According to new research, the Canadian side hustle is on the rise.
The study by Vistaprint revealed that almost one-quarter (22%) of Canadians have already turned a creative hobby into a side hustle, while a further 60 percent aspire to do so in the future.
Despite many of these side hustles starting out small as a creative interest or hobby, they don’t have to stay small. In fact, of the respondents surveyed, over one-third (38%) hope to grow their business in the coming year.
But where do you begin if you are trying to grow your side hustle? Vistaprint asked successful side business owners for their top tips:
Identify growth opportunities
The side hustlers surveyed suggest focusing on the tasks that generate the most cash, as well as setting long-term goals. Looking ahead will help you take your business to the next level, as well as providing perspective on what products or strategies really bring in the most revenue.
You can start by focusing on the tasks that require the least effort but provide the most impact. This might mean scheduling social media posts which drive new sales, rather than responding to low-priority emails, or attending a networking event instead of redesigning a webpage which doesn’t get many visits. Working this way means that you’re less likely to get bogged down by tasks that don’t translate into revenue.
If your ultimate goal is to take your side hustle full-time, identify how much money you will need to be making each month to make that a reality, and brainstorm ideas for reaching that goal. Whether it’s expanding your product line or setting time aside to create a marketing plan, getting a clear idea of ways to grow your revenue will help create a realistic growth timeline.
If taking on more work isn’t a reality right now, creating long-term goals will still push your business into the next stage of growth. Whether you’re hoping to hire your first employee or redesign your website, having these objectives in mind will keep you focused on growth opportunities. Setting challenging, yet achievable goals will also help you feel motivated as you track your progress.
Get social media savvy
Social channels like Facebook and Instagram create great opportunities for growing your client base, so building a social media presence for your business is key.
It’s not just about promoting your products online, though. Make sure you create authentic two-way conversations with your customers and share content that they find engaging. A great way to test this is by monitoring your likes and comments on different posts to identify those that get the best response and engagement from your audience, then adapting your social media strategy accordingly.
If you’re not sure about what to share on social media, consider launching a blog where you can answer your customer’s questions. Quality is key here – focus on creating helpful, relevant posts rather than just writing several blog posts a week. If you’re not a natural writer, consider vlogging. You can create short videos about day-to-day life at your business, helping customers connect with your brand.
Facebook is also a great place to build a bank of positive reviews. Most customers are happy to leave a social media review if they are happy with your service – the key is asking for them!
Network with like-minded business owners
Networking with other successful business owners is a great way to motivate yourself and build a community to reach out to when you need advice.
Check out networking events in your local area you can attend, and have your business pitch ready, just in case! Brush up on your business card etiquette and be ready to hand out as many business cards as possible. After the event, go through all the business cards you collected and connect with people you met on LinkedIn, or email them to arrange another meet-up.
Keep in mind that networking is a two-way street – ensure you’re willing to help others as well as getting advice and support yourself.
Make sure it’s something you enjoy
A side hustle is the perfect opportunity to turn your passion into an income stream, and with more than one-third (38%) of Canadians reporting being unable to find a job related to their interests, it’s no surprise that more and more Canadians are turning a creative hobby into a business.
That said, there’s no denying that having a side hustle means putting in extra hours. In fact, the average Canadian side hustler spends 14 hours per week working on their business. This means that it’s especially important that you enjoy what you’re doing. Late night emailing, after hours brainstorming and cutting into your free time for work events won’t feel like such a chore if you’re truly passionate about what you’re building.
Your customers will respond to this passion for what you do – whether it’s spending more time curating your product line, or providing outstanding customer care, it won’t go unnoticed. Your enthusiasm will encourage customers not only to come back to your business in the future, but also to recommend your products or services to friends and family.
By scaling up your side hustle and taking steps to build your online and offline presence, you’ll find it easier to reach long term goals and transition from side hustler to full-time entrepreneur.
By Erin Shea, North American Market Lead at Vistaprint.
Vistaprint is the leading provider of customizable printed and digital marketing materials, empowering millions of Canadian small businesses of any kind to market themselves professionally and affordably.