From Side Hustle to Full-time Entrepreneur: Is this really what you want?

Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of Americans have at least one side hustle. Whether out of economic necessity (losing your job), market opportunity, monetizing your talents or intellectual stimulation, some people pursue these ventures intending to make their side gig into their future business ventures – but only if it can be sustainable, profitable and challenging enough.

The difference between a side gig and an entrepreneurial venture is the motivation of the business builder. Did you start the business because you wanted to pay off a bill, send a kid to college, or take an extra annual vacation, or did you start the business because you had a burning desire to change and transform people’s lives, or you saw a solution to a problem or you wanted to make a difference in the world by offering something to the world that is better, faster, cheaper, smarter or simpler than anything else out there?

Unfortunately, it’s not always smooth sailing, even when you make calculated decisions over time. That said, if you decide to be brave and go this route, be prepared for some potholes and challenges along the way.

1. Getting funding

Is your business capital heavy or capital efficient? How will you keep the proverbial lights on if you don’t have customers right out of the gate? What’s more, lenders may be leery about taking a chance on a young startup, especially if you don’t have a track record or collateral to back it. Or worse, you may be desperate and decide to bootstrap the business with a high-interest credit card.

Side gigs are unlikely to garner angel investor funding or traditional bank financing, so you should make sure the business is capital efficient and that you have saved adequate cash to weather the ups and downs when you launch a side gig especially if you are looking to transition it to an entrepreneurial venture.

2. Self-care and Wellness

We don’t talk enough about self-care and wellness as it relates to entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurial demands and lifestyle considerations can weigh on people for a host of reasons which further underline the need for candor. Starting or scaling a business can be isolating. You might find your own friends and family make critical or negative comments. You might begin to question your decision. It can feel lonely and bring about feelings of anxiety and depression. You are it – the chief everything officer. This can be fatiguing and overwhelming, a real juggling act to keep everything straight.

That’s why we have partnered with LookUp Indiana. May is National Mental Health Awareness month. Not only is it essential to bring this topic to the forefront of our conversations, but also educate everyone on where to reach out for help and resources. LookUp Indiana is driven to start the conversations and silence the stigma around mental health.

We all need help coping today with the anxiety, frustrations and false starts we face as entrepreneurial business builders. The first step is admitting it, and the important next step is finding the right resources to help you lean into it, and to find ways to cope and deal with what is bothering you.

3. Finding the “right” mentors

You may feel confident in your abilities, but keep in mind that mentors can be invaluable. No matter how knowledgeable you are about your craft, you’ll have blind spots. Recruiting, for example, is something many solo-preneurs struggle with when deciding to grow their venture beyond themselves.

Where should you start looking for mentors? Look no further than The NIIC! Our mentor network ranges from serial entrepreneurs and c-suite executives, to subject matter experts and professional service providers. Their involvement is transactional, typically consisting of one-to-three meetings. Continuing the working relationship afterward may occur if you and your mentor consent to do so, and you both realize value out of the relationship.

They’ll work with you to provide guidance on mission-critical matters, such as financial planning, including investment and funding; business development; marketing strategies; human resources; general management; strategic planning; Partnership agreements and networking.

Mentorship programs at The NIIC are flexible and available at your convenience, at every phase of your venture. The length and frequency at which you seek mentorship are entirely up to you, even if it’s a one-and-done meeting to ask, “How can I find a local company to make affordable prototypes?” That’s fine too.

Side hustles are a great way to supplement your income, but often, these ventures are immune from the scope and scale of challenges full-time entrepreneurs face. So make a conscious decision on whether you are really doing a side hustle, or if you want to build something to grow into a full-time venture. Look before you leap.

To increase your odds of turning your side gig into an entrepreneurial venture, call or email the NIIC, we can help you make sure your entrepreneurial journey is your journey and build a customized map to get you from where you are to where you want to go.


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