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In a recent article I wrote about how there are two ways to improve your finances; either cut back on your spending or look at how to make more money. There are only so many ways you can decrease your costs, so I thought it might be worth looking at how to increase your income.
A way to do this is to start a business in your spare time doing something you enjoy.
This can be daunting. There’s a lot to learn and it can take a lot of hard work to get things started. But you’ll be doing something you enjoy and making some money at the same time.
There are lots of possible hobbies that you could try to turn into hard cash but here are a few we’ve heard about previously:
Photography – Sell your shots on stock photography sites, charge for family portraits or weddings
Writing – Self-publish ebooks, write blogposts or register with freelance writing sites
Woodwork – Make things to sell online or in local shops
Web design – Create websites to sell on, make websites for local businesses or make sites and sell advertising space
Gardening – Make YouTube tutorial videos, offer to do gardening for people nearby or sell the produce you make
Graphic design – Sell your skills online, create adverts for local businesses, design infographics to sell
Painting and decorating – Offer to decorate friends’ houses or make how-to videos online
Cakemaking – Put your Bake Off skills to good use
If you’re interested in any of these pursuits, search online for advice on how to get going with it as a business, and read what others have found.
However, rather than using the list above it’s best to start to think about what you’d really find a satisfying way to spend your spare time. What would you be willing to do if nobody was paying you? That’s the hobby that’ll be an enjoyable business to try and get off the ground.
Nabbing your first customer is probably going to be the hardest challenge you’ll face in your business. It will depend on what kind of product or service you’re offering, but it’s a good idea to spend plenty of time thinking about where your customers are and how you can let them know about what you do. This can mean physically going to places where people interested in your business meet up, joining online forums and talking to your customers, or creating a website to show off your work.
If you’re finding it hard to attract attention then it can sometimes be useful to do some work for free. If you’re a keen photographer then taking snaps of friends and family will give you some shots to show off on your website, as well as being a nice thing to do for someone you care about.
If you’re hoping to earn money from your business then it’s a good idea to register it early on, so you don’t get yourself into trouble with the taxman! HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are the people you’ll need to speak to. They’ve got some good advice for budding business owners on their site.
It might be a bit early to be worrying too much about how to cope with the money you’re hoping to earn, but it’s worth considering. If you’re in debt then it’s likely to be a good idea to use your earnings to make additional payments towards your debts. If you’re managing OK then the extra income could be used for those extras like holidays or saving for a rainy day.
However you use it, I’d recommend you don’t get too reliant on the extra money. Running a business in your spare time can be challenging, so it’s best not to get to a situation where you feel like you really need the extra money you’re bringing in.
It’s a good idea to be cautious. It’s great to daydream about jacking in your job and spending your time doing what you love, but the reality might not actually be that great. Bear in mind that most of us have bills to pay and we may rely on receiving a regular wage. The wiser thing to do would be to treat any income from your side-earner as ‘top-up money’ on your existing income, money that could get your debts paid off quicker or be set aside for Christmas or a rainy day.
Rather than jumping head first into your business it might make more sense to lower yourself in gently. Use your spare time to build things up, see if there’s a market for what you’re offering and also see if you enjoy doing it. Just because you enjoy a hobby it doesn’t mean it’ll stay fun when it becomes a business.
If you build your business slowly you’ll be able to learn from your early mistakes when the stakes aren’t quite so high and if things don’t work out you can walk away and you’ve lost nothing.
Whether you need to tell your employer about your self-employed business will depend on your contract. If you’re not sure then it’s best to have a chat with HR or your boss. As long as your side-line doesn’t impact on your performance in your main job then it hopefully won’t cause any trouble.
Going from being unemployed to self-employed is something that’s actively encouraged. There are a few different schemes available to help make the transition too. Your local Job Centre Plus will be able to give you some advice on how to start off and there’s some more information on the Government’s website about starting a business while unemployed.
Have you started a business in your spare time? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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