6 ways to figure out if your side hustle idea will be a quick failure or a long-term success

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The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

The number one thing I love to do in my free time is brainstorm new business ideas. I find it fun thinking about problems and solutions in the form of innovative, unique, and interesting side hustles. My friends know this about me and at some point, at every dinner or phone call, I ask them if they want to chat about random ideas and see if any of them have potential for success.

While coming up with a long list of business ideas is easy, spending the quality time to check and see if these ideas can actually turn into something requires a series of practical steps.

If you’re collecting business ideas wondering which could turn into long term success and which are doomed for quick failure, here are six ways you can put your idea to the test before investing money into getting a business up and running.

1. Get the idea in front of an audience

Side hustles are created for people to help solve a problem they have in their life. Even if you think your idea is brilliant, it can’t be validated until it’s in front of a group of people, who are your ideal target audience, to see what their response is.

For example, if you’re thinking of starting a career coaching service for women in their 30s who want to make a career transition to another industry, find 10 to 15 people who meet this criteria and spend 30 minutes to an hour understanding their perspective, what kind of coaching they’d like, and how they feel about your idea.

If you are thinking of creating a modern stress ball for those who work in high-energy and fast-paced careers, first spend time chatting with this audience to see if this is something they’d use and then create a test product for them to try out before you build the real thing.

This data will help you pivot or change the purpose of your business. The more you can understand what your audience needs from you, the more you can build something of long-lasting value.

jen glantz
Jen Glantz.

2. Have a pulse on industry trends

It’s common for entrepreneurs to start side hustles in industries they aren’t too familiar with. Sometimes being new can allow you to see what problems no other company has ever tried to solve. Spend time keeping a pulse on trends, projections, and innovations happening within a certain space.

An easy way to help you do this is by setting free Google alerts for topics and keywords within an industry so that you can review daily updates about what’s happening. You can also read industry blogs, listen to podcasts, and attend conferences, all before actually starting and launching your product or service.

What you learn will help you brainstorm ways to make your side hustle stand out and be practical to the ever-changing needs of your customer base.

3. Understand your competitors

Before getting too deep into planning your idea, look into better understanding your competitors. Map out their business plan, identify what they’ve done in the past that’s worked well for them and what has failed, and see what opportunities they haven’t even tried yet.

Once you know the performance of at least three to five competitors, you can really understand how your side hustle can fit into the overall landscape of the industry and potentially service customers in a new or different way.

Look into the marketing of these companies (check out their website and sign up for their emails) and use analysis tools like Rival IQ for help on how your competitors are performing on social media platforms.

4. Eyeball your business plan

A great step to take to really see if an idea has what it takes to grow into a success business is to write out a full and formal plan. Once you can identify how the business will grow and scale, what kind of budget you’ll need, and what the overall solutions are to the problems you’re solving for your audience, you’ll be able to have a blueprint for next steps.

Print out a free business plan like this one and see how much of it you can fill out. Over time, consult with mentors and other experts in your industry to expand on your business plan and see if your idea has legs or is just a decent idea.

5. Chat with a handful of mentors

Side hustle ideas should be shared. The more people with business and industry knowledge you share your ideas, the more you can refine your purpose and product based on their expertise.

Join communities where these experts might be (Facebook groups or conferences) and ask if they will meet with you for 15 to 20 minutes, and come prepared with questions catered to their insights and experience.

6. Be willing to pivot, pause, and plan

A lot of successful businesses started out as something completely different than what they are now. Take Amazon, for example, which started off as an online book seller and has now turned into a platform for buying everything you could possibly need and getting it sent to your doorstep quickly.

If you notice you’re hanging onto an idea that’s not getting a good response from your target audience or industry experts, understand that if you don’t pause, pivot, and re-plan, you might not find the success you’re looking for.

Be willing, as a new entrepreneur, to bend your idea from its original state. Following these steps will help you get clarity on whether or not an idea is worth pursuing.

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I run 4 social media accounts for my business. Here are the free tools I use to automate the process and create valuable content.

Jen Glantz 2
Jen Glantz runs multiple social media accounts in under a few hours each month.

I’m a serial entrepreneur, which means my time and money are invested in multiple businesses and projects that I started from scratch. It also means that I do most of the heavy lifting of these businesses on my own. I’m not only responsible for scaling these projects and optimizing my website, but also for strategizing and executing on the marketing plan.

Early on, I found myself spending way too much time on tasks that felt more like a full-time job than just parts of the business. One of those tasks was social media. Managing four different social media accounts (one per business or project) became overwhelming, and it wasn’t in my budget to hire an assistant to help me plan and post.

Instead, I had to find innovative ways to automate my social media pages so that they’d be engaging, entertaining and educational for my audience, but not take me more than a few hours a month to manage.

Here are the ways I automate my social media accounts while also creating valuable content. 

1. Create a 30-day content calendar 

One of the biggest headaches of doing social media is trying to figure out what to post every single day. If you’re doing this in real-time, it can take hours. In order to stay consistent with posting on all four of my social media accounts, I use the last week of every month to create a content calendar for the next 30-days. 

I create this calendar as a spreadsheet that I spend the week contributing to and editing. On that calendar, I tap into my main content categories for each brand. I assign five to 10 content categories per brand (these are overall themes for what the account posts) so that I’m able to use that as a guide to decide what to post.

I also take into account holidays, key events, or big promotions and deals from my brands and plan for that within the month. I usually spend about two to three hours creating this plan for each brand and once it’s done, it serves as my game plan for the coming month.

2. Tap into automation tools 

When it comes to making sure my posts publish on social media on-time, I like to schedule the majority of my posts using automation tools. 

I take the completed content that I planned on my spreadsheet and I drop it into a scheduling tool (I use a free one called Buffer.com) that will post for me on the day and time that I pick. This allows me to not have to manually go to each of my accounts and post something new in real-time. 

Having the majority of my posts automated and ready to go live in advance, saves me approximately hours across my four different accounts. 

3. Use free content creation tools

Jen Glantz
Glantz uses free content creation tools to save money.

Since I’m not a designer or photographer, I initially found creating social media content to be very time consuming. When I hired those professionals, I found myself spending thousands of dollars and a lot of time going back and forth with revisions to make sure the content was on brand.

To make this process easier and quicker, I found a handful of tools that are easy to use and help me create my content fast. I use one free tool to create graphics (Canva), another tool for free stock images (Unsplash.com) and a final tool for photo editing (Fotor) to make the photo look professional.

This suite of tools allows me to create content pretty fast and it doesn’t cost me a penny. 

4. Pre-plan the content categories 

Another big thing that drains a lot of time when it comes to social media is figuring out what to actually post. 

One way that I automate this is by pre-planning the five content pillars and categories for each of my four accounts. I pick the main themes for each of my brands so that I can easily stay focused and have a clear strategy when it comes to deciding on the content to post.

I set these categories early on for each of my brands and when a new month is on the horizon and I need to figure out what to post, I just pull from those categories and plan it on the content calendar. 

5. Stick to a strategy 

I also use a 70-20-10 method for deciding on what kind of content to post and how often. I stick by this rule to make sure my content is engaging.

This means that 70% of my content is free value to my audience (facts, tips, behind-the-scenes, the story of the company), 20% of the content is user generated or shared from other experts or accounts, and 10% of the content are calls to action or promotions. 

Sticking with this strategy makes it easy to automate the type of frequency of content I post. 

6. Repeat what works best

When I want to make sure I’m finding ways to grow my social media accounts and perform well with engaging content, I simply tap into my in-app analytics to determine what’s working well and use that to plan for the next month.

Engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares) let me see what my most popular post formats and topics are. I then make it easy on myself and just repeat what works well on each account. 

Managing multiple social media accounts can start to feel overwhelming and be time consuming. If you plan properly, have systems in place and create your content in an organized way, it’ll become automated and easier than you imagine it ever could be.

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Over 70,000 people have applied to work at my bridesmaid-for-hire business – here’s how I decide who to hire

Jen Glantz
Jen Glantz is the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.

  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and founder of the company Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • Since starting her business in 2014, Glantz has fielded over 70,000 applications from paid bridesmaid hopefuls.
  • Glantz says she scans applications quickly for key details, and then conducts a long interview process to get to know each candidate.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Soon after I started my business Bridesmaid for Hire, clients were requesting something I truly wasn’t prepared to offer. I was the world’s first person offering a service where brides could hire me to show up at their wedding, pretend to know them from some point in their life, and be their bridesmaid for the day. All of a sudden, clients were asking if they could hire me and additional professional bridesmaids as well.

I was a solo-preneur and didn’t know how to hire a team for a job that I’d just invented. So, I decided to start by simply sharing the news that I was hiring people on social media and my website. After only a few weeks, I received thousands of job applications from people all over the world.

Over six years after starting this business, I’ve had over 70,000 people apply to work for me. I’ve both hired and fired over the years – the job isn’t as glamorous or as easy as it looks. I even found a way to monetize the audience of people who were interested in working for me and bring in an additional revenue stream for my business. 

Now, I have a streamlined hiring process. Here’s how I vet and select applicants to join my small business. 

Scanning applications for key details 

With thousands of people applying to work for my company every month, going through each application is nearly impossible. To organize the hiring process, I scan the applications for key details and keywords that are applicable to what kind of experience the ideal candidate should have.

While a lot of people think the number one job requirement to work for my company is that they’ve been a bridesmaid a handful of times, it actually isn’t something I weigh heavily in my vetting process.

Instead, I like to find people who have experience in sales (so they have top communication skills and the ability to read and react to situations), working in high-stress environments (because what wedding isn’t high-stress?), and work well with groups of people (whether they’ve managed teams or worked one-on-one with lots of people before).

Even though thousands of people apply monthly, only a handful of applicants end up being considered. 

When you’re hiring for a position, it’s important to be clear on what skills are must-haves and what experience is non-negotiable versus simply a plus. It will make the hiring process easier and more efficient. 

Conducting interviews and in-person tests

The job of being a professional bridesmaid at a strangers wedding is more of a complex role than you’d imagine. You’re not only a part of the bridal party, you’re also working as the bride’s personal assistant, on-call therapist, social director, and wedding peacekeeper. Hiring for this role means that the interview process has to be in-depth and oftentimes, in person.

Round one is a video call where I assess the person’s personality, experience, and overall passion for the job. During this round, most people express more of an interest in working as a professional bridesmaid for the perks and the party, so 90% of people don’t make it past this round.

Round two is a test where the candidate is given multiple real-life wedding scenarios and asked how they’d handle them. The candidates that don’t make the cut here are often shocked by these questions and unsure of what to do, while the best candidates bring creativity and problem solving techniques to the table. 

Round three, which very few people make it to, involves an in-person meeting and social situation test. This is the stage where I’ll spend quality time getting to know a candidate. A lot can be known about a person, their habits, and their unique value by spending time with them. By this stage, after a day or two of hanging out with the person, I’ll make my final decision on whether or not they are hired. Usually, more than 90% of people I meet in person will not make it past this round.

Creating a money-making course 

Even though over 70,000 people have applied to work for my company, my hiring rate is very low. If 10 people a year make it to round three, only one might be hired. Because of that, I realized I had to find another way to meet a major need of a large audience of people who wanted to work for my company.

In many applications, there were mentions of wanting to work a cool job, be their own boss, and move away from their current career. Since I knew I couldn’t hire all of these people, I decided to find a way to service these needs.

Four years ago, I created an online training course that helps any interested applicants learn how to start a side hustle in the wedding industry. Not only do they get the behind-the-scenes details on my business (from pricing to marketing strategies) but they get the tools they need to start their own company. 

This course has allowed me to create another popular revenue stream for my business, while also providing a service that benefits this audience immensely.

Hiring for your company can be tricky, especially if the role is unique. If you do get an influx of candidates that you can’t hire, finding an offering or product that can help them get a different opportunity might be a beneficial way to help them and help you scale your company.

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