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How to Take Your Ecommerce Side Hustle Full-Time

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By Emily Nelson - September 6, 2022- in Go-Getter Blog

If you’re working a side hustle, you’re in good company. Research shows that 93% of working Americans have some kind of side hustle. Although nearly half are hustling to make ends meet, others are ramping up to take their venture full-time. Ecommerce entrepreneurs are in a prime position to succeed by leaving the tools, platforms, & proven frameworks to see their online stores grow. 

Ready to take your own ecommerce side hustle full-time? Here’s what to know & where to get started. 

Trim Your Overhead

Before you dig into your budget to determine how much money you’ll need, scale back on your overhead. Start with your personal expenses & determine where you can trim your daily expenses. From cutting cable to downsizing your car, you want your daily budget to stay as lean as possible while growing your business.

Next, look at your ecommerce overhead. You can simplify your packaging or eliminate the pricey software you don’t really need. But your inventory is likely a culprit for budget-busting spending. Data shows that 73% of retailers struggle with inventory demand forecaster & accurately predicting what’s needed. 

Keeping the right amount of inventory around is tricky without increasing your storage needs & fulfillment budget. Instead of struggling with it on your own, print-on-demand could offer a viable solution. CustomCat powers ecommerce stores with the inventory you need when you need it. Upload your designs, choose your products, & start selling. When an item sells, we produce, fulfill, & ship the product while you earn.

Learn more about how to get started with CustomCat.

Know Your Numbers

Once you’ve cut down your personal & business expenses, it’s time to look at your numbers. Make sure you’ve set aside money for taxes, professional services like a CPA or bookkeeping, & emergencies. Now break this number down by the quarter, month, & week. Seeing everything laid out throughout the year helps clarify how much you’re spending & how much you need to earn. 

Remember, your overhead will inevitably grow as your business grows. For example, if you’re aggressively generating sales, you’ll need to increase your customer service to accommodate the influx. You’ll either spend more time, money or a combination of both to keep scaling your ecommerce store. 

Create a Financial Runway

A cash runway is essential to keeping your business & lifestyle safe. The term refers to the amount of time you have to stay up & running if no additional funds come your way.

You can think of your runway as an emergency fund. If you don’t make any sales, can you keep your ecommerce store going? Can you still pay your rent? A cash reserve of at least three months is ideal, but six months to a year will give you more peace of mind & time to grow your business to the financial success you’re looking for. 

Increase Your Reach

You need to increase your reach to generate a healthy stream of ecommerce sales. Open up your analytics to study where your current traffic is coming from & where it converts the best. You should double down on those marketing efforts, whether most of your sales come from TikTok or your own website. 

Next, see where your traffic is lacking. If you get zero sales from Twitter, you probably don’t need to bother focusing on promoting your ecommerce store on the platform. Instead, focus on channels that show some promise. Maybe you’ve seen a few sales trickle in from YouTube in the last few months. Amplify your efforts to create more video content, poll your audience on what they want to see, & focus on providing as much value as possible.  

Diversify Your Product Offerings

There’s nothing wrong with niching down & keeping a tight focus on your products. But to earn more, you need to consider how to keep reselling to the same customer base. Research shows a 5% increase in customer retention leads to a 75% increase in business profitability.

Make sure not to spread yourself too thin. Increasing your product offerings means amassing more inventory. Or you can go the print-on-demand route to produce & fulfill products for you. It’s also possible to sell digital downloads & classes that don’t involve inventory at all. If you sell activewear, consider selling a course on how to go from 0 to a 5k run in 60 days. Or, if you sell housewares & clothing with a parent demographic in mind, sell digital downloads for family budgeting or meal prep that addresses their pain points. 

Outsource Your Weaknesses

Good business owners aren’t afraid to embrace their weaknesses & find a solution. Why struggle with market research or admin work when you can outsource it instead? A Virtual Assistant (VA) is skilled in helping others run their businesses & tackle tasks from inbox wrangling to customer service. You can also hire several assistants to focus on different areas for a few hours a month.

If you’re not financially able to find a VA, you can hire temporary help or focus on using the right tools. Review your email marketing provider, graphic programs, & social media scheduling. Upgrading to the right software & tools is an investment, but also saves you time, money, & stress. 

Focus on Seasonality

Don’t wait until your competitors start launching holiday sales before you decide to do the same. Stay organized & create a marketing & editorial calendar. When sale seasons roll around, you want your blog posts, videos, & new products ready to go. You can also queue up your email newsletters & swap out banners & product copy. 

You’re wise to focus on winter holidays & traditional sale seasons. Research shows online holiday shopping reached a record $910 billion in 2021 alone, with a 10% year-over-year spike between November & December. But don’t forget that back-to-school, summer vacation, Halloween, & traditional sales weekends like Memorial Day are also big money-makers. 

Create a Back-Up Plan

Even the most successful ecommerce side hustlers need a back-up plan when going full-time. There’s no shame in being over-prepared, & it could reduce stress & lead to better big-picture goals. After all, it’s difficult to sustainably scale your business when you’re trying to make rent & will sell anything to anyone. 

Your back-up plan could involve a few moving pieces. You may need a separate side hustle for your side hustle. If you’re an ecommerce seller who is a genius at analytics & reporting, consider offering your services as a Virtual Assistant in your zone of genius. Tending bar, working in catering part-time, or holding down a flexible part-time job are all ways to fuel our dream when sales are sluggish.

 

With some focus & effort, your ecommerce empire can go from a side hustle to a full-time venture. How are you taking your ecommerce side hustle full-time? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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