SIDEFOUNDERS — How to Create a Successful Digital Side Business
My name is Julian Ivaldy, I have studied and developed many types of side-businesses and i decided to make it a business itself by developing a Digital Side Business Studio SideFounders. I wanted to share with you what I have learned over the past few years while developing side businesses komaker , loopsturn, bestfortravels, clubets …
Think about that side activity you’ve always wanted to create, a dream business aside your job, your studies or even your retreat. The digital age has completely changed our society, giving rise to new types of digital side businesses, scalable and self-financed. In an era where the creation and development of side hustle has never been easier, this article will address the main tips & tricks to help you create a successful digital side business.
WHAT IS A SIDE BUSINESS ?
A side-business is an activity developed during your free time, often in parallel of a main activity, which is intended to be a first entry into entrepreneurship as well as a complementary source of income.
There is no secret recipe to a successful side-business. One can be unprofitable and turn out to be a side-failure, while another one can develop very quickly and become a profitable full time company.
LIST OF 5 ADVANTAGES
In any case, the creation of a side-business is positive on many different levels, financial and personally.
1. Secondary income streams
A side-business, and by definition a business, must be profitable, otherwise it is not a side business but a side-failure.
2.More control over your life
Several studies have pointed out that the average millionaire has about seven sources of income. If one of them disappears, the millionaire can count on six more. A side business gives you an additional source of income that not only puts more money in your pocket, but also gives you more control over your life. The second source of income means that you no longer belong to your job. You may decide to quit and grow your business.
3.An experience to add to your resume
I know that the CV is not the priority of an entrepreneur who wants to make his own way. Whether your secondary business is thriving or not, I would recommend that you add to your CV the experience you have gained by running it.
According to an American study, 77% of business owners are happy, while only 48% of American workers are happy in their jobs. You may be one of the 48% who loves their jobs, so enjoy the benefits of being both an employee and a business owner. If you hate your job, side-business is an opportunity to escape the day-to-day and maybe even replace it.
5.Muscle your entrepreneurship
By deciding to build a side-business, you take the first step towards entrepreneurship and all that it brings: making your own choices, depending on your own performance, working in the chaos, etc. This is the best exercise to improve your managing skills.
You don’t need to start a super-sophisticated technology start-up to become an entrepreneur. Running a side-business alongside your full-time job & main activity is not only viable, but also advantageous.
FIND YOUR SIDE BUSINESS IDEA
Finding your side business idea will be the first and probably the main challenge of your entrepreneurship adventure. I recommend to all those who want to develop a side business, to move towards an industry, a sector that interests them. For those who need some inspiration, here is an interesting list of side business ideas.
SELLING DIGITAL CONTENT:
Digital content provides value through its substance. Wether you create & sell, It can be ebooks, podcasts or online courses, it’s a good type of side business because it is produced once, and can be sold over and over again.
E-books have been and continue to be one of the most popular digital products for both creators and customers. They are relatively simple to produce since they require little more than written text and a few relevant images. E-books are easy to distribute in large markets or in online stores created by the authors themselves. They are easily consumed by customers, who can read them on e-readers, tablets, computers, and even cell phones.
Podcasts are digital products available on many types of free or paid streaming platforms. It is recommended to focus on a specific sector and deliver quality content with high added value for your community. You can make profit by monetizing your audience.
Online courses are a very interesting area. Between the personalized master classes broadcast to a previously developed community, or the more traditional courses broadcast to a fairly large audience on specialized platforms, online courses are booming. One of the great advantages of online courses is that they are produced once and can be resold and distributed infinitely.
SELLING DIGITAL PRODUCT:
Digital products have many different advantages, they are infinitely scalable, and you are never limited to the number of products you can sell. You don’t have to worry about logistics, where to keep stocks, how to pack your products, how to ship them, etc. Digital products also have a low initial cost, they do not require a large initial investment because you do not have to invest in inventory or manufacturing.
The software industry is huge and growing steadily. It is also extremely rich in opportunities. The ability of anyone to write code, no matter who it is, can lead to new and useful products. Whether it’s desktop software, web applications, website templates, mobile applications, video games or any other code-based product, the possibilities are endless.
Applications are similar to software, but are not downloaded from the web. Rather, this category encompasses everything that customers pay to use it in a web browser. Also called SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, they are not digital products in the true sense of the word, but can be sold and perceived in a very similar way, so it is important to recognize them.
Games are a very interesting, they can be mobile as well as web-based, they exploit once again a very particular universe, specific to its creators. Games are often profitable with the implementation of an in-app store and an internal economy to the games. However, many games are also betting on traffic and rely on ads to make their games profitable.
BUILD A PROFITABLE COMMUNITY:
Profitable communities have a very unique model, bringing together an engaged community and making it profitable through product placements, affiliations and other opportunities.
An influencer is a person who, thanks to his or her exposure on the Internet, has an influence on the Internet users who follow him or her and on their purchasing decisions. There are several types of influencers: beauty influencers, game influencers, B2B influencers etc.
A media produces and distributes content to a community on a specific branch. New types of media have emerged over the last few years, media 100% on social networks, which do not require much investment.
A blog is a mix between an influencer and a media. It’s a website focused on a particular subject & industry (travel, family, beauty, etc.) but much more humanized than a media because it is the image of the person who feeds it.
A service business is a company that provides certain professional support to its clients. In these businesses the product is not a tangible one, instead it is an activity that helps a third party at different areas.
An agency offers its services on a particular sector (consulting, IT development, etc.) You can carry out the missions yourself or have them subcontracted.
A dropservice is a business model where you sell services. However, you are not the one who will do the service. You have to find people who will do it for you. Your job is to market these services, and earn a profit from the orders.
The consulting aims to bring its particular knowledge on a very precise subject. There are several styles of consulting (business, digital, startup, personal, etc.).
It’s true that coming up with product ideas is a bit tricky, you often get the impression that everything you could sell is already sold, not to mention the reality of competition in the most popular product categories. Fortunately, there are still golden opportunities, as evidenced by the new products that are successfully launched all the time.
E-commerce is an online store that manages its stock and develops a strong and committed brand.
An online craftsman consists in proposing artisanal products and distribute them on the internet via a website or a presence on specialized resale platforms.
Dropshipping is an online product sales activity without stock management. In the majority of cases, it is deployed via Shopify. The mission of the creator is to create a store on a particular niche and to make it known thanks to ADS.
After reading this list of side business ideas, you may have found the kind of business you would like to launch, the kind of industrie you would like to focus. The most important thing is to take action and do something, right now, to turn that idea and inspiration into action. There are no good or bad ideas, only the one you will succeed in making happen.
START YOUR SIDE BUSINESS ( FOR REAL )
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).
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 a 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) BE CREATIVE
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 FMEP, 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 validate 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 is 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.
You have your idea and you want to launch your side-business? Check out my article Develop your Side Business: From Idea to Income !
GROW YOUR SIDE BUSINESS
To grow your side-business, you will need to communicate around your business, attract new customers, do promotion, etc. You will have several choices in front of you (Google AdWord, Social Network ADS, Influence Marketing, Event, Physical Display etc.) There are many ways to make your project known and grow your business, we will focus on growth hacking.
Growth hacking is the practice of using every possible marketing tool to generate rapid growth at any cost. Most growth hackers rely on the AARRR matrix, which I mentioned earlier. I have listed 5 very interesting growth hacking techniques that you can easily implement to expand your side business.
1 — TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE COMPETITION:
One of the first things you should do is to check what the competition is doing. Who is your direct competition? How long have they been in the market? Who are their clients? Find out what are the Growth Hacking strategies they use to get traffic and to build customer loyalty. Study what keywords they use and how they are positioning themselves to implement a much more elaborate strategy.
2 — CREATE BRAND PARTNERSHIPS:
At the beginning it is important that you have collaborations with other companies to help you have more visibility. This helps generate a lot of noise in social networks and is a great marketing strategy that benefits both companies. It will also help increase visits to your website and generate new customer leads. Participate to live & multiply your visibility.
3— SHARE QUALITY CONTENT MARKETING:
Generate valuable content that educates your customers. Having a blog is always a good option to position yourself as a content benchmark in the industry. Today’s influencers are media, forget the old content repetitive and without added value, create your marketing content by highlighting your teams, their expertise, their contribution in the product / service you sell, be human!
4 — USE REFERRAL MARKETING:
There is nothing more powerful than recommendations from your customers. When your friends, family or partner tell you about a product that got them out of a jam or a service that made them live a different experience, chances are you’ll want to run out and buy that good or service. The same goes for your customers. Besides, the cost of this is very low. You didn’t need to place an ad, pay for advertising, etc. All you have to do is make sure that each customer has the best possible shopping experience, no matter if they bought a lot or a little, make them feel like they are your most important buyer. A happy customer will always speak well of you.
5 — OPTIMIZE YOUR CALL TO ACTION:
A common occurrence is that companies place forms on their website to capture leads and make them extremely long. This only causes customers to get bored and not want to finish filling out their data. Try to make a basic form and ask the necessary questions, personal data such as e-mail address or phone number should come last. If possible, try a less brutal format than a contact form? A Free Audit? Sending a guide?
You want to develop your business with growth hacking strategies ? Check out my article: Best Growth Hacking Strategies for Side Business & Startup
Starting a side business can be a great way to earn good passive income, and can even turn into a full-time business if you focus on growing it. In addition, if you choose to create your side business in an industry that interests you, with an idea that you like, it can also be a lot of fun.
The best side business for you depends on several factors, including your skills, experience and interests. However, you should also understand that even if it is a side business, you will need to invest a minimum amount of time to start and sustain your business.
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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