According to CNN, more than 44 million Americans have a side hustle, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is a side gig financially rewarding, it’s often more intellectually stimulating and fulfilling on a personal level than an ‘ordinary’ job.
Side gigs often start off as passion projects, and sometimes they start to grow to the point where you think: Hey, I can actually make this a full-time thing!
So how do you transform what started out as a side gig into a reputable brand? Well, with the right help and support in place, it’s easier than you might think.
Step 1: Get a reputable business address
The majority of us run our side gigs from home, and that’s great. It means we don’t have to pay for a full-time office space and it makes us more productive because we cut out the communute. Why would we pay for a full-time office anyway if our hustle is part-time?
That’s what makes a virtual office the ideal solution for entrepreneurs who are looking to transform their side gig into a reputable brand. Despite the name, a virtual office is in fact a real office building – the difference is you only rent the address and additional services as opposed to a full-time desk or executive suite.
When you sign up for a virtual office, depending on the tier you opt for, you typically get the following:
- A reputable business address in a location of your choice
- Mail handling and forwarding services
- A local or toll-free number
- An online VOIP system
- A Live Receptionist to manage calls
- Access to meeting and conference rooms
- A hot desk for part-time use
That’s a lot of support and services at a relatively low cost. So how does this help to make your side hustle more ‘reputable’ in a world where image is everything?
First of all, using an address for your business that is separate from your residential one will make you look more professional to prospective clients, especially if that address is aligned with your industry and target market.
Having the option to hold meetings in well-facilitated conference spaces will also give your brand a more reputable appearance and work wonders for client perception.
A business address also makes you more reputable in the eyes of legal and financial organizations. For example, having a business address is recommended if you want to protect your personal assets (in case of bankruptcy, for instance). It can also make it easier to obtain business credit.
Last but not least, a business address (virtual office) provides you with the framework you need to enable your business to grow. When you’re too busy to respond to an online inquiry or take a call, your Virtual Receptionist will handle it for you, swiftly and professionally.
Which brings us onto our step…
Step 2: Use a Live Receptionist
“Companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later. Yet only 37% of companies respond to queries within an hour.” – Harvard Business Review.
This research highlights the need for speed and efficiency when it comes to dealing with inquiries. And this is where Live Receptionists can really add value. Think improved customer service and higher ROI, both of which are inextricably linked to reputation.
Live receptionists do the job of a regular receptionist, except that they work remotely. Quite often, you can opt to have a Live Receptionist included as part of the package when you sign up for a virtual office. LRs are on hand throughout the day to manage your calendar, answer calls in your name, take messages and keep you up-to-date, making the chances of missing a valuable lead much slimmer.
You have full control over the call screening process, including how your callers are greeted and which calls are forwarded.
Step 3: Be a manager, not a worker
Growing your side gig into a reputable brand is no mean feat, and it’s likely that you’ll have to hire people to help out in certain areas, for example marketing, branding and web development.
But growing your team doesn’t have to involve ‘employing’ someone full-time. The burgeoning gig economy has made it easier than ever for small businesses to hire freelancers on an ad hoc and temporary basis. Services like Upwork and People Per Hour list experienced and reviewed freelancers, making the process hassle-free and easy.
Promoting your brand needn’t be expensive either. Advertising on social media is relatively inexpensive and can be really beneficial if executed in the right way.
You can also build authority online organically by writing blog posts your target market will find useful. Just make sure you brush up on you understanding of SEO before you publish them so that your content is optimized.
Guest blogging on related sites is also a good way of growing your authority and audience online. Spend some time research opportunities and start reaching out to prospective publications.
Got any more tried and tested tips for transforming a side gig into a reputable brand? Share them in the comments below.