How to Turn a Side Hustle into Your Full-Time Job

young business professional

Many people today choose to supplement their primary career with a “side hustle”— additional work that supports their passion or simply provides extra income. Some side hustles even turn into full-time careers. How do these individuals turn side projects into functional businesses? While every path is different, I encourage you to take a lesson from my close friend, Teresa. A single parent, Teresa had two young sons to support. Teresa knew her current earning potential was severely limited, so she decided to earn a bachelor’s degree. It worked. Teresa was able to earn a better living and provide for her children. Teresa was able to turn her education and work into her own business. Teresa has now owned her own business for 30+ years and still loves it. Discover how Teresa went from side hustler to business owner with this Q&A.

6 Questions on Entrepreneurship

1. How did you get started? 

I was hired by a Big 8 accounting firm right out of college, but I prepared tax returns in my spare time for family and friends. Doing taxes for them became my side business.

2. At what point did you know you had a viable business? 

I knew after about a year or two because my client list kept growing. My clients were referring me to their friends and family. It grew from there.

3. What are the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome? 

Making the decision to leave my full-time job to pursue building my own business was a leap of faith. I am not a risk-taker by nature. It was a very difficult decision, but it was made easier by knowing I would be able to set my own hours around the needs of my family. I also liked the idea of knowing my hard work would benefit me and not a big corporation.

4.    What education or skills have helped you the most? 

I have a degree in accounting that got me started and qualified me for my first job. I passed the CPA exam shortly after I started working full time. The continuing education every year helps keep me current in the tax laws and changes to individual and business returns. 

5.    How have you stayed competitive in the industry? 

I haven’t had to do anything other than provide my clients with first-rate accounting and tax skill in a timely manner, all delivered with the best customer service I can provide. I look forward to seeing my clients each year and really care about their families and their well-being. Many of my clients feel like my family. I go the extra mile for my clients and find every legal deduction for them. Sometimes I will amend prior returns if I see an error from a previous accountant on something that will benefit my clients.

6.    What have been the biggest keys to success? 

Understanding how to run a business was key, because it was not enough to just be great at accounting or tax preparation. Owning and running a business requires a different skill set than accounting expertise. I learned the basics of business when I earned my accounting degree and was able to apply what I learned.

Teresa leaves aspiring business owners with one piece of advice: “If you are a single parent or want to improve your standard of living, I strongly suggest earning at least a bachelor’s degree.” Although Teresa is an expert at accounting, her bachelor’s degree, in part, taught her how to successfully run a business. A bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship will prepare new business owners for the challenges of a new startup and learn ways of overcoming those challenges.

Learn more about how a degree can prepare you by speaking with an advisor today.

 

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Written by Paula Zobisch, Program Chair for the BA in Entrepreneurship
 

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