Yaneek Page | Can my side hustle replace my job?
QUESTION: I have a side business for the last two years doing catering for office meetings and small parties. Right now I specialise in light fare like pastry, fruit and sandwich platters but I am planning to expand to other things like chicken wings, kebabs, jerk pork, fish and bammy and so on. I am a senior administrative assistant at a large organisation and most of my business comes from catering for our internal meetings and events. I have a goal to take my business to the next level between now and next year so I can leave my job and do this full time.
I have two questions for you, Yaneek: What's your advice on getting to that next level without more capital, taking a loan or hiring anyone none of which I am in a position to do right now? Do you realistically think my of side business has the potential to replace the income from my full time job?
BUSINESSWISE: It is critical that you refine that vague goal of 'taking my business to the next level'. You have to spell out what the next level is in terms of tangible growth targets to be accomplished by a specific time, for example, revenues, profits, customer base, market share and position, new products and services, geographic expansion, among others.
Given that your primary aim is to replace your salary, an example of a more sound short-term business goal would be, say, to earn revenues of at least $400,000 monthly from catering corporate meetings and events by September 2018. This is just an example for you to consider, but you will need to refine your goal based on the business potential, market conditions, estimated expenses including your salary, to name a few.
A GOAL WITHOUT
A PLAN IS A WISH
At the risk of sounding cliche if you are serious about growing the business then you need to complete a business plan, which will be your road map for expansion, viability and sustainability, especially given your human resource and financial constraints.
The key elements of the plan will be the industry and competitor analysis, marketing plan, financial projections and financing plan, SWOT analysis, operations plan and team, and something many neophytes overlook the risk assessment.
One major concern is that there's nothing unique about your business and anyone can start a competing entity tomorrow, with little investment, skills and resources. Growing a business without additional capital will be extremely challenging, to put it mildly.
You will need to focus on fast and substantial return on investment. That means refining your catering service so you deliver incredible value to fill pressing needs think healthier food options that fuel employees' energy to a ready market with high likelihood of repeat purchases and high customer lifetime value. The most important resource will be the people working to build the business every day, working up to 12, 14 or more hours a day.
You noted that you can't afford to hire anyone, but the business can't grow in cruise control. You also can't outsource the leadership, particularly at this delicate phase. One option may be to take on a partner who can execute the procurement, sales, marketing and other such operational functions while you work on product innovation or development, customer prospecting, accounting and networking.
FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, NOT SALARY
As to whether I think the business can replace your salary, I have no idea based on the information you've provided. As of now you seem to have been benefiting from your connections at work, which may not have anything to do with the quality of the food or service you provide.
I would encourage you to change the way you think about business and recognise that as an entrepreneur your role is not to emphasise, create or set limitations in stone as you did by insisting you can't find additional capital or people to grow the business.
Your role is to evaluate market opportunities, set a vision for how your company will take advantage of them and problem-shoot how you will resourcefully create the means or find a way to achieve the vision.
Finally, remember that the purpose of business is not to fulfil your personal financial needs; it is to create customers who are so satisfied with your products and services that they will keep coming back for more and share the good news with others. That's the essential foundation for competitiveness, profitability and longevity.