If you’re reading this article, you’re probably about to launch your side business. You don’t have to start a super-sophisticated technology start-up to become an entrepreneur. Running a side business alongside your main activity like a full-time job/school/retreat is not only viable, but also advantageous. In this article, we will try to review all the stages of the development of your side business, from the idea to your first income.
My name is Julian Ivaldy, I have studied and developed many types of side-businesses through my digital side business studio SideFounders. I wanted to share what I have learned along the way. If you have any comments, do not hesitate to contact me, I love to challenge my point of view :)
1 — FIND A DIGITAL INDUSTRY & SECTOR AND BECOME EXPERT
Find the industry & sector that interests you most, focus on a specific segment of that industry, and become an expert.
Are you interested in mobile applications? What exactly are you interested in, the product? The distribution? If it’s the product, focus on the creation of the product. Learn coding or discover no-code technology, and concentrate on the sector that most appeals to you to create your expertise ( e.g. no-code development of SAAS).
The Internet gives you all the resources to find valuable digital industries and find the most compelling segments. Here is a list of interesting industries & sectors: IT Development, UI/UX Design, Online Education, Online Consulting, Growth Hacking & Marking, etc.
➡ Can’t focus on one industry? Assume your multitasking role
OR — PARTNER WITH AN EXPERT AND BE MULTI-TASKED
Associate yourself with someone who has well-defined expertise and assume your role as a multi-task Swiss Army knife.
You have a lawyer friend who gets bored on weekends ? Suggest to him to co-create a side-business with you that will propose models of company contracts on a website! (e.g. Creation of a company MyLegalDoc.com)
Side-business can be developed alone but also in collaboration. I strongly recommend, to begin your entrepreneurship path as a team. It will help you find your added value.
2 — CREATE YOUR OFFER AND FIND YOUR POSITIONING
Once you have clearly identified the sector you are interested in, you need to create your offer and choose your positioning with the best possible value proposition. Inspire yourself by current market offers, identify your target, the need you want to meet and your added value compared to your competitors.
It may sound strange, but make sure you have competitors with the same type of offer as you do, it’s a sign that your market exists. Beyond simple research, don’t hesitate to draw inspiration from your competitors, adding your personal touch and improvements.
You decided to focus on the education industry and you want to create online math courses for struggling 8–10 year olds ? Go to the online course platforms, find math courses for 8–10 year olds, analyze their presentation, content and add your personal touch (e.g. Quizzes, Workbook)
Once you have created your offer and your positioning, nothing prevents you from iterating on your product based on your customers’ feedback.
3 — MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS AND VALIDATE YOUR PMF
Meeting your (potential) customers is essential. Personally, I don’t start any side business without having pre-sold the final product & (and/or) service. To meet customers, you can do it in person by going to places subject to find your target, it is a very good exercise that will allow you to identify exactly the profile of your customers (Persona). You can also meet your customers on the internet, via social networks for example.
It can take a lot of time and effort to find your product-market fit, but the results are more than worth it. I recommend you to sell your offer before it is even developed, by publishing it on a website or social media for example.
You decided to focus on the digital product industry and you want to develop your own B2B mailing SAAS ( Software as a service) ? Join facebook entrepreneurship and startup groups such as StartupNow / WeAreFounders etc. Write a facebook post presenting your solution as if it was already developed and ask people to show if they are interested in your solution.
Once you have validated your PMF, you will have identified your customer target and you will be able to focus on your sales pitch and your lead acquisition.
4 — BRING YOUR OFFER ONLINE AND TARGET YOUR CUSTOMERS
Once you have validated the product-market fit of your offer, I invite you to bring this offer online. To do this, I recommend you to publish your offer (product/idea) on a website or social networks, so you can propose your offer while focusing on your priority, your customers.
To target your customers, I will suggest you to use growth hacking strategies, it’s the most flexible way to find your first client according to your wallet. Ideally, I will advise you not to invest money to find your first clients, but there are side businesses that only work if there is a minimum investment.
You decided to focus on a profitable community business, by creating a golf information site, linked to amazon articles with retro-commission ? You should implement simple growth hacking strategies. You could join community group around golf, on Facebook for example, which is a social network used by older people who seem to be the persona of golf passionates. All your strategies should be set up according to your offer and the target you want to convince to visit your site to potentially make you earn money.
The launch of your offer and the search for your first customers will lead you to realize a multitude of strategies that will help you to identify your final target and the most relevant means of acquisition (ROI) in case of success or to iterate on your product & your communication & your acquisition in case of failure.
5 — CREATE YOUR COMMUNITY AND SET UP YOUR ACQUISITION
Once you have pocketed your first dollars, I recommend you to think about long-term strategies in terms of acquisition and development.
The secret of many profitable side-businesses in their communities, federated and committed around the startup’s offer and its entire ecosystem. Some projects can’t federate, and that’s where it gets spicy. When you can’t count on a committed community to play on the growth of your secondary activity, you have to play with different acquisition methods (Growth Hacking, SEO, ADS, Influence Marketing
Your side-business is a mobile application to visit London ? You should publish lots of articles in your website about London (Walks in London, Tourist places to visit in London etc.) to have a perfect SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy and have a lot of organic redirection to your website. You should create micro communities around the tourist visit on very specific subjects (How to visit London, Best monuments in London, Foreigners in London etc.). You should use growth hacking to scrap the emails of all people who like instagram picture of London Major Instagram account and send them emails presenting your solutions etc.
There are many strategies specific to the type of business you are developing that may be of interest to your side business. I strongly recommend that you try a maximum by making a spreadsheet of the strategies launched and the performance of it measured under 10/15 days in order to focus on the most profitable techniques!
6 — GROW YOUR BUSINESS AND WORK ON YOUR AARRR
AARRR is the acronym for the 5 steps that model the customer lifecycle of your business: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue.
It’s a data analytics framework to help you grow your business revenue, a framework I use every day, and one that you must integrate to do Growth Marketing seriously. This funnel model is to be applied as a layer that is superimposed on all your actions to see if each of your actions has a positive impact on your business or not.
That is to say, if you do an action with the objective of improving the results at one of these 5 steps. Its success can only be determined by taking into account its consequences at all stages further down the funnel and especially at the return stage. The nerve of the war.
You have created a profitable community turned to amateur investment ? You have decided to set up several acquisition techniques, you have created a community through a Facebook group. Your acquisition techniques allow your Facebook group and thus your community to fill up quickly. However, you don’t do anything anymore once you have invited people in this group and they are part of your “community”? In this case, the action of acquisition is useless then what you have not worked on the 2nd axis of the AARRR, the activation… The person having joined your group will thus never be activated, never customer, you just wasted your time…
There are many ways to work on your AARRR. for Acquisition, use growth hacking techniques, create a community, make ads, etc. For Activation, adapt your speech to the profile of each prospect, offer him advantages. For Retention, pamper your customer, you must not stop giving him intention when he becomes a customer but make him stay a customer as long as possible. For Revenue, don’t hesitate to carry out actions that can double your customer’s average bill, exclusive offers with commitment for example. For the Referral, set up an ambassador program, give benefits to your most loyal customers in exchange for their support and create your small army.
My name is Julian, I work on many projects that combine innovation, digital, and entrepreneurship. On a mission to…
My name is Julian Ivaldy, Co-founder & Head of Growth at TheSecretCompany.co 🗝 We are a crew of serial entrepreneurs…
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