Diversifying Your Income Streams: First Steps to Starting A Passion Project, Side Hustle or Small Business
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Spread Your Sunshine Founder Melanie S. Griffin, Esq. was recently a featured speaker at the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) Fall 2020 Summit themed Diversifying Your Income Streams. Melanie's presentation, First Steps to Starting a Passion Project, Side Hustle or Small Business, focuses on evaluating your current job, the benefits of expanding your endeavors, and tips for starting a passion project, side hustle or small business. A complimentary copy of Melanie's remarks is available by clicking here. While this presentation was specifically recorded for FAWL, almost all of the discussion and advice given is information that can be applied by lawyers and non-lawyers alike. We therefore hope these ideas help everyone in the Spread Your Sunshine community pursue their dreams and transition their goals into reality.
Evaluate Your Current Employer (If That Is Not You)
Ask yourself: Do I have the best set-up possible to be professionally successful? Regardless of whether pursuing another professional endeavor is right for you, you should determine if your job maximizes your definition of success, whether for you that means maximizing your income, time with family and friends, community impact, or something else. Although transitions can be difficult, if your employer's goals are not aligned with yours, it may be necessary to make a change.
If you transition, retain control of your book of business if at all possible. Not only do the people with whom you have built relationships trust you, your work and your professional recommendations, your book of business provides you with leverage, portability, autonomy, and a direct or derivative income stream. And, with various software available to complete electronic transactions, you can now easily operate your business and accept payments from anywhere.
Benefits of Passion Projects, Side Hustles & Small Businesses
Changing things up can be a good way to find joy, especially if you're becoming burnt out in your current professional life. Giving your mind periodic breaks from your main job through a passion project or side hustle may revive your interest in your 9-5, especially if you are unhappy or bored from having performed the same tasks for several years. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, diversifying your activities can sharpen your professional skillset and reinvigorate your passion for your employer's business during the time you devote to that role.
Passion projects and side hustles can also help to increase your income. In fact, most high income earners have at least seven revenue streams. So, the more intentional you are about diversifying your career, the more potential you have to achieve higher overall income.
To this end, adding a passion project or side hustle to your professional portfolio may increase the number of referrals you receive during your "day job." People love working with you when they understand your "why." A passion project or side hustle is a gateway to your interests that allows your community to more deeply connect with you.
Top Tips For Starting A Passion Project, Side Hustle, or Small Business
If you choose to pursue a passion project or side hustle or start a small business, consider these tips to help maximize your success:
Determine what it is that brings you joy (or what you enjoy doing). Also evaluate the issues and tasks for which others frequently seek your advice and help. How can one or more of these ideas be monetized?
- Consider treating the project like a business from day one, including passion projects and side hustles, including by:
- Opening a business bank account;
- Getting an EIN number;
- Registering an entity with your State's department of corporations;
- Consulting an accountant, lawyer and insurance broker; and
- Tracking revenues and expenses.
Spread Your Sunshine learned this lesson the hard way when we initially did not further explore sales conversations with our accountant. During our initial months of operation, we did not have a Florida Sales and Use Tax Number, which meant taxes were paid on items that should have been purchased tax-free. This cost our business thousands of unnecessary dollars and made it more difficult to price our products given that we were including a cost not included by our competitors. Further discussions with our accountant at an earlier date would have helped us avoid these mistakes.
Likewise, even if you are developing a passion project or side hustle as opposed to small business, track your revenues and expenses. This way, even if your expenses cannot be claimed as tax deductions, you know the total amount of your investment and can analyze whether to continue with the project.
Tracking profits also allows you to analyze the success of the products and services you are offering. This way, you can focus your resources on the items that your community is most interested in buying from you and stop investing in products and services that are not the best fit. It is not just money that is streamlined through this analysis; it is your time is, too. You may love all of your products and services. But, if you are spending, say, two hours a day on something that your community has no interest in buying from you, you are missing the opportunity to grow another side of your business through which you can best connect with and serve your customers.
- Grow Using Monthly Subscription Services
Gone are the days when you have to do everything yourself or commit to an annual fee. In this tech-savvy world, there are a plethora of monthly subscriptions that will have you looking like a pro in no time. While many of these services also offer annual rates, we've found the ability to cancel a month-to-month contract outweighs the minimal savings derived from an annual commitment. Three monthly subscription-based services regularly used by Spread Your Sunshine include: QuickBooks, to track revenues and expenses; Canva Pro, to create beautiful graphics and designs for consistent branding; and Constant Contact, to send professionally designed electronic communications to your list-serve.
- Use Consistent Branding
In the world of Clubhouse, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and beyond, more and more companies are competing for consumers' attention. To stand out to and be recognized by your potential customers, you must consistently use the same fonts, colors, graphics, images and other story-telling techniques. Consistency is what allows your potential buyers to easily identify and connect with you in the crowded marketplace.
- Share Your Work with the World
Don’t be afraid to start before everything is 100% ready. It might seem scary, but starting is what is important. If you wait until everything is perfect, it never will be and you'll never get off the sidelines. We judge ourselves much more harshly than others do. By slowly sharing your work with the world, you'll receive the feedback needed to move forward, grow and shine your brightest.
And, do YOU have additional tips that will help the SYS community?! OR is there anything that YOU want to learn about to shine brightly?! We’re sure you have ideas, so please share your suggestions by emailing Melanie@SpreadYourSunshine.com or by sending Spread Your Sunshine a message via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together we are strongest.
Resources Discussed in the Presentation
Strategies for Successful Female Entrepreneurship by Melanie Griffin
Successful Entrepreneurial Ventures & Career Pivots by Melanie Griffin
7 Income Streams of Most Millionaires by Manoj Arora
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