Many people these days — especially Millennials — don’t want to settle for an unfulfilling 9-5 job. Most almost always have a side gig or are focused on creating a self-sustaining business to eventually replace their current paycheck.
In today’s market, to meet financial needs or to pursue life passions, it’s the new normal.
For instance, I work full-time in advertising and I work as a freelance writer on the side. For others, a practicing lawyer may have a knack for inventing gadgets, or a banker who’s true passion is expressed on her canvas, as an artist, in her spare time.
Maybe you’d like to open up your own online store to set the foundation to ultimately leave the confines of your passionless cubicle.
Whatever your dream may be, this is the year to do it and to do it right. So, if one of your New Year’s resolutions to start your very own side gig, there are a few essentials you’re going to need.
Here’s a random look at 17 things that proved useful for me:
If you don’t have this, then you might as well stop right here and find your passion first. It may be one of the most important things you need to chase any dream.
2. Product or service
What are you going to sell? What do you want to contributing to the world, and why does the world need it? “The choices are limitless and the task may be overwhelming at first. Not only should there be a demand for your products, but it must be profitable and something you enjoy selling (About.com Retail).”
It’s not a matter of having a lot of time to kill, but rather finding out where you can carve out time to dedicate to your gig. This isn’t always obvious and you may have to reprioritize your life and develop a closer relationship with coffee if necessary.
While some might say, “branding can come later,” I think it’s better to determine your brand early on. This includes your brand identity (e.g., name, logo, tagline, typeface, etc.) and key aspects of your brand. However, keep in mind your brand is living and fluid, which means a rebrand is always an option (and often necessary) as you grow.
Unless you have magical superpowers you’re probably going to need a really solid planner to keep your new responsibilities in line with your old. Writing things down (or typing them in a productivity app) clears your mind for higher level things, amongst many other benefits. “If you don’t write things down, your mind spends more time ‘paper shuffling’ and creates its own anxiety (Sources of Insight).”
6. Email signature
This is one of the easiest ways to promote your business. Ideally you’ve purchased a domain name and taken advantage of [email protected] If you haven’t gotten that far yet, insert a link to your business in the email signature of your personal (and professional) Gmail account.
7. Level head
Starting a side gig is not going to be easy. It’s actually going to be really freaking hard. As long as your ready to take it on with the understanding that there will be wins and losses, then you’re good.
8. Elevator pitch
If someone asks you about your business or “What do you do?” you better have a solid answer that hooks them in 30 seconds or less.
9. Microsoft excel
Eventually you’ll graduate to more sophisticated and scalable data management and project management tools, but in the meantime get familiar with Microsoft Excel. To start, create a workbook for your budgets (i.e. startup, operating, etc.) and others to plan and manage your social media content, etc. You will eventually outgrow Excel, but in the early stages it’s a widely used tool with a small learning curve.
Go ahead and snag this while you can just to ensure you have it in your arsenal.
11. Social media
Word of mouth travels fastest through social media nowadays. Start building a following on key social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and you can use proven social marketing tactics to promote your business.
12. Nest egg
Business expenses are going to come up. Save – however minimal – now, so you can put money towards your side gig and prepare for the unexpected.
Here’s a look at a few more essentials that would be nice to have, in time…
13. Business cards
14. Business card holder
15. Business entity
For tax purposes, and to ensure regulatory compliance, establishing an LLC (or a business entity that best fits your needs is a smart move once you start making money. And it’s relatively easy to do on your own, online.
Depending on your needs, you’ll want to find a website builder and web host that is suitable and will grow with you. For example, Spaces as an affordable website builder that offers an open, flexible and extensible platform for startup businesses.
17. Personal assistant
Well, okay this might be a tad bit overkill…, but a girl can dream, right? But honestly, having your own personal assistant isn’t as far-fetched or costly as you may think. Startups like Fancy Hands, Perssist and Haptik will literally give you access to assistants at your fingertips.
Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be.
That fear will fuel your ambition to succeed. It’s that very feeling that can either push you forward or hold you back – you decide. It’s never to late to pursue something you’ve always wanted to do, even if it’s just on the side for now. You have no idea what the future may hold…
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sonya Matejko, creator of Single Strides — a blog for hopeless romantics and wanderlusts, is a blogger and freelance writer who is vibrantly falling in love with life in Miami and around the world. Her writing is featured on a variety of high-profile platforms and niche blogs. Sonya writes about the dating world as well as traveling the world. Her most popular article has been shared nearly half a million times on Facebook alone. Connect with @singlestrides on Twitter.