How to start a side hustle in the UK: a beginner's guide

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 16/12/2023 | Updated • 16/12/2023

Starting a business

How to start a side hustle in the UK: a beginner's guide

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 15/12/2023 | Updated • 15/12/2023

Starting a business

Have you ever considered starting a side hustle but aren’t sure where to begin? Perhaps you’ve found a gap in the market where your skills, passion and talent could help make extra income for yourself every month. 

Nurturing your passion into a profitable business whilst having the stability of being employed is a great way to test the water of your new business idea without jumping head-first into the unknown. 

The age of the side hustle is here to stay. According to a study from Henley Business School, 2030 will be the era of the Employed-Preneurs. This growing trend has generated over £72 billion a year for the UK, showing huge opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“With 25% of adults side-hustling today, there is no way back. The genie is let out of the bottle. Those who are underwhelmed and under-financed by their work, but have the appetite, if not the confidence, to go it all alone as an entrepreneur, will not let the chance slip. We can expect growth in side-hustling, possibly even doubling, in the next ten years.”

Professor Bernd Vogel Founding Director of the Henley Centre for Leadership, Henley Business School.

Starting a business isn’t always straight-forward. Even the smallest businesses need planning and a well-executed strategy before you’re ready to launch.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about starting a side gig in the UK. From finding your place in the market to securing funding and building a buzz around your new business, there’s a lot to think about before launching.

Open a free account

Consider running all of your accounts through a dedicated business account to help streamline your operation.

Find out more

Why you should start a side gig

If you have the time, drive, and passion, starting a business on the side of your usual job could be transformative for you. There are plenty of great reasons to get started, but some of the most appealing ones are:

  • Increased income. In a time of economic turmoil, any extra source of income is welcome. Your extra job could be a great supplement for your income, and increase your financial security.

  • Developing your skills. A side hustle gives you the opportunity to develop your business skills without the risk of losing your main income.

  • Building your passion. Choose something you’re passionate about and share it with the world. 

  • Boosting your portfolio. A successful second job demonstrates that you have drive, a great work ethic, and good business acumen. All of this looks excellent on your CV or in your portfolio.

  • Improving your confidence. Few things are better for your confidence and self-esteem than making a success of your own business. Working for yourself gives you the confidence and skills to use your initiative, make clever business decisions, and advocate for yourself in your industry.

  • Building a business without losing income. If your venture is successful, you may be able to scale it into an established and recognisable business. By beginning as an additional revenue stream rather than quitting your day job and starting from scratch, you can build your business to where you want it without losing vital income. 

There are plenty of great reasons to start a side hustle. But how can you take  your idea to market? What steps should you take, and what should you consider before launching?

Find your idea

You may already have a great side business idea , but if you haven’t, you can get inspired by our extensive list of side hustle ideas for aspiring UK entrepreneurs.

Once you’ve decided what you want to do, you need to figure out whether or not it fills a gap in the market - a ‘niche’. And, if it doesn’t, can you make a niche for it?

Finding a niche for your side business has many benefits:

  • Building a dedicated customer community. Working in a specialised niche allows you to target a small but dedicated group of customers. This enables much deeper personalisation when it comes to feedback and customer service, which in turn will help to build a loyal customer community for your business.

  • Less competition, due to a more specialised offering. 

  • Greater visibility. Less competition naturally means greater visibility within your niche.

  • Higher quality. Working within a niche gives you the scope to really hone your offering to the precise needs of your customers. This results in higher quality products/services.

There are many ways you can establish your side business within a niche and gain the qualities you need to make the most of your market and target customers.

Be passionate

It is important that you are truly passionate about your idea - it’s your business after all. You are going to spend a lot of your ‘free’ time working on this business. If you have no passion for it or find no joy in it, you will quickly burn out or lose interest.

The ideal side business combines genuine passion with a gap in the market. However, finding a niche that aligns with your passions isn’t always easy.

If you know what you want your business to be, and you have a passion for it, but there are already lots of competitors in that sector, you will have to work a bit harder to carve out your niche. You will need to build on your unique selling proposition (USP) and any other factors which make you stand out from the crowd. 

Identify needs

The goal of your side business should be to solve a particular problem (or problems) for your customers and to fill their needs.

Market research is the best way to establish what your customers need and the challenges your side hustle could answer. Google Trends is a good starting point for gaining an understanding of customer wants and needs in your sector.

Beyond Google Trends, you can narrow your idea’s scope through various market research techniques:

  • Customer surveys

  • Competitor research

  • Networking with industry colleagues and competitors

  • Social listening

Get to know your target customers

Business ideas are at their best when targeting specific, niche customers. The beauty of a side hustle is that you can reach certain customers with pinpoint precision, squeezing into niches where larger operations can’t.

The key to success in this kind of niche marketing is understanding your customers. You need to get to know your target audience on a deep, individual level. 

You can use your customer research to identify the kinds of values and content that will resonate with your target market. You can then use what you have learned to build a brand voice and identity. Ultimately, you can leverage this brand identity to build loyal, fulfilling relationships with your target customers.

Test your ideas

Experimentation is key to building a strong and resilient small business. Test out the concepts and tactics that may help you find your niche. 

For example, you may feel that a low price point may be the differentiating factor that helps you carve out your market niche. However, after trying it out you may discover that your target customer is wary of low prices. They may prefer to pay a higher price for a higher quality product/service. 

Knowing this, you can pivot to testing out a premium service before investing too much in your original business model. 

Check out the competition

By definition, a niche is a specialised segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service. If you can specialise in a specific segment, you can differentiate and stand out against your competitors. 

Though the market is narrowed, your business is likely to appeal at a greater overall volume to the potential customers within the segment. So, it’s important to know which areas your competitors already cover (and the areas they would like to move into). 

Start with some detailed small business competitor analysis and research. Work out which operations will be targeting similar audiences to you. 

Observe their tactics, sample their products/services, and sign up to their marketing. As you do so, think about how your operations are similar, how you can do better than your competitors, and how you can differentiate yourself.

Establish your Unique Selling Point (USP) 

Your USP will be the centre point of your idea. As the name suggests, your USP is what differentiates you from your competitors. But, how do you define your unique selling proposition?

It’s the thing that your customers can’t get elsewhere. It’s what makes your product or service completely unique.

Your USP doesn’t have to be based on your product or service itself. It could be your excellent customer service, your speedy delivery times, your convenient payment system, your loyalty programme, or anything else that fulfils a customer's need and sets you apart from the competition.

Continuously listen to the market

Feedback is always important for any business, but it’s especially crucial in the early stages of creating a secondary income. As you research your niche, learn about the market, and get to know your customers, keep your ears open for any feedback that could help you out.

Networking, talking to others in the same industry, customer feedback forms, and wider surveys to help better understand exactly what your customers want and need from your product or service can all be helpful.

Be customer-centric, not profit-centric

Profit may well be the major goal for your side hustle, but it will be difficult to make any profit if you can’t get your business idea  off the ground.

When establishing your niche, focus on your customers. First and foremost, think about how your business idea  will benefit and serve a purpose for your customers. 

If you can build up a name for yourself with your target customers, new customers will follow, and profit won’t be far after that. But in the early stages, build your brand through a customer-centric strategy rather than a profit-seeking one.

Get the right qualifications and licences

Depending on the type of side hustle you’re looking to launch it might be fairly straightforward to launch, without any need to obtain licences, permits, or qualifications. However, others will require a bit of admin before you can get started. 

There are a number of business ideas that need licences, permits, qualifications, or other legal requirements before you can trade. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, so do check what your particular niche requires before you set up. 

Alcohol manufacture and trade

If you’re a craft beer connoisseur looking to enter the events space or you’ve always dreamt of opening up your own off-licence in the UK, then home-brewing could be an exciting prospect for you. 

There are several licences involved in the alcohol trade:

  • To make alcohol for commercial consumption, you will need to register as an alcohol producer, and pay duty on your product

  • If you are selling or supplying alcohol on a regular basis, you will need a personal licence

  • To sell alcohol from a fixed premise, you will need a premises licence

  • In order to sell alcohol at a temporary event, the event will need a TEN (Temporary Event Notice). Someone with a personal licence will also need to oversee the sale of alcohol at the event

Candid Beer from Stafford in the UK, started out as a craft beer bottle shop. The business has since branched out as a tap room, pizzeria and event space. We spoke to Mark Bamping, founder of the craft beer business, to understand their journey in the alcohol trade industry as they look to scale with the help of SumUp POS.

Credit: Candid Beer

Mark explained how SumUp POS was a lifeline for Candid Beer, especially during the pandemic for his craft business. If, like Mark, you’re interested in find out how easy it is to get started with SumUp POS for your new business, book in a demo and you’ll be up and running within a few days.

Book a demo

Driving and deliveries

If you're looking to start your own boutique flower business, you may want to consider offering delivery as part of your business offering. 

Transporting bouquets, flower arrangements, and plants to customers’ homes or event spaces will improve convenience for your customers and overall experience with your brand.

To offer a driving/delivery service, you will need:

  • A driving licence.

  • Insurance for the vehicle or vehicles you will be using.  Ideally, you will also need public liability insurance.

  • If you are offering a taxi or rideshare service, you will need a private hire licence.

  • If you plan to offer a private driving service in London, you will need a Transport For London (TFL) licence.

  • Most delivery companies require their drivers to have commercial hire and reward insurance.

  • If you plan to drive anything larger than 3.5ft and under 7.5tonnes, you will need a Lorry Category Licence (LGV C1).

  • To drive anything over 3.5ft and heavier than 7.5tonnes, you will need an HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) licence.

Food preparation and sale

To create and/or sell food commercially, you will need to register your business with your local council. Councils regularly inspect all commercial food enterprises to ensure that hygiene and safety standards are being met.

It's a common misconception that you need a Food Hygiene Certificate to start-up a food business in the UK. Although it’s not a legal requirement, getting one is still good for your reputation and communicates to your customers that your business complies with food hygiene and standards.

Teaching and instruction

If you have a background in education, an additional job as a private tutor could be a great way to earn an additional income stream. If you’re looking to build a business around your love of wellbeing and fitness then a personal trainer or yoga teacher could also be a great avenue to explore.  

That said, teaching and instruction are wide-ranging and can be fairly complex. Some professions require formal qualifications of their teachers, others strongly recommend them, and others have no requirements whatsoever.

The jobs which require qualifications may surprise you compared to those which don't. For example, you need no formal teacher training or credentials to tutor academic subjects (some may request a background check), but you will need qualifications to become a personal trainer or yoga teacher.

In general, qualifications in your chosen subject/discipline will help establish you as a reputable practitioner. It's certainly never a good idea to go into any kind of tuition or instruction role blind, and without the relevant qualifications.

Music

If you’re musically gifted and looking to turn your talent into a money-making enterprise, there are lots of ways to establish yourself in the industry.

However, for something so free-spirited, there's a surprising amount of red tape surrounding music. If you want to:

  • Play recorded music in public or in commercial premises

  • Stage live music events

  • Use sound effects in a theatrical production

You will need what the UK Gvt refers to as 'TheMusicLicence' (yes, it really is all one word).

There is one exception: if you want to play pre-recorded music quietly in the background of your commercial premises, and that music is royalty-free, you can do so without a licence. 

Depending on where they are playing and whether or not the premises have TheMusicLicence, musicians themselves may need a busking licence. This varies a lot depending on your local authority. It's worth looking up the requirements for the postcode you're planning to play in.

It's worth noting that record labels and studios can be litigious, so be very careful about what you play and where. 

Build a business plan 

A business plan helps you to develop your ideas. It also gives you something concrete to show potential investors and customers. 

A business plan is a great way to demonstrate that you know what you are doing and are serious about committing to your new business venture.

We’ve got a full guide to writing a business plan here, but let’s take a rundown through the basics first.

A description of your offering and objectives

First and foremost, your business plan should clearly state what you plan to offer through your side hustle. Outline, in as clear terms as possible, what it is that you hope to produce or offer to potential customers. 

Your outline should be more than a basic description of your product or service. It should also describe what you want to achieve when considering the future growth of your small business. 

If it helps, think of this section of your business plan as a mission statement. Talk about:

  • What you are offering.

  • Why you are offering it.

  • The audience you hope to serve.

  • The problems your offering will solve.

  • The needs your offering will fulfil.

  • What you hope to achieve in both the short and long term.

Remember, you don’t have to meticulously lay out absolutely everything at this stage. Your goals can be reasonably vague. For example, to gain a supplementary income is a perfectly fine goal at this point. And if your goals change and evolve over time, that is fine. 

The purpose of a business plan is to help you and any potential investors or stakeholders to gain a better understanding of your business idea and its potential, not to build a fully-realised roadmap for your development.

Analysis of your market

It’s important to understand the market you’re entering. We’ve spoken a bit above about market research when finding your niche. Now it’s time to set that research down in your business plan.

When writing your market analysis, include information such as:

  • Your market demographics and behaviour/spending patterns.

  • Your main competitors.

  • Whether the market is well-established or still emerging.

  • How your product/service can fill gaps in the market.

  • Your unique USP and how it can set you apart from your competition.

Financial analysis

Budgeting can be difficult when starting a new side business, but it is a vital part of any business plan. 

Spreadsheets are your best friend when establishing and running a business, so it is essential you invest the time to create realistic estimates for:

  • How much money you need to set up.

  • Where you plan to get start-up funding from.

  • Itemised upfront costs to start a business (for example, list the equipment and licences you may need to purchase).

  • Your main projected incomings and outgoings once up and running.

  • How long you think it will be before your product or service starts to turn a profit.

Marketing strategy

Getting your name out there is crucial to running a successful side hustle. So, it’s important that you think about your marketing and sales strategy at a very early stage.

A good marketing strategy will include a breakdown of:

  • Who your target audience is.

  • The habits, needs, and behaviours of your target audience.

  • Where you can reach your target audience.

  • How you can reach your target audience.

  • The sort of marketing and product points that your target marketing is most likely to respond to.

  • The marketing resources at your disposal (for example, skill in graphic design, a strong advertising budget etc).

  • Challenges your marketing may face (for example, a lack of copywriting skill, little marketing experience etc).

  • Channels you plan to use for marketing (for example, social media platforms, PR, email marketing, word of mouth, events etc).

Management and operation details

Here, you should explain how your side gig will be run, and by whom. Include mentions of:

  • How your product will be manufactured and distributed

OR

  • How your service will be delivered.

  • Management roles and responsibilities.

  • How product upgrades and alterations will be developed.

  • Where the management team will operate from (i.e. from home or on-site?)

  • The systems by which your small business will run.

More than a free business account

If you’re looking for a solution to help streamline your business management and a better way to manage your money, consider opening a free SumUp Business Account.

Open your account now

Get funding

Now that you have your business plan laid out, it’s time to seek funding.

Some side businesses can be set up with very little outlay. You can even, in theory, start a business with no money. For example, to be a freelance copywriter, all you need is a computer, be a talented wordsmith, and the time to seek out potential clients. 

Others, however, may need a lot more initial funding. For example, if you are planning to run a food stall on the weekends, you will need to invest in vehicles, portable equipment, a payment solution, industrial cleaning supplies, ingredients, and more.

If you need more funding than you can provide yourself. Here are some of the avenues you could explore.

Friends and family

It can sometimes be a little awkward to ask for investment from friends and family, but it’s often a route worth taking. If you believe in your idea and know that you can make a success of it, why not get your loved ones in on that success?

The terms that you come up with for friends/family investment are entirely up to you and the other party. However, for substantial amounts of money, it is worth drawing up a written agreement. This may feel very formal, but doing so protects everyone involved and provides much-needed clarity if disputes should arise in the future.

Start-up loans

Banks are not known for offering substantial business loans for side hustles. However, some lenders offer smaller start-up loans. It is definitely worth looking into these as a viable option for your new business idea. 

Some start-up loans have government backing. These typically involve a more complex application process. However, if this is your best or only route to get the start-up capital you require, the terms are usually more lenient than non-government-backed loans.

When getting a business loan, the Government’s own loan scheme is a good place to start. While the loans and grants on offer do change regularly, there are usually plenty of options available.

Grants

You may be eligible for a grant to help get your business off the ground. The grants available vary widely depending on your local authority. They also regularly change year by year. 

It’ll be worth your while to look through the available grants to see if you qualify for any.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way to raise money for businesses. Crowdfunding has the added advantage of building buzz about your business and providing a ready-made audience/customer base before you even start trading.

There are a lot of crowdfunding sites out there, some of which are general (like GoFundMe) and some which are industry-specific (like Unbound, which caters to writers). In general, better known sites tend to get more traction, but you may find that industry-specific sites are better tailored to your specific needs and niche.

It’s often advisable to offer tiered rewards for crowdfunding investors. For example, if you are starting a baking business, a tiered rewards system may look something like this:

  • Tier One (£20-£50) a voucher to be spent on the baked goods of your choice

  • Tier Two (£50-150) the Tier One reward plus a cake with a message of your choice piped onto the icing

  • Tier Three (£150-£300) all the previous tier rewards, plus an artisanal cake baked and decorated in the shape of your choice

  • Tier Four (£300-£500) all the previous tier rewards, plus a cake on the menu named after you

  • Tier Five (£500-£1000) all the previous tier rewards, plus free catering for an event of up to 50 guests

Promotion is a big part of crowdfunding, so it’s a good idea to get a marketing strategy together to get in front of the right eyes, of course whilst ensuring it is financially viable to fulfil the offers.

Angel investors

These are wealthy individuals who provide much-needed cash injections in the early stages of a start-up venture. These are usually provided in exchange for shares in the company. 

Angel investors for side hustles are rare, but they do exist. If you feel that your side business is worthy of angel investor attention, seek them out and make your pitch.

If you are successful, a good angel investor can provide a lot more than just money. They are often valuable mentors and advisors. So, when searching for an angel investor, look for someone with experience that your company could benefit from.

A card reader for every business

To offer your customers flexible payment options, compare SumUp card readers to get the right solution for your business.

Choose your card reader

Register your side hustle for tax

You will have to pay tax on profits your side hustle makes, which means that you need to figure out where your business fits into the government’s tax system.

Before we get any deeper into this, it’s worth noting that you will only have to pay tax on any earnings over £1000 per annum. If you are going to be earning less than that, you can skip this section.

If you expect to earn more than £1000 in additional income, this section will cover how to register your business with HMRC, how to register as a limited company and how to create a Government Gateway account for your new business.

Registering as self-employed with HMRC

The first step to establishing your tax status is registering yourself as self-employed with HMRC. You can do this through the government’s Self-Assessment Portal.

The registration process is reasonably self-explanatory. While the government will require a lot of security information and details from you (so be sure that you have things like your National Insurance number to hand), the forms themselves aren’t too complex.

Once you have registered as self-employed, you will be expected to fill out self-assessment tax returns for every tax year. 

Every UK citizen is allowed a £1000 tax-free trading allowance outside of their taxable income. 

If you’re likely to earn substantially more than £85,000, it may be worth registering as a limited company, and you will need to register for VAT.

Registering as a limited company

As a sole trader, you have 100% responsibility for your company and any liability it incurs.

When you set up as a limited company, you separate the company from yourself. The company becomes a legal entity in its own right. The advantage of this is that you will not be held personally responsible for any debts or liability the company incurs.

For example, if you owe tax as a sole trader, your personal finances could be subject to debt recovery action. However, if your limited company owes tax, your personal finances cannot be seized by government bailiffs.

It is also more tax-efficient to become a limited company. You can pay yourself a salary from the company rather than binding your personal income up with the tax status of your business.

It is often a good idea to have more than one person directing a limited company. However, it is possible to set up a limited company run by a single person.

Set up a Government Gateway account

Once you have registered as a sole trader or limited company, you will be given a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). You must use this to set up a Government Gateway Account. You will use the Government Gateway to fill out and submit your self-assessment tax returns.

Insure your side hustle

We touched on insurance in the above qualifications and licences section. However, it's an important consideration worthy of being expanded here.. 

There are several types of insurance to think about when starting a side hustle.

Public liability insurance

Commercial public liability insurance protects your business in the event that you are sued.

Let's say, for example, that you’re keen to start a dog walking service outside of your full-time role. One day, a dog that you are walking gets into a fight with another dog. The other dog needs vet treatment for their injuries. 

As the party in charge of the aggressor dog, you could be held responsible for the attack. In cases like this, public liability insurance can enable you to pay the vet bills and any other third-party damages. 

Thanks to public liability insurance, you are able to ensure that the other dog is safe and sound and that the owners are mollified. Your business and both dogs are safe. 

Public liability insurance is a good idea no matter what your side hustle is. If there is the slightest chance that you could injure someone in any way while discharging your business (or that they could be injured on your premises as a cafe or restaurant owner for example), public liability insurance will protect you. 

Professional indemnity insurance

If a customer feels that your service is sub-par, dangerous, or dangerously negligent, they could make a claim against you.

For example, if you work as an accountant, and your accounting contains errors which damage a client’s business, that client could potentially make a claim against you. Professional indemnity insurance will cover any legal fees and/or compensation you may have to pay.

If you are planning to offer any kind of professional service, professional indemnity insurance is a must.

Employer’s liability insurance

Most side hustles don’t usually take on employees, but if you do you will be legally obliged to take out employer’s liability insurance. 

Employer’s liability insurance protects both you and your employees in the event that an employee becomes ill or injured as a result of your work or policies.

For example, if a piece of equipment breaks and injures an employee, your employer’s liability insurance will cover the costs of compensating your employee.

Personal accident insurance

This insurance helps to cover the costs of losing a core member of your team due to an accident or illness. If you break your leg and are unable to work, personal accident insurance could cover the cost of hiring a contractor to fulfil your duties. It could also help cover your income gap while you are off work.

Directors’ and officers’ insurance

This protects you from claims made against you in your role as a director or officer of your company. 

As directors and officers have much wider-ranging responsibilities than the average employee, they are more likely to be held to account when things go wrong. 

If a claim is brought against your company, you and any fellow directors are likely to bear the brunt of both the blame and the financial recompense.

Directors’ and officers’ insurance can cover legal fees, compensation costs, and so on in such cases.

Product liability insurance

Starting a side hustle, product liability insurance provides an extra layer of protection alongside things like public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, and employers’ liability insurance. 

Product liability insurance protects you if your product injures or damages a third party and/or their property.

If you’re producing and selling an electronic device which overheats and accidentally burns a customer, product liability insurance will potentially cover any legal fees and/or compensation costs.

Equipment and tool insurance

This kind of insurance protects business assets. This includes use of a tablet, phone, and any tools or equipment for your operation.

If your business equipment is stolen, lost, or damaged, equipment and office contents insurance can cover some of  the costs of replacing it.

Depending on where you will be working whether it will be from home as you’re focused on starting an online business or at a fixed location, office contents insurance can provide the same service for the contents of your workplace.

Self-employed and sole trader insurance

This is particularly important for side hustlers, as many of you will be working as self-employed sole traders. 

Self-employed and sole trader insurance policies are often a tailored blend of public liability, professional indemnity, and any other relevant types of insurance. Insurance brokers will mix and match aspects of various policies until they create a policy which covers your specific needs.

Business interruption insurance

This type of insurance comes into play when you have to unexpectedly pause your business activities. 

In such a case, your insurance will cover the loss of income until you can restart business operations again.

Business interruption insurance is also sometimes called income insurance.

Cyber and data insurance

Cyber and data insurance is becoming increasingly important as cybercrime levels rise and the penalties for data breaches become more severe. 

A cyber and data insurance policy covers the time and money it may take you to deal with a cyber attack or data breach from your side hustle. It can also cover any penalties you incur (for example, under the GDPR) as a result of cybercrime. 

Build a buzz before launching your side hustle

In order to hit the ground running, you should try and build a buzz around your business idea before you start trading. This way, you’ll already have name recognition and a community of interested customers as soon as you open. 

We’ve already spoken about how crowdfunding can generate buzz and interest in your new business, but it’s far from the only option. 

Here are some other ways to build up interest and excitement for your upcoming side hustle.

Set up a waiting list

If the nature of your new business will allow for it, setting up a waiting list can be a fantastic way of building buzz. 

You could email your waiting list with things like countdown to launch, or exclusive news about your upcoming product. This will add to the anticipation and boost the buzz.

Everyone wants to feel like they’re getting something unique and exclusive - especially if they’re among the first people to get it. By setting up a waiting list, you add an air of exclusivity to your product or service. You also imply that your offering is heavily in demand, which in turn implies that it is a quality product or service and that it’s very desirable.

PR for your side hustle

Write a press release and send it out to relevant publications within your niche. These could be local newspapers, industry publications, or any other relevant media. If you can tie your press release to any current events or media trends, even better.

Your press release should include:

  • Details about your product or service.

  • Details about who you are.

  • When you begin trading.

  • Why your product or service is useful and exciting.

  • Any early bird promotions you may be offering.

  • Why you decided to begin the venture.

If you can work your press release into a story that readers can identify with, you are likely to generate more interest than if you simply release the bland facts. For example, ‘Local entrepreneur starts rideshare business after struggling to find affordable transport in the area’ has more of a ‘hook’ than ‘Rideshare business starting in the area soon’.

Build a network

If you know or have access to any influencers, industry insiders, thought leaders within your industry, or anyone else who could help you generate buzz, network with them.

Connect with the right people on social media. Talk to them about your idea. Take their feedback on board. and don’t be afraid to ask if they will help you out. The worst they can do is say ‘No’. 

Leverage social media

Social media is often the first place that people turn to when advertising their business. And for good reason. When used correctly, social media for small businesses has the potential to generate huge amounts of buzz for your brand.

The problem is that your posts and promotions can easily get lost amongst social media noise. Unless you’re clever and precise about targeting and grabbing attention, it’s all too easy for people to scroll by obliviously.

It’s worth doing some research on how to make your posts pop on social media before you start. If you do it properly, social media can be a truly fantastic tool for promoting your new business. 

Equally, if your social media strategy is executed poorly, you could find yourself wasting a lot of time and effort on posts that go nowhere and don’t bring much ROI.

Drop hints about your side hustle

Rather than telling everyone exactly what you’re going to be doing and when, build anticipation by dropping hints.

Design a marketing campaign to lend your brand to an air of mystery. Drop tantalising hints about what you will be doing, and when.

For example, you could describe the problem your idea will be solving, and tell customers that this problem will soon be over. However, you don’t describe exactly how. This will build up intrigue, and people will be encouraged to follow your accounts and wait for the next instalment in your marketing campaign to learn more about your exciting new venture.

By the time you officially launch, the intrigue will have built up significant name recognition, and you will have an eager customer base waiting to be let in on the mystery.

Share your journey

People love to feel like they’re part of your journey. You can build a lot of buzz by sharing your progress as you work towards your launch. 

Be transparent about what you are doing as you work towards your launch date. Share the trials and triumphs of building your business. Invite people to offer their advice, support and feedback as this will help to engage your audience and build investment from their side.

You’d be amazed at how something as simple as commenting on a post makes people feel attached to a business. If they follow and engage with your journey to launch, an emotional connection will grow. 

Your audience will share a feeling of pride when you launch, and might even share your promotional materials in a way they would not otherwise.

This not only gives you a ready-made customer base, it also creates customers who feel like they know you, are emotionally invested in your success and will advocate for you on an ongoing basis as you grow your business. 

Create an SEO strategy

If your side hustle relies on selling a product or service online, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should be considered as a key part of your marketing strategy. You can get started by:

  • Building a well-researched, keyword-optimised online store.

  • Creating unique content that helps answer your target customer’s most common search queries that are related to your product or offering.

  • Earning relevant backlinks to your online store -perhaps through guest posting on industry blogs, or being featured on a podcast which will then link back to your website

Your SEO will naturally improve as your business grows and reviews start coming in, but you can get off to a good start by laying your SEO groundwork early on.

How to give your side hustle the best possible start

Starting a side business in the UK can bring huge rewards. It allows you to develop your passions, learn new skills, build your confidence, and bring in more money every month. 

Like most things, you will get more out of your side hustle if you put in more effort. This is particularly true right at the start of your journey. 

By laying the proper foundations, you will find the process of building a loyal customer base and gaining profit much easier.

Some start-up ideas are easier to start than others. A dog walker can theoretically grab a dog lead and start as soon as they find a client. Someone running a food truck, however, will have to put a bit more time, money, and effort into getting their business off the ground. But, don’t let that stop you, everyone starts somewhere. 

With the right preparation, your side hustle could become your full-time job and be your main source of income one day.

If you represent our theoretical dog walker, you are likely to build a more successful  business if you do things like get insurance, take canine behavioural courses, and maybe even get canine first aid training. Your business will also benefit from promotion, and maybe even some funding. 

Whatever your big entrepreneurial dreams are, you can benefit from following a detailed checklist for starting a business in the UK, starting with the following steps to launch:

  1. Identifying your niche.

  2. Getting the right qualifications and licences.

  3. Building a business plan.

  4. Getting funding.

  5. Registering for tax.

  6. Selecting the right insurance.

  7. Building a buzz around your brand.

With these foundations laid, you’ll find the market ready and waiting for you when you launch and grow your new business.


Disclaimer: The contents of this page are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. For matters requiring legal or financial expertise, it’s recommended to seek guidance from qualified professionals.

FAQs

How to start a business in 10 steps: a guide for UK entrepreneurs

Your step-by-step guide to starting a new business on the right foot.

Read more

Setting up a limited company: 12 step guide for small UK businesses

Learn how to register your limited company.

Read more

How to write a business plan for your UK business in 8 steps

Read our step by step guide to creating your roadmap for business success.

Read more

Learn more about starting a business