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StartUP Sault: Got $250?

Here's how to launch your side hustle
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For most wannapreneurs (wannabe entrepreneurs), coming up with the right business idea is often the biggest obstacle. But sometimes an opportunity falls in your lap that you didn’t consider before. I consider myself a serial entrepreneur, having started seven different businesses over the years, and this recently happened to me.

As an entrepreneur, I am always thinking about different business ideas and opportunities. I have operated various types of businesses over the years (nearly all part-time), everything from web design, computer camps, consulting, training, blogging, indie book publishing, online product sales and more. But a recent experience spurred my latest side business or “side hustle” if you will.

A friend reached out to me, asking if I could help a colleague with their resume. Over the last decade or more I have helped numerous friends and family members to build or revamp their resumes, with great success. Since my free time is at a premium these days, I agreed to help for $50 per hour.

First I reviewed the “client’s” existing resume and then we met for coffee to get into more detail about her work history, skills and ambitions for the future. I really enjoyed the process. The result was a much more powerful resume, and my client was very pleased. 

Then it occurred to me. Everyone I had helped over the years had success with their new resumes . . . they had either gotten the job they were after or at the very least landed an interview. They also felt much more confident with their qualifications.

It turns out I have a knack for helping people extract valuable transferable skills and accomplishments from their work history, many they didn’t even realize they had. Through my own experience and background, I have learned what skills and talents make someone a valuable team member. I am able to wordsmith these accomplishments, crafting a narrative in the form of an attractive, powerful resume.

And now I realized clients were willing to pay me for this service.

I am not a certified resume writer, or job counselor . . . so what qualifies me to help clients with their resume? It turns out that my nearly 20 years of experience in business development, marketing, entrepreneurship, management, and personal branding gives me a unique edge. I have hired my own employees, and have been involved in hiring at several positions I have held over the years. I know what skills I look for in great candidates, and have worked with enough talented colleagues to recognize the skills necessary to be successful and effective in any organization.

Shortly after my own revelation, I began the process of establishing and launching my new service. It will focus on resume development and personal brand development – something I have had success with personally, as a published author, brand advocate for Blackberry, and Startup Canada Award winner. With hard work and a plan, it is possible to craft your own story, while building authority and expertise in a particular area or industry. 

How does this apply to you? Think about it. We all have talents, experience and qualifications that we can utilize to operate a side hustle. Would you be happy making extra money in your spare time doing something you enjoy? Side hustles are often low-cost operations that fit your schedule, and your lifestyle. Work as much or as little as you’d like (in your spare time), and who knows, you might find there is enough demand (and satisfaction) to someday make it a full-time venture.

With this in mind, I wanted to describe each step and the costs incurred to launch my new service in less than a week. It is easier and less expensive than you might think!

  1. Choose a business name. Sometimes it helps to look and see if the website domain name is available. I had several ideas, but I liked BrandMe.Social because I felt it best described the service I offered, and the .social (top level domain) is relatively new and unique. Cost = $20
  2. Register your business. It is important to register the business with your province or state to make it official. In my case the Ontario government charges $60 for five years (www.ontario.ca/page/business-name-registration) for a sole proprietor or partnership. Incorporation costs significantly more. Cost = $60 
  3. Get a logo and branding. Having a visual and easily identifiable logo is important for brand recognition. Branding takes the colours and style of your logo and extends it to things like social media banners, letterhead, business cards etc. It is a good idea to maintain a common appearance and theme. Cost = $45 (using www.fiverr.com – a website where freelancers from around the world offer various services, often starting at $5).
  4. Having a website is essential for businesses today. While some small businesses utilize a Facebook Page as their online presence (which certainly is a good idea), having a dedicated website in my opinion is still a necessity. Facebook is great for connecting with customers socially, but a website can have more content, more capabilities and align better with your brand. I opted to build a website using www.wix.com which had a number of templates to choose from and included one year of hosting. Check it out: www.brandme.social Cost = $140
  5. Networking is essential for building a business, so my last purchase was business cards. I utilized www.vistaprint.ca and found a design that went well with my website and branding. I customized the text myself and uploaded my logo. I received 250 cards within a week! Cost = $20
  6. Promotion. Tell all of your friends and family about your new venture. Ask for referrals. Share on social media and start engaging with potential clients. Get the word out using free techniques before spending any money on advertising and promotion. Cost = FREE

You might have noticed that the grand total was actually $285. But in my case I did not register the business, as I intend to offer the service under another existing business I operate, saving me $60. therefore I only spent $225. 

It is important to recognize that there are some other important steps along the way. As soon as I decided on the business name/domain name, I made sure to secure the name on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms. Again, you want to try to be consistent across mediums so that your customers and clients can find you.

You may have noticed that I did not mention writing a business plan, and performing a lot of market research to ensure the business was feasible. I did make a plan, but it was a one-page business plan – identifying what my ideal client looks like, our unique selling proposition (what makes us different), how I will market the service, a startup budget and a bit more. 

Since this is just another side business for me, there isn’t a lot to lose. There is no inventory or major expenses to incur – since I am offering a service, it is just my time, which is valuable to me, but doesn’t technically cost me anything.

Since my costs are so low, this will be a worthwhile venture even with one client a month. And technically I have already had my first paying customer, so I am on my way. 

Once my website was complete, I shared the news of this new service on Facebook and LinkedIn. My Facebook page already has over 40 likes, and continues to grow. From here I am confident I can connect with new clients through word-of-mouth referrals and social media alone. I don’t anticipate spending any money on advertising, beyond perhaps some targeted Facebook ads down the road (because of the nature of the business, I am not limited to local clientele).

Feel free to check out my website at www.brandme.social. I’d love to hear your feedback or answer any questions you may have about starting your own side business. 

The easiest way to get into business is to get started with as little cost and risk as possible. I have shown you how to launch a new business in a week for less than $250. What is holding you back? 

For more information about Startup Sault, visit www.startupsault.ca.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date on Startup Sault events, startup tips and other useful information.

Nevin Buconjic is a serial entrepreneur, author and community builder. Nevin is the founder and community lead for StartUP Sault, and winner of the 2017 Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award for advancing the environment​ ​and ​culture​ ​for​ entrepreneurship​ ​in​ ​Canada. Find him at www.nevinbuconjic.com



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