Whether you’re making cheeseboards or selling sneakers online, there are some secret ingredients that go into making your side hustle a success.
Having a side hustle is like being a plant parent. You plant the seeds. You give it love and attention. You proudly watch it grow. You even create an Instagram account for it (shoutout to all the #plantparents). And if you’re lucky, that tree will grow some money.
Making a bit of spare cash is a key motivation for Australia’s side hustlers. According to a recent Westpac survey, 43 per cent of Aussies aged 18 to 34 have a side hustle and 70 per cent said their goal was to earn more money with their ventures.
“Many young Australians saw opportunity in the face of adversity and launched side hustle businesses during the pandemic as a way to pursue their passion, find a more flexible work structure and to generate additional income,” says Chris Brell, Head of Strategy, Acquisition and Lifecycle (Cash and Transactional Banking) at Westpac. “Customers are using online platforms, marketplaces and social media to list their products and drive sales. They are also taking advantage of setting up as cashless businesses.”
For a side hustle to survive – or become your primary day job if you so wish – you need a mix of passion and practical know-how. So, Kochie’s Business Builders asked three very different businesses what you absolutely need to know to flex that side hustle muscle.
Lesson #1: Prove the idea first
Nathaniel Bourke was working a nine-to-five job in real estate tech when he and his future brother-in-law, Filip Toth, started an online custom sneaker business called Zotuz.
“Just prior to COVID-19, Filip had travelled to Europe with my sister and they both came back talking about how popular custom sneakers were over there,” Nathaniel tells us. “When they showed me a pair that they had bought for my sister, I immediately saw the appeal.”
When Nathaniel and Filip started customising sneakers and wearing them out, people took notice.
“They would make us stand out in a crowd and people would literally come up to us at parties, asking where we bought them from,” he says.
After finding success using paid social media advertising and search engine optimisation (SEO), Nathaniel and former restaurant manager Filip quit their day jobs to focus on Zotuz and an online marketing business based on their own success, Maagnate.
“Test your ideas with friends and family and don’t pour all your savings into it until you have a solid proof of concept,” Nathaniel says. “Having these people tell you that they can see it working is definitely a good sign.
“With that being said, we had so many people telling us that it wasn’t going to work, that the business wasn’t scalable and we were warned about quitting our day jobs. We had a lot of repeat customers early on, so we ignored the naysayers because we knew that we were onto a good thing. It’s been so good to be able to prove those people wrong.”
Lesson #2: Turn your great idea into a great business plan
When COVID hit, Sydney’s Priscilla Prenholato decided to supplement her day job as an advertising director with a side hustle – Totem Lane, an online store selling home improvement products and décor.
“The concept of creating my own brand has always been on my mind but it was only a year ago that I decided to take a leap of faith and started to take some courses and learn all about it,” she tells Kochie’s Business Builders.
Priscilla came up with a business plan involving dropshipping, a form of retail where the seller accepts customer orders and transfers these to the goods seller. She picked up customers on Facebook Marketplace and Pinterest, then grew her base through paid advertising on social media and Google.
The number one piece of advice she has? Do your research and “find what the competitors are doing and what you can do better or different”.
Priscilla says she’s spent around $10k on self-development and tools to help her business and hopes to replace her full-time job by mid-2022.
Westpac’s Chris Brell has a tip for coming up with a financially viable plan: “Your business plan needs to set out a working budget factoring in startup costs and expected revenue to help you keep an eye on cashflow so you can become a sustainable business in the long run. Setting up a business bank account can save you time later and help you keep a close eye on cashflow from day one.”
Lesson #3: Put a twist on a trend
While she was working in retail, Sydney’s Laurie Alfandary had an idea for a side hustle based on the popular trend of Paint and Sip nights.
But Lali’s Wine and Paint has a twist. Instead of being in a studio with a class, Lali’s brings painting to vacant night-time venues and lets you go freestyle.
“I didn’t want to make it a painting class, with a teacher and everyone painting the same – this can be very intimidating for those who don’t know how to paint,” she says. “I wanted to make it a painting bar. A space where you can go when you feel like going out for a drink and where you don’t have to be a Picasso to be there.”
Laurie believes in the idea so much she recently quit her day job to throw everything into Lali’s. It’s still early days for her business, but Laurie is seeing interest from venues, punters and even musicians who can provide entertainment and atmosphere.
“I wanted to do something where I can help and be helped by other small businesses, so I approached small cafe bars that normally close after 3pm and offered to host my events in their establishment,” she says. “It’s a win-win situation for both of us.”
Lesson #4: Try, fail, learn, try again
No business venture comes without its bumps. But it’s how you learn from them and adjust what you’re doing to be more successful the next time around.
Laurie’s first Lali’s Wine and Paint event didn’t go according to plan. Despite marketing to her target audience through Facebook ads, doing a local flyer drop and putting up posters in the venue, she had no bookings just a few days out.
At the last minute, she managed to bring some influencers on board and the event was a “complete success”.
“If this is something that will make you want to wake up every day and work for it, then it will be worth taking the chance,” Laurie says. “And if it doesn’t work, at least you tried and learned.”
Priscilla, of Totem Lane, says it’s helpful to “find a mentor or a coach to guide you through”.
“And the most important thing is your mindset,” she adds. “If you have the right mindset, you can have success in any business.”
Lesson #5: Make financial admin easy for yourself
To step up your side hustle, you’ll need to streamline the financial admin that comes with it.
“When the time comes to start thinking about scaling up your side hustle – keep an eye on your outgoings,” Westpac’s Chris Brell advises. “It can be easy to overspend and find yourself cash strapped because you’ve tried to expand too quickly without a buffer. With a Westpac business transaction account you can monitor your cashflow digitally and in real time. You also have access to a free invoicing tool, Biz Invoice, to help you create, send and manage invoices from any device.”
Finally, you don’t have to do it alone. Chris says your “network of partners” – your banker, accountant, legal counsel, HR – will help you go from “good to great”.
“Sound financial management for your business becomes increasingly important as you grow,” he adds.
If you want to step up your side hustle, visit Westpac’s Help For Your Business Hub for resources and tips from Australia’s most innovative businesses, industry experts and education to help your business succeed.
This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.
This content is brought to you by Kochie’s Business Builders in partnership with Westpac.
Feature image: Laurie Alfandary from Lali’s Wine and Paint, a new painting bar concept in Sydney.