Erin Bury’s best advice for starting a side hustle

Erin Bury Opens in new window is a marketer, former technology journalist, and entrepreneur. She is Managing Director at creative communications agency Eighty-Eight Opens in new window , and the founder of bicycle wine tour company The County Wine Tours Opens in new window in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She writes a small business column for the Financial Post, appears weekly on CTV News as a technology commentator, and is a frequent speaker with Speakers’ Spotlight. She was named one of Marketing Magazine’s 30 Under 30, and her claim to fame is being retweeted by Oprah - twice.

The County Wine Tours Opens in new window
1. Get your financial ducks in a row

It’s important to take care of the financial and legal tasks, before you set up your side hustle. The first step is to incorporate your business so you have a business number and you can open up a bank account (this also helps during tax season, since revenue from your business won’t affect your personal taxes). Next, you’ll want to open a bank account and potentially apply for a credit card or line of credit, since you need to have a way to get paid, and to pay for expenses. If you’re starting the business with partners, you’ll also need to set up shareholders agreements. These might seem like boring tasks that slow you down from the important part (making money), but they’re imperative to think about in the early stages, and they’ll save you from headaches down the road.

2. Figure out how your business impacts your insurance policies

You’ll need to set up general commercial insurance when you start your business, but you also need to look into how starting a side hustle impacts your existing home and auto insurance. If you already have personal auto insurance and you use your vehicle for your side hustle, you may be okay as long as it’s not used for deliveries or drop-offs, carrying passengers for hire or renting to others and your vehicle doesn’t have commercial plates.

In terms of home insurance, it’s important to note that your home insurance does not cover your business - that’s why you need to get general commercial insurance. If you don’t have commercial insurance and just have home insurance, any equipment you use for your business is not covered by your policy in the event of a claim (for example, your laptop, camera, or sound equipment). Also, be aware that depending on what your side hustle is, you could have various liability risks such as potential injuries to clients visiting your home, you getting injured on someone else’s property, or libel and slander liability. Either way - whether you get commercial insurance or not - make sure you let your home and auto insurer know that you’ve launched a side hustle.

3. Figure out your branding

Not every side hustle requires a brand, especially if you’re using a third-party platform to find work. If you are launching a business like a consulting practice, an online store, or another consumer-facing business, you’ll need a name and brand that are unique, memorable, and that match your brand personality. Since you’re in the early stages of your side hustle, you likely have a limited budget, so working with an agency (like the one I run - Eighty-Eight) probably won’t be a fit. You’ll need a great freelance graphic designer who can make you a modern and professional brand. You can find options by browsing portfolio websites like Behance, or by searching on freelancer platform UpWork.

4. Map out your marketing plan

Finally, you need to figure out how you’re going to get the word out about your company. Start by building your buyer personas – a description of the person (or people) who are most likely to buy your product – and understand where they hang out online and offline. Then figure out how you can integrate your company into their daily routine. For example, if you’re targeting parents of young kids, maybe you’d run some Google AdWords search ads related to your product, launch Facebook ads since you can target very specifically to parents of young kids, and work with some mom bloggers to post a review of your product.

The hardest part of a side hustle is figuring out what your hustle is - once you’ve done that, you can chip away at the admin tasks and get to the fun part: making your first sale.

Erin Bury is a paid spokesperson for Sonnet.


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