Do you want to turn your creative side hustle into a full-time business?

If you’ve ever muttered the words, “I wish I could make a good living doing [insert artistic passion here]” you’re certainly not alone. As a creative person, you might even recite it every day, if you’re stuck in a boring desk job. But, how exactly do you make that transition to a professional creator? It might be hard to imagine the move, especially when you’re already holding down a day job to pay the utility bills, the student loans, and rent/mortgage, never mind spending time with friends and family.

How do you plan on doing it?

You Need Money

When considering turning your side business into full-time employment, it all comes down to money. You’re probably going to see a drop in income when you lose your full-time salary. So what can you do to prepare the way? You’ll want a runway, so prep those savings. You’ll need a business plan, even just a short one. Unless you’re looking for outside funding (like from a banking institution), your business plan will only be for your eyes, so make it as formal or informal as you like. You’ll require a backup plan, investment accounts, and a rainy day fund. You may even want to sell stuff you don’t need or use.

You Need Time

You don’t need to close one chapter in your career to start a new one. In fact, until you are financially comfortable working full-time on your creative work, you should milk every drop of your steady income. In the meantime, is there a certain time of year when your work income is lower? Or your side hustle income is naturally higher? Continue to work the same amount of hours, but trade the “job” hours for working ON your business, not in it. Don’t burn yourself out though, it’s going to be a balancing act. Remember that you are investing in the future. Hyper-focus on what makes that good side-hustle money and double down on it. Now’s not the time to be adding new services or variations. When you have replaced your full-time salary with your new business, then you can adjust back to a more ‘normal’ schedule again.

You Need Family Support

Talk with your partner, kids, parents, and close friends to ask if you can count on their support. Unfortunately, when making a transition like this, sacrifices will need to be made. And not just by you, your family will bear some sacrifices too. What that means is different for each individual, each family. Maybe sacrifice means no summer vacation this year, so you plan for just a couple of warm weekend adventures. Maybe it means you’re exempt from your normal cooking and washing dishes rotation only if you are working on the business that evening. Allow your family and close friends to be your emotional support and tell them your WHY so they can repeat it to you during the lows of the roller coaster. For more about your WHY, you may want to read Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why.” Your WHY is all about your purpose. WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed in the morning? And WHY should anyone care?

You Need That Hustle Lifestyle

Lifestyle is tied to money and time. Unfortunately, you’ll probably need to cut some of what seems necessary or extremely important to you to invest in the future. You’re creative, so use that creativity! Make coffee at home to avoid Starbucks and Tim Hortons purchases (which do add up, don’t fool yourself). Cook freezable dinners on Sunday to avoid the last-minute panic about what’s for dinner. Plus, buying food in bulk is much cheaper in the long run. Cancel your cable bill. With services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can now watch almost anything immediately, and for a portion of the cost of cable TV. If you don’t have a full-time in-person job, are you still tied to the city? Instead, can you relocate to a smaller and more “affordable” town? Instead of being that friend that doesn’t want to go out for $18 cocktails, why don’t you suggest more frugal options? Why not invite friends over and shake a few cocktails at home?

You Need Goals

Do you have written, precise, and measurable goals for your business? No one ever got to where they wanted without knowing where they were going. Get yourself a business coach, which will eventually pay for itself. Consider that all athletes and business titans have coaches. For a reason. They keep you accountable and on track. Goal #1 should be to replace your full-time income by (?), which leads to the runway we mentioned in the Money section. Work backward to find the micro goals needed each month or even week to keep you on track. Keep those goals near you so you can physically look/read them every day. Have a reminder in your calendar every morning with them. Have a calendar reminder every night to summarize what you did that got you closer that day and maybe what didn’t work.

When you’re planning your new company, the biggest decision you have to make is the type of legal structure it should have. As an entrepreneur in Canada, you can run a business as a sole proprietorship, a corporation, or a partnership. If you have a group interested, you could set up a co-operative. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of business structure. Deciding which structure is right for your business depends on various factors, including personal liability and tax deductions. 

A sole proprietorship is the easiest and most affordable structure to create and is the top choice for brand new business owners. Since you’ll be self-employed, you’ll pay personal income tax on the net income generated by your new business. You will declare business income on your personal income tax form, rather than having to file a separate tax return. You’ll pay personal income tax on your business’ earnings minus business expenses, as well as contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

The road to making your craft a profitable business can be bumpy. Building a successful business requires many elements. Some elements are intangible – like luck – and some you can control, like working hard and arming yourself with knowledge. Arm yourself with saved-up funds, family support, a hustling lifestyle, and measurable goals. It won’t be that long before you can quit the day job with a new career that feeds your soul.