How to Start a Side Hustle Today: Step-by-Step Guide + Planning Sheet

How to start a side hustle guide and free printable worksheet planner

Starting a side hustle can be a way to explore new interests AND increase your income. It’s a chance to take something you’re passionate about and make money – on your terms!

Whether you’re looking to supplement your full-time job or eventually transition into self-employment, the journey begins with a solid foundation and clear direction.

Remember, a side hustle isn’t just a hobby—it’s a business that demands your time, energy, and strategic thinking. With the right mindset and approach, you’ll set the stage for a rewarding venture.

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Here’s how to start a side hustle:

Consider Your Interests

I started a side hustle 5 years ago. Since then, it has turned into a full-time job. My #1 piece of advice is to do something you’re passionate about. A side hustle of any type takes work and perseverance to succeed. And if you don’t have a deep interest for it, you’ll hate the grind within a year.

Identify Your Passions

To uncover your passion, try one of two of these:

  • Ask yourself what activities you do that make you lose track of time.
  • Consider the topics you read about when you have free time
  • Think of the dreams you have about future projects
  • List activities that excite you (then highlight the ones that could potentially be a side hustle)

Research Your Market

Next, you need to understand who you will be serving.

Identify Your Target Audience

Who will buy your product? What are their pain points? How can you solve these for them? Consider demographics like age, gender, income level, and location.

A helpful tool is to create a buyer persona. It’s a fictional representation of your ideal customer. This lets you tailor your offerings and marketing strategies to meet their specific needs.

For instance, if you are getting into the health and fitness industry:

DemographicsYour Target Audience Example
Income Level$40,000 – $60,000
LocationUrban areas with a focus on health
Problems & Challenges
(specific to your side hustle)
Working out with kids at home. Cost of equipment.
Hopes & DreamsMore energy with the kids. Feeling toned and strong.

Ensure that your product or service solves a problem or fulfills a need for this group!

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Analyze Your Competitors

Checking out your competitors can tell you a lot about what’s working and what customers are looking for. Start with a simple SWOT analysis—in relation to your own side hustle:


  • Are they well-established with a loyal customer base?
  • Do they offer a product or service you don’t?


  • Is their customer service lacking?
  • Are there gaps in their product line that you can fill?


  • Is there a growing trend they are not capitalizing on that you can?
  • Can you offer a better price or quality?


  • Are they planning to launch a new product that competes directly with you?
  • How does their marketing strategy outperform yours?

Don’t forget to look at their marketing and sales strategies. Analyze

  • which platforms they use (are they on Facebook? Linkedin?)
  • what kind of messaging resonates with their audience
  • and how they engage with their customers.

This will guide you in shaping your own strategies to outperform them.

Plan Your Side Hustle

Before diving in, build a solid foundation with your planning.

Set Goals and Objectives

Begin by establishing clear, measurable goals for your side hustle. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve and by when. Consider applying the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting framework.

Understand What Skills You Need to Learn

Building a successful side hustle is more about learning than anything else.

Make a list of the skills you need to learn in order to make your side hustle successful. Examples might include learning how to:

  • use a certain online platform
  • do basic coding
  • hire a second person
  • order large amounts of materials

Now sure what you need to learn? Find mentors, get on informative email lists, and network with locals to find out more.

Create a Business Plan

Your business plan should outline your side hustle’s direction. Write a paragraph summary for each of the following, so that you clarify your thoughts.

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of your business idea.
  • Market Analysis: Who are your customers and competitors?
  • Products and Services: What are you offering?
  • Marketing Strategy: How will you attract customers?
  • Operations Plan: Describe your workflow and any necessary resources.
  • Financial Plan: Project your revenue, expenses, and profitability.

Set a Budget

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Carefully plan your finances to manage costs. Create a budget to monitor your spending:

  • Factor in initial costs for setup, like website or equipment.
  • Don’t forget ongoing expenses, such as hosting fees or inventory.
  • Plan for unexpected costs. (I named my side hustle emergency fund the “War Chest” in my savings account)

Remember, your budget is a document you should adjust and monitor over time. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing!

Pro Tip: Open a separate bank account for your business to keep finances organized and separate.

Take Care of the Legal Stuff (Business Owners)

Yes, it’s annoying. But also important!

Before you dive into your side hustle, it’s crucial to understand the legal requirements that come with starting a new business. This will help protect you and your venture in the long run.

Note: You don’t have to do all of these immediately. That would be overwhelming! (It took me a year to do them while I was working on the business). Be aware of what you need to do and make a plan so that you account for them as you go.

Understand Business Structures

When starting your side hustle, one of the first decisions you’ll make is choosing a business structure. The most common structures include:

  • Sole Proprietorship: You own the business alone and are responsible for its debts.
  • Partnership: You share ownership with one or more people.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): This structure provides liability protection for owners.
  • Corporation (Inc.): A more complex structure that is separate from its owners.

Consider consulting with a legal expert to determine which structure best fits your side hustle. Each structure has implications for taxation and personal liability.

Register Your Business

Once you’ve chosen a business structure, you’ll need to register your business according to your state’s laws. Here are key steps to register your business:

  1. Select a business name: Make sure your business name is unique and not already in use.
  2. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN): If you’re in the United States, you’ll likely need an EIN from the IRS for tax purposes.
  3. Register your business: Depending on your business structure and location, you may need to register with your state, county, or city.

Check your local government’s website for the specific requirements relevant to your side hustle.

Intellectual Property and Privacy Laws

Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is fundamental to the success of your side hustle. Here’s what you need to know:

Protect your brand by trademarking your business name, logo, or slogan.If you create original content or products, copyrights prevent others from using your work without your permission.If you’ve invented something new, a patent can protect your invention from being made, used, or sold by others.

Furthermore, adhere to privacy laws. If your side hustle involves collecting customer data, make sure you’re complying with data protection laws such as GDPR or CCPA. And create a privacy policy that clearly outlines how you handle customer information.

woman on the phone working

Develop a Visible Brand

In starting a side hustle, your brand identity and marketing strategy are critical for attracting and retaining customers. Here’s how to get started.

Brand Name & Logo: Choose a name that’s memorable and a logo that reflects your business values. Make sure they are consistent across all materials.

Business Mission: Articulate your business goals and what sets you apart from competition on your welcome pages, banner, or business card.

Color Scheme & Typography: These should complement your logo and be used consistently in all branding materials.

Market Your Brand

Here are common ways people market and get their name out to larger groups of people.

Leverage Social Media PlatformsWebsite & Content StrategyEmail MarketingSEO PracticesPaid Advertising
Identify which platforms your target audience uses most and establish a presence there.Build a user-friendly website that serves as a hub for your business. Then, post valuable content regularly to engage followers and attract new ones.Use newsletters and promotional emails to engage with your audience.Incorporate search engine optimization to ensure your website ranks in search results.Consider using targeted ads to reach a larger audience and gain visibility.

Warning: It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of ways to market! Choose one or two and focus solely on those first.

Free Printable Plan: How to Start a Side Hustle

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Once You Start Your Side Hustle

Continue Learning, Improving, & Pivoting

This is crucial for long-term success. Use data to inform your decisions. Here’s how:

  1. Review your data: Look at your numbers on a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly. You’ll spot patterns or changes.
  2. Identify what’s working: Focus on tactics and strategies that show positive results.
  3. Recognize what’s not working: Be honest about areas that are underperforming.
  4. Make adjustments: If a product isn’t selling or an ad campaign is ineffective, change your approach. A lot of business is still trial and error!

What’s Next?

Next, become a part of the Wealthy Woman community, receive my best tips for wealth-building, and have instant access to the free resource library. Start now!

How to Start a Side Hustle, Business, or Passive Income

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