A large sub-conversation of the work-at-home conversation revolves around the concept of “side hustles.” It’s something you’ll start doing part-time, “on the side,” while you’re working your full-time job.
Some people start a side hustle to supplement their income and/or do something for themselves, while others go into it with the idea that it could one day replace their full-time job. No matter what your goals are, a side hustle is a great way to start making money from home.
How to know if your idea is a winner
Before you jump headfirst into a new business idea, one of the best things you can do is go through a process called “validation.” You want to test your idea — to see if there really are people for your product or service (and how much they’re willing to pay). When you can see that there really is a desire for what you want to give, you can move forward with confidence.
Many people skip the validation step because they think their idea is great and of course People are going to buy it. This is a potential disaster for your business. Never, ever assume that people want what you have to offer! Countless entrepreneurs have wasted enormous amounts of time, energy, and money selling something that people simply don’t want to buy. Don’t let that be you!
Tips for Validating Your Side Hustle Idea
The validation process can seem quite intimidating and a bit boring. Most people, when they get excited about a business idea, want to jump right in, make it happen, and move on. Market research isn’t very flashy or exciting on the surface, so they hit the ground running with this “big idea” and then, often but not always, stop somewhere along the way when the money doesn’t come.
Validation takes some time and some effort, but it can save you a lot of trouble. If you give it a try, you’ll probably find it more exciting than you expect, because you’re getting inside the minds of your potential clients/customers and finding out how you can help them. These are some of the best ways you can validate your idea:
1. Talk to people you think might be interested
One of the best things you can do to validate your side hustle idea is to have conversations with people who you think your idea will help. Those people are called your “target market” and they are the ones whose feedback will be most helpful as your idea takes shape. Find some and schedule a 30-minute phone call to find out if they’re interested in what you have to offer, why or why not, and what they think is good or bad about the idea.
For example, maybe you want to write a course that teaches mothers how to sew heirloom quilts. The first step is to find a group of crafty moms. As you have conversations with these mothers, you may learn that there is a lot of interest in quilt sewing. You may hear the same questions and concerns over and over again (How do I choose the right fabric? If it takes too long? What materials do I use?). But you may also find that these moms love the idea of sewing heirloom quilts in theory but what they are really They want help sewing clothes for their children. If you also know how to come up with basic clothing patterns and can teach them, you’ve got a great idea for a course to sell.
Here is another example. You want to develop a series of workshops to help gardeners choose the right plants for DIY landscaping. Once you start finding people who are interested in improving their yards, though, you’ll find that the real challenge isn’t coming up with landscaping ideas, it’s that they don’t know how to evaluate and then fix their soil. Now you have more specific, and more valuable, ideas for your workshop.
2. Offer an initial low-cost offer
Once you’ve had a few conversations with “real people” who you think would be interested in your idea (aim for at least 8-10), you’ve got a more solid picture of how to market your business. You know the questions people have and you know their real solutions, so all you have to do is come up with a very small offer that you can sell.
Some business experts call this an MVP, or “minimum viable product.” You don’t want to give something away for free, but you want to offer something that’s easy to put together and easy for someone to buy.
If you decide to sell essential oils, this offering could be a one-hour “make and take” that introduces people to some of the benefits of essential oils in a fun, risk-free event that leaves them walking away with some to use or give as gifts.
If you want to start a cleaning business, offer a “mini cleaning” where you will work with the kitchen and main bathroom. This gives your new clients a chance to “test it out” before committing to a 2-4 hour cleaning job.
If your idea involves making some kind of product, see if you can put together a prototype and have other people test it for you at a discount (perhaps people you talked to in your market research).
3. Keep refining
As you sell more and talk to more people, you’ll get a better idea of what people really want and will pay for. The more confident you are that you understand your customers’ needs, the better you can “roll out” your idea.
Always keep asking people for their feedback. Be willing to listen to what they have to say and change accordingly.
More thoughts on validating your side hustle ideas
Some people think that competition is a bad thing. If you have an idea and then find out that someone else is already doing the same thing, it’s not necessarily time to give up and find another idea.
Look at existing businesses. Do you see any areas where your idea actually improves on that one? If so, move on. Do you get the impression that there is a ton of interest in getting ideas? If so, continue. Generally speaking, an already existing business is more of a good thing than a bad thing for your idea, because The concept has already been validated. Your mission now is to become the best in the market.