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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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How to Start a Side Hustle on a Shoestring

 

When you’re starting a new business venture, it’s easy to get excited and reach for your credit card right away. 

 

You find a domain name that works perfectly with your concept, and you’re so happy that it’s still available that you purchase it. Next, you want a website and email service. Since these are the first few expenses, you decide to splurge for top-quality Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. Why not, right? Only the best for this genius idea. Next thing you know, you’ve spent nearly $200 on your brand new side hustle before bringing in a single penny. That’s okay, right? This is going to be the big one! This is the idea that’s going to make it so you don’t have to work your day job anymore. Give it a couple of years, and you’ll be on the beach sipping a beverage, wondering why it took you so long to get there.

 

The problem is that a side hustle is supposed to bring in money on top of your regular income; it’s not supposed to be a money pit. So before you get carried away, it might be a good idea to take a step back, devise a careful plan, and watch your budget. 

 

Here are two crucial concepts to help you start your next side hustle without breaking the bank; once you begin operating by them, you will be in a better position to achieve success in your venture.

 

Go Easy on the Website Expenditures

 

Yes, it’s awesome that you found a domain name that works for you. Be judicious when you purchase it. Sure, there is common Search Engine Optimization (SEO) wisdom that says you should buy a domain name for more than one year at a time. But you can sort all that out later; for now, you just want to own the domain. 

 

Some domain registrars will try to automatically set your purchase up in increments of two or more years at a time, but you should be able to select - from a dropdown menu - a purchase period of just one year. First things first.

 

Second, there are website platforms that will help you set up a professional-quality website with a minimum of knowledge and design skill on your part. Squarespace and Wix are examples of this. However, if you look at what those platforms cost, you’d likely be spending in excess of $100 a year for the website. Your website may become a crucial portion of your side hustle’s brand; for now, remember that you want to keep your spending to a minimum. Look for a free hosted website, such as Tumblr or Blogger, and point the domain that you purchased to that website to your free blog. There’s no shame in this. It will do for now - until you’ve actually earned money from your side hustle to re-invest back into your venture.

 

Don’t Splurge on Tech Yet

 

The second concept to embrace is also budget-related. You’re so excited about this new hustle that you wake up earlier and stay up later every day thinking about it - planning and scheming. Then you start to linger over laptop ads, and you’re thinking it might not be the worst idea to start your business venture with a fresh state-of-the-art laptop. But step back for a moment. A thousand dollars is a lot of revenue for a side hustle; are you sure you want to start out that deep in the red?

 

Instead, try to make due with the tools and the tech that you do have. If you need to purchase something, try to figure out how to do it inexpensively. For example: Did you know that you can buy used office equipment? There are brands like X-Digital that sell used office printers. Do your research before maxing out your credit card on setting up your side hustle.

 

In closing, it’s important to note that a properly-executed side hustle can be a beautiful thing. It can enhance your quality of life and provide you with meaning and purpose outside of your day job. Your hustle may even turn into the thing that you do full-time. But don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Believe in yourself, but don’t reach for that credit card just yet. Choose the business expenses you spring for wisely, and you’ll be rewarded in the end. Invest in quality products, but find ways to spend that are within your budget. And keep hustling.

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