Growth & Customers

How we started our side hustles and what we’ve learned

Want to start a side hustle? Three side hustlers share their business startup stories and share some essential tips to help you on your way.

Hannah Turlington Designs

Almost a quarter of people in full-time employment have already turned their hobby into a side hustle alongside their career, while a further 56% aspire to, according to a study by Vistaprint.

Furthermore, those with a side hustle top up their income with an average of £6,604.80 per year post-tax, while 15% of side hustlers even make £12,000 annually,

Vistaprint’s Charlotte Holmes-Darby said: “To grow your side business, you need to think and act like a full-time entrepreneur.

“That also means you should be prepared to seize any opportunities that come your way and enable you to take your side hustle to the next level.”

Got a skill or passion that you’d like to turn into a business?

Been made redundant and are looking to create an income?

Want to make some more money alongside your job?

Whatever your circumstance, now might be the time to set up your own side hustle.

In this article, three side hustlers share their stories of their businesses and offer some tips to help you along the way if you’re thinking of setting up your own side hustle.

Cooking up a sumptuous side hustle

Deepak Shukla, CEO at digital marketing agency Pearl Lemon, recently co-founded Plant Sumo, a vegan/plant-based kitchen in London that delivers gourmet and healthy meals.

Shukla started Plant Sumo with his friend Wadah, a food industry specialist, due to his passion for ethically sourced vegan food.

He says: “I’ve always had a love for healthy eating and never enjoyed eating heavily processed food. While I was growing up as part of an Indian family, my mum always cooked with fresh, organic ingredients, and so does my partner, who is Italian [so I took inspiration from them].”

Although Shukla has just launched Plant Sumo, they now have a regular chef, a kitchen and weekly orders. You can also find the business on Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Juggling existing work commitments is tough when you have an additional business, so Shukla believes it’s important to set aside enough time in the working day to do both.

Finding the right people who share his passion and have the right skill set has been an additional challenge for Shukla.

Deepak Shukla

Deepak Shukla started vegan/plant-based kitchen Planet Sumo

Top tip: A business plan is key

When it comes to business planning, Shukla’s advice is clear: you need a business plan.

He says: “You need a clear trajectory for growth, however modest. What’s your product, what’s your market, what’s your budget? [Understanding] all of these things will help give you clarity and purpose.

“Most of us haven’t got a lot of time to devote to our side hustle at first, so it’s important that you make the hours you do have count.”

Getting crafty

Hannah Turlington is a full-time special educational needs (SEN) teacher for children, but for the past six years she has turned her attention to textile design.

Her side hustle, Hannah Turlington Designs, started off as a stall on a village market, with her selling hand-printed cards, art and textiles.

She has intentionally grown her business into four strands: fine art, surface pattern design products (such as homeware and stationery), workshops (that encourage people to connect with their creativity), and commissions for bespoke artwork and designs.

Turlington says: “I had always wanted to be a surface pattern and textile designer, live a creative life. I had got to the point in my life where I felt that something was missing as my work was all encompassing.

“I needed to feed my creativity and unearth the dreams I had as an 18-year-old of creating things that told the story of nature and life.

“My work has now developed into telling the story of some challenging life issues and emotions in my exhibition pieces.”

Hannah Turlington Designs

Hannah Turlington’s side hustle started off as a stall on a village market

Top tip: Get practical

When it comes to offering advice to fellow side hustlers, Turlington’s advice is practical.

She says: “Get an accountant. Get some training with PR and marketing. Have a strategic plan. Make connections with others. Do something that you love.”

Taking the plunge and writing crime fiction

Cathy Hayward runs a PR agency specialising in the built environment, and she’s also a historical novelist.

Her debut novel, The Girl in the Maze, is due for release in October 2021, and she’s just finished her second book, The Fortune Teller’s Promise.

She became a historical novelist as she always wanted to write a book, but her day job and her family life meant “I never had quite the time to devote to it”.

Hayward adds: “When I turned 40, I felt that it was really now or never. So, I took a two-year, part-time creative writing course in the evenings.

“Towards the end of that, I realised that what I was writing was not separate pieces but part of a greater whole – the beginning of what became The Girl in the Maze.”

Hayward’s side hustle is going “really well”, and she’s benefited from time during the national coronavirus lockdowns.

She says: “When the first lockdown hit, I kept getting up early as I had done for commuting to London but instead wrote for a couple of hours before my day job began and the rest of my family got up.

“By June, I’d finished the second draft and then submitted it to a writing competition, which I went on to win. The publisher who ran the competition then offered me a publishing deal.

In the second lockdown, I started my second book, The Fortune Teller’s Promise. I’ve just sent it off to my editor. I’m now thinking about ideas for my third book.

“I think lockdown gave me both the time, but also the mental space, to write.”

Cathy Hayward

Cathy Hayward (front, holding the ‘a’) runs a PR agency and has turned her hand to writing novels

Top tip: Make time

One of the greatest challenges Hayward faces is time.

She says: “Sometimes I’m really into a section of the book but then 8am comes and I need to stop and get ready for the day and start my day job. It would be lovely to do the side hustle all day.

“Lockdown has been good for me but I’m going to find it hard to go back to my old life as I will have less time for the side hustle. Or maybe I just need to be more creative in my use of time.”

Her advice to fellow side hustlers is: “Build up [your side hustle] slowly and wait to see if it can fly.”

Hayward is yet to generate an income from her side hustle debut, as it’s not released until later on in the year.

However, she has taken a few practical steps in order to prepare for when the moment arises: “I’ve set up a limited company but plan to do the accounts myself as they’ll be pretty straightforward.

“Again, admin isn’t a problem. I use a writer’s software package called Scrivener which takes care of all my research and stores everything tidily. I use Excel for everything else.

“I used to be a PA and as a mum of three, I have to be pretty organised.”

Final thoughts

Business planning, getting practical and making time are just three of the tips that our side hustlers have to offer.

If you want to start your own side hustle (or are well on the way and are looking to turn it into a full-time gig), then it’s worth thinking about and working on your business processes as well as your idea.

Having both work in tandem will give your business a great grounding to flourish.

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