How to turn your side hustle into a flourishing e-commerce business

22 September, 2023

E-Commerce

If you have a side hustle that you're passionate about, you may be wondering if it's possible to turn it into a full-time e-commerce business?

A study by Henley Business School found that 1 in 4 UK adults have a “side hustle”, with people aged between 25 to 34 most likely to have one. 

2/5ths of the UK workforce and 37% of Generation Y manage a side hustle of their own, and this trend contributes £72 billion a year to the UK's GDP. 

The study also found that people with side projects are happier with their lifestyle, and the remaining “two-fifths of those who haven’t yet taken the plunge are interested in starting their own business.” 

Of course, there are downsides. The idea of being a modern entrepreneur is great, but managing one venture, let alone multiple, is demanding stuff. 

45% of workers with a side gig find themselves working over 40 hours a week and 25% dedicate over 50 hours to their various projects. The result? People working more than the average day job find themselves working at least an extra workday a week. 

Additionally, over 30% of side hustlers have to use the holidays from their primary job to focus on their second job. 

The good news is that many successful e-commerce businesses started out as side hustles and some are now even household names, we’ll look at some of those in a moment. For now, though, here are a few tips on how to turn your side hustle into a flourishing e-commerce business. 

  • Do your research 

Like with any project, before you take the plunge and turn your side hustle into a full-time business, it's important to do your research and make sure that there is a market for your product or service. This means understanding your target audience, their needs, the competition and what your unique selling point (USP) is. 

  • Create a business plan 

Once you've done your research, it's time to create a business plan. This will help you to define your business goals, strategies, and financial projections. It will also be one of the first things a bank or other investor will ask for if you’re looking to finance your business. 

  • Build a strong brand identity 

Your brand is what will set you apart from the competition. It's important to develop a strong brand identity that reflects your values and the unique selling proposition of your business. 

  • Invest in a professional website 

Your website is your online storefront, so it's important to make a good first impression. Invest in a professional website that is easy to navigate and user-friendly. 

  • Market your business 

Once your website is up and running, you need to start marketing your business to potential customers. There are a variety of ways to do this, such as social media marketing, content marketing, and paid advertising. The research you’ve done previously should have identified the places your target market will most likely be so consider marketing there. 

  • Provide excellent customer service 

Customer service is essential for any business, but it's especially important for e-commerce businesses as it can be the make or break for attracting new customers and keeping loyal ones. Make sure that you are responsive to customer questions and that you go the extra mile to make sure that your customers are satisfied. 

  • Scale your business 

As your business grows, you'll need to scale accordingly. This may involve hiring new employees, investing in new technology, and expanding your offerings.


Turning your side hustle into a flourishing e-commerce business will take hard work and dedication, but it is definitely possible by following the tips above, which will increase your chances of success. 

Here are a few well-known businesses that have done just that:

 

Yankee Candle 

They may have been around as long as many can remember but one of the world’s most successful scented candle companies started as a side hustle. 

Back in 1969, 16-year-old Mike Kittredge made a candle out of crayons as a present for his mother. A neighbour saw the candle and asked Kittredge to make her one too, and she’d pay for it. 

Kittredge reckoned he was onto something and started making candles out of his parent's garage. Just four years later, Yankee Candle moved into an old paper mill in Massachusetts and the company was later sold in 1998 for $500 million. 

Today, Yankee Candle has 500 stores worldwide, with over 19,000 retailers selling Yankee Candle products.

 

Etsy 

Believe it or not, what many consider to be the home of side hustles, started out as a side hustle itself.

Etsy launched in 2005 as a small marketplace for artisans to market all things crafty, handmade, and unique. It rapidly grew as people quickly recognised the benefits of listing their products on the ready-made e-commerce platform, both to sell what they had made and to buy from their fellow creators.

Etsy was earning millions in revenues in just a few years, reaching an IPO of $100 million by mid-2016

 

Apple

Apple, yes Apple, started as a side hustle and is now one of the most successful and innovative businesses of all time. 

The seeds of Apple began when Steve Jobs and his high school friend Steve Wozniak worked together in Jobs’ parents’ garage building computers in their spare time in the 1970s. 

Jobs had been working at Atari, while Wozniak worked at Hewlett-Packard. Their passion project culminated in the creation of the Apple I in 1976. 

Within five years, they had created one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the industry. 

Today, Apple is worth over $2 trillion.

 

Other side hustles that have become household names include Facebook, Twitter (now X), Instagram, Under Armour and Groupon. 

While these examples show that anything is possible when switching your side hustle to a business, one thing they all share is finding something unique and working hard. Coupling this with the tips above should give you a great foundation to create a successful e-commerce business. 

 

If you would like to discover how Asendia have supported small businesses growth plans, get in touch.

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