If you’re someone who’s been with me on my blogging journey for a while, you’ll probably have heard me talk about reptiles before. If you’re new here, there’s something about me that might surprise you. I own a reptile shop! I’ve been keeping and breeding all sorts of exotic pets since I was twelve years old, and fifteen years ago my husband and I started up a full time business selling exotic pets. As the years have gone by I’ve been pleasantly surprised that a high percentage of our customers are the exact same people who read my blog – mums and dads with kids!
Starting up a business wasn’t easy and I definitely made mistakes along the way. But if you have a passion for something and want to make your dream come true, it’s worth exploring the option of being self employed and starting a business. I’m taking part in the Twill ‘Go Global Guide’ Campaign. Twill are a company that offer Customs Clearance services, designed to help businesses with all the nitty gritty that comes with importing and exporting their products. I know that a lot of my readers have thought about, or already have, some sort of “side hustle”, but I want to share my tips for making that into a full business, and the things you need to think about to succeed.
Five tips for turning your side hustle into a business
Don’t be afraid to be creative and follow your dream
I don’t believe in waiting for the right time and I think so many people are waiting for the perfect moment to do something – whether that’s travel, start a family, or start a business. But the perfect moment may never come. Sometimes you have to take risks and just jump in. Of course you should be prepared, do your research, figure out the logistics and have a plan, but throw yourself into it and move forward. Turning a side hustle into a business will take some creative thinking, and a lot of hard work, but you can do it. When I opened my shop I was 24 years old with no business experience, but with really hard work and the help and support of other people, as well as professional organisations you can call on like Twill, you can be successful.
Make a Business Plan
The business plan is a crucial part of any business. Even if you’ve already got a business up and running, but want to expand, making a comprehensive business plan will solidify everything, help you with your planning and research, and also be a crucial tool if looking for backers or financial support. Even though my business had already been established for over a decade and I wasn’t seeking any third party support for my expansion, I drew up another business plan when I decided to expand and go global with my e-commerce store. This allowed me to plan all of the administrative extras I would need and work out the costs in advance. Since we were previously an in-store only shop, I now had to look at logistics, things like postage and packing, storage space, staff training and more. Making a solid business plan helps you put your dreams down onto paper and work out how you can make them come true.
Be prepared for the self-employed way of life
There are a lot of pros and cons to being self employed and I want you to think about them in advance. As someone who is self employed you will have to work long hours in the early days, potentially for little or even no pay at all. You’ll be investing your time, and your pay check back into the business to help it succeed. You won’t get paid for sick days, or going on holiday, but you will have your own brand of freedom. You won’t be answering to anyone else and you’ll know that everything you do, you’re doing for you and your future. If you’re got a partner and kids you’ll want to talk it through with them and make plans for childcare, the financial side of things, and how much time will be involved. I consider myself really lucky that my husband embraced my love of exotics and we work full time together. Some want their husband to offer them flowers, but I’ll take a lizard any day!
I think that being self employed can be particularly good for parents. Although running a business does take a lot of time and work, you can create a business that fits your life, so that you’re free to do the school run and have a schedule that suits everyone.
Do what you can yourself, but be prepared to outsource
Your business plan should have identified all the areas that you will need to concentrate on, whether it’s filling in your tax returns, finding the right property to rent, sourcing your products, or logistics like postage, packing and even customs issues. You need to utilize your strengths, but also understand your weaknesses. This is where companies like Twill as well as lots of other professionals, can help. You want to save money by doing what you can yourself, for example I make my own websites, but you also want to use professionals who know what they’re doing when things get complicated, such as hiring an experienced accountant. It may cost you in the beginning to hire a professional, but it will save you time and money in the long run – as well as saving you from what could be very serious and costly mistakes.
Even after fifteen years of running a business I know that every day there are more things I can learn. Keep an open mind and always embrace new learning opportunities. You can even do free online courses or educate yourself by doing research online, talking to people and trying new things. There’s always something new to learn out there and this can help you upgrade yourself and your business.
And of course, the bonus sixth tip – keep having fun! Yes, it’ll be hard work. The hours might be long, and you’re not going to make a huge profit overnight, but the best part about working for yourself and pursuing your own dreams is that you should be having fun along the way.
This post is a collaboration with Twill, but all thoughts and experiences are my own.