Well, a new year is almost here. It’s hard to believe that it’s going to be 2017. Fun Fact: In Back to the Future, the “future” was 2015. So we’re 2 years past that and we still don’t have flying cars! We do, however, have the Internet and I’ll take that any day.

But anyway, what I want to accomplish with this blog post is to help you talk through some changes or improvements you can make to your side hustle so that 2017 is a great year for you (here is my 2016 version). So I’m assuming that you already have a side gig that is up and running. If you don’t, here are some ideas.

For my side business, personally, 2016 was my best year yet (+20%), and everything I’m recommending below is what I did or am currently doing.

So let’s dive in…I’m going to form each section as a question as I think it will be easier for you to digest and personally apply to your own situation.

1. Do you have systems in place?

As a sidepreneur, you’re likely only one person…and one person can only do so much. Even if your goal is to have a high end service of some sort that only has a few clients, likely those few clients are going to expect a lot from you — and so you still need systems in place.

If you don’t have any systems or processes set up, you need to in 2017. Here are some tips I previously shared, but to sum it up, when I’m talking about systems, I mean things you do to make yourself more efficient in the operations of the business i.e. servicing clients and executing on the work. The more efficient you are, the more effective you will be for your clients and the more clients you can help (more revenue!).

What does this look like for me?

Well, I have a “right hand gal” that helps me with all things content (blogging, Twitter and link building). My side hustle is marketing so this is what makes sense for me. We use Podio and Google Drive to keep organized and on task and she even has a profile in my CRM where she can send out emails to my clients when their monthly reports are done, blogs are posted, etc.

Let’s put it this way — I rely so much on the system and process that I set up, there’s absolutely no way I could go back to doing it the way I was before (i.e. me doing everything).

2. Do you have a process in place for getting new clients?

When you have a service based side business, the flow of new clients is super crucial. Things change and clients come and go…as a result, you have to have a process in place to get new clients and then work that process every day.

And you need to prospect for new business even when you don’t need new clients or maybe you’re comfortable with where you’re at. Because things can change instantly. And think of it this way, if you’re “planting seeds” today, they might not “sprout” until 3-6 months from now. So you’re not prospecting for new clients for today…you’re prospecting for where you might be in 3-6 months or longer.

How you find new clients is going to depend on what you’re selling of course, but just to give you some ideas, I can tell you what I’m currently doing:

  • I look through the Gigs section on Craigslist
  • I’m active on Twitter
  • I get leads via my website
  • I build strategic partnerships for referrals
  • I get referrals from my clients
  • I prospect via targeted cold emailing
  • I pay for leads on Thumbtack

This is what I’m finding works best for me and I’m always testing new things. For example, I really should be doing Google PPC and so I just set up a small test campaign.

3. What can you do to improve your service?

I believe that in order to grow your business, you always have to be in a state of improvement. I’m obsessed with it because I feel like it’s my job to keep on giving my clients a better product within the budget they gave me. Essentially I want to wow them.

I’m going through it right now. I’m not happy with my monthly reporting so I’m completely revamping it. It sucked up many hours of my November, but because I have systems and processes in place, I can spend the time I have because I know things are getting done.

  1. How can you improve your side business?
  2. How can you provide a higher quality product or service?
  3. How can you improve the reporting your client receives?
  4. How can you improve the experience your client has with you?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself. And you don’t need to think huge. In fact, don’t. Go for baby steps because the truth is that a continuous flow of baby step improvements is more sustainable then making dramatic upgrades (unless it’s crucial you do).

Another way to improve and grow your side hustle is to introduce new, complementary products or services. That what I did when I added Twitter to my SEO/blogging service. It’s worked out really well. I added a new revenue stream to my business and I added a new traffic stream for my clients.

How can you do the same for your business? Brainstorm some ideas and test the waters with what you consider your best idea. You’ll know if it’s a winner because your clients will pay you for it.

4. What are you doing to improve yourself?

Investing in yourself, in my opinion, is super crucial to the growth of your side business. How can you make your business better if you’re not making yourself better? Or better yet, how can your business be the best it can be, if you’re not working towards being the best you can be? I believe both are connected. The best entrepreneurs always seem really dialed in and on top of their game.

How do you do it?

My first answer is by working on it every day, no matter how small. Commit to daily effort because the results will compound.

Secondly, make sure you read every day. Non-fiction that is. Books that will teach you new skills or improve your existing skills. I read every morning…right now I’m reading a book on Leadership, but I also listen to books during my commute. My current audio book is about selling. I’ve always viewed books as a secret weapon. We get to tap into the brains of people smarter than us on specific topics for $10 to $20!

Lastly, focus on your health. I can tell you this works and it doesn’t take a huge amount of effort. I do 100 pushups and 100 body squats every single morning…and I do some cardio 3 times per week. Nothing crazy, but I feel strong and it gives me the energy to work on my business for an hour before work and 1-2 hours after work.

What does this do? It grows my side gig!

You also need to focus on good nutrition. Garbage in, garbage out. Not much more to say there.

5. Do you have a morning ritual?

I think this will be a big factor for the growth of my side hustle in 2017 as I’m finally starting to get in a groove with a morning ritual. I’ve experimented with different routines throughout 2016, but I just read The Morning Miracle for Entrepreneurs by Hal Elrod and Cameron Herold and I’ve decided just to follow the steps they lay out in the book. So far so good! I’ll be writing about this book soon.

So what is a morning ritual and why is it so important?

A morning ritual is a set of tasks you do first thing in the morning. For me that includes:

  • A glass of refreshing ice water
  • Meditation with deep breathing and affirmations (while power posing!)
  • Reading a business or self improvement book
  • Writing on Sidepreneurial
  • 100 pushups and 100 body squats in 5 minutes

The idea behind a morning ritual is it starts your day off right and clears/strengthens your mind. I’ve actually begun to look forward to it. It gives you a sense of control as well which is kind of nice.

Most people wake up at the very last second, likely after hitting the snooze button a few times. They then scramble to get out of bed, get ready and head to work. It’s not exactly the best way to start your day nor is it great for your mindset. And the bottom line is that a very large percentage of highly successful people have morning rituals.

Thanks for sticking with me!

This was a long blog post! I just kept going because I had a lot to say on this topic and I really hope you got something out of it. I know this advice can help you because it’s helping me.

Yes, being a sidepreneur is a lot of work, but how bad do you want it? How badly do you want to make 2017 your best year yet?

I would love to hear your thoughts or feedback – just reach out to me on Twitter.