle
Do you want to make a bit of extra cash, provide yourself with a little more security in the midst of a global pandemic, find a more flexible way of working, or just embark on a new and exciting adventure for a change? Well, creating a business, going it alone as a freelancer or starting up a side hustle could be your answer. Some people reckon this era is the easiest time to set up a business – here are a few things you can put in place to get yourself started.
Start with the idea
Whether it is a service or a product, you need something to sell. If you have any special talents that you don’t get to use in your current job, such as being a dab hand at making alterations to clothes, being a talented artist or being a speedy cleaner, consider how you can market this into a saleable service. And think about your USP (Unique Selling Point) – what makes your offering different from competitors e.g. is it better quality, an eco-friendly version, delivered faster, a personal service, or sourced locally?
If you can’t think of anything straight away, ask friends or family what they think you are good at, or see if any of them have a talent that you can both capitalise on. Or look into the vast array of online courses or videos on YouTube that could teach you some new skills!
Branding can be very important if you want to make your business stand out, as well as to help you look more professional. This could mean simply sticking to a few key fonts and colours on your website, creating a logo or having a promotional video made. Be clear what your brand stands for, and make sure this is reflected in how you portray it and how you pitch it to potential clients. E.g. are you going for a very eco-friendly and sustainable business? Are you about good quality for low prices? Are you a family run business with a personal service?
Find out more about building a successful brand.
When you first start, you may just be looking to sell to anyone that is willing to pay, just so you can get that experience! But it is still important to have your ideal clients in mind. Think about who would need your product or service. Are they likely to be a certain age or gender? Are you going after high-end or clients working on a budget? Are you wanting to sell to families living in the countryside or singles based in London? Having a clear idea of your typical client is important, because you will need to make sure your branding particularly appeals to them, and it will affect where you find them and how you sell to them. Are your clients likely to be computer-literate, or will a leaflet through their door work better? Are they on Instagram or do they mainly use Facebook – yes, this can make a difference!
After working for large and small companies all over the world, Chris set up his own HR consultancy:
‘When I started out 12 years ago, I was just looking for clients who said “yes”!
But as you get more experience, consider what are you best at and what do you love doing? Could you help this potential client or not? When I started, I said yes to everything. I did some work that was good and some that was dreadful. But gradually, I got better at knowing when I can really help a client.’
Website/ social media
You may wish to set up your own website through sites such as Squarespace or Wix, or create a Facebook or Instagram page as an online portfolio to showcase your work. Or use websites such as Etsy or Ebay to sell your products. Setting yourself up on the appropriate platform makes you look like a professional and reputable business, allows potential customers to find you and see your work, and is a space where customers can leave reviews for you!
‘Social media helped me grow my online shop as it was all I advertised on. I set up a page on Facebook and an Instagram account and it all started from there! Friends and family would share, like and post about my page. I have now created an Etsy account too, to reach even more customers. At first, I would post every single order I had, but now I have so many orders that I only need to post my favourite ones. Every single order comes through social media or Etsy. It will never become a full-time thing, but it’s enough for me as I work part time and have a baby!’
To get your business off the ground, you may need examples of the products or services you offer. If you have been working for another company, you could ask if you could feature the work you did for them in your portfolio, or perhaps use work that you did at uni. If you don’t have good examples, think how you could create some: whether you want to be a landscape designer and do up your grandma’s garden for free, or give your friend mate’s rates to photograph their wedding, this not only demonstrates your skills, but gives you more experience. And it’s much better to make your mistakes at these early stages! Remember, everyone has to start somewhere!
‘When you’re starting out as a freelancer, you’ll need to produce high quality work so you get repeat business, but also be prepared to devote time to actively pursue new opportunities. Be open to networking, speaking to people, try to build connections. That’s what will keep you top of mind when openings arise.
People will want to see your work and although social space is crowded, quality will always speak for itself. Instagram gives you an opportunity for an online portfolio, without having to build a website. It’s so easy and it’s free.’
Rikesh (RKZ), musician, photographer & creative
A pricing strategy
Research the market to find out what the average market prices are for similar products or services to yours. You can also ask friends and family how much they would pay you. When you first start, you’ll need to get the right balance between charging slightly less as a beginner and someone who may still be learning, but also covering your costs. Even when you’re starting out, don’t undercharge, remember you are still providing something of value to your client. As you gain experience and demand increases, you can start to raise your prices – it is up to you to figure out when the time is right! Along the way, you may be asked for discounts, so it is important to decide whether you are happy to stand your ground and wait for clients that are willing to pay, or whether you can afford to be a bit more flexible, particularly at the beginning.
‘My pricing depends on the product. For made to order products it is based on the cost of materials plus Etsy fees, added to the cost of my time for making the product (based on my hourly rate).
For pre-made items like prints, I factor in print costs and also do market research to make sure I am competitively priced against other similar products. I was charging less at the beginning but as I continued researching, I realised I was definitely worth more than my pricing reflected! I’m still trying to position myself a little cheaper than the market average as I’m new, but I also try to make cost-effective choices, like only ordering prints in small batches to reduce waste, which enables me to keep my prices down.’
Cassie, Sherbet and Spice
‘When I first set out to start a wedding film business, I had no experience at all. I shot my first few weddings and charged very low prices – I thought it better to undersell and overdeliver! I had other work at the time and wasn’t relying on this new venture as my main source of income, so I was able to use the time and experience to perfect my craft. Gradually, as the quality of my work is improving, as well as the demand for my services growing, I can up my prices. I have a long way to go, but I am getting there!”
Remember, if you are self-employed (which includes freelancers and contractors), you will be responsible for completing your own tax returns and paying any tax you owe by the required deadlines. Find out more here.
Find out more:
In this article, you can decide whether self-employment might be the right path for you, with a discussion of the pros and cons, stories from young entrepreneurs, plus tips and tools to help you get sorted.