How to start a successful side hustle while keeping your full-time job

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(Image: Getty Images)
(Image: Getty Images)

Working a full-time, nine-to-five office job may come with perks like annual leave, a retirement plan, and lots of Monday morning water cooler conversation. But what many glowing job descriptions fail to emphasise is that they come with plenty of restrictions, too.

Being confined to a desk and having to complete tasks you don't enjoy may be the most common of these complaints. And many traditional jobs also come with a hard-capped salary that may not be enough to cover your expenses, let alone pursue your dreams.

Whether it's for financial reasons or through a lack of fulfilment, many South Africans embrace a hybrid model that extracts the best of both worlds, called side hustles. If executed correctly, a side hustle retains the security and comfort of a day job but allows for the exploration of a passion or a money-making venture outside of its confines. And for some, it's a less intimidating way to transition from the confines of the corporate world to the untapped possibilities of an entrepreneurial one.

Here are some tips from South African entrepreneurs who've done just that.

Know how to market your product or service before you launch it

Advertising guru Mike Sharman conceptualises and executes some of South Africa's biggest viral advertisements via his advertising agency retroviral.co.za. With several other ventures under his belt and currently underway, he's the definition of a side hustler. Sharman says his first side hustle was a theatrical play, which taught him valuable lessons.

"If I thought writing and building a set was daunting, the analogy is that this part is purely the 'creating the product' aspect. Now you have to market it," Sharman says. "Most product entrepreneurs don't realise the marketing mix precedes having a product or service - price, place, product, people, and promotion is critical for the success of your idea."

Be patient

Few side hustles are overnight successes, so Ross Symons from White on Rice recommends patience, focus, and commitment above anything else.

Before starting his burgeoning origami business, Symons was a disillusioned web developer at a leading local agency. His origami side hustle hobby bridged his journey from an office job to a freelancer before he took the plunge to turn his side-hustle hobby into a full-time operation.

"It takes way longer than you think it will to gain traction, and worrying or trying to control the pace of things is useless. Keep your head down and focus on developing your product, brand, art, or creativity," he says.

Reach out for advice

When Joshua Maraney, now CEO of Top Click Media, told his immediate circle he would leave his job as a life insurance salesman to pursue his digital marketing side hustle, the response was lukewarm.

"When I started doing digital marketing, everyone told me I was crazy," Maraney says.

Still, he grew his client portfolio alongside his day job, and when he reached a tipping point asked a confidant for advice.

"My friend told me I had to make a choice. If I wanted to follow my passion, I would have to acknowledge it as a risk, struggle, and borrow money for at least three months. Luckily, it was only for one month," says Maraney.

Symons also reached out for advice on his products and ideas in his early origami days.

"Use your immediate circle to get your ideas or product out. If it works here, chances are it'll work outside of this circle," Symons says. "Then let that circle grow as organically as possible. This is done by creating consistent work and putting it out there as much as possible."

Save up

Side hustles require an investment, but with a full-time job on the go, you might be able to leverage some of this income to get it started.

"There will be times when work or sales dry up for long periods, and you will need to keep yourself afloat, so having some money saved will help," Symons says. "But don't be too proud to go back to what you were doing, even if it's just for a while to get some money in. If you believe in the project or product, you'll be willing to do what it takes to keep it alive."

Sharman followed a similar approach when launching his side hustles.

"My best advice is to save up for three months and give your hustle a full go. Your idea will succeed if you go all-in," says Sharman.

Leverage the right tools to your advantage

Although high-level advice may be the motivation you need to launch your side hustle, it will come with the harsh reality of having to manage an additional set of finances.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting software can easily track income and expenses from anywhere and on any device. And at the same time, Sage delivers insights that may help you grow your side hustle from an after-hours dream to a full-time operation.

For more information, visit Sage Business Cloud Accounting.

This post was sponsored by Sage and produced by Adspace Studio.

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